Buyer Beware: Do you own what you own?

Europe is in a week (!) … But I’ve hit a rather strange snag with the latest item on my To Do list.

I was informed that the best way to use your mobile phone in Europe was the following:

  • Unlock your phone.  Your phone may be locked to the carrier, to prevent you from using other carriers.
  • Buy a Pay-As-You-Go SIM card in Europe.  The phone plans in Europe are MUCH cheaper – I could actually afford data when I’m over there!
  • Purchase a SIM card in non-EU countries, and then purchase a separate SIM card when travelling in EU countries.
  • Avoid buying Canadian mobile “travel packs” as they’re eye-gouging.  Case in point: a CSR told me that an additional $60 add-on to my plan for 15 international minutes and 100 texts was “affordable”  and “a great deal”

However, unfortunately, for me, my iPhone 4 is locked to Rogers and apparently, this model and carrier is so notoriously difficult to unlock, it would cost me a whopping $120.  (Rogers does however unlock your phone for a further $50 + taxes).

Hard to believe when you see it as I do: paying extra money so that a phone in my possession, in my name, is given the ability to be used with any other carrier.  Now while the phone was a gift and was more likely than anything subsidized by a few hundred dollars, when you purchase such a phone, it’s understood you essentially give up that degree of control even AFTER all’s been said and done, & the warranty is gone. You have no other connection to the seller and yet you still are unable to have a say in something as minute as putting another carrier’s SIM card and having your phone function fine.


This got me thinking about the control we give to corporations as consumers. Well, really, what does that say about how much we’re willing to give up in our consumer freedom? Owning, and specifically full ownership, of an item seems to be growing into an outdated idea.

The new XBOX was recently announced by Microsoft and it is a whirlwind of ownership issues. Did you know that you’re unable to fully turn off the new XBOX (as it enables voice activation at any time to be powered on – it’s ALWAYS listening)? Or that it’s now impossible to give your used games away, because you’re restricted by licenses?

It’s BIZARRE! You pay full price for the IDEA of owning something, and then the freedoms and the choices you make with these items are restricted. You essentially invite corporations into your private space, a realm that prior to this technology, never had been intruded so stealthily upon. That’s like buying a plant, and then being sued when you try to grow the seeds.  Oh wait.

As consumers, we need to set more distinct boundaries on the level of control companies have on our lives. It seems minuscule but the tiny instances are frankly a bit shocking. If we fail to do so, we allow companies to continue dictating terms and conditions, even after we leave the store. We use technology to help us aid and control our lives more efficiently … But isn’t it funny that use of the same technology can also enable others to control us in the same manner?


2 thoughts on “Buyer Beware: Do you own what you own?

Tell me what you think! -KL

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