Tips for Shopping for the Wireless Service
and Switching Carriers
Click Here to know about Transferring Your Cell Phone and Home Phone
Wireless phones and plans are changing constantly and service contracts
can be difficult to read. There is no standardized format to help
consumers comparison-shop, which makes looking for the right cellular plan
very confusing. Here
are the the wireless industry's best-kept
secrets and how you can use them to your advantage when shopping for
wireless services. Consumers should always remember to select a carrier and
a plan first before choosing a phone.
Look Around for the Best New Plan:
Before you switch, do your homework.
One smart strategy is to know
from your old bills,
which tell you about your calling habits. How many
minutes do you use a month? Do you need long distance included in your
plan? What should your "local calling area" be — national or
regional, with which you'll be charged roaming every time you leave your
Once you know the answers to these questions, call each of the wireless
providers in your area and ask them what they can offer that fits your needs. Don't get lured into other juicy
offers, the carriers will have a lot more
plans than you see on their brochures, which often list only the company's
Know exactly where is home/Local region and
national Calling Area:
Ask to check
out the coverage maps, but note federal regulators no longer require
carriers to provide maps. So your best bet is to seek recommendations from
friends, neighbors or business associates who drive the same roads and
walk the same sidewalks you do before you sign up with any cell phone
with the carriers:
When you find a great deal with a new carrier, tell your current provider
about it before you switch. Unless you're absolutely certain that you
want to switch carriers, chances are you might end up with a matching or an even better
offer from your current provider.
After all, the cell-phone companies spend anywhere from $350 to $425 to
gain each new customer. If they can keep you on board for less than that,
they'll be willing to spend the money.
So how much should you expect? On average, cell-phone companies shell
out $65 for each customer retained,
but you could get a lot
more if the company deems you a valuable customer. If you have a
couple of phone lines, you're using a ton of minutes, you're using other
data services, you're a more valuable customer than someone who's using
the phone only in case the car breaks down.
Two-Year Contract? Think Twice Before You Sign:
So your carrier surprised you with a very lucrative offer. But wait. Will
you have to sign a one-year or a two-year contract to get it?
It is advised that you stay away from two-year
contracts since telecom and wireless technology is getting better day by
day and you might get better phones and plans with in months after you
signup for the contract.
Wireless number portability will force the cell-phone companies to come up
with more creative offers in the battle for customers (the more reason not
to sign a two-year contract yet).
Stay on top of new offers so you're prepared for your next switch.
It was predicted that in the near future, the different carriers will
start targeting users with different needs. "In the past, it has
almost been one size fits all, but in the future, you'll see
some carriers position themselves as pricing leaders, offering the lowest
prices, others differentiating themselves on excellent quality and
customer service, and still others offering the latest camera phones,
screen savers and other data services for the techno geeks. "The
carriers are going to start to position themselves to cater to those
different markets.Paying for incoming
Typically, incoming calls are
charged against your minutes, but some plans are offering free incoming
Check not to exceed your minutes:
It’s important to understand the cost of exceeding your
minutes since doing so not only increases your calling costs but also the
overall taxes you’re charged. But shoppers should also avoid getting drawn
in by a large number of free minutes--if the minutes aren't available when
you use the phone, you end up paying more.
Roaming charges and Long Distance Charges:
Carriers usually charge
additional per minute fees for calls made from another carrier's network.
Some have eliminated these fees in nationwide plans. If you are likely to
place calls outside your "home" area, be sure you understand the
additional charges and whether you should consider a regional or national
Some plans include long distance
service, others charge additional per minute fees for long distance.
Unused minutes and Roll-Over Minutes:
Generally, remaining minutes
at the end of a billing period are lost. Recently, some carriers have
begun offering plans that allow customers to roll over minutes into the
Most carriers round
usage up to the next full minute, even if only a small portion of the
minute is used. Some carriers offer plans that round to the nearest
second. If you typically use up your minutes, this feature may be
Free Incoming minutes:
Some carriers offers free incoming or first incoming minute is free.
Remember to ask the carrier about the free incoming plans.
Using same phone with another carrier:
networks are not necessarily compatible with each other, so switching
service usually means purchasing a new phone. In recent days there are
some phones available with SimCard facility and those phones can be used
with other compatible carriers.
services such as directory assistance, Caller ID, voice mail, text
messaging, etc., may be included in the monthly charge or may incur
additional charges, depending on the plan. A plan may advertise these
services as available, but not clearly indicate the additional
Charges to start and terminate the service:
charge activation fees to begin service and often hefty termination fees
to end service before the end of a contract period.
Analog and Digital mode Phones:
Phones that can
work in both digital and analog modes give you more opportunities to get
through, which can be especially important when dialing 911 in an
emergency. Analog is the common wireless language, which is widely
Estimate of the taxes, fees and surcharges with
typical usage of the phone:
Remember that these can add up
increasing the bottom line of your bill by several dollars per month.
These charges vary depending on where you live and the size of your bill
before taxes, but we've seen these charges add as much as 20% to cell
Test period/ Customer satisfaction:
Many carriers offer
a 15-day/30-day trial period before stiff early termination penalties kick
in when you signup for long-term contract. The carrier will charge on the
used minutes if decided to cancel the service. Without a
trial run you may find that your chosen carrier has "dead zones" in those
spots that you would use your phone most often. Note that there’s often a
nominal non-refundable start-up fee.
After your purchase, review your bills carefully, especially the
first one to ensure you are charged as
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