Tag Archives: AT&T

Toss the paper coupons and pick up your smartphone

Mobile coupon for Bed Bath & Beyond

Mobile coupon for Bed Bath & Beyond

I have a refrigerator full of coupons from Macy’s and Bed Bath & Beyond. It seems these stores send the most coupons, and I hate to be in the store without a discount of some sort. However, it seems that always happens. Whenever I need a coupon, I don’t have one that’s not expired or I forget the savings at home. That’s why I’ve turned to paperless coupons. Now, I just pick up my smartphone and check my text messages to save.

The next time you are at the store, look near the register. Most will tell you to text an odd combination of numbers (5 or 6) to sign up for text message alerts that notify you of savings.

With Bed Bath & Beyond, you get a text message with a link to the latest 20% off coupon. The other benefit is that you can use it more than once. With the paper coupons, they take them. There is still a limit of one coupon per order or purchase, but you still have it for next time.

Some stores also alert you when the coupon expires so you can plan your purchases better to coincide with a deal.

If you get annoyed by the text messages, you can stop the alerts. I don’t think the stores abuse their privilege of having your phone number. I don’t get that many messages and I haven’t seen an increase in my spam texts.

AT&T is teaming up with several retailers to offer a similar service, only you’ll be notified when you are in the area of a store offering a discount. You need to be an AT&T customer, but it’s another sign that paper coupons will soon be replaced by digital ones.

After all, we never leave home without our smartphone. We do leave home without those coupons. Soon, we won’t have to worry about that.

Waterproof electronics?

Water and electronics just don’t mix. Rice and heat may help save your device but it doesn’t always work. New devices are pouring into the market that may wash away your worries. Should you consider one this holiday?

Companies are offering after-market solutions that waterproof your electronics. It’s still a new venture, so the companies offering this service are limited as are the products that you can waterproof. Right now, Liquipel, limits the products to high end gadgets like the iPhone or a simple iPod Shuffle.

The Liquipel service costs about $60 and right now the company is waterproofing the following products: iPod Shuffle, iPhone 4, Galaxy S2 from T-Mobile and AT&T, iPhone 4S, iPhone 3GS, Evo 4G, Evo Shift 4G, HTC My Touch 4G, Samsung Charge, and Motorola Droid X and X2.

AT&T is selling a Pantech tablet that’s waterproof. We’re not talking about little spills. This product claims to last 30 minutes underwater. So, I put it to the test for a NewsChannel 5 story.

The tablet costs just under $300 with a two year contract.

Do you think the cost is worth it? Click comment below.

Sprint lets you choose a nickname for your phone number

English: Sprint Nextel logo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do your friends have a hard time remembering your phone number? Sprint is offering a service called StarStar Me, allowing you to replace your phone number with your name, nickname, or unique word. While this sounds great, there is a fee and limitations on your phone number length.

I’d want my number to be **JENN or **5366. However, that doesn’t work. It needs to be five to nine letters. I guess it could be **JENNIFER, but I never go by that.  Plus, it’s already in use. Of course! You have to be creative in your name combination as most common names will likely be taken quickly.

The price is $2.99/month. The service comes with more options than just your customized phone number. The number works when a call is placed in the United States from any Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T phone number.

I wonder if this will be easier to understand on a voicemail message. Most people think I say Jan instead of Jenn. Nobody would ever be able to reach me if my phone number was a nickname.

I don’t see much of a use for this in my life. It might be popular with the younger generation looking to have the latest and greatest technology to increase their cool status.  For me, that’s about the only use.

Say goodbye to spam text messages

I am so tired of my phone buzzing, only to find a text message telling me I can win an iPad or $1,000 cash.  Some even use local phone numbers to make you think it’s a legitimate text from a local business. All I have to do is go to a website and give up all my personal information. I get these texts on my work and personal phone. The good news – there are things you can do about it.

You can forward the text to your carrier by sending it to SPAM or 7726. That way they can investigate where the texts are coming from and help prevent them in the future. To send the message to SPAM, you won’t incur any fees.


Keep tabs on when your carrier implements bill shock alerts so you don’t go over your data, text, or voice limits

The government is cracking down on those unexpected charges that appear on cell phone bills for going over your voice, text, or data plan limits. The government estimates one in six cell phone users have experienced what’s known as bill shock. That’s when unexpected charges appear on your bill. Cell phone carriers and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are working to put an end to the shock by next spring. A new chart makes it easy to keep track of what your carrier is in the implementation process.

