OT cell phone rant

Over the last couple years, I have laffed at advertising received in my mail that says “scan this QR code to receive our offer”.

Of course, I can’t scan their code, because I don’t have a cell phone, so the company wasted it’s money sending me information I can’t use.

Now, this is serious. I can’t log in to my home page on my AT&T U-Verse service. When I try to log in, I come to a screen that says “enter a wireless number and we will send you an access code”. Of course, without a cell phone, I can’t receive text messages, so I can’t get their access code to unlock the page. Spent a half hour on the phone with AT&T tech support, to no avail. She said she needs to escalate this and will call back in about a half hour. An hour has passed, so far, with no callback.

So much for the other stuff I wanted to do today.

Steve…still waiting, because the “JCs” decided “everyone has a cell phone, so we will make it impossible to do business with us without one”.


Why don’t you have a cell phone?

I barely use a phone, happily go months without touching the thing. The phones, and answering machine, I have, are paid for and work perfectly. I could not care less about having a cell phone, let alone paying for one, and I resent companies making having a cell a condition of doing business with them.

Steve…closing in on two hours of downtime, waiting for a callback that has not come.


My 2-factor identification users mostly can send “authentication” verification to either my cell, a “friend” cell, or my email. A couple have a second “safe” email".

Perhaps this might help?

In addition, a few years ago, it was possible to get a “Google” phone number, purely online, and free, IIRC, accessed via a Google webpage. Perhaps this would offer an option?



My bank uses two factor authentication, either by voice phone or text, for their web site access. That works fine.

Other sites offer the option of e-mail authentication. That works fine too.

I can get logged in to my U-Verse account page, but there is no backdoor to my home page, that I could find on my account page. The only thing the home page offers for authentication is a text on a cell.

Well, I have been wanting to move, due to issues with the management at the condo. One dilemma was whether I could get the same ISP service elsewhere. AT&T seems to be solving that problem for me, by making their service unworkable.


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OK - but that’s your choice. It’s 2023. Cell phones are the baseline form of communication in the U.S. these days. For obvious reasons - they offer innumerable advantages over landline phones, which most households don’t even have any more. 97% of people in the U.S. own a cell phone.

You might have a reasonable expectation that companies should offer older alternatives to new or recently-developed technologies…but this isn’t new technology any more. It’s the standard. If you want to stay in the 3% that doesn’t have a cell phone, you’ absolutely are allowed to do that - but you can’t really expect the rest of the world to cater to what is now an idiosyncrasy, right?


I’d put it slightly differently: I have a cell phone because it is convenient for me. Although it does seem like an oversight for you not to be able get an access code by email. SMS is less secure than email.

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When I came to Europe in 2019 I finally bought a cell phone. Today it’s very difficult to live without one. I used to rely on my laptop but when I flew to Curaçao in late 2018, I had to ask for help because I didn’t have a cellphone.

The times are a-changin Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin' (Official Audio) - YouTube

The Captain


Hey Steve you should be able to get 5G service for your home internet service. It’s pretty fast and cheaper than AT&T. But you will have to get it through Verizon or Tmobile…both cell phone companies :grinning:



I use Visible, a Verizon backed virtual phone provider, similar to Consumer Cellular, Straight Talk, Mint mobile, cricket, etc.

I used a Samsung S10, 4G for a couple months.
IMO, my connectivity stepped BACK 3 years.
Visible costs me $30/month, saving me about $50/month. Although the connectivity regressed, I decided the savings made it worth it.

I bought a Google Pixel 7 Pro last Fall, after joining Visible, cause it offers 5G.
This phone DROPS calls, and seems to conflict with Visible (Verizon).
[$50/month saved… 12 months pays for the phone. ]

I live on the edge of the Verizon network.
The icon flips between LTE and 5G.
I usually have 1 TINY bar.

And at least once per day, a message “no internet connection”, etc.

