when does it take a Ph.D. to figure out a cell-phone
plan? Just the other day, a friend commented on
how her cell-phone bill went from $200 a month
to over $600 a month. She wanted to get more peak
minutes (those that occur during the business
part of the day), so she changed her calling plan.
What she didnít realize is that when she made
this switch, her peak time period also changed.
This meant that instead of her night and weekend
rate starting at 7 p.m. as she was accustomed
to, it started at 9 p.m. So, even though she added
to her monthly peak minutes, she quickly used
them during what she thought was an ďunlimitedĒ
weekend time frame from 7 to 9 p.m.
it comes to cell-phone contracts, lots of areas
abound to wind up in the hot seat. As a business
owner, who may use the friends and family feature
(this is an option that does not charge when the
caller places a call to a phone on the same plan),
there are many other options to consider before
signing on the dotted line. To save time, money
and exasperation, follow these guidelines when
selecting a new cell-phone provider, renewing
a contract or changing your calling plan.
your hours. Peak hours for some cell-phone
plans begin at 7 a.m. and end at 7 p.m. Others
begin at 8 a.m. and end at 8 p.m. Still others
can begin as early as 7 a.m. and end at 9 p.m.
If your cell-phone habits call for a maximum number
of peak minutes, be sure that you are choosing
a plan that will give you the most bang for your
buck. And, donít assume that once you have a good
plan in place that when you renew you will automatically
have the same hours. One national carrier, reportedly,
let customers know their peak hours were going
to change through their bill. The carrier asked
for customers to call if they did not agree to
the new terms, customers who did not call were
considered to accept the new conditions. Donít
assume that changes will appear on the first page,
either. This carrier put the change information
in the back of the bill, following the call summary!
before you leap. Since cell-phone carriers
offer new plans almost weekly, chances are that
within a few months of signing up, a new plan
may be available that you like more than the one
you started out with. The primary issue to consider
when changing calling plans is that it may require
an extension of your current contract. Ask how
many months the change extends your contractual
obligations. Often, it is at least one year.
the fine print. There are endless issues associated
with calling plans. Be sure to read the fine print
donít simply take the sales associateís word for
it. In the end, you are responsible for the contract
you sign. Ask questions about add-on charges for
caller ID, an itemized call summary each month,
even how each call is counted. Does the carrier
charge in intervals of 10 seconds are do you get
charged for a full minute, even if you only use
a fraction of it? Roam charges can drive up a
bill very fast for those who travel often.
the term. If you are contemplating changing
carriers, it may be worthwhile to ask for a trial
period where you ďtry outĒ the plan. Some may
go for this, but others wonít. If you are concerned,
ask about the minimum monthly fee in case you
decide to stick with your current carrier. In
most instances, cell-phone carriers offer a $19.99
security plan for those customers who only carry
a phone in case of emergency. Generally, the minimum
term for a new plan is one year, but carriers
sometimes will offer deals to sweeten the pot
so you will sign for longer than one year. Ask
for all the offers and then make an informed decision.
return or not to return. Ah, this is the question
for those who may want to cancel a plan early
or even at all. Is that freebie phone really free?
Do you own it or do you have to return it at the
end of the plan term? Find out up front so you
donít end up paying more later.
and ye shall receive. Your monthly statement
isnít likely to advertise the latest and greatest
calling plan options
those offers are geared toward NEW customers.
From time to time, call in to see if thereís a
better plan available for your calling habits.
Just dial 611 on any phone to access customer
in on loyalty. Cell-phone carriers love loyal
customers. There are all kinds of loyalty discounts
if you ask for them. From discounted phone upgrades
to sharing the same great calling plan you signed
up on (that may no longer be available) for your
business partner. Phone discounts usually depend
on a minimum term earned and generally require
a term extension, but hey, if you love the company,
issues and frustrations can hamper performance
in a big way. Use these tips to minimize cell-phone
headaches and maximize cell-phone approval ratings.
When you are ready to tackle other performance
issues, let us know; we can help.