Feb. 10 has come and gone. You may not have noticed that the day was different from any other, but millions of cell phone users would beg to differ. That’s because now they’re calling, texting and messaging via brand-new iPhones on the Verizon network.
Millions more are wondering what all the hullabaloo is about. It’s just a phone, right?
Yes and no. Cell phones are morphing into minicomputers capable of almost everything your laptop does. And like computers, it seems that as soon as you bring one home, it’s obsolete.
It’s enough to make even the savviest of consumers crazy.
To help you stay in touch, the BBB offers the following tips when choosing a cell-phone carrier:
Buy what’s right for you, not what’s hot right now. If you want a phone with all the bells and whistles, go for it; if not, look for one that has only the features you want to use, such as comfortable keyboard, big screen, maybe a camera.
Most cell-phone plans are for two years and come with hefty fees if service is canceled before time is up. Two-year plans usually offer incentives on phones and packages that sweeten the deal.
Prepaid cell phones – you pay only for minutes that you need – are another option and could be an economical solution if you aren’t a heavy cell phone user. Many now also offer the popular data and Web options.
Regardless of the plan, it’s important to know how you use your phone. If you’re a heavy texter, it might make more sense to get a plan with unlimited texts. If you don’t text, then why pay for the service?
Can you hear me now? Yes, that line makes for a humorous commercial, but it can be a deal breaker. Cell phones are all about making and receiving calls – and if you get poor or no reception, why bother? If possible, “test” a phone’s service reception before you finalize the contract. And while smaller and regional carriers may offer less-expensive plans, the trade-off is in coverage. Small carriers may supplement voice coverage with roaming fees.
Coverage maps are a good indicator of service you can expect. But don’t just take the carrier’s word about their coverage. Check out CellReception.com Type in your zip code to find cell towers registered with the FCC. The more towers your carrier has, the better the reception you’ll have.
Before you sign on the dotted line, read the entire contract, including the fine print. Don’t be pressured into purchasing a plan that doesn’t fit your needs or budget. Make sure you know what the actual monthly bill will be after extra fees are added in. Be sure you understand what’s included in the plan and what’s not included. And before signing on with a wireless carrier, check them out with your BBB at bbb.org.
Don’t go a day without your BBB. Follow us on Twitter
. For more consumer information or to check out the BBBlog, visit sandiego.bbb.org.