The phone is glitchy and starts “acting out” so I restart the PixelOS at least once per day.
It has a "black screen of death’, that has emerged one time.

Still, it is my home internet. The hotspot connects my laptop.
Although, while traveling, there have been dead spots…
It’s “good enough”, at $30/month.

No, I don’t recommend either Verizon/Visible, or the Pixel 7 Pro.
I don’t think they are either better or worse than other options.


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Problem appears resolved…“in the fullness of time”.

After two and a half hours. Ma Bell called back. Got to a real propeller head in their IT department. I took the guy through what I was seeing on my screen. He knew what the problem was: they honked up their server yesterday afternoon. That authentication screen I was seeing is supposed to only go to people accessing the site from phones. They anticipate their server being straightened out “in the fullness of time”. Fortunately, I use Thunderbird for e-mail, so I am not dependent on their site for e-mail access.

The guy wanted me to try some experiments to see if he could find a back door, but I declined. What I did not tell him, as we talked, was that I had given up on them, and started getting washed up. I was sitting there, nekked, wet, and cold.

As for you peeps demanding I conform, and get a cell phone…


No one’s demanding you conform. You have every right to refuse to get a cell phone.

Just pointing out that 97% of the population has adopted that technology, and you’re choosing to be in the 3% that hasn’t. If that causes you inconvenience, that’s because of your choice. It’s not the rest of the world who is responsible for that inconvenience.


@steve203 There are a few easy solutions:

  1. Get a cheap prepaid cellphone and replenish minutes every 12 months to keep the number active. This can be done VERY inexpensively.
  2. Create a google voice number in your google account (free to create one). This will work as a mobile number for many things, but not all things (many banks won’t recognize the number as a mobile number).

Neither of these, of course, can scan a QR code…

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About four years ago, I had a landline phone from Centurylink (no cell phone). Didn’t need/want a cell, and wasn’t worried about.

As far as I could tell, the company went nuts. The cost of just my landline was jacked up so high ($45+/mo), it made no sense to keep it any more. I also had DSL service via their wireline, so that would also go away (because no landline)–which was covered by the ISP. As there was no fiber optic line in the buildings (mgmt decision–IMO, not smart), that meant I had to use Xfinity/Comcast for Internet access. Because I was Internet access only, I avoided their high-cost packages combining multiple services.

I switched to Consumer Cellular, $20-$25. Now I have two cell phones and no landline. I got a cell phone separately because the landline was reasonable when I got it. Now I have two cell phones–$45/month total for both. Cheaper than Centurylink (LOL) for a single landline.

The area already has fiber optic wiring in every street (done years ago). The company will install building-wide fiber to every apt in the complex–at NO CHARGE. Mgmt still says “NO !!”. They say “no” by denying the fiber optics ISP permission to install it. So there are no alternatives except to move if anyone wants/requires something different.

Now for the real funny part: The front-door buzzer system is from the 1960s. It is hard-wired to the internal phone wiring in the building, so there is no “call” being made when using it. If there is no landline active (meaning it is powered by an active Centurylink number), it does not work with a landline phone (not a powered line, so it can’t ring)–even with a landline phone plugged into the jack. Best part: Most people here use cell phones, so few landlines. Mgmt does NOT have a clue, and never will.

They recently replaced the front door access hardware because it kept failing. But they did NOT change anything else. It still uses the existing hardwired lines and can NOT connect to cell phones–so it can’t open the front door for most people because they are using cell phones.

Key point for everyone to remember:

Once an area has been wired (i.e. fiber in the street) for fiber optics, another fiber company will NOT really want to install their own fiber in the same area (too few customers to justify the high cost). As the company that installed the fiber has a citywide contract (20 yrs, maybe 13-15 yrs left to run?), they closed much of the city to other fiber installation. I do not expect to see Xfinity/Comcast install fiber to any building unless that area is already served by their fiber, which is likely outside Minneapolis (i.e. in a neighbor city).

