You probably know that cell phone service packages can be offered with many options. It is important that you understand which of these options are included in your cell phone plan, if not, what they will cost, if they use airtime (talking) minutes, and if there are additional services for which you must pay. Some plans offer unlimited minutes and/or text messaging while other plans have limits and you can incur “overage” charges.
- Who am I going to be calling?
- What will I use the cell phone for?
- Where will I be using it?
- When will I be using it?
- How long will I talk?
- What options and extra features do I actually need?
Common pitfalls for cell phone users:
- Roaming. You are billed expensive charges for using your cell phone outside the area where your carrier's network reaches. Find a plan that covers the area where you will be making your calls.
- Exceeding minutes. Some plans give you a certain amount of minutes each month and exceeding these minutes will be costly.
- "Peak" and "off-peak" minutes. Plans may give you a certain amount of "peak" minutes (daytime) and "off-peak" minutes (nights and weekends). Plans typically come with more "off-peak" minutes than "peak" minutes.
- Long-distance. Even though there may be no additional charges for long-distance calls on your plan, they still use airtime minutes.
- Contract extensions. Service providers will offer you good deals on expensive phones, but usually in exchange for extending your contract one or more years.
- Service providers may require a contract extension when you make changes to your plan.
- If you terminate your contract early you will probably be charged a large fee.
- If you lose your phone or if you think it has been stolen notify your cell phone company immediately and ask them to turn your phone off.
If you need help resolving a cell phone-related dispute contact the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission at (800) 947-4722.