Starting October 17, 2012, carriers will automatically alert when your usage goes over your plan for at least two of the four types of charges. These include text messages, data, voice and international roaming. The carriers will have until April 17, 2013 to let you know about the other charges.

Some carriers have already started offering you this service for some of the features. You will get an alert when you approach an overage charge, and one when you go over the plan limits. To make it easy to know when your carrier starts the alerts, the FCC started a char that breaks down which carrier is doing what.

T-Mobile is offering the most alerts including voice, data, and international roaming alerts. Automatic alerts are set up, and you can check your minutes, text messages, or data by dialing a code on your phone. To check Whenever Minutes, dial #MIN#. Text messages, you dial #MSG#, and data is #WEB#. To check your balance, due date, or payment history you simply dial #BAL#. If you are a prepaid customer you dial #999#.

AT&T is offering data alerts. You can get a courtesy text or email when you reach 65, 90, or 100-percent of your data usage for the month. You can dial *3282# or *DATA# to get a text message with your usage, or check online or through an app.

According to the FCC chart, Sprint is offering international roaming alerts.

Verizon offers data and international roaming alerts.  There is an online tool that you can check for your limits, or you can dial #MIN or #DATA for the respective information. You can also setup usage controls, but there is a small fee attached.

Wireless companies work together to protect your stolen phone

So many people can’t live without their smartphone. If you ever stand on a street corner, you’ll see one person after another talking, texting, or scrolling through emails. That $2-300 device you have in your hand, wallet, or purse are wanted by thieves. In major cities across the country, 30-40% of robberies involve cell phones. Now, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and cell phone carriers are teaming up to make that stolen device useless.

Smartphones are full of personal information. If it ends up in a thieves hands, he could wreak havoc on your financial and personal life just by pushing a few buttons.  Within six months, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon will beginning deterring theft and secure customer data. If you report your wireless device stolen, the provider will make it impossible to use that electronic item again. The program will be roll out over the next 18 months.

As part of this effort to deter theft, consumers will also be encouraged and educated on safety mechanisms. A password is a good place to start. Some phones allow you to draw a diagram or punch in a numeric passcode to unlock the phone. These can be annoying especially if the phone times out every few minutes, but it’s a huge safety precaution. There are also apps that allow you to remotely lock, locate, and delete your phone’s contents.

Don’t wait to be a victim. Protect your information today.

Stop phone book delivery

Just as we’re all doing some spring cleaning, the clunky phone books appear in our yard, porch, or doorway. Who really uses these anymore? When I need a number, I look it up online or on my smartphone.  The phone book companies make big bucks off these phone books whether you look at them or not. We’ll probably continue to get these books until companies stop advertising in them or people start opting out of receiving the phone book.

The Encyclopedia Britannica stopped publishing copies of the research book because of slow sales. In Ohio, the white pages are also no longer printed. However, there is a big difference between the white and yellow pages. With the yellow pages there is big money attached as sales of ads are upfront.

Phone books are nothing more than junk mail to some consumers. They want to do everything possible to stop receiving these products, and there are ways to opt out.

The site, “Yellow Pages Opt Out” allows you to stop receiving phone books. For my work zip code in Cleveland, I’m scheduled to receive four phone books. You have to register to un-subscribe.

While smartphones and the Internet make it easy to search for phone numbers, some people still like to browse the yellow pages. You can also do that online. AT&T offers the “Real Yellow Pages.” You can download the directory and virtually search page by page. It’s like you’re flipping through the phone book, but doing it online in a green way.

As with most things, there are two schools of thought on these movements to stop production of junk mail or phone books. Many jobs are supported by the phone book and junk mail. With the stop junk mail efforts, counter movements have popped up to continue production of the mail to support jobs and the Post Office.

Depending on where you fall on the issue, you can take action either way. If you still want the phone book to support jobs, then recycle the phone book when you’re done with it. Cleveland has an entire recycling program for phone books, and many other communities do too. Click here to find a recycling option in your community.

