Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Some Patching Over the Disconnect of Cell Phone Savings

After becoming fed up for a high cell phone bill, I researched strategies when issuing a Cellular Call for Change in saving on mobile telephony bills.  Granted that people have different needs and one plan does not fit all.  But while the notion of economizing on cellular charges has an abstract appeal, many are called but few choose to mitigate mobile communication costs. 

It was clear that one impediment from consumers heeding a call for cellular change was the US cycle of receiving subsidized handsets in exchange for an iron clad two year contract.  Someone was interested in upgrading their i-Phone 4S to an i-Phone 5.  The cellular customer would likely stay with Verizon because of their excellent coverage but she is pressed to upgrade as there is only a limited period that the “new every two” is applicable. 

Sometimes, the desire for a shiny new techno-toy overrides everything.  A nephew got tired of using his feature phone to text so he wanted to splurge on a Google Nexus 4 from T-Mobile.  But in order to satisfy this techno sweet tooth for Android Jelly Bean meant walking away from a grandfathered $25 per month pre-paid plan through Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile.  After the sugar rush from Jelly Bean, he may be surprised that not only did his monthly bill double, but he also is responsible for taxes and fees which often add an additional 20%.

Another friend who would be  inclined to economize on cellular costs feels that switching cellular providers is impossible because of the family plan.  Nights and Weekend and mobile-to-mobile minutes cut down on metered usage.  And big buckets of shared data has a mystique.  Sprint prides itself on truly unlimited data.   But how many cell phone users consistently stream Titanic on a 4" screen?  It might well be cheaper to get separate plans with an MVNO but it pays to check your usage yourself first before switching.

There is a strange bias in the cellular industry about prepaid plans, which is epitomized in a mock Apple i-phone ad.  Sprint’s Customer Retention Represenatives employed a  strange selling point when trying to break up with them as they denigrated Sprint’s own MVNOs of Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile as being “just a prepaid plan” was supposed to be a selling point, when those MVNOs could cut my bill in half.   In response to this built up consumer bias, some prepaid cellular providers like Cricket Mobile have migrated away from branding their handsets so that others do not look scornfully at their consumers.

As I was migrating to Virgin Mobile , my beloved wife hesitated because of her love of a sliding keyboard smart-phone.  Some MVNOs like Boost Mobile and Ting (both running off of the Sprint network) allow for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) but  that “white list” can be short list as new phones are excluded. Alas, sliding keyboard smartphones have gone out of vogue so she will either have to adjust or lovingly cradle her handset for the foreseeable future.

Aside from overcoming the unwarranted bias against prepaid plans, stifling the urge to get new subsidized phones in exchange for a two year contract and feeling that a consumer NEEDS to have unlimited minutes, the wise cell phone shopper should discern what they need based upon experience and inclinations.  


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