Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Did You Know Prepaid Cell Phone Bills Charge LessTaxes?

Ever wonder what exactly those charges under "Taxes, Fees and Surcharges" on your cell phone bill actually are? These charges can amount to 10% or more of your contract cell phone bill and it becomes very important to try to understand exactly what your are getting charged for.

Cell phone taxes, fees and surcharges vary by cellular service provider and by state and it's hard to get an actual number on these charges. Here are some tax rates and definitions which can be used  to estimate your taxes and fees.

Cell Phone TaxesSales Tax - Sales tax rates will apply for every state that charges for a sales tax. These charges can be levied against recurring monthly charges, local usage, toll usage, or roaming usage. If your state does not charge for sales tax, no sales tax rate will be applied. Important note: The sales tax rate is based on the mailing address of your bill.

City Tax - If your city charges a tax on sales, that rate will also apply on your monthly phone bill based on recurring monthly charges, local usage, toll usage, or roaming usage.

County Tax - If your county charges a tax on sales, that rate will also apply on your monthly phone bill based on recurring monthly charges, local usage, toll usage, or roaming usage.

Federal Excise Tax - Telephone services are subject to a 3% federal excise tax on a contract cellular customers recurring monthly charges. This tax is collected by the cellular service provider and remitted to the IRS. (Internal Revenue Service) This tax does not apply on phone sales, accessories or surcharges.

Annual Regulatory Fee - Telecommunications companies are assessed an annual regulatory fee (sometimes called a Federal Regulatory Charge) by the federal government. This results in a one time annual charge per cell phone number. As of October 2002, it was .24 cents.

Cell Phone Surcharges and Fees
Activation fees
- Every cell phone service provider charges a one time fee for activating the cellular service, assigning the cell phone number and turning it on. The standard one time fee is usually $35.

Local number portability - Cellular phone numbers are becoming Portable, which equates to an increase in cell phone surcharges. Fees vary by the service provider, but extra monthly fees will be charged for number portability. Since this fee won't be broken out on your cell phone bill and lumped in "fees in surcharges", it's hard to pinpoint an amount. Carriers such as Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile do not charge for this service as of yet. We do know Sprint plans to charge a monthly fee of $1.10 for this service (Including number pooling) - which is probably a good guide for other carriers that do or may charge.

Telephone number pooling - Carriers share a 'pool' of telephone numbers that they can assign to a new cellular customer. This way, no number can be assigned to two customers at anytime, and it's more efficient. To maintain this pooling resource, the fee is again passed on to the customer. Since the fees are lumped in fees and surcharges, it's hard to gauge an accurate monthly fee for this service. Between .30 - .50 seems the norm per provider.

Emergency 911 Service - Included in every cell phone bill is a monthly charge for emergency cellular service. Fees range from .40 to .75 per provider. This surcharge is again a fee that the government charges the cellular providers that then gets passed onto the customers.

Universal Service Fund Surcharge - All cellular service providers are required to contribute to the Federal Universal Service Fund. The universal service fund subsidizes programs for schools, libraries, and rural health care providers. This monthly surcharge equates to 1.2% on your recurring monthly charges.

Directory Assistance - Each provider charges a fee per call for directory assistance. To avoid this per call charge, use the yellow pages if possible.

Telecommunications Relay Service Surcharge - All cellular service providers are required to contribute to the Federal Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund in order to finance how relay services get provisioned. Telecommunications relay services enable hearing and speech impaired persons to send and receive messages to and from persons whose telephones are not equipped with specialized telecommunications equipment. This monthly surcharge is 0.073% on your recurring monthly charges.

Cancellation Fees - Contract plans require a year or two commitment with every cellular offer, if the contract is broken the fees for cancellatin could be $200 or more.

Did you know that Prepaid plans charge only state sales tax and one time activation fees. This can provide a significant cost cutting measure for any budget.

Lowering Your Cell Phone Bill

Cell phone bills are scary-complex, with lots of different components that are changing all the time. There are new downloads and new data plans and new pricing plans coming out constantly, so unless you're doing an analysis every month on your bill, you don't know where you're overpaying.

What should you to look for when they are reviewing your cell phone bills?

