Cell phone bills too high? 10 News can help you save hundreds a year

7:36 AM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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  • St. Petersburg, Florida -- The average family can spend as much as $1600 a year on their cell phones. Just think of the things you could buy for your family if you could shave just a little off your wireless bills.

    A lot of what you're paying your cell phone provider could be for services you don't even use. Or perhaps you're not taking advantage of discounts that will save you money, or have locked yourself into a contract you don't need.

    "Cellular telephone companies is our number one most complained upon industry," says Brian Oglesby of the Better Bureau. But he adds that it's not a big surprise since companies with a high volume of business generally receive a high volume of complaints. 

    And according to Oglesby, cutting your cell phone bill takes planning.

    "The key is to budget beforehand. Know what services you're going to use to make sure you budget for that before you enter into a contract," he explains.

    Of coure, you may not even want to enter a contract. Consider using a prepaid plan, or paying month-to-month, so you know exactly what you're paying. An overage on your plan may be cheaper than a lengthy contract.

    The biggest part of any cell phone bill is data.

    "You're surfing the web or you might be downloading an app or you're looking at video," says USA Today Online Tech Producer Brett Molina (@bam923.) "Unknowingly you might be going over the data limits that you've set for your phone."

    The best way to save on cell phone data: take advantage of wifi--at home, at work or at businesses offering it for free.

    Cell phone providers may offer you discounts you don't even know about that could save you as much as 20%!

    "Most government agencies, educational institutions, medical- there are a number of companies out there that can allow for additional discounts just because of where they work," says AT&T Area Retail Manager Robert Faust.

    And there's also what some are calling "wireless waste"- services or charges you pay for that aren't needed.

    "In America, that's $52.8 billion," said Todd Dunphy, co-founder of the the newly launched website savelovegive.com

    Dunphy says his website analyzes your phone bill- looking at charges and usage, then comparing those to the available plans your carrier offers. The website then offers recommendations on what plans would work best.

    Dunphy says his January website launch, it's has helped almost 100,000 people save nearly $5,000,000--much of it from overpayment.

    "You don't go to the store buying five gallons of milk knowing it's going to expire before you drink one. You don't do that. But people do that when it's messages, minutes and data," he explains. "Where does the other four go? They don't give it back to you! It's gone; it's expired like bad milk."

    10 News searched for people looking to save money on their bills on our Facebook page. Bobbie Kingsbury really needed it. With three phones and a portable wifi unit in her family, her bill is more than $300 a month!

    "It's excruciating," Kinsgbury told us. "It's a week worth of pay for me because I work part time. My phone bill is literally my entire paycheck."

    Dunphy used savelovegive.com to analyze Kingsbury's bill. The first thing that jumped out: she was paying for 14 gigabytes of data but only using about nine gigs per month. 

    Savelovegive recommended changing her plan to ten gigabytes, and that lowered her bill by $16 a month.

    But when you add a $13 monthly insurance fee on an outdated phone, and a 99-cent ringback charge she didn't know about, Kingsbury could see a savings of $360 a year.

    Savelovegive.com is a free service, but right now it's only available for Verizon and AT&T customers. The company expects to add Sprint soon.

    The website also has a charitable aspect. Once it helps find savings, it offers people the chance to contribute to a charity. The contribution isn't mandatory though, allowing you to always keep the savings for yourself as well.

     

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