Monday, August 27, 2007

Cutting Your Cell Phone Bill - #3
Cut the Frills

Many cell phone users today have an extremely large bill, which can be cut if some of the frills are cut. Wireless service providers sell all kinds of extra 'services,' knowing that the profit-margins from these extra services is much larger then the main wireless service.

As an AT&T customer, let me focus on their extra services, though I'm sure most wireless providers have similar services.
  • AT&T Mobile Backup - gives you the ability to back up your phone numbers so that if your phone is lost/stolen or you upgrade you will not loose numbers. Price? $1.99/month ($24/year)
  • Roadside Assistance - Towing, jump starts, flat tire changes, fuel delivery for when you run out of gas, lockout assistance, and key replacement services provided up to 4 times per year and up to $50 per event. Great service, but the price? $2.99/month ($36/year) This is like paying by the month for 1 service call every 1.5 years.
  • TeleNav GPS Router - If your phone is GPS enabled, receive live routes and directions over the phone. Price? $9.99/month ($120/year)
  • Enhanced Voice Mail - Increases maximum voice mail length by 1 minute (like I want that!), enables you to store 40 instead of 20 voice mails, gives an extra 7 days storage time, etc. Price? $1.99/month ($24/year)
  • Voice Dial - Dial *8 or *08, and then speak the name you want to dial, and AT&T will automatically dial that person so that you don't have to look up the number while driving. Price? $4.99/month ($60/year) - and many phones include voice dial abilities!
  • Push to Talk - Makes it possible to use the PTT (walkie-talkie like functionality) of some cell phones. Requires PTT phones on both ends. This makes the communication almost instantaneous. Price? $9.99/month or $19.99/month for family plans ($120, 240/year) Quite expensive when you could just wait the few seconds for the calls to connect.
  • Early Nights and Weekends - Extends the period of 'night' calls that are unlimited to 7pm to 7am instead of 9pm to 6 am. Price? $8.99/month or $16.99/month for family plans ($108, 204/year). You have to be making a lot of calls in those three hours of the day.
  • Data Connect Plans - Connect your smartphone ($9.99/month for 5MB or $19.99/mo for unlimited data) or PDA ($24.99/mo for 10MB or $39.99/mo for unlimited data) to the internet. Price? Between $120 and $480 per year. Quite expensive considering my DSL is about $20 per month, and I'm going to have that anyways!
There are a lot of options above, and a lot more available. My point here, is that all of these things are great, and may at times be helpful, but are for most of us unnecessary frills. I would love to be able to surf the internet and check my e-mail from my smartphone. But it just isn't worth $20 a month to me! Especially when I know it will be slower and more difficult to navigate than the computer. It is a convenience, a frill.

If you want to cut your cell phone bill, cut the frills, many of which you might not even be using!

All Cell Phone Frugality Posts in this Series: Cell Phone Insurance: Is It REALLY Worth It?; Cutting Your Cell Phone Bill #1: Multiple Lines; Cutting Your Cell Phone Bill #2: Cutting the Minutes; Cutting Your Cell Phone Bill #3: Cut the Frills; Cutting Your Cell Phone Bill #4: TMTM - Too Many Text Messages; More Cell Phone Frugality