Category: Wireless 101
We get a ton of search engine inquiries every day. Many of them are the same, but a few are not common.
This is our Grab Bag, Part One. Or in other words, a little bit of everything. And it’s all from YOU, our readers and visitors.
People often come to our site looking for ways to get out of their contracts without fees, get an upgrade early, or remove a required data plan. It’s become very common as of late, we’re sure in part because of the economy. Still, there are always people out there trying to find a way around the rules, justified or not. Let us address these, shall we?
Your phone is on its last leg, but that’s okay because your upgrade eligibility date is today. You know because you just checked last month. You go down to the store to pick up that new phone you’ve had your eye on, but when you get there something has changed. The store rep advises you that you’re not eligible for another two months.
“There must be some mistake, I just checked last month and I’m eligible as of today.”
Almost every one signs them, virtually no one reads them. That’s right, contracts. Many people think that they’re agreeing to have service with their carrier for two years and their carrier is agreeing to provide them with service for 2 years. A glance over your contract will tell you that your carrier is actually agreeing to very little. You’re agreeing to a lot.
Although you may not see it mentioned in the agreement itself, the main thing you get out of the contract is subsidized pricing on a phone.
So what did you agree to? What did your carrier agree to for that matter?
Read on to get the less-boring-almost-as-good-as-reading-the-real-thing overview of the main points of the standard wireless customer agreement.
We’ve talked at length about contracts, discounts, upgrades, and phone pricing until we got blue in the face. But there’s one phrase in this business that we have yet to spend much time on: the “free” upgrade.
Some time ago, we helped you understand your battery - how it works, how to charge it, and how to make it last longer. A question we see from time to time concerns the other side of things: the charger.
Come along as we take a quick trip through the world of chargers.
If you’ve followed our articles here at PhoneCan, you might see that we have a thing or two to say about contracts. In fact, some might say we’re talking about them too much, that we should be talking about important things, like iPhone rumors, telling you which carrier is best, and how to brew the perfect cup of coffee.. well, maybe not that last part.
The reason we spend so much time talking about Contracts is that it’s something that we hear about everyday. Customer want to upgrade, but they already used their upgrade and carriers are trying to “punish” them by making them pay “retail.” or a customer wants to know why the phone they bought just a few months ago is already obsolete.
We also believe that contracts are the single largest thing holding back true innovation and pro-consumer change from the US cellphone market. Carrier’s need to change, but before they do we as consumers need to show them that we’re ready for it.
What I’m talking about is our addiction to the term “Free.” We want Free phones, cheap (or free) services, Free accessories, and when we get what we want, we complain about something else.. We complain about only getting to buy a new phone every two years, or how when something breaks we get a used device, or how certain phones REQUIRE features we might not want, like unlimited data.
But nothing is ever free, not really. Sure, you might not pay anything up front for a phone, but you’re paying for the service to use that phone. You might even be paying for services you wouldn’t pay for otherwise to get the phone at that price (some retailers offer steeper discounts if you purchase on a higher value plan). Maybe your paying by giving up the ability to fully customize that phone, or accepting one jammed full of bloatware you can’t remove. Nothing is ever free, so why are carrier’s so quick to offer us “free” phones?
If you own an unlocked GSM phone it can generally be used on any GSM carrier. If you have an unlocked “world phone” and travel out of country you can use a prepaid SIM and avoid costly roaming fees. You may also be able to use your existing phone when switching carriers; this could save you money and possibly even help you avoid entering into a contract.
Using your phone on a different provider isn’t quite as easy as throwing another carrier’s SIM into your phone. While GSM technology is standardized- the bands that cell phone carriers own licenses to are not. Also if your phone is branded with the name of a service provider it is most likely “subsidy locked” to that carrier. So if you’re up for the challenge, read on to learn how to find out what bands your phone supports and how to get your device unlocked whether your carrier is ready to provide you with the code or not.
Everyone hates them, but most people sign them: contracts. And in the wireless business, contracts are part of standard everyday business for most service providers. Prepay plans aren’t always what they seem - there’s often a sacrifice to be made for not signing a contract. Carriers give few incentives for going without a contract (even though more money can be made on non-contract plans). And we haven’t even talked about phone discounts yet!
How did we get into this mess? Is there a way out?
Come with us as we explore the past, present, and future of those stinkin’ phone contracts, and why you really CAN do without them.