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My phone died last week. It was a shiny black Samsung slider phone, got me a lot of compliments. It was so cool, in fact, that Cingular (now AT&T) wouldn’t insure the thing when I bought it a year and a half ago. And so they informed me I’d have to sign a new contract or shell out $100-plus to either buy a new phone or relinquish my contract. I’m bent on waiting out the deal so I can sign up with another evil empire, so I started sniffing around for ways to cheat the system.

There are a few. One is to find a friend who bought their own cool new phone, and pop your SIM card in their old one. Friends like to help you cheat the system and will send you their banged up old phones from as far as Georgia, not that I did this. The other trick is to buy a GoPhone from Radio Shack for $20. The key here is to not tell the guy at the counter what you’re up to. When I confessed my cheating intentions to the clerk last week, he refused to sell to me. Then he rang up a no-questions-asked burner for the 13-year-old waiting in line behind me.