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Educational Consumer Tips

Cellular Phones

Author: Better Business Bureau

If you are considering getting a cellular phone, remember the following: - The FCC prohibits more than two cellular carriers per service area. When comparing their services, make sure they meet all FCC requirements, and consider the service area. Are there any plans to expand it? Also ask each carrier about the number and density of its cells or transmitters. Since your cell is transferred from one cell to another as you drive, more cells may provide better reception. -Ask friends and business associates for references. Are they satisfied with the service? Do they have problems with spotty reception? It may be difficult, or impossible, to place calls in rural areas lacking cell sites or in cities boasting skyscrapers, bridges, and tunnels that can block signals. - Some carriers offer budget plans or incentive deals. Calculate the monthly service fee as well as user charges. Remember, you must pay for every call - whether you make or receive it. You may even be charges for busy or unanswered calls since they still count as air time. - Consumers should shop around and compare equipment and costs before they buy. - There are three types of cellular phones: mobile, portable, and transportable. To choose the one that best suits your needs, consider how you'll use the phone. - The BBB recommends that the equipment be installed by a professional who warrants its operation. - Costs for service will vary, with differing rates for peak and off-peak hours. Some suppliers offer flat rates for monthly service which may be preferable if you make many calls. - Consider an electronic lock that prevents others from using the phone without your knowledge. - Before buying a cellular phone, it's a good idea to try one out. Most dealers will lease one to you for a short period, or request a car with a cellular phone the next time you rent one. - Finally, don't forget to ask about the warranty. What does it cover and for how long?

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