Look and see what your overage charges are—whether they are accurate and whether there is a better, more cost-effective plan you could add that would absorb those overages. Make sure you're getting the use of your rollover minutes.

Check to see if you're eligible for discounts and make sure you review your cell phone call details. Are 40 percent of your calls to one or two numbers? Your carrier may offer free calling to selected numbers or a feature that can be added that allows for free calling to selected numbers.

And watch out for charges that are incurred because of unrequested features added to your lines.

What should you do if you see cell phone charges that you don't understand or you think you haven't authorized?

If you don't understand something, question it. Call the carrier and make them explain it.

If you're not communicating well with a representative, hang up and call back. You may have to call three times to get somebody who is experienced enough to know what I'm talking about.

Or you could end all of this hassle and sign up for a prepaid cell phone plan with unlimited talk, text and data and be rid of all these headaches. Even better get free cell phone service by getting 5 other friends to sign up for unlimited service.  

Fixing a Water Damaged Cell Phone

It is sometimes possible to fix a water damaged cell phone using a cloth, heat, or some rice. These methods do not always work, but they might if the water hasn't seeped too deeply inside to the inner workings of the phone. For this reason, the chances of repairing a water damaged cell phone may be greater when repair attempts are made immediately.

The longer you wait to try and fix your cell phone, the more likely it is that the phone will not be repairable.

If you put your water damaged cell phone back together and it won't turn on, it is likely that some water has gotten down inside the phone. When this happens, you may still be able to repair it using rice. You can remove the battery and SIM card from the phone once again and place all three components into a bowl filled with rice.

This may work because rice is very absorbent, and it sucks in almost all water it is exposed to. Leave it all in the bowl overnight, and in the morning your phone may be working again because the rice will have absorbed any excess moisture you were not able to get out.

You could also use heat to dry out a water damaged cell phone. If the rice method either did not work or you don't have rice on hand, you can take the phone apart and lay all its pieces outside in direct sunlight for several hours. The heat from the sun may completely dry out the inside and outside of the phone and its parts.

If it is raining or the sun is not out, you can place the phone directly on top of a heat vent or use a blow dryer to get the same results.

Keep in mind that if you try to take the phone apart and remove more than just the battery and SIM card, you run the risk of voiding your warranty with your cell phone provider or phone manufacturer. If all of your attempts at repairing your phone are unsuccessful, you will likely have no choice but to take it to your cell provider or to a place that repairs cell phones to get it fixed.

Unless your phone is very valuable, the cost of repairing the phone might be higher than what you paid for it, and you might be better off to just buy a new one. It may be beneficial to purchase insurance from your cell phone provider to protect you from having to pay much, if anything, out of pocket to fix a water damaged cell phone.

Your Cell Phone Has Been Stolen...

If your cell phone is stolen, the first step is to suspend your account so people cannot make expensive calls or texts to others using your phone. Depending upon the type of service you use, you may either need to call the service or use their Internet reporting service to stop the line from working.

Most believe that this should be done as soon as possible, since people can immediately begin to make expensive calls from your phone. Failure to report promptly if your cell phone is stolen could mean you are responsible for some of the calls made by the thief.

Many cell phone companies also sell additional insurance that can help one cover these costs if your cell phone is stolen. Some cell phone insurance also can cover the cost of replacing the phone. If you purchased your phone and contracted with a service at the same time, you may have to spend significantly more to replace the phone.

Cell phone companies often offer excellent deals to new customers, but for established customers, a brand new cell phone can come at a high price, especially if is replacing an elaborate or expensive phone.

Cell phone insurance may also be purchased from private companies and help to protect call costs and materials if your cell phone is stolen. However, be certain not to pay for double insurance. For example, some home and renter’s insurance, and some auto insurance may cover replacement of a cell phone.

If your cell phone is stolen from your vehicle or home, you may be eligible for replacement under one of these plans. However, if your cell phone is stolen when you are outside, you may not have coverage under these plans.

If your cell phone is stolen and is a prepaid phone, you can still request that service be stopped to the phone. However, your cell phone will stop working the moment the thief runs out of pre-purchased minutes. In these cases, you might want to risk the minutes for a day or two, to see if anyone has merely found your cell phone and wishes to return it to you.

It’s a good idea to keep your home number listed in your call list, so that someone who finds a lost phone has the chance to return it to you.