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After dropping Comcast as ISP, I went to AT&T DSL, already had AT&T POTS service. Switched to U-Verse 10 years ago, because it was cheaper, which rendered my rotary dial phones useless, but used DTMF phones were cheap on eBay.

I could drive the salesman at the AT&T store crazy. "What do you have that would be as convenient as what I have now:

Scenario 1: I keep the ringers on all my phones turned off. If I hear someone talking to the answering machine at the other end of the house, that I happen to want to talk to, I pick up a phone that is in easy reach, instead of running to where the answering machine is.

Scenario 2: When I get home, I glance at the answering machine to see if there are any messages. No buttons need to be pressed to check for messages. If there are messages, press one button to confirm it’s a telemarketer, press another button to delete the message.

Scenario 3: landline phones are cheap, so I have several. I don’t need to lug one all over the house, because there is one close at hand in every room.:

What cell phone product provides this level of convenience and cheapness?"

A while back, Jeff was taking off on one of his trips. He was going through the list of all the devices he was taking, and all the chargers for the devices, and all the voltage adapters for the chargers for the devices. When I go somewhere, I take a camera. Much less bother.



As far as I know ( as in, can’t be 100% sure until locked out of a needed app ), all of the 2-step authentication that I’ve been required to use gives an option of either a text or an email. So you should be able to give ATT an email address to prove that you are in fact you, lol.

I admire your rage against the machine !
I like the smart phone too much to join in, though.

Ever think about dumping the landline and replacing it with a smart phone ? Can get an inexpensive one, don’t have to use a $1000 i-phone or android. I wouldn’t pay to have a landline, get a lot of use out of smart phone, but to each his own, at the very least you’re giving big corp a few headaches, lol.

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You’re absolutely right to refuse a cell phone. That movie is spot on. Once you get a cell phone, you have that number for life. No need for your name at all. No one ever changes their cell phone number. They go through life advertising where they lived when they got their first phone, tracked wherever they go by TPC cell towers.

I agree with this.
But if he does change his mind I heard he can go down to Radio Shack and get one for free without needing to scan a QR code. Battery not included. You have to join the battery club and you get a free one each month.



No problem, do what you have to do… However having woked in the telecom wold nearly 40 years, installing Central Offices for POTS lines, their broadband interconnections, microwave, multiplexed, digitized, as well as cellular systems from AMPS on up into LTE, I’m a tad prejudiced, and very comfy in the world of cells as well as the one landline we still hang onto… Oh, did I mention I also am invested in T, VZ, AAPL? Dividends, gains way over the losses over the decades… So we bought out iPhone 11’s when they came out, used not so much as telephones, but they are handy for speakerphone support calls to other vendors… All the other functions from GPS to texting, Zooming, whatever, all come into play with family scattered about… For us, VZ has the best overall coverage, but overseas, Europe, we snag a local SIMM chip so that opens up worldwide as well as local calling, for maybe $20 a month while over there… I see old timers have trouble adjusting, figuring things out, there are local senior citezen classes that can help ot, grandkids are likely handier… Enjoy the time we have left, don’t fight it!

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Our land line with AT&T invoice zoomed to the $70-$80/mo range. The land line had nothing. No call forwarding, no call waiting, no call notes, nothing but a stripped down land line that we’ve had for 50 years. Hey man, that’s a little steep.

The boss and I both had iPhone 8’s. She had a Plus and I had an 8. We upgraded to iPhone 13’s and she sold her 8 Plus at a grocery store while I hung on to mine.

I had been reading up on “porting” where you can retain your phone number but port it over to a cell phone rather than a land line. I called AT&T and they sent me a sim card for my old iPhone 8. We now have three cell phones. Two iPhone 13’s and a iPhone 8. All three together and the cost vs two cells and a land line is actually cheaper.

I can now see who is calling (if they are in my phone directory). I now have an answering machine. If necessary for an important call I can take the third phone with me if necessary.

Works good for us.