BUSINESS NEWS - There are many benefits to getting your cellphone on a 24-month contract instead of prepaid.
The main advantage is that the cost of your phone is greatly reduced.
A number of really good phones will be free, depending on the size of the contract.
If you want to go for one of the top of the range phones you will have to pay in a bit but this is normally built into the deal and you can pay it off over the 24 month period.
Call rates are generally better, it is more convenient and you can roam internationally with the same number.
There are, however, a number of potential pitfalls to look out for. A brief look on sites such as HelloPeter or social media groups will show literally thousands of complaints from unhappy contract holders.
Some companies might experience a few more than others but they all get their fair share and none are immune to complaints and criticism.
Some complaints are valid while many stem from a lack of understanding on the consumer’s side.
While it is all very well to say that it is the company and consultants responsibility to communicate everything necessary, there is simply too much information to get across at one time.
The consumer has to accept some responsibility and educate themselves to avoid any unexpected expenses or other issues.
We will outline the 10 most common causes of concern for cellphone contract users so that you can be aware of them and avoid potential problems.
1. Understand your package
The reality is, the packages are confusing. The sheer number of options and alternatives is bewildering to anyone.
Take time and effort to select your package and ensure you understand it fully.
There are multiple permutations of voice, data and other services. It is difficult and often costly to change packages, particularly if you move down.
If you understand your package you can get the maximum value out of it.
2. Select the right device
Once you have chosen your new phone and used it, you are committed to it for the next two years. Make sure you make the right choice.
While there are not many bad phones on the market these days, get one that suits your needs and has all the features you require.
If you are not very tech savvy, try to find a phone that will be easy to operate.
The best way to determine this is by doing a bit of research and speaking to friends and family to find out about their experience with their device.
3. Data costs
The vast majority of cell phones use data and modern smart phones can consume a significant amount of data if checks and balances are not in place.
As data speeds increase and the cell phones become more sophisticated, more data is used in a shorter space of time.
One can easily consume a large amount of data without consciously doing anything.
There are many ways to avoid or control this but it will require some understanding by the user.
Smartphones are designed to continuously communicate and apps constantly update. If the consumer is not savvy, this can lead to costly bill shocks at month end.
4. Out of bundle data costs
Most contracts include a reasonable data bundle. Once one exceeds this bundle the rate can be expensive.
One can easily run up a bill of a few thousand rand in a short space of time if they are not aware of this and do not take due care.
It is important to understand your data bundle and the out of bundle rates as well as how quickly they can add up.
5. International Roaming
This has always been a contentious and a highly misunderstood part of cell phone contracts.
You can go anywhere in the world and roam using the same cell phone number.
You can make and receive calls as if you were in your home country without disruption.
While this is a great convenience, it can be extremely expensive.
The host network that you are roaming on takes a huge chunk of the revenue and you will even pay a significant amount for incoming calls.
Data roaming is particularly expensive and you can literally run up a bill thousands of rand in a few minutes.
There are a number of alternatives and you can use Wi-Fi to communicate or restrict incoming calls and keep outgoing calls for emergencies.
Ensure you understand how roaming is charged so that you can make an informed decision and do not get a nasty surprise when your return from your trip.
When you sign a 24-month contract or extend your existing contract and upgrade, the device you receive is heavily subsidised.
You will either receive a phone at no charge or if you do have to pay in for one, it will be a small percentage of the true value of the phone.
The value of your phone could be anywhere from a few thousand rand to way over R 10 000 for the top end phones.
Phones are notoriously easy to lose or have stolen so insurance is always a good idea.
You can specify it on your personal insurance or take the cover from your cellular service provider.
Get the retail value of the phone from them to know how much to insure it for.
7. WASP services
Wireless application service provider services are an extremely contentious issue.
WASP services are subscription services such as music, comedy, adult entertainment and other content or information.
You subscribe to these services and they charge a recurring fee that could be daily, weekly or so on.
They are quite easy to join and difficult to cancel. People often deny subscribing to them but often they were simply unaware that they, or someone else with access to the phone, actually did subscribe.
Regulation and the eventual intervention of the network operators have made the opt in process a bit more stringent so it is harder to “accidentally” subscribe to the services.
Most cellphones have a two-year warranty while some only have a year. The warranty excludes physical and water damage. With many phones, liquid or water damage can occur quite easily.
The phone does not have to fall into water and often a mere splash or a few drops could cause damage.
This can be costly to repair and often not even financially viable. Take good care of your phone, use protective covers and consider insuring the device.
9. Data backup
Most people are aware that they should back their data up regularly but a surprisingly small number of people actually do this.
As our phones become such a central feature in our life, a vast amount of important information is stored on the device.
If not backed up it will be lost forever if the device goes missing or the data becomes corrupted for any reason.
There are a number of ways to backup these days and it is a good habit to get into. If you are not sure how to do this, speak to your cellular service provider.
One can normally upgrade in the 21st month of the contract. You agree to extend the contract by another 24 months and you will receive a free or subsidised handset.
Make sure you select a suitable device but also make sure you get the most suitable package based on your historical usage of the phone.
Getting the right package will save you a significant amount of money.
The service provider should be able to workout and explain what package would suit your needs and why.
Cellphones are such a major aspect of our day to day life that when there are problems it can be a major cause of stress. We rely on them for communication, organising our day, financial transactions, business and so much more.
Ensure you are aware of the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them in order to minimise the inconvenience as well as costly financial consequences.
To apply for a cell phone contract visit getcellphonedeals.co.za today.
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