The Not So Free Cell Phone

By: J. Kirby

We have all seen the advertisements the shout out FREE CELL PHONES! Well a famous economist once said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Now I will tell you that there is no such thing as a free cell phone. Yes you heard right, cell phones are not really free. In fact, companies use the term "free" to persuade customers to sign long-term contracts for cell phone service. Is the phone really free if there is a catch? NO, you just end up paying for it over the term of the service contract that you are required to sign.

Another reason that reduces the value of the "free cell phone" is the fact that many of the 'free' cell phones are usually the older models that the service provider could not sell. You will notice this one you get the cell phone and find out that it is a less than desirable phone. Nevertheless once the contract is signed, you are stuck with the cell phone you received. If there is a need to purchase a replacement phone, it is usually going to cost.

Many cell phone users have found themselves in a contract they cannot wait to end. However, most contracts are designed to serve for two-year period. It seems that these contracts are so lengthy and filled with fine print that it would take a team of legal advisors just to cut through it all and offer a down-to-earth translation of the terms. All of the fine print, the clauses, extra fees, and anything else that benefits the big businesses and leaves the consumer out in the cold are there in the fine print. If you want to end the contract early, be prepared to pay a steep early termination fee. You can be sure that an early termination fee of up to $300 is included somewhere in the fine print in the contract.

Another problem with the contracts is that whenever you end one contract and wish to continue your service, the service contract needs to be upgraded because the service provider probably will no longer offer the lower priced services that you originally signed-up for two years ago. Upgrading a contract can lead to more airtime, text messages, multimedia text messages, internet usage, etc., all of which you may or may not use but will still have to pay for. In addition, as the phones progress and new functions are added to the devices, the need for new plans and contracts consequentially follows. Although, these functions are fun, they are ultimately costing you more and more money. If you have ever added up all of your cell phone bills for the year, many will find that it can make you think twice about what you really need and what you should have done.

So keep on mind that although cell phones are advertised for free almost everywhere you look, the fact is that cell phones are far from being truly free. The reality is that you are just paying for the free cell phone over the mandatory two-year service contract period.

Cell Phones
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