By Quentin Fottrell
“OMG! Did you feel that? Are you OK?” There were text messages like that flying around the country yesterday afternoon just after the 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia, which sent tremors across the east coast. The east coast rarely experiences such events, so people were nervous at first and then, understandably, pretty excited. And that’s usually when we stop thinking about our bill.
But there is good reason why you should be text-aware. Texting is the top mobile phone activity in the U.S. with 68% choosing to text, according to market researcher ComScore. And, last week, AT&T said it will slim down its text-messaging service plans, offering unlimited messages for a flat monthly fee, or a pay-per-text service, and won’t be offering its 1,000 texts for $10 a month.
Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint Mobile and AT&T all suggested texting during a crisis during to help reduced congestion on the network. AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel says texts take up precious little network resources. “Texting is a great alternative in situations where call volumes are very heavy,” he tells Pay Dirt. To ease the burden at the end of the month, here are some tips to prevent a bill aftershock:
Think Before You Mass Text
For those who had difficulty calling friends and family on Tuesday, Sprint Mobile spokeswoman Crystal Davis says: “We encourage customers to be patient.” Naturally, that benefits both company and customer. But AT&T went one step further: It sent out automatic texts telling customers not to worry, which may have helped reduce call volume. It read: “5.8 earthquake 40 miles from Richmond Virginia. Affects felt in tri-state area. No cause for alarm. Please resume your normal day.” Alas, one customer told Pay Dirt their AT&T text came through three times, but the gesture was appreciated.
Consider Unlimited Texting
If you’re a heavy texter, as most teenagers are, you don’t want to pay for texts à la carte unless you really have to. Texting without a pre-paid text plan can be expensive and, even if you have a text bundle, overage can add up. For instance, Verizon charges $20 a month for unlimited texts, but customers must pay 20 cents for pay-as-you-go texts and 10 cents per text for “overage” if you have pre-paid for a limited amount of texts. Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T also charge for sending and receiving domestic pay-as-you go texts.
International Texts Add Up
We know that international roaming can give you bill shock, but so can international texts. AT&T and Verizon charge 25 cents for every overseas text sent – and 20 cents for texts received from a non-U.S. phone. Sprint and T-Mobile charge 20 cents for both sending and receiving international texts. These texts don’t qualify for “friends and family” free text packages or other kinds of similar promotions. On the plus side: the major cell phone companies all make these rules on international texting clear on the company website.
Pay Dirt readers, did you go text crazy on Tuesday?