Warning: When Changing Phone Plans, Beware of Extra Charges

Warning: When Changing Phone Plans, Beware of Extra Charges

Sonia Zjawinski
Mar 23, 2009

Recently we ditched our VoIP plan with the plans of either using Skype or our cell phone for bidness calls. We thought we'd save hella money. Instead, we got our Verizon Wireless bill a few weeks ago and it was 250 dollars!! Despite almost everyone we know being a Verizon customer (free mobile to mobile minutes) we still racked up more than 300 minutes with people on landlines -- mom!

When we hit up the Verizon site to see how we could avoid problems like this in the future we discovered that Verizon was now offering clients like ourselves the same kind of deal T-mobile offers -- fave five numbers. We were suddenly allowed to pick five non-Verizon numbers we call the most to be include in our free minutes. Thanks for letting us know Verizon!

Despite the fave five feature we still decided to up our minutes just in case. Haven't gotten our next bill yet to see if it made a difference, but we did find this super informative article on when and when it's not beneficial to change your calling plan. Looks like you can get f'ed over if you switch things up at the wrong time...

Consumer Reports writes:

Stepping up to a higher-minute plan could cost you an additional $20 on your monthly bill at Verizon, for example. But that's cheap for the 700 extra minutes you'd get. If you bought them as overage, at 45 cents per minute, you'd pay a heart-stopping additional $315 on your bill that month.

But switching to a new plan, whether it increases or decreases your total number of minutes, can actually add overage charges to your bill if not done right—in other words, if not done at the optimal time of the month. One Consumer Reports staffer—me—switched from a Verizon 1,400-minute plan to a 2,100-minute plan midway through my 30-day billing cycle. Imagine my surprise when I received a $162 bill for overage minutes.

What went wrong? In short, I hadn't accounted for pro-rating of the included minutes in my plan. I switched about halfway through my 30-day billing cycle. So my original plan's 1,400 minutes were pro-rated to only 768 allowed minutes up to that point in the cycle. Unfortunately, I had already used 1,174 minutes as of the change date, 406 minutes over—even though I'd just signed up for 2,100 minutes and only used 1,770 over the entire month. At 40 cents a minute, those 406 minutes added up to the $162 extra charge.

Luckily for the writer, when he complained to customer service, Verizon adjusted the bill. He warns that you can inadvertently create overages via pro-rating so be careful on when you make your changes. We'll let you know what happens to our bill.

Photo: Froglette via Flickr

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