April 26, 2004

Vincent Van Treo

So I bought the Treo600 on Sunday. Buying a phone from Sprint is an experience, let me tell you.

You might as well sign over your mortgage and title to your car, not to mention your first-born and your left arm, when you buy a phone and set up a plan with a phone company. First they want your driver's license. Then they want your social security number. Then they present in front of you a nearly impossible-to-read (how convenient for them) legal document --- not printed on paper, but printed onscreen in the cheesiest, faint-purple-on-light gray pixellated fonts you can imagine. The screen is a touchscreen, and there are navigation boxes onscreen at the bottom of each "page" of this legal agreement (where you essentially agree that you'll never sue Sprint for anything ever, and they will fine you, hit you with fees, taxes no doubt including the Spanish American War Tax, surcharges, and who knows what else, if you don't do what they tell you to do).

When you're done squinting at one "page", you try to touch the "Forward" box on this greasy, sticky touch panel that who knows how many customers like yourself have squinted at and touched already today, and of course, the "page" does not change, until you've rocked and smooshed and squished your finger around but good on that "Forward" box, and then the page updates to get another screen's worth of poorly-formatted legal gibberish. All the while you're wondering, where is the clause in this "agreeement" that says that "Now that Sprint has approved your credit, we don't need to have your driver's license nor your SSN anymore, so here is our solemn oath that we have deleted this information from our computers and files and will protect your privacy into perpetuity so help us God".

Alas, such a clause never appears, on this "page", nor the next, nor the next one after that.

After five or six of these pages, you finally arrive at the end, where you are then asked to touch the "Finished" box, which wipes the screen clear and then you're presented with a signature box, and you're asked to sign your name using the stylus Sprint has so graciously provided. And of course, your signature as it appears onscreen always looks like you're intoxicated or in the middle of a major earthquake, and never looks like, well, your signature. But somehow the Sprint salesperson doesn't mind this at all. What they've gathered is your credit card, your address, your phone number, your social security number, and your driver's license number. You paid $400 something for the phone and the service plan, but how much else have you paid Sprint? How much money is Sprint going to get for all of that personal information? Who do they resell it to? Questions that strangely the storekeepers never have answers for.

Anyway. I have a cellphone now. And I took some pictures with it. This is one of the first, taken on Soledad Mountain in La Jolla while I was walking the dog. Brilliant sunlight overhead, brilliant colors down on the ground. The Treo's camera clearly freaked out a bit over the saturated colors. All I did was crop it a tiny bit to fit here in the blog. No other alterations. I think Vincent Van Gogh would have been proud:

And here are some others from the first batch of pictures. The dog is probably thinking, oh great, more pictures...

Posted by brian at April 26, 2004 09:36 PM


I refused to give T-mobile my SSN and argued with the clerk for a while and threatened to walk out on them on several occasions before he allowed me to get service the "old fashioned" way.

I would want a printed copy of the agreement that I signed that I can keep for my records. And, of course, I am keeping every single update they make to the thing. I almost need a single folder just for their ToS agreement.

If I would have been going through what you just described I would have walked out on them and ordered my unlocked phone from the internet.

Posted by: Sander van Zoest at April 29, 2004 06:12 PM

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