Service helps cut cell phone plan costs

Study shows 30 million Americans suffer from 'bill shock' when it comes to their cell phone bill


ORLANDO, Fla. – Minutes, data, text or talk. Finding the right plan for your family can be confusing.

In fact, some 30 million Americans suffer from 'bill shock' when it comes to their cell phone bill.

Between talk time, texting, and data usage the high tech hustle and bustle of the Boone family costs about $240 a month.

They'd like to pay less, but when it comes to finding the best plan, the family said it's like a pricing puzzle because as Local 6 uncovered, the four major US cellular carriers combined offer about 200 different plans.

Validas (val-i-das), a mobile analytics firm, crunched the numbers for Local 6 and found that within those 200 plans, there are also thousands of combinations available for options like messaging, data services and device protection.

"You have to have choice for consumers, but then that choice creates confusion because when people want to buy they want things simple," said Todd Dunphy, the president of Validas.

Dunphy said "plan confusion" often results in "wireless waste," which is the difference between what you pay for your mobile plan and what you actually use.

Validas found last year Americans overpaid more than $52 billion, and 83 percent of users with high data plan limits didn't use all they paid for.

"People are over-buying in the fear that they're gonna go over," said Dunphy.

But that rarely happens anymore since the Federal Communication Commission pressured carriers to provide 'alerts' to customers about to exceed their plan limits.

So how do you know if you're on the right plan? Most major cellular providers' websites offer plan calculators.

You can also call your carrier for an analysis, and be sure to look at three months' worth of bills before making any decisions.

[WEB EXTRA: Prevent wireless waste]

"See if there's a way that you can adjust your cell phone plan or maybe switch carriers to find one that better meets your needs for a cheaper cost," said Dunphy.

Validas did an analysis of the Boone's bill and found they don't need "unlimited data." In fact, changing to a "shared data plan" should save them $400 a year.

Amy Boone is happy about the extra money she'll now get to keep in her pocket, and is thankful for the help.

"It's a huge headache to try to figure this stuff out. I think a lot of people just let it go," said Boone.

You can also save data by using Wi-Fi to surf the web from your phone. You may want to re-think cell phone insurance. Ask yourself how much are you paying over the life of your contract and if is it worth it when you look at the deductible.