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The Great American TV and Cell phone Scam.

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posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:03 AM
As a recent arrival in the USA I am constantly astounded at the way you guys are ripped off when buying some everyday items.

Two things in particular have come to my attention, because I have wanted to buy both lately, and I am struggling to understand how this all works!


Ok, in the UK we get the same technology, and the 'packages' - ie. running costs, appear much the same, on the surface.

However, my UK cell is unlocked, so I can use it with any provider, I can get a sim for a buck and a half, and I have a 'pay as you go' contract with that provider.
Pay as you go means I add 20 pounds credit to my account, and I get to make 20 pounds worth of calls or texts.
I DO NOT pay to receive calls or texts.
I DO NOT have a service period associated with that credit- the credit's good until it is used.

Here, in the US, I have been trying to find the same deal, and its not available.
I can't express how much of a shock it is to me that you pay to receive calls! Doesn't that mean the phone companies get paid twice?
As for a service period, well, thats standard in the UK with contract Phones, but PAYG? NO WAY!
Best I have managed here is a tracphone, on offer at $15, with double minutes for life. Im not happy, but I guess I need a phone, so I have bought in to it.

So, next up is the TV

We have an HDTV in our apartment, but we don't have cable. We don't watch enough TV to make it worthwhile (I know some will find that hard to believe).
What we would like to do is record the occasional program, so I thought ok, Ill buy a dvr.

Can I find one? Huh! Unless I go for direct TV, and pay for cable, seems like my only option is a TIVO - so thats like, $300 PLUS another $15 a month service charge.


In the UK I can walk into pretty much any supermarket, i.e. safeways, walmart (ASDA), whatever, and buy a dvr recorder, with built in 'free to air' digital receiver, for around $100, with no service charge and about 30 digital channels available.

ThIs includes the BBC channels, which are great, and channel four, all the main channels, but not Sky (Fox), which is a bonus!

Whats more, this is not one or two brands of reciever, we are talking about a choice of dozens of makes, models etc.

Please dont take my word for this, check it out for yourself. I found this, used, on Amazon UK, in about 30 seconds.....

What I can't understand is why there is such a constriction of choice here? I guess the cable cabal are determined to get you all subscribing, so competition and choice have to be eliminated.

HOWEVER I did check to see if this topic has been raised before, couldn't see that it had, but did find plenty concerning the use of the TV, and cable boxes, as a spy in your living room.
Hmmm, shades of the X files.

If there's any truth to that, it could well be why TPTB want you cabled up - the box is interactive, it sends signals back to the network.
A freeview receiver isn't capable of transmitting information back, so it would be useless if spying was the intent.

Maybe you should have a good think about just how badly you want that cable tv sat there in front of your most intimate moments?

I, for one, have decided to fore-go the option for now. If I can't be there to watch it, and can't see it on Fancast, then too bad, I'll miss it, because:-

A)I'm too meant to pay through lack of choice, and,

B)Too suspicious to want to!

Thanks for reading.........

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:21 AM
Welcome to the USA! Home to the most unconstitutional monopolies the world has ever seen!

In case you didn't know, the United States is run by corporations. The good news is, in the US you can probably easily find someone that has managed to circumvent all the rules and regulations, avoid paying taxes and fees, and has the best service of anyone around. Not that I support that method mind you. Rather, it's part of the problem.

I believe we do now have cell phones capable of switching between providers with a chip or something. We have always paid for incoming calls -- which is not so bad since without that we would be subject to tons of telemarketing sales calls. The first minute or something is free so you can avoid paying for wrong numbers.

As for DVR, I don't have one. You can usually get one fairly cheaply through your cable TV provider, but there will be a service charge and a contract. So make sure you read the fine print since cancellation fees are usually outrageous.

I'm sure that there will be a bunch of responses better than mine that can guide you.

As a side note, if you don't mind sharing, what made you relocate to the US?

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:21 AM
I am going to flag this for sure!

Now you see, my friend, the great lust that is American greed.
But, sadly, we cannot escape its clutches. These providers have figured out how to get every penny out of us for contractual term limits.
I do wish we had it easier. There are ways out of contracts. Just buy an unlocked phone and slip your sim card in...

As you know...Everyone HAS to have a cell phone!

Its ashame too because the more I look around, the more I see young children with phones. Aged between 8-12 and even younger.

[edit on 23-11-2009 by havok]

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:24 AM
Your questions are justified for the most part. In the U.S., major companies have way too much control over what we do. It's not just cell phones or cable either, but power, water, etc...

