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Cellular Back Door

Cellular Back Door Secrets, Tips & Short Cuts
Great ideas you won't get from your wireless carrier





SECRET #1: FORGOT YOUR PHONE? WHAT TO DO
At your next opportunity, call your wireless carrier and ask them to forward your calls to a number that will be convenient to you. This is the time to take advantage of your glove box phone or the phone of a person you will be spending some time with. Otherwise, use what phone you can find to check your voice mail. Then, when you are reunited with your own phone, you can cancel Call Forwarding yourself. Store the code in your phone book so you won't need to look it up.

SECRET #2: FORGOT YOUR BATTERY CHARGER WHILE TRAVELING? ASK YOUR HOTEL!
Cell phone chargers are the Number 1 item left behind in hotel rooms. Most hotels are willing to lend or give you cords from their lost and found.

SECRET #3: "SECRET" PLANS
Almost every carrier has plans they don't advertise. Most of them are cheaper plans that include fewer features than their regular plans. In most cases, the only way to find out about these plans is to press a Customer Service agent for more information. Some plans only 'appear' when you threaten to leave the carrier, although these plans are not supposed to be considered "retention" plans, but that's what they are. Some plans contain discounts for customers who belong to certain groups and aren't really "plans", and these discounts need to be applied to your account. We listed some of these special discounts, below. If you don't want to threaten to cancel, ask if there are offers "to help keep me as a customer."

SECRET #4: TEXT MESSAGING WORKS WHEN OTHER METHODS DON'T
When you have a communications problem, like a hurricane, "All Circuits Busy", not enough 'bars' and the like, consider sending a Text Message. It works when trying to contact any other wireless subscriber and all you need is their phone number. This is your backup for when there is a power outage at the cell site, you're in a bad coverage area, or you're at a convention and everybody else is using their phone. This is the way to communicate when severe weather cuts you off. Your phone will 'hold' the message until it can receive a clear signal, then sends it off. Some phones hold the message longer than others, so check periodically to see if the message needs to be re-sent. It is also an inexpensive way to communicate internationally as Text is billed at rates much lower than voice calls. Additionally, you should become aware of how other callers can send a Text Message to you, in case the emergency is at their end.



SECRET #5: GET A PHONE NUMBER IN THE AREA CODE YOU WANT
Your wireless carrier may not be able to provide a phone number in your choice of Area Codes. It's important to some people. With "Number Portability" you can fix that, although it's not free. Contact your local wireline phone company and order a real phone line (or wireless from a cellular carrier that does offer service in your desired Area Code, but watch out for Early Termination Fees). You can "install" the wireline in a home or business, some phone companies will assign you a "virtual" phone number that rings another. You may not have many choices of numbers. Then, contact your cellular provider to "port" your number from wireline (or wireless) to your final wireless account. The final wireless carrier will help you through that. This action will cancel the old service for you. Don't do it yourself, but check with the carrier later to make sure it terminated properly. There are more tips for number portability here.

Of, course, you could keep the new wireline active and just Call Forward that number to your cell phone. This can be done with both actual and virtual phone numbers. You may need to pay for a certain amount of service, installation charges, and go through the headache choosing a long distance carrier, but how bad you you want it?


SECRET #6: "DO THE MATH" ON YOUR PLAN
You don't always save on a "Family Plan". Consider separate plans for each user to get more minutes for each. Also, you might be paying more for "unlimited" features, like Data and Text, when an "a la carte" or pay-per-use plan could save you substantial fees. Sit down with 6 months of your bills (1 year is better) and look at your charges compared to your usage. Most carriers offer an analysis of your usage on their "my account" pages. Also, there may be better "bundles" and features available now than when you first signed up. Also, consider switching to Prepaid. Also, check to see how to get Cheaper Wireless.


SECRET #7: HOW TO HEAR YOUR PHONE CONVERSATION IN A NOISY ROOM
Don't stick your finger in the opposite ear. Instead, put your finger over the mouthpiece, or use the phone's "Mute" button. The noise is coming in through the phone, not into your other ear. The mouthpiece is normally a very small hole near the bottom of the phone and is easy to cover. The "Mute" button on some phones is not easy to press "on" and "off" during a conversation, so your finger may be the easier method.


