Brenda Anderson is editor of Peace Arch News. (Black Press file image)

Brenda Anderson is editor of Peace Arch News. (Black Press file image)

Making the call to cut the cord

Column: Cost of a keeping a landline makes little sense in 2019

The call has been made. It’s time to cut the cord.

While it’s unlikely I’m the last person I know still paying for home phone service on a landline, it sometimes feels that way.

It’s not that the phone never rings – good heavens, no.

Sitting and gathering dust on the kitchen counter, my old telephone has essentially become a plastic-and-wire brick that takes nonstop robocalls all day long, in return for $20 of my hard-earned money each month.

The actual call to cancel, made last week on – unsurprisingly – a smartphone, was met immediately with an offer to reduce my monthly bill by half.

So I can pay $10 per month to sit and listen to it ring instead of $20? Pass.

It was obvious long ago that at $240 a year, it was making less and less sense to keep the landline, but the hassle of reaching out to various medical professionals, insurance providers, etc. who had, over the years, been given the number as part of my contact information somehow always tipped the scale toward lazy.

And so the bill would come every month, with the cost of the phone wrapped innocuously in the cable/internet package, and I would grit my teeth and pay it.

Actual conversations, meanwhile, were becoming increasingly rare when a quick text exchange could get the job done with a fraction of the time-consuming pleasantries required when speaking with someone.

I don’t feel great about this, but I also don’t want to be the one calling and disturbing someone’s peace and quiet.

Or, worse, their dinner.

My relationship with the telephone has definitely changed over the decades.

For example, I never quite understood as a teenager, why every incoming call seemed to set my mother’s teeth on edge. Unlike her, I hadn’t been sitting in an office all day, listening to the constant ringing.

For me, the sound was rife with possibility. A ringing phone meant one of my friends could be calling to issue an invitation to hang out, to make plans for the weekend or share a bit of juicy gossip.

Once I entered the working world, I began to understand mom’s point of view a little better. After answering calls all day, time spent at home should offer a bit of a reprieve.

But these days, even work calls have dwindled to no more than a handful on any given day, with more and more people choosing to reach out to us via email or social media.

Whether at work or at home, thanks to our computers and assorted devices, we’re more accessible than ever, so the odds any of us will miss something are at an all-time low, landline or no.

Apart from having a few extra inches of free counter space and not having to deliberately tune out its clamouring robotic ring several times a night, it’s unlikely I’ll notice its absence.

My smartphone on the other hand…

Over the past decade, as for most people, it has become a necessary tool for navigating day-to-day life – both private and professional.

And while, unlike some, I have no problem tucking it out of sight (and out of mind) when I’m driving or socializing, on the rare occasion I forget it at home, its absence niggles at me all day long.

What am I missing?

An invitation, a juicy bit of gossip, a chance to hang out?

Probably not.

But for the time being, at least, I’m likely not missing an endless stream of calls from telemarketers, survey takers and would-be scammers either.

And I’ll have an extra 20 bucks burning a hole in my pocket each month.

Yup, definitely the right call.

Brenda Anderson is editor of Peace Arch News.

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