Wireless Phone Traps

celltrapBuying a wireless phone service is pretty much a necessity these days but the purchase is not an easy one.   A particularly good article on the hazards of wireless service was published recently that warrants a quick read;  it can save you a lot of money and some serious headaches.  The Website ‘How-to Geek” published an article called “8 Ways Your Wireless Carrier is Gouging You”   It highlights 8 common wireless pitfalls that you should avoid…..at all costs.   Here are some of the traps they highlight:


SMS Message Costs:   This is a big profit center for wireless carriers meaning it costs them little and costs you a lot.    There are some new apps emerging that let you text for free.   They are worth checking out.

Hidden Fees:  Increasingly, wireless carriers have hit customers with “administrative” fees or “regulatory” fees, amongst other things.  First off, if you are on a 2-year plan and get a notice of some new fee, this is a “get out of jail card for free” — that is, you can seize upon this new fee to cancel your contract.   It isn’t difficult at all.

Overpaying for Phones:   The “free” phone is never free.   It is actually closer to an installment payment funded by an overpriced calling plan.   We strongly suggest that people buy phones up-front.  If you upgrade to a new phone in less than two years, you can sell your phone and recoup some of your investment.   In the meantime, you’ll save money by not overpaying for wireless service for two years.

Tethering Fees:   Carriers have been using tethering fees to fleece their customers for a number of years.   Some carriers, like T-Mobile are offering lower cost tethering options.    If you want to tether — and it makes sense to do so for many customers — we strongly recommend doing a quick web search.   Time reported on FreedomPop’s free mobile data plan that might work for you.  And NetZero is now offering a free plan for 200MB/month of wireless service.

Roaming Fees:   Traveling to other countries is still a tricky proposition.   We travel frequently and find that the two best options are either using VoIP apps or pre-paid local SIM cards.    Carrier roaming plans should be a last resort.

Inflated Phone Costs:   Perhaps the most common trap is buying a smartphone at a wireless dealer.   That’s a no go for me.  We usually start with Amazon Wireless and Wirefly;   both offer some very good prices, reduced costs on accessories and free shipping on handsets.  If that doesn’t bear fruit, we’ll check out possible sales at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Costco, and/or WalMart stores.    Usually they’ll offer lower prices than the dealers on Samsung, LG, Kyocera and HTC products:  the Samsung Galaxy and HTC One have garnered some very good reviews.   Our experience with LG and Kyocera phones has not been good.   Regrettably the Google Nexus phone isn’t available at retail stores and prices on Apple’s iPhones are very tightly controlled:  Apple doesn’t believe in discounting.   My last option is the resale market.   There are some very good prices on phones that are a year-old or more.   Because I’m not hooked on getting the latest and greatest phone — or the two-year locked-in deals,  we tend to get smartphones that are either being phased out or have been refurbished.   We use them for a year and then get another one.    The early bird may get the worms, but they overpay for them.

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