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Possible pitfalls in prepaid wireless plans

We spend most of our time touting prepaid services for their advantages, which are numerous. But as with all services, there are downsides. It wouldn’t be fair to play up only one end the of the issue, so today we’ll turn to Bill Snyder of CIO to discuss eight “gotchas” in prepaid wireless plans. Most of these are pretty basic, and a few of them are downright moot. But it’s worth the read, especially if you plan a switch to prepaid. After the jump we’ll go over a few of them.

Snyder’s second point should probably be first. What do the minutes really cost? We’ve seen a trend towards simplicity in pricing, so this isn’t as big an issue as it was a few years ago. But with services like Tracfone it can be unclear exactly how much you’re paying per minute. It’s not the 45 cents that Snyder suggests, but it might be more than you think.

The lack of customer service is also a problem, and it’s one I don’t think gets enough attention in the article. True, many of the complaints you’ll read on our featured pay as you go cell phone providers come from people who didn’t follow instructions in the first place. But there are also many people who were legitimately wronged. There’s not much advice to dish in this area, though. It appears that most prepaid wireless customer service departments are on the same level.

The rest of the list contains mostly moot points. Most prepaid carriers don’t offer roaming at all, so you won’t have to worry about using up all of your minutes. I haven’t seen a carrier yet that lets you port your number. The phones are what they are, and for the most part they’re not the highest quality. Finally, carriers have gone a long way to make reloading your account easier. Most allow three or more ways to do so.

While I don’t think that there are eight “gotchas” to prepaid wireless services, I do think you should read Snyder’s article. You can never be too cautious when making a purchase.