Wireless consumers are signing up for family plans in increasing numbers and are finding that they fit their needs very well, according to new research from J.D. Power and Associates. The JD Power survey found nearly 50 percent of households with wireless service are on plans where they share minutes with another user, a 29% jump since 2003. Tellingly, users on shared-minute plans were less likely to say they were planning to switch carriers than those on non-shared plans. With more and more family members sharing monthly minute plans, it is increasingly important for consumers shopping for wireless service to review the typical wireless usage of ALL members of the family.
For example, in a family where Mom and Dad use the phones only for voice calls, teenage kids might use their handsets more for texting or downloading content to their phones. A plan that gives Mom and Dad many minutes but doesn't include a bucket of text messages could lead to some costly bills, as pay-as-you-go texting typically costs 10¢-20¢ per text message sent or received. Alternatively, a plan that focuses on giving the kids plenty of texting flexibility buts shorts parents on airtime minutes is no good either, as airtime overages of as much as 45¢ per minute are not uncommon. The answer for consumers considering family plans is to sit down with everyone who will be using the plan and find out how they will use their wireless service. Once a clear idea of needs is established, consumers have a better idea of what plans will meet their requirements. This is especially important because users of family plans tend to stick with their plans longer than those not on family plans.
Just imagine the headaches involved with acquiring and activating a new handset, not to mention getting the number ported to a new carrier. Now multiply this by 3-4 family members and you can see why many consumers choose to stick with their current carrier rather than deal with the hassle. A good tip for current cell subscribers it to sign up for their existing carrier's online account management. Most major carriers offer this service free of charge and it makes reviewing past bills and getting an idea of usage patterns much easier than sorting through months? worth of paper bills.
Source: Telecommunications Research and Action Center. http://www.trac.org