Okay, what else? Give up? How about your cell phone?
My colleague Eric Zeman has already commented in his blog on the study by J.D. Powers that says that Americans are opting for less expensive cell phones and holding on to them longer. They're able to do this because phone manufacturers are subsidizing the cost of the phones in order to get people to purchase long-term contracts -- and as a result, many of us are using older models with less snazzy features. "People won't know what to do with themselves if they have to actually fork over some cash for their phones," he concludes.
He's right -- if I had to pay the full retail value for my basic cell phone, I'd be a bit peeved. But it wouldn't be because I'm not used to forking over cash to the phone companies. Anyone who owns a cell phone that is not supplied by their employer knows that, no matter what kind of monthly fee you contracted your service for, it will go up steadily month by month through the use of increased taxes, surcharges, added fees, and dozens of other little unannounced costs. So I suspect -- and I'm sure many other consumers do likewise -- that no matter how subsidized that little phone is, the company that supplied it makes up the difference one way or another by the time that two-year contract is over. Another razor sold.
Take my own case. My low-cost, older-model cell phone took an inadvertent (and fatal) dip in the Atlantic Ocean over the Memorial Day weekend -- about three months before my two-year contract was up. Am I running out to buy a market-price $600 Treo so that I can make calls, check my e-mail, surf the Web, and contribute to the health of the economy? In my dreams, sure. But what I'm actually doing is buying my old model on eBay for about $25 so that I can afford something a little better once September rolls around.