It's mind-boggling the amount of effort communication companies must put into their rate plans. I've resisted cell phones for that very reason alone. As soon as I see "if" or "provided that" or "after" or "before" my eyes glaze over and I get this unwavering urge to send the company some literature.

The main issue with the rate plans is that no matter which one I choose, I'll end up feeling stupid. Not only about whether I chose the right plan but also every time I would inevitably think, "I can't call X now because it'll be more expensive" or "I really should swap N for M in my top X list". And that's not even considering the idiocy I would feel for signing up for a contract. I've never signed a lease for three years. Not for an apartment and not for a car. So I'm sure as *%$@ not signing one for the right to get dirty looks when I forget to turn it off in a movie theatre.

This isn't just for cell phones. This little sidebar is being written from Lester B. Pearson airport in Toronto courtesy of (the fact that that's not hyperlink is not an accident). In order for me to sign-up for their one day, $9.95 service, I needed to actually install something on my machine. Not even one of those idiotic ActiveX component that you have to keep open. This is a physical piece of software staring at me from the system tray. At the moment, it says I'm disconnected which I'm not. And yet, I couldn't get online without first installing it, then logging in.

And for completeness, they also lose points for their "lost password" mechanism. Namely, when I signed up, I had to provide not only a password but a four-digit PIN number in the event I forgot my password. My guess is that if you forgot your password, you would provide that PIN number and they'd send it to you via e-mail. Or maybe reset it. In any case, I would be embarrassed to even suggest you enter a four-digit PIN for *anything* in the 21st century. And you just know at least half the people signing up are using their bank PINs.

But it's hard to fault them completely for that kind of inanity. Like I said, I *did* sign up for it...

Kyle the Example