Woman Pays $14,000 to Lease Rotary Dial Phone

Dennis Faas's picture

With the advent of touchtone telephones and society's increasing dependence on cellular phones, most rotary phones have gone the way of the dinosaur. But, this proved to be not so for an elderly woman in Ohio, who over the past 42 years, has paid approximately $14,000 U.S. in rental fees for her two landline rotary dial phones. (Source: news.com)

Ester Strogen, 82, leased two black rotary phones back in the 1960's from AT&T. At that time, telephone technology was new and rotary phones were relatively expensive. Therefore, many customers paid telephone rental fees to AT&T as part of their basic telephone service.

Strogen and her late husband had been leasing the phone at a cost of approximately $30.00 U.S. every 3 months since then. The irony is that the rotary phones she had been leasing are worth only pennies -- at most $5.00 -- at a garage sale.

Family Outraged: AT&T Taking Advantage of the Elderly

Strogen's family is outraged by AT&T's actions. Strogen's granddaughter, Barb Gordon said "It's taking advantage of the elderly. People our age wouldn't even consider leasing a telephone." Gordon also expressed her anger and pointed out the obvious that "If my own grandmother was doing it, how many other people are?" (Source: upi.com)

Strogen's situation raises societal issues in regards to companies taking advantage of the elderly. John Skalko, spokesperson for Lucent Technologies (an offshoot of AT&T that manages the company's residential leasing service), defends the company's practices, saying that bills are clearly marked and customers can cancel the leasing service at any time. (Source: usatoday.com)

Customers Still Leasing

Currently, Approximately 750,000 consumers nation-wide pay leasing fees for their telephones. At the height of the service's popularity, over 40 million customers leased phones.

Skalko said that the company "will continue to lease sets as long as there is a demand for them". He also noted that telephone leasing does have its benefits including free replacements and the option of switching to newer models.

As for Strogen, two months ago she traded in her leased rotary dial telephone for a newer more up-to-date touchtone model. Strogen says that she is not a big fan of the new technology revealing that she'd "like to have [her] rotary back." (Source: usatoday.com)

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