Cell phones are increasingly used in the modern world.
They are no longer a luxury, but are considered a need. They can send and receive e-mail, get information on news, entertainment, make a call home while traveling and contact the police or the ambulance during an emergency.
The radio, telephone and computer technology fused together to make the cell phone technology. Nevertheless, with the advancing technology, marketing became much tougher, and cell phone operators devised numerous clauses in their contracts to ensure that their competitors do not erode their customer base. Thus the cell phone contract was born.
A cell phone contract is an agreement between the buyer and the wireless cell phone service provider. Usually it is of 1 or 2 years of duration, during which a consumer is legally bound to remain with the wireless service provider. Certain operators give a trial period to their consumers. After the trial period of 14 or 30 days is over, when the contract is entered upon and the phone is bought, the penalty for breaking the contract can range from $150 to $600, depending on where the phone was bought.
Before the contract finishes, if a new phone is to be bought, then some companies give a customer loyalty discount, which in effect extends the contract. This may prove to be expensive when compared to buying a new phone with a good discount. Thus, you may be locked in to a single operator, without your knowing it, if you do not read and understand the terms of the cell phone contract.
If one is not satisfied with the service provided by the cell phone service provider, then one can come out of the contract, without paying a termination fee, if someone else is willing to go through the contract for the remaining period. Finding someone willing to undertake this may be difficult. Numerous websites have come up which help you in finding someone to transfer your contract to, however cell phone service providers do not endorse such websites as they only connect the buyer and the seller, doing nothing with the actual transfer.
Thus once you find a buyer for your cell phone contract, you have to contact your cell phone service provider to complete the transfer. This may take quite some time, as your provider will do a credit check on the buyer and if the creditworthiness is not found sufficient for the contract, the transfer will not take place. In case the transfer does take place, then you have the option of keeping the same number that you originally had. Usually, it has been seen that with transfers, you may have to supply the cell phone also as a free incentive to the buyer. High-end cell phones offered free along with the transfer usually get buyers within a couple of days.
Cell phone service providers generally give a trial period before enforcing the contract term, which may be of 1-year or 2-year duration. Almost all providers give at least 14 to 30 days of trail period. A 1-year cell phone contract has a shorter commitment period, which may prove to be beneficial if the phone needs repairs, or is lost.
In addition, since the period is short, one may avail of new discounts that come up. After the term of 1-year ends, the phone can be kept without any contract and no penalty is charged for quitting. However, in a 1-year contract, the activation fee and/or the phone may not be cheap. Certain discounts and promotional offers cannot be availed of as in a 2-year period.
In a 2-year cell phone contract, the activation fee and/or the phone may not be expensive. Huge discounts on the phone may be availed. Special promotions may be availed. However, since the phone is kept for a longer duration, more money may be spent on repairing, insuring, or replacing. The opportunity to buy a new phone reduces, and thus may not be eligible to switch cell phone service providers. Expensive phones may also opt for phone replacement insurance plans. However, due to the costs of such plans, few subscribe to these plans.
Pre-Paid or No Contract cell phones are not available with all cell phone service providers. They are attractive as they require no commitment, the credit history is unimportant, and there is no penalty for quitting. However, call charges may be more expensive, and no promotional discounts etc., may be availed of.
It is always advisable to read and fully understand the terms of the cell phone provider as stated in the contract form, including the fine print, before signing the cell phone contract.