Up until a couple of years ago, cellphone companies offered their services only through contracts. During those times, there was also the option of buying a prepaid phone where every minute of every call (and eventually, every text message) had some type of cost.
Thanks to the generosity of my High School basketball coach, I was able to obtain one of those prepaid phones. A couple of years later, a police officer neighbor also added me to her family share plan because, as a college student, my resources were too limited to be able to afford my own contract.
Before the beginning of my Sophmore year, I got the sudden urge to become more independent and I asked my neighbor to cut my phone line (which she passes along to my sister because canceling a line was more expensive than it was worth). I signed a contract with Verizon and soon added my mother to my plan because she lacked a cell phone as well and needed to be able to communicate with her employers.
Few jobs are stable as a college student and a year-and-a-half before graduating, I returned to Los Angeles to study at a local university. This move left me without a job and the lack of funds resulted in Verizon cutting my phone service. By that time, a new company, MetroPCS had surged and expanded and I was able to obtain a new service with them at $40. This was extremely cheap in comparison to the $120 Verizon used to charge me for a more limited service.
I have continued to use MetroPCS ever since then. Recently, I was able to finally obtain a SmartPhone when a friend sold his old one to my partner. However, keeping my service active is often a challenge when I find myself having to choose between paying (now) $50 for cellphone service or using it for the rent, electricity bills, food or gas.
As for my contract with Verizon, the company ended up closing my account a couple of months later and fined me the great sum of $900 for ending my contract early. In the end, my account was sent to collection and as a result, even though I pay almost all of the rent for my family's appartment, I am unable to rent anything out in my name because of my bad credit. And so the years will pass until one day I am able to either pay this exhorbitant amount of money or the seven year reporting limit buries that chapter, whichever occurs first.