How to buy a cellular phone
Cellular phones have graduated from toys to tools. Once seen only in fancy foreign cars, cellular technology is now used by truck drivers, construction workers, the State Patrol and working mothers.
Uses vary from improving sales to increasing the level of safety for family members. And with the technology advancing so rapidly, cellular phones are no longer limited to merely voice transmission. They are now attached to other high-tech machinery such as fax machines and electrocardiograms to send timely and lifesaving data.
But there’s a lot to consider before buying a cellular phone or subscribing to a cellular service.
Evaluate your schedule and needs for a mobile phone. Where and when will you most likely be using the equipment? This will help you decide which form of mobile telephone can provide the most efficient and convenient service.
There are four types of mobile phones: car phones, battery-powered briefcase phones, transportables (which can be used in or out of your car) and portable (hand-held) phones.
Leasing or renting a cellular phone may best meet your immediate com munication or buying needs. Although leases require a contract, cellular users can extend payments over a period of years, if necessary. Choose your service provider carefully. While shopping, ask your salesperson the following questions to insure that you choose the cellular provider that can meet your needs:
What kind of customer care is offered? A group of trained customer care representatives offering free 24- hour service is available with some non-wire carriers. With this service, you can always have your questions or concerns addressed immediately.
What follow-up services are available? Make sure your cellular service provider has an established and well run service center that can repair your phone or antenna.
How will I be kept informed of updated services and advancements? Because the cellular industry is progressing so quickly, services and phones continue to improve.
Where can I use my phone and how strong is the signal in those areas? What are plans for expansion of the coverage area and when will they occur? Ask to see a coverage map, and about the areas where reception is poor.
Can I use the phone in other areas of the United States? Where will I be charged for long-distance?
Access to other cities will depend on the areas your non-wire service pro vider is allowed to operate. Make sure you understand the differences in air time rates that exist in other cities.
Are there any special service pro grams offered to customers? Complimentary hotlines for stock updates, traffic reports, entertainment tickets, as well as discounts on future phone purchases are some of the added-value packages that may differentiate a service provider.
What customized system features are offered? Conference calling, call forwarding, detailed billing, automatic roaming or voicemail are only a few to ask about.
What are the air-time costs? And how does usage affect your bill? Educate yourself.
Make sure you receive detailed instructions from your salesperson on how to use the phone you purchase. Ask for an operating manual and information outlining all the services provided by your non-wire telephone company. Most service providers give new customers an introductory packet, which includes such items as a roaming guide, safety tips and a brochure on customer services. Beware of stolen phones.
Every phone is coded with an electronic identification number that allows it to be tracked by computer. Try for a price break.
Although a good price on a phone cannot ensure quality service, always ask about price reductions available for special purchases such as multiple phone orders.
This article was originally published in the November 1988 edition of Zundfolge