3 things that stink about cellphones

A recent CUB Facebook poll asked people what was most annoying about their cellphones.

Guess what aggravation took top honors?

1)      High Bills: According to CTIA data, consumers with smartphones–such as an iPhone, Android, or Blackberry–use an average of about 800 MB of data per month. That’s far less than the standard 2 GB of data many cellphone companies force their customers to pay. Last year, CUB and wireless research firm Validas estimated that Illinois consumers could be overpaying by $1.4 billion a year because they were on the wrong cellphone data plans. Take a look at CUB’s guide on how to cut data costs.

2)      2-year Contracts: Cellphone companies chain customers to a plan, price and phone for two years. And they’re likely to slap customers with extra fees for making any changes to the arrangement. (One Facebook respondent complained that he was not able to upgrade unless he chose to pay full price for a new plan.) And don’t even  think about canceling because “exit fees” are as high as $200.

There’s been a trend among major cellphone companies to offer no contract plans, but you have to crunch the numbers to see if they’re right for you. Another option is prepaid plans. While once considered the perfect deal for people who don’t use their phones much, prepaid offers have become much more sophisticated. Read CUB’s guide on prepaid cellphones.

3)      Spotty Service: Almost everyone has experienced a dropped call, especially customers in rural Illinois. Tip: Every contract has a trial period during which you can leave without paying an exit fee. Use that time to test your phone in the places you most use it—at home, your workplace, etc. Also, ask friends about the service they get. You don’t want to find out you have chronically spotty service in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire.

Of course, there’s one more solution to all these problems: Ditch the cell. One Facebook respondent proudly proclaimed: “I don’t have any of these problems. I don’t have cellphone.”

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have that luxury. If you want to share what stinks about your cellphone plan, comment below!

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About Jim Chilsen

Jim is director of communications for the Citizens Utility Board (CUB)
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