Phone service comes with a lot of options, not only when choosing a cell phone provider but when signing up for residential phone service and long distance. Wireless, wireline, Internet and cable providers are all looking for your business. This helps the consumer, but it makes it even more important to read the fine print and shop around to find the best offer. Continue reading to learn more about choosing the best local phone service.
The first step, according to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, is to analyze your calling needs. PUCO suggests asking yourself:
When looking at local phone services, consider your options. You may be able to get a bundle that includes local and long distance service or services like call waiting and caller ID, but if you don’t plan to use certain services, it may be more advantageous to go with basic phone service. Other bundles can include DSL lines for your home computer or wi-fi needs.
PUCO suggests making sure you consider other charges, including surcharges, taxes and early termination fees, before entering any agreements. Also make sure the numbers you call are within the company’s local calling area. Some calls, according to CalPhoneInfo, California’s Consumer Education Initiative, may have the same area code but fall outside your calling area and result in toll fees.
PUCO says customers should ask questions about a company’s maintenance, repair and outage policies and check what hours the customer service department is open.
When choosing long distance service, look over the monthly fees and what you get through each provider. You also want to see if there are minimum fees for each call or per month and whether the company charges a fee for switching providers.
Be careful when a company lures you with a promotional offer. The offer is often for a set time period. Make sure to ask how much you will be paying once the promotional period expires.
Voice over Internet Protocol is a technology that lets callers make voice calls over a broadband Internet connection rather than over a regular phone line. This has become a popular alternative to using a traditional phone service.
Many cable and Internet companies offer VoIP options that charge customers a set fee, which covers not only residential service but also long distance service, sometimes even adding on service to Canada. The Federal Communications Commission states that coverages differ, sometimes only covering calls to other subscribers of the service and other times allowing you to call anyone who has a telephone number.
There are several important things to remember. Among them is that your service may not work during power outages. It also may not connect you directly to local emergency services if you call 9-1-1.
Customers are increasingly dropping their landlines and choosing to use cell phones as their primary means of service. This can save money, but it’s important to search out the best deals.
The Iowa Office of the Attorney General suggests finding the service that best fits your needs. That includes making decisions including whether to get a monthly or prepaid plan, an individual or family plan, and a regional or national plan.
Going over your minutes may result in additional charges that can add up fast, so make sure to look over how many minutes each plan carries. If it offers free or discounted nighttime calling, make sure that what it considers nighttime is what best fits your schedule.
If you call family members often or find yourself mainly calling the same numbers, check for something like a family select plan. These offer a discount if the numbers you call are on the same plan as the one you carry.
Ask about service area. Some providers cover a broader area than others. This is especially important if you travel or are in a less densely populated area. If possible, the Iowa Office of the Attorney General says, see if you can get a trial period to make sure the service is good in your area.
You also want to consider what features you need. There are an increasing number of features available on cell phones, and even more for smartphones. The catch is whether you are going to use the features, or if it’s just wasted money to pay for what you won’t use.
Cell phone service often means getting a contract for a period such as two years. It’s important to shop around before entering into any agreement and to shop around again before renewing any agreement. Terminating service comes with a hefty cost on many plans.
These are some general tips for finding the best phone service. The most important tip, as always, is to shop around for the best deal.
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