As cell phone plans change, consumers should be wary

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Jon Fox


San Francisco, CA – Today, Verizon joined AT&T and T-Mobile and scrapped its unlimited data plans for mobile phones. CALPIRG, a statewide consumer advocacy organization, warned consumers to check their data usage in order to avoid overcharge fees.

“The era of unlimited mobile data is ending,” warned Jon Fox, Consumer Advocate at CALPIRG, adding “Consumers will have to start following their data use just like they follow their minutes and texts.”

A spokesperson for Verizon recently explained that they will be replacing its $30 unlimited data plan with tiered data services on top of its phone and text services. As of July 7, Verizon smart-phone customers will have the choice of several monthly plans ranging from $30 for 2GB to $80 for 10GB of data. A low end monthly plan of $10 for 75MB of data will be made available to featured non smart phones only. Regardless of your plan, Verizon will charge a $10 per GB overuse charge from its users.

In addition to cutting unlimited phone data, Verizon will also begin charging separately for tethering services, which allow customers to use their mobile phones as internet hotspots for other devices such as laptops and tablets.

Jon Fox added, “If you really do need an unlimited data plan, know that there are options out there” encouraging new phone subscribers to check the market before committing to a new mobile phone contract.

CALPIRG recommends that mobile phone users take the following steps to ensure they don’t end up paying more then they expect:

Calculate monthly data use before you sign up for a new plan:
Check your mobile service provider’s website for data-use calculators, they will help you figure out how much data you really need to pay for. 

Use less data:
Avoid streaming, which uses up a lot of data. Also, use secure WiFi connections – such as in a home or office – when surfing on your phone since these don’t count towards your monthly data-use.

Stay informed:
In addition to checking up on your monthly use online with your provider, there are several Apps that keep you informed of your data use and can be set to alert you when you near your preset limit. These include DataMan (Lite: Free / Pro: $1.99) for the iPhone and iPad, Stats (Ad-Supported: Free / Paid: $1.32) for Android smart phones, and Mobile Data Alerter (Free) for BlackBerry 4.2+ models.

The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) is a result-oriented public interest group that protects consumers, encourages a fair sustainable economy, and fosters responsive democratic governance.