Why is your cell phone bill skyrocketing?

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As cell phone data usage continues to rise customers are questioning how data fees are calculated by wireless companies.

In September, a single story by the Cleveland Plain Dealer generated inquiries and complaints from more than 4,000 customers pointing to the same problem.

Former Chicago firefighter Mark Pallister says since January, his data usage has nearly doubled.  He doesn’t understand why since he hasn’t changed the way he uses his phone.  Pallister says, “It’s very frustrating and now I have to pay more and I have to pay for overage usage.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer found that in September a glitch in Verizon’s system kept some customers from receiving alerts when they were about to reach their data limit.  That kicked off questions about how data is calculated.  Pallister says when he called to find out what was causing the hike, they told him to purchase a higher plan.

The Federal Communications Commission is looking into some of the complaints and is working with Verizon on determining the cause.  Verizon Spokesperson Steve Van Dinter says, “In most of the cases the data that was used was exactly what they used.”

Questions about charges for data plans isn’t a problem unique to Verizon.  In fact, the top three carriers often receive complaints about how data is calculated.

Chicago’s Citizen’s Utility Board or “CUB” is taking action and has started a petition hoping to generate some change.  They want cell phone carriers to offer more information about how you’re using your data.  Pallister adds, “how are we supposed to know if they are just gouging us, how do I know if I used 5 gigabytes or 6 or what. How are we supposed to know?”

Here are some websites to follow:

  1. Online Petition by the Citizens Utility Board asking for reform
  1. How to manage your wireless data and avoid overages
  1. Filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission
  1. Verizon list of Apps that use the most data
  1. Cleveland Plain Dealer's coverage

For more information on how to avoid a surprise cell bill, go to: www.macworld.com