SECRET #8: IMPORTANT NUMBERS TO PROGRAM (or NOT Program) INTO YOUR PHONE
-Add an entry in your phone book, "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) and a relative's phone number. In case of an accident, it gives you a better chance of your being identified and relatives notified.
-Add the Local direct number to certain Public Safety agencies, like *CSP, #77 and the like. A 911 operator needs to determine the nature of your call, but a direct call to the right agency will expedite your request.
-Make sure you enter a number for "HOME", even if you never call home. It's the most often used way for someone who finds a lost cell phone to return it to the owner.
-If you belong to AAA or other auto club, be sure to save their number in your phone book. Your auto manufacturer and insurance company may offer help as well.
-Add your power company and land line repair service to the list. A phone directory may not be available when the power is off or the cable is dead.
-Do NOT add "911" to your speed dial list. This alone accounts for a huge number of accidental calls to 911 operators. Learn about Wireless 911.
-Do these things now...before you need them!

SECRET #9: USE THOSE EXPIRING PREPAID MINUTES
If you're not going to refill your prepaid phone, or will be losing other minutes that are about to expire, use the leftover minutes for something other than calls or texts.

-First, do some good: Make an SMS donation. The most famous is the Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund for $10 by Texting "HAITI" at 90999, their “2HELP” (24357) containing the message "GIVE", to donate $5 to their general Disaster Relief Fund, or search for a list for Text donations, like http://www.mgive.com/
-2nd, buy something for your phone. Download some ringtones or an app that you otherwise wouldn't buy. It should stay with the phone for the next time you or someone else uses it.
-3rd, with a significant balance, you can often apply it to a new postpaid account with your carrier, which may not require a new contract.

SECRET #10: REGISTER YOUR PHONE FOR 911/REVERSE 911:
Most cellular carriers offer a method of associating your wireless number with a particular address. This is helpful if they get a call from your wireless number but cannot determine your location. Some people consider this a privacy issue, but the benefits outweigh those issues, especially if someone else, like a child, makes a call for you. You may also register your phone for "Reverse 911" notifications.  Both of these options are locally controlled and may not be available in your area.  

SECRET #11: GET A BIG DISCOUNT FOR YOUR AGE, YOUR EMPLOYER OR GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS:
Most wireless carriers have special discount programs for people who are included in certain groups or situations. Unique plans are availbale for those 65 years and older, kids phones with calling limits, employees of certain companies, and Free or inexpensive "Lifeline" programs for people on government-subsidized programs.  Some of these plans are as low as $1 or even FREE!  Also ask about deals for students and faculty of many schools as well as a number of non-profit and co-operative organizations.  Many Customer Service agents don't know about these, or are instructed not to alert you about them, and you need to ask them to look. These offers are also available among smaller carriers.

SECRET #12:
NEED MORE MINUTES OR DATA? JUST ASK!

One of the most common self-inflicted wounds is running out of minutes or Data before we run out of month. In many cases the carriers will be able to spot you a few minutes to help you get through the tough times. As with any call to customer Service, you might need to press the issue. Don't use additional "force", just use multiple pleas. You might use the terms, "what can I do?" instead of "what can you do?" The agent needs to look at your records to see if you've been naughty or nice. Don't expect to be given anything if you're always asking. Quite often the request for extra minutes for this month goes down a little easier when you ask for a more expensive plan for next month. Some carriers will change your plan retroactively, and some will now do it without a contract extension. Often you can change back if your circumstances change again. Some carriers offer "no-overage" features.

SECRET #13: DON'T CARRY 2 PHONES!
Some of us now have one wireless phone for Personal use, and another for Work. Use Call Forwarding from one to the other to keep from carrying both all day. Even better, use a form of "Conditional" Call Forwarding and if you don't answer the first phone within a few rings it Forwards to the second, without needing to be programmed each time you switch phones. And you could Forward the second phone to your home or office voice mail, or yet another cell phone's voice mail. Some prepaid phones can be had for less than $