Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Cell Phones and Cellular Calling Plans

Today's high tech world and fast paced living are bringing consumers to more frequently trade-up cellular devices with multiple and various applications (apps), all in one slim, sleek, compact, hand-held, multi-media toy. As the solicitations and opportunities to upgrade to the newest and fastest offering, many consumers are asking which, if any, phone and plan is right for them. Weighing the benefits of an under-contract rate and services versus a pay-as-you-go plan is complex and intricate, laden with plans and options, service and termination fees.

Here are some tips when considering the purchase of a cellular phone and wireless plan:

  • Know the language. Be familiar with the features available and the capability level required to support the apps. Usually, an additional fee will apply. Do your research in store and online of product reviews, new technology releases and company reputation.
  • Shop around. To find the best cellular plan, phone and service provider for you, understand the offers and know what you?re getting for your money. Most plans consist of a monthly allotment of minutes. Because there are usually additional fees once you exceed your monthly time allotment, knowing exactly what a plan includes and what its limitations are can save you a great deal of money and potential headaches. Some retailers publish a catalogue guide to the four major carriers and others, their products, plans with conract and without. Many times, store personnel will have a recommendation but be alert to commission salespersons trying to steer a sale for their benefit not your best interest.
  • Read the fine print. Companies frequently offer great opportunities to use wireless phones at attractive monthly rates. However, these rates are often promotional and/or have time restrictions. Be sure to read all of the available information before making a decision. Contracts often contain early termination penalties that can be substantial. Search for this provision and have a sales representative indicate exactly what charges may apply if you terminate the agreement early.
  • Keep everything! Holding on to a copy of the calling plan, your contract and any materials sent to apply for rebates or special offers will help you in the event of a problem or dispute in the future.
  • Carefully review to your monthly bill to make sure you?re being billed at the rates to which you agreed and watch out for fees or charges that were not discussed in your agreement.

Remember, cell phones can provide great convenience to you and your family, but be cautious when making a purchase. Being well informed will help ensure you are happy with the level of service you choose.