Cell phone secrets: Save cash on your contract - AmericaNowNews.com

Cell phone secrets: Save cash on your contract

At one point in time or another, most of us have done it: Run over on minutes, data or messaging and been shocked by a cell phone bill.

And then there is the case of the Tyree family. Bonnie Tyree thought her bill was going to be $150 --maybe $200 a month.

But when the bill came in, she says: "My husband hit the roof about it! We couldn't keep paying it."

Her bills look more like car or even house payments rather than cell phone bills.

"Probably the biggest bill we ever had was $452 I think," says Tyree.

The Tyrees have three wireless lines for their woodworking business and were as upset as they were surprised to learn that their unlimited data plan did not include, well unlimited data.

In fact, according to the FCC, some 30 million Americans were charged overages for data, minutes and text above and beyond their contracted plan in 2010.  An  average overcharge of $85 bucks per bill - that's $2.5 billion that was charged to U.S. consumers last year.

But there are ways for folks like the Tyrees to lower the price of their cell phone service. In many cases, consumers just aren't educated about their contracts and are therefore taken advantage of. The Tyrees thought they were getting unlimited data - but they were not. Their confusion occurred not when the bill arrived, but back when they signed up for service.

"The first thing you need to know as a consumer is that sales associates are paid on commission," reveals an industry insider. "So if it's the end of the month and you happen to land at the desk of somebody who is in it for the money, and they are trying to make their numbers, they are absolutely going to push every product that they can, and that's where you as a consumer need to be educated."

"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what your sales rep told you, it doesn't matter what you heard on the phone," he explains. "What they are going to stick to is what is on the paperwork that you sign."

Fewer than 30 percent of customers even read the paperwork - they just sign. But even after signing, there are still ways to lower monthly payments.

Here are 3 things they say you can do right now:

Number One: If your bill is high, perhaps the most obvious but least-used trick: ask for a break. Competition is everywhere and companies want to keep you.  One published study shows an average reduction of 70 percent on overage bills.

Number Two:  If you are not on an unlimited plan, monitor your usage.  Smart phone users will find a host of free minute and text trackers.  Many companies will even text you when you are about to run over - but you have to sign up.

Try this free one: http://www.validas.com/

Number Three:  If you still can't get it under control, consider prepaid plans.  Most major carriers allow for prepayment options, where you can't have any more minutes than what you pay for in advance.

But the Tyrees are going a different route.  They are cutting off the company they believe did them wrong.

"Now that we don't have the contract and there are no charges for stopping the service, we just called and set up a payment plan," says Jimmy Tyree. "When we are done paying it off, we'll be done with that particular company."

Bottom line - consumers need to pay more attention when signing a new cell phone contract and avoid those overcharges.

Copyright 2011 America Now. All rights reserved.

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