With many prepaid services, replacing the cellphone is less expensive, provided the model you use is fairly simple. It may not be worth it to purchase cell phone insurance. More expensive phone models may make insurance well worth the cost.

The cost of replacing your phone may not be worth the insurance expense if your cell phone is stolen. However, you should still report the theft to both your cell phone service provider and your local police department if your cell phone is stolen, at least within a few days, since the company can then make it impossible for someone to have your number, receive your calls, and purchase new minutes on the phone.

About one in four cell phones are lost, damaged or stolen. Cell phone insurance often covers you not only if your cell phone is stolen, but also if it is lost or damaged. You should treat a lost phone as if your cell phone is stolen. Report the loss and hope for the best. It is often possible to reinstate the line if your phone is returned to you, or if you find it on your own.

What is 4G Technology?

4G technology is the fourth level of wireless technology available from wireless cellular carriers that utilizes ultra mobile broadband.

The first generation of wireless technology available, 1G, refers to the analog signal used by cellular towers.

2G technology upgraded the analog signal to digital and allowed the inclusion of sending text messages across the network.

3G technology made use of electromagnetic wavelengths, known as spectrum, to broadcast a wireless broadband signal that allowed users to access the Internet and download applications using a 3G data card or a handheld mobile device such as a Blackberry or iPhone.

4G technology upgrades further to faster information transfer times, heightened security and greater information exchange abilities.

Ultra mobile broadband refers to the rate of data transmission available on the wireless network. 4G technology may provide data transmission rates between 100Mbps and 1Gbps. For comparison, 3G networks offer data transmission speeds averaging around 200kbps.

Network connections on 4G may also be more accurate during travel when user and tower locations are at a constant rate of change—for example, when a user is traveling in a car and signals transfer between towers.

This faster, more accurate connection likely can enable the transmission of larger packets of data than 3G networks. Users may be able to access increasingly information-heavy applications, such as HD television signals and real time audio during video chat.

4G wireless service may include modems, netbooks and cell phones. 4G mobile hotspots may offer wireless connections for multiple devices, including computers, netbooks, handheld gaming systems, and mobile phones; with the 4G technology, users may be able to simultaneously download large applications to each device as well.

A 4G netbook could operate similarly to a lap top, but with smaller memory and fewer drives; it may offer instant Internet access, downloading, and real-time Web chatting.

4G technology may provide a new wave in downloading capabilities for consumers regardless of which device they choose.

Does Your Cell Phone Company Pay You?

One cell phone company does...

What is a Blackberry?

A BlackBerry® is a mobile communications device from the product line of the same name. They are designed to fit into a large pocket or clip into a belt holster, and most have some type of built-in QWERTY keypad.

Modern BlackBerries, unlike traditional mobile phones, are considered to be both smartphones and personal digital assistants (PDAs); they have Internet connectivity, web browsing, e-mail, an address book, a calendar, a day planner, an alarm clock, games, text messaging, and mobile phone service.

Options on some models include a trackball, WiFi™, Bluetooth® connectivity, speakers, GPS, a digital camera, and functionality as a media player. The line is owned by the Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In

BlackBerries are popular both in the business community and in the retail consumer market. In business, a BlackBerry® allows employees that are out of the office or even off-site to stay in contact with the rest of the company.

An executive traveling to an out-of-state business meeting would be able to receive electronic documents and communicate with the rest of his/her staff through the use of a BlackBerry® or similar PDA; a warehouse worker would be able to receive text messages telling him/her which boxes to pull from storage, and could even access maps showing the correct locations.

For retail consumers, a BlackBerry® allows numerous features beyond being a simple mobile phone. These features include portable access to the Internet, the ability to check personal emails almost anywhere, text messaging, and, in some recent models, the ability to listen to music and other media. Starting in 2007, digital cameras became a feature on some BlackBerry® models.

New terms have come to be associated with BlackBerries due to their popularity. Because some users seem to become addicted to checking their e-mails and text messages once they get a BlackBerry®, the devices are sometimes called “CrackBerries.”

When a person’s thumb becomes sore from typing too much on a BlackBerry®, they are said to have “Berry Thumb.” A BlackBerry® with a dead battery is called “sour,” and one that is recharging is “ripening.”