I will say that cell phone companies aren't all that bad here. True, we don't have the pay as you go or sim card thing, but in the end you're still paying $20 per month for a service you use. For us it's more or less pay a predetermined amount ($40/month), for a certain number of minutes and other services you choose (mobile web, texting, etc...). Pay as you go has never been that appealing to me. The only lousy part is having to stay in a contract for 1 or 2 years. If you want a new phone anytime in this period, you have to pay full retail for the phone you want. IMO though, Verizon is the best cell phone company. Most companies now don't have fees for incoming calls. It just counts against your minutes, and even then they have the mobile to mobile deal. Which means if another caller that has the same service company as you calls, then those minutes don't count. It works great when the entire family has the same network (me).

Don't get me started with the cable companies. They're downright horrible. The HD service is lousy. Always tiling, pixelating, and frequent "freezing" of the picture. The internet has been capped on how much you download, which isn't much considering how much we watch online video, music, and other interactive activities nowadays... The cable company does have a dvr box you can rent for $5-$10 a month, but that's about the only positive to them. Those commercials you see for directv about the cable companies are true for the most part. I swear that's how they think.

DirecTV makes you pay a hundred dollars or so to lease the dvr box from them. But their service and overall experience are second to none. Go to for ratings from actual people.

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:32 AM
You should be able to unlock almost any phone to work on any network... Usually it's not too hard, the only phone I have failed to unlock was a Nokia 6630 - but now some bright spark has even figured out how to do those too (too late for me tho, I've moved on).

All it should take is a bit of internet research on your specific model - I could help if you like, there will always be people who will do it, or say they can do it for a charge, you can always do it for free tho.

I've had to unlock my phones cos I hardly use them, so I'm cheep and I just get peoples old cast off's so I unlock them as standard to work with both my SIM cards - on different networks.

That TV situation sucks man
- but don't forget back in the UK we have the licence fee (for now).

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:34 AM
reply to post by lpowell0627


My better half was offered a job, and I thought I'd tag along for the ride - so far its been pretty cool!

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:34 AM
reply to post by Icerider

You don't find other stories, because people don't know what you just told them.

Free Press is just that. You get pressed for free. That's how they squeeze the cash out of you.

Thanks for this post...It pissed me off...but that's a good thing in this case.


posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:40 AM
WTF .. you guys have to pay to receive calls ... holy freaking crap .. you guys really are held by the balls over their ain't ya's, we have non contract unlocked phones in Australia as well, and we never have to pay to receive a call, and i have never once been called by a telemarketer on my mobile ever

wow dude America sux balls, OP i haven't watched TV for like 4-5 years now, just do what i do and download or buy all you favorite TV series, that way u also get to enjoy your shows with no advertising either

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:40 AM
As I understand it, some of the more expensive cell phones are actually 'satellite phones' and can be changed over to different accounts using a SIM card. At least, that is how a friend of mine explains his to me.

As to the TIVO boxes, I would love to have one. I will pay for the recorder (preferred), or I will lease the recorder; I refuse to do both. As you correctly pointed out, that is paying double.

I have a cell phone, just a simple cheap little device with a contract. I maintain my contractual obligations (although I keep my phones longer than most, and thus am actually under no contract most of the time, which drives VW crazy
) and that's all. My plan has no text even; it's just a telephone.

I have Direct TV (I consider DISH to be one of the worst criminals in the corporate jungle) and am very happy with them. No HD; I have a 27" TV set in the living room. I will probably go ahead at some point and put a TV in my shop, but that's it. No TV set in every room in the house (they charge an extra amount to send individual signals to each receiver). If I want TIVO (which is nothing more than an mpg recording/playback system) bad enough, I'll build one. I have checked: it is perfectly legal and legit to do so, since I am paying for the signal. I have family who actually pay for TIVO, and whenever I mention the ripoff of paying for service on something you payed for to purchase, I am met with dumbfounded looks and explanations of "But that's the way it is". At least I now know I'm not the only one to see the problem.

Welcome to the USA, the land of the confused and the home of the greedy.

Flagged. Starred. Appreciated.


posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:41 AM
reply to post by havok

Couple more years you will see exactly why cell phones are called CELL phones.

Lithium ION Osmosis style. Flouride in the water? it a cocktail of sorts....shaken not stirred.

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:46 AM
reply to post by Now_Then

Thanks for the offer, Now_then, much appreciated, but its ok.
My uk phone is unlocked, I could use it here, but the motorola I bought is fine, basic and functional. I was just whinging at the the lack of freedom, compared to the uk payg.

