The Federal Communications Commission has gotten so many complaints about "cell phone bill shock" that they are considering new regulation. If you’ve been a victim, this probably sounds like something long overdue. But why be a victim in the first place?
Cell phone bill shock, aka “bill shock”, is the horrible feeling you experience when you open your monthly cell phone bill to find humongous overage charges. Your first reaction may be a stunned silence, followed by rubbing your eyes to see if those numbers are really on the paper. Then a gasp of “WHAAAAT??????”
If you haven’t collapsed by this point, you’ll be scouring the bill trying to figure out if it’s for real or a mistake by your carrier. Overages of hundreds or thousands of dollars have to be a mistake, right?
Oh, no they’re not. Sure, any billing system can make a once-in-a-blue-moon error. The vast majority of the time, however, those charges are absolutely accurate. The problem is that the cellular company didn’t make the error... you did.
That’s right. The error you made was not knowing every picky detail of your contract and/or not paying close enough attention to your usage. Often, the problem arises when someone else uses your phone. Teenagers are blissfully ignorant of wireless contract terms. They’ll play games, download music & videos, and yak it up till the battery goes dead. Hey, it’s not a problem on the home computer or telephone line so why would they expect it to be on a cell phone?
As bill shock victims can attest, this IS a problem with wireless services. That package of anytime minutes has a hard limit. Exceed it and the cost per minute goes up to the Moon. The same is true of data plans. How many people truly realize that they have a 2GB or 5GB limit with large per KB overages above that? If you never hit the limit, you might think you have unlimited service. The first time you exceed it, you’ll get a nasty, nasty dose of reality.
The FCC is considering mandating that wireless carriers send users a text message to tell their customers when they get within 80% of their usage limit or are about to incur expensive data-roaming charges. That sounds like a sensible reminder. If you get the warning and exceed the limits anyway, at least you can’t say you weren’t warned.
If you enjoy the benefits of having a particular phone on a traditional cell phone plan, including getting a free phone, then you need to be vigilant about your usage or upgrade to an unlimited plan so you don’t have to worry about it. But if you want more control over your cellular costs, consider a pre-paid service instead. Pre-paid is just what it sounds like. You buy a certain bundle of minutes in advance and then work them down. When you run out, you buy more minutes or simply stop using the phone... at least for awhile.
NET10 is one of the leaders in pre-paid cell phone service. The “10” in NET10 stands for 10 cents per minute. That’s what all calls cost you. There are no roaming charges, no overages, no contracts and no bills. You pay 10 cents per minute for calls. Text messages are 5 cents each. It’s easy to remember and easy to manage.
It’s really easy to manage NET10 prepaid cell phone service because you buy a special phone that displays your exact airtime balance. When you get low, you can buy more time on the Web, in retail stores that sell airtime “cards”, or by calling a toll free number for NET10. Your minutes don’t expire, but you do need to refresh your service to keep it active.
If you are a casual user or just want to keep a cell phone around for emergencies, pre-paid service can be a big money saver. It will cost you $15 a month on an automatic monthly plan for 150 minutes. That’s half the cost of the smallest plans offered by most traditional carriers. Plus you avoid signing a contract or having your credit checked. When you want to discontinue service, you simply stop using it. Pretty easy, right?
If prepaid cellular service sounds like the service for you, take a few minutes and see what NET10 has to offer in the way of phones and plans. It could save you from that awful cell phone bill shock that has horrified so many others.