Published Jun 7, 2005

I want a Treo 650. I covet a Treo 650. Remarkably, I even need a Treo 650. Yet, somehow, there doesn’t seem to be a Treo 650 in the Greater Phoenix area. Truly, I am an oppressed victim of the system.

It all started when I got here on Saturday; no cell phone reception. Sunday, I drove around and got occasional reception. Monday, more driving around, less signal. I do not believe it is possible, in the 21st century, for an individual under 40 to live for an extended period without cell phone service. Certainly, I cannot live like that. Every day I make my way without this phone I think of more friends — good people, special people, people with whom, I admit, I haven’t spoken in a year — I need to call. It’s torture to actually have to interact with individuals geographically proximal to me for entertainment.

So, with no cell service, I did what anybody would do as a very last resort: I called Cingular. Apparently the Cingular network in Phoenix is provided by AT&T Wireless (since acquired by Cingular), and my phone is too old to be compatible with that network. I have two choices:

  • Get a new phone
  • Begin to live in the last century

So I decided to get a new phone. I’d coveted the Treo 650 for some time now — it syncs with Outlook, it runs all sorts of programs, it’s got a keyboard, and it’s kinda slick-looking. I’ve had my Nokia 3650 for two years and I’ve got an upgrade coming to me, so I drove to the nearest Cingular store. The woman in line in front of me got the last Treo in the store; so I went to another store. No Treo there either! I called the third Cingular store and they were out too. Fry’s was, similarly, sold out, and Sprint was out-of-stock as well. Verizon only has the Treo 600 and I can’t live without Bluetooth.

Being a (for the moment) 21st-century inhabitant, I jumped on the Web to get a Treo. Well, Cingular’s Web site crashed on me, and the only vendors who would sell me a Treo and overnight it wanted over $500 for it. So I broke down and decided to speak with an actual human being and called 611 on my rommate’s Cingular phone. Can I use the word Cingular enough? Cingular Cingular Cingular.

Anyway so I called Cingular. Three times. No joy. Transferred into the ether; transferred to the wrong person; sorry, by now the department you’re calling is closed.

I’d get mad, but I want my gadget too much to think of anything but its imminent acquisition. I’ll get mad later. Until then, I need to decide:

  • Do I call local stores every day to see if a Treo becomes available, and then drive over and acquire the item immediately?
  • Do I call Cingular and order the phone now, and wait 5 business days for it to be delivered?

I want my Treo 650! Waaah!


i’d order it and wait the 5 bus days. i’ve been in similar situations before and because i wanted the item immediately, and thought for some reason that i could get it much faster than if it were mailed to me, i’d go searching all over town for it, never find it, then three days later wish i would’ve ordered it because it’d be only 2 more days ‘til i got it in the mail. i would call the stores, ask how long ‘til they get a shipment, then either wait or order online ASAP. salud!

That’s actually how I was thinking yesterday. Being a good business school student, however, I decided to build a model to help me see which approach I should take. This model contained a few assumptions:

  • There was a 1/3 chance that, if I waited to get a phone, the Cingular store would get them in stock and sell out before I could get one for myself
  • The Cingular store had already re-ordered them and was anticipating delivery between Wednesday and Saturday (per my conversation with store staff)
  • If I ordered from customer service, the phone would take 3-6 business days to arrive
  • The odds of the phone arrriving were evenly distributed across all days on which the phone could arrive (except for rounding for convenience)
  • If I was unable to buy a Treo locally by Saturday, I would order one on the phone on Sunday

So, the objective of this model is to pick the strategy that will give me the highest chance of having a Treo soon. Will it be:

  1. Try to get one locally, then order one on the phone on Sunday
  2. Order it on the phone now

Here’s how the odds worked out:


So the first line is the chance that I’ll get the phone on a given day given strategy 1, and the second line is the cumulative chance that I will have recieved the phone on that day or on a previous day, again given strategy one, and so on for strategy two. As you can see, strategy two is only more optimal on next Thursday or afterwards; strategy one (try to buy the phone here) gives me a better chance of getting the Treo until that date, and a not much worse chance after that date. So I’m going with strategy 1.

umm, ok. so what’s the answer? hey, what’s up with the “Brazilian Gay” ad on your site? that’s weird.

Sorry about it, it took a minute to make the comment display right.

I haven’t seen the “Brazillian Gay” ad but I guess I’m not too surprised, I have a lot of Brazil entries from PRIME. Google will do that to ya I guess!