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Consumer Archive

Consumer

Cell phones Cut costs preserve service

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YONKERS, N.Y. (1/22/08)--Most of us can’t imagine life without cell phones--practically everyone has one. But, not everyone is happy with cell phone service (Consumer Reports January). According to the Annual Survey of Cell-Phone Service, conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center, fewer than half of survey respondents actually were completely or very satisfied with the cell service they receive. Another cell phone gripe: the bill. Consumer Reports offers tips to curb the cost:
* Watch your minutes. If you go over the limit in minutes, you’ll pay big bucks. For those times when you know you’ll exceed your limit, ask your provider to temporarily increase your minutes. If you don’t, you could wind up paying overage charges as high as 45 cents a minute. * Use the plan to your advantage. Check plan details for free calls to other plan customers as well as free calling to certain numbers you choose. * Compare packages. When shopping for the best deal, don’t focus on voice minutes alone. Check prices for texting, instant messaging (IM), or sending photos if you’ll use those services. * Control kids’ cell phone use. When you add someone to your plan, be aware of your minutes and theirs as well. Define rules of cell phone use with your kids. Consider options that let you control the numbers your kids can call, text or IM. * Purchase prepaid minutes. If you find you’re left with a lot of unused minutes each month, consider a prepaid cell phone. You generally pay for the phone, but you can prepay for a designated amount of minutes. Prepaid phones work well for people who want a phone for emergencies only or for those who won’t use a lot of minutes. Be careful though--prepaid minutes can expire.
Whether you’re a talker or an IMer, understand the details of your plan. For more information, read “OMG, It's an IM Lingo Guide for Parents,” in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.