Giving up the GoPhone

I’m about to admit something that will have you presume that I’m not technologically savvy, but just as Elephant Man declared, “I am not an animal”, so too, I say, “I am not a Luddite.” I just got my first smart phone. It wasn’t the technology that held me back for so long, it was the price. The hundred dollar per month plan compared to my hundred dollar a year GoPhone was not worth it for me. Besides, I needed the extra cash for more important things like my wine. Then along came Republic Wireless with a ten dollar per month plan that inspired me to make the switch.

My old GoPhone with pre-paid minutes is one of those deals where you keep adding money so that the minutes roll over rather than expire. After several years of this plan, I found myself with an excess of $400 worth of minutes. Before porting my old number to the new phone, I thought I’d give AT&T Customer Service a call to check out my options. Although they’ll never give a refund, a representative named Fernando was very helpful and gave me some food for thought. First, he was able to extend the expiration date of the existing minutes so that I don’t need to refill any time soon. He mentioned that the GoPhone minutes can be transferred to another account, do you have any family or friends to give them to? While I couldn’t come up with anyone I know personally, it did prompt me to search online for charitable donations. The way it works for a pre-paid customer is that you send a text message as instructed, they send you a confirmation, and when you reply, a fixed amount is deducted from your pre-paid minutes account. I tested it out with a donation to the American Cancer Society and the transaction was instantaneous.

Here’s some info I’d like to share:

Mobile Giving (http://www.mobilegiving.org/) has a list of charities where you text a “shortcode” and a “keyword” and a preset amount will be donated to the organization.

For some charities, you can also go directly to the organizations website like the Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org/support/donating-fundraising/donations/text-messaging

Cell Phones for Soldiers accepts donations of gently-used mobile phones as well as funds (http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/about.php). The money received from the recycling of cell phones is used to purchase international calling cards for active-duty military deployed overseas to connect with their friends and family back home.

The Verizon Hopeline program connects survivors of domestic violence to vital resources and funds organizations nationwide. They are located at http://www.verizonwireless.com/aboutus/hopeline/

From the How Stuff Works website, “Many charities have partnered with cell phone refurbishers and recyclers as a way of generating funds while keeping phones out of landfills, so everybody wins.”

Please use caution when donating. I’m sure the nefarious types have ways to scam your well-intentioned gifts. And don’t forget to wipe the phone’s memory to protect personal information before giving it away.

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