While many of us are ditching landlines in favor of wireless, a large portion of the country still has some sort of terrestrial home phone. But what’s surprising is just how many folks out there are still paying every month to lease their phones.
Leased phones are a hold-over from the Ma Bell days of telephone service, when getting a new phone didn’t just mean going to the store and buying one for a few bucks. But some customers, mostly elderly, have never gotten around to upgrading their lines — or checking to make sure they aren’t paying for leased phones they no longer have.
Philadelphia’s KYW-TV has the story of one woman who recently glanced at her parents’ phone bill and saw they were paying $21.09/month for three leased phones, which means $253.08/year for phones they could have purchased at the store for a fraction of that cost.
The woman figures that her parents have spent more than $6,000 leasing these phones since the mid-’80s. Making it even worse, the daughter says her parents don’t even have at least one of the phones they’ve been paying for. So not only were they forking over $7/month for a nonexistent phone, they would an additional fee for not returning a device they had already paid for several times over.
We don’t know how widespread this issue is, but the company that does the leasing for this particular phone company says they have 300,000 leasing customers.
A rep for The Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly tells KYW:
Some folks never got around to buying their own personal telephone at any local store and are still just going ahead and paying that monthly rental along in their phone bill… There’s no incentive for the company to say hey by the way you could buy a equal or better product at your local store instead of paying me a monthly bill.
So if you have an elderly loved one who hasn’t updated their phone in a long time, you may want to suggest they take a look at their monthly bill to see if they’re being paying for a device whose only worth is to phone historians.