A few days after making Aliyah I jubilantly went over to the nearest Orange store in order to open up an account and have my first Israeli cell phone. Finally, I instead of listening to other people yell loudly into an inanimate object in public places, I could be the one doing the yelling.
So, off to Givat Shaul and into the closest Orange store. I signed up for a plan that met my needs (which is marketing for “would be the cheapest given my situation”) and even got a free phone, well kind of. The phone I got was a brand new, but simple Nokia that I could either (1) pay ₪ 1,080 for up front, or (2) pay in 36 easy payments of ₪ 30 shekels a month. But here is the catch. Any month when I would spend over ₪ 200 on my cell phone bill I would be exempt for paying that month’s payment on the phone. So if I were to spend ₪ 200 per month on my cell phone bill for the next three years, my brand new cell phone would be free.
Over the next few years I did not pay too much attention to my cell phone bill, except I always made sure I spent above ₪ 200 each month, less I have to pay for that month’s cell phone charge and be considered a friar (remember in Israel – better death than being thought a friar).
Fast foreword almost three years. A lot has changed in my life and reality has forced me to actually become financially responsible. I began cutting back on my expenses, but still tried not to cut back on my cell phone bill; after all, I would be missing out on ₪ 30 free every month. Finally, after a few months, I realize that I can be conservative with my phone and cut my phone bill down to around ₪ 70 a month. It wasn’t even that hard; I just started using a landline when it became available. In retrospect, I was throwing out money by overusing my cell phone. The longest calls I had were to the US and the number I used to call the US is a 1-800 number, so when I was calling from a cell phone, I was paying for a call that would have been free from my landline.
In retrospect, I used my cell phone so much extra to save an extra ₪ 30 a month (or ₪ 1,080 total), that I probably ended up spending over ₪ 3,000 in extra calls.
Lesson learned: consider how a “deal” affects your spending habits and don’t give in
Post Script – Recently my sister bought an Israeli cell phone much better than mine, with the same simple features, for only a few hundred shekels – less than a tenth of the price I paid.
Post Post Script – you can get the same phone she bought from orange for free, if you agree to spend over ₪ X every month for the next 36 months…