Section Editor Joni Blecher, a.k.a. the Cell Phone Diva, wants to answer all your questions about cell phones, service plans, and wireless connectivity. Send her a question!
It's in the way that you choose it
I have Cingular phone service and want to know why some plans cover more areas than others. For example, I pay $39.99 each month for 450 rollover minutes, but the company lists a plan that costs $45 per month and that has more coverage areas but only 400 rollover minutes. What's the deal?
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, carriers have different types of plans. Cingular offers (among others) Region plans, which cover local expanses, and Nation plans, which have larger widespread area. It sounds like you have a Region plan, which is best for people who don't travel a lot and tend to make calls in a local range.
Second, network providers come up with new deals regularly, so the $45 deal you mention could be a unique offer that wasn't available at the time you purchased your plan. It's not like shopping at a superstore that'll meet or beat an advertised price if you present it to them within 30 days after purchase. You just have to take solace in knowing that you got the best plan possible for your needs at the time. If you think there's a better deal for you, however, you can call the carrier and see if you can change your plan. But don't be surprised if Cingular asks you to sign a new contract. You call that text messaging? Q:
I can't seem to send text messages to Sprint customers. I am a Cingular Wireless customer with the Motorola V400, which can send and receive text messages, as it appears, to and from just about every other carrier but Sprint customers. What could be preventing me from being able to send and receive from Sprint customers? The only time I am successful is when I send a text message directly from the Sprint PCS Web site to one of its customers.
If it helps any, the problem lies not with your phone but with Sprint's service. The company doesn't handle text messages (commonly known as SMS) the same way every other carrier does. Instead, Sprint treats them as part of its Web-based services. Traditionally, text messages go directly to the handset, similar to how a page for a pager works. That way, you don't need to launch the wireless Web to retrieve messages--they just appear in your in-box. In Sprint's case, the message isn't instantly stored on the handset, which is why it's not always immediately clear where the text message is kept or when it actually arrives.
Contracting customer appreciation
I have Sprint PCS. I also need a new phone, and as a five-year customer, I was told by the company that I would have to set up a new account and enter into a new contract. WHY?! I am in good standing with PCS but don't understand how the company can treat long-term customers with such crap! I hope you can help.
I just went through this exact issue with someone who was ready to give up an old yet trusty StarTac in favor of a newer PCS phone. Here's the long and short of it: You don't
have to sign another contract to get a new phone. You can pay the full price of the new phone and keep your current service as is. If you want to use the PCS features, you can even add them to your account without signing a new contract.
As a five-year customer, you're probably wondering why you aren't getting any perks. Well, there is one. If your handset is more than 18 months old, you qualify for the same rebates as a new customer--but you have to sign a new contract. The reason: In this day and age of number portability, signing new contracts is one of the few keys to customer retention that the carriers still hold. What did my friend (mentioned earlier) do? He gave up the StarTac, kept his contract, and paid the extra $50 (that's the total rebate he originally qualified for as a longtime customer) to have a new phone without being tied to a new contract. His latest peeve? Text messaging on Sprint PCS isn't working for him.