Cellular Amendments

This June marks four years that T-Mobile has been my cell phone provider. Ever since my switch from Verizon, I've been quite pleased with the company. Family plans are affordable, the pay-as-you-go system was a savior during college, and the customer service reps have been delightful. But as my "needs" and "wants" for what I want out of my cellular device increase, I'm debating switching to oh, say, AT&T or even back to Verizon. But I have my reservations about the big decision. Can I trust it to bring me better service ... better phones ... a better life?

For those of us a bit on the edge or aggravated by the nation's mobile phone service, Slate's tech guru Farhad Manjoo believes that we deserve the best (and only the best) for the amount we pay to stay connected: The Cell Phone Bill of Rights. He gives four suggestions that we all should have when signing up for a new cell phone plan. But here's one for starters:

You have the right to return your phone.

There's a better way to choose a cell plan. Thanks to pressure from state regulators across the country, all major mobile carriers now offer a 30-day grace period on their phones. To find out what kind of service you'll get, sign up for a phone, test it out for a month, and then take it back if your service is terrible.

There's only one problem with these 30-day return policies: Nobody knows about them. They ought to be spelled out in bold on your contract, and the salesman ought to remind you to come back in a month when you walk out the door. The government could mandate this, of course, but I think that the first cell company to advertise these provisions voluntarily would see a lot of action. Try before you buy! is a simple, killer slogan.

The much-anticipated, possible game-changing iPad release is just around the corner, but gripes about our cell phone service will always be a hot topic. Just as Farhad asks at the end of his wish-list, tell us — what's on your Cell Phone Bill of Rights?

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