However, your also right about the cursed licence fee - guess we all get screwed pretty much the same, eh?

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:49 AM

Originally posted by TheRedneck
As I understand it, some of the more expensive cell phones are actually 'satellite phones' and can be changed over to different accounts using a SIM card. At least, that is how a friend of mine explains his to me.

Not quite, a satellite phone is a completely different type of phone... Yep they are a lot more expensive but as the name suggests they communicate directly with the satellites (although they may also have the function to use a normal telephone network if it's in range) - they are typically larger than a standard cell phone, start thinking about the original 80's mobiles and you've got the idea for the smallest ones. They used to be in the form of a large brief case

A cell phone only has to transmit / receive about a maximum of 5 or so miles to a mast (BTS node) - a sat phone has to transmit up to orbit.

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 11:55 AM
reply to post by Icerider

I'll star this for sure. The only counterpoints I can even begin to think of right now are these:

1. Regulation

If Americans wanted their representatives to regulate these things away, we could. So I don't know if this is a conspiracy, per say. Perhaps we're more used to the BS than those in the UK are so we don't demand such protections. Definitely great to see a perspective from another nation. Love it. But regulation is up to democracy in the long run, our people must not care as much... I guess.

And to segway, let's never forget the great US v. UK shoemaker tale. Many years ago but still in the 'modern age', skilled shoe makers who held the equivalent of a union enjoyed great prosperity in the UK. It was a well paying job and people had to do business with one of these craftsmen to get their (no doubt finely made) footwear.

In America there was no such thing at the same time. Sure there used to be. But we had began mass producing cheap shoes. The skilled and highly paid craftsman was replaced by the low paid factory laborer cranking out shoes for the masses.

The UK wasn't 'behind the times' sort to say, but was in fact captured by the political pressure of the craftsman. In the end it took political pressure from the people to do away with the senseless tarrifs and trade restrictions put on the American made shoes.

I digress into a rant about protectionism. But this links here:

2. Profit

Something tells me that when the next big thing - be it awesome new cell phone technology, ultra bandwidth technology, or some futuristic TV set up - hits the market for the masses it will have been these US companies that developed it, or at least sped the transition to the masses.

Maybe something is wrong with America. Maybe we need to give companies the incentive to "screw us" to make our lives better in the end. Maybe its the national character. I have no idea or opinion really.

Great thread.

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 12:20 PM
UK TV programming is government Intel made for suckers.
No one wants it.
UK Intel still makes films for cable and public TV in the states
full of 'educational' avoidance tactics or dis information
according to the way the elite want us top know how things
went down.
I think they finally gave up on telling us Hitler died in '45.
Lets hear them tackle how Tesla died in '43.
And how both might be related to the greatest scientific
advancements in ether energy and a good reason for the
highest security state of the Nazis the world has ever known.


Hitler handed over the flying saucer secrets to his benefactors in the Trilateral Commission, in a secret deal cut between the World Bankers and Industrialists, Trilateralists, CFR, Rockefellers and the Nazis, with the U. S. government acting as “security guard.”

in my profile or

ED: That why UK cell and TV is such a good deal, USA has
good people to support with ads and shady deals.

[edit on 11/23/2009 by TeslaandLyne]

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 12:45 PM
reply to post by Icerider

Yep, those cell phone contracts are just evil, aren't they? Not to mention they emit radiation and probable give the user cancer. I use Time Warner's service, land line phone with free long distance, Basic Cable TV for watching pleasure, and ultra fast internet for two computers for $147 a month, total. I know people who pay that much just for one cell phone. And, we just got a bandwidth upgrade. I'm receiving right now at 1.0 Gb.

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 02:22 PM
can't help with cells but tv shows there are lots of places online to watch them for free or download them thats how i watch everything try looking to see if tv network has free reruns or downloads alot of them do

posted on Nov, 23 2009 @ 02:32 PM
reply to post by Now_Then

Thanks for the update. I specifically worded my post the way I did because this particular friend is not one of the most technologically adept people I know*. His phone is a little larger than mine (but nowhere near as large as the phones you describe; more like one of the larger cell phones), and it does use a SIM card of some sort, as I have seen him swapping it out. He still is tied to the same old plans that any of us are, however.

* Remember the commercials a while back for Windows Vista, that showed people trying something known as 'Windows Mohave" to bypass the public perception of Vista? He actually thinks there is a Windows Mohave OS that was abandoned by Microsoft because it worked too good!


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