Related stories you may like:
Getting rid of junk mail 
Post Office wants to keep junk mail
10 consumer reports you should check

Department of Justice tries to stop AT&T / T-Mobile merger

Seal of the United States Department of Justice

Image via Wikipedia

First, consumers sounded off telling the Federal Communications Commission how they felt about the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. Now the Department of Justice is speaking saying this merger could hurt consumers. The DOJ filed a lawsuit to block the merger.

For NewsChannel 5, I reviewed the FCC filings made by Ohio residents. I found 94% of Ohio comments were against the merger.  Those against the merger gained a lot of momentum today with the Department of Justice trying to legally block the merger. The anti-trust lawsuit would stop the number two and number four wireless companies in the US from becoming one.

The $39 billion deal would create the largest wireless company in the US.

The Justice Department says it believes the merger would mean tens of millions of consumers would face higher prices, fewer choices, and lower quality products.

“Consumers across the country, including those in rural areas and those with lower incomes, benefit from competition among the nation’s wireless carriers, particularly the four remaining national carriers.  This lawsuit seeks to ensure that everyone can continue to receive the benefits of that competition,” said Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole.

Courtesy AT&T

AT&T says this merger will help consumers and mean better service for users.

AT&T Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Wayne Watts, said, “We are surprised and disappointed by today’s action, particularly since we have met repeatedly with the Department of Justice and there was no indication from the DOJ that this action was being contemplated.”

AT&T says it will fight the lawsuit and has asked for an expedited hearing so what it calls the enormous benefits of the merger can be reviewed.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the deal won’t get done, but it is a major roadblock. The FCC will also weigh in on the proposed merger.


Survey says Verizon tops in cell phone marketplace

Courtesy Verizon Wireless

Can you hear me now? How about now? Are these familiar questions? According to a J.D. Power and Associates survey you may not be asking these questions if you have Verizon wireless.

J.D. Power released its second Wireless Network Quality Performance Study of the year. The study found the performance varies widely depending on the type of activity you’re doing on your handset. More wireless customer have trouble making a call compared with messaging and data-related activities.

Verizon Wireless ranked highest in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Southwest and West regions. That’s five out of six regions. The study found customers have fewer dropped calls, transmission failures, and late text messages compared with regional averages.

U.S. Cellular ranked highest in the North Central reason. According to the survey, U.S. Cellular had fewer dropped calls, audio problems, failed voicemails, and lost call compared to the regional average.

“Based on the varying degree of consistency with overall network performance, it’s critical that wireless carriers continue to invest in improving both the voice quality and data connection-related issues that customers continue to experience,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates.

The study found consumers spend an average of $10 more when they switch from a previous carrier to get better coverage.

The study collected data on calling, messaging, and data. It looks at 10 problem areas including dropped calls, calls not connected, audio issues, failed/late voicemails, lost calls, text transmission failures, late text message notifications,Web connection errors, email connection errors, and slow downloads.  The survey is based on the responses from 22,110 wireless customers.

The survey also found trends changing. We’re using fewer minutes than 2009, and more text messaging. The average wireless customer sent/received an average of 500 text messages a month. That’s about 39 every two days.

AT&T and T-Mobile merger

Courtesy AT&T

The potential merger of the second and fourth largest wireless carriers would change the wireless landscape if it went through. AT&T would catapult to the largest wireless carrier, and combined with Verizon the two would control 75% of the market.

I wanted to know what Ohio consumers thought about the merger, and analyzed comments to the Federal Communications Commission.  More than 800 Ohio consumers and organizations filed a comment with the FCC. For a NewsChannel 5 story, I found 94% of Ohio comments to the FCC were against the merger. The consumers I talked to were concerned about the lack of competition and the effect on prices.

Consumer Reports found T-mobile pricing plans are typically $15-$50 cheaper than similar AT&T plans. But, AT&T says historically prices fell 50% in the last decade despite other mergers.

In Ohio, most of the support came from organized groups like the NAACP who AT&T points out represents consumers. The Cleveland NAACP thought the merger would erase the digital divide by adding service to rural and urban areas without it today.

AT&T says the merger will increase its network capacity so much it will be like having a new spectrum. This will allow for faster data speeds and fewer dropped calls.

The FCC will ultimately decide if the merger can go forward. The questions include — will this harm wireless competition and is it in the public interest? The public comment period is over, but could reopen.

AT&T expects a decision by next spring.

Click comment, and let others know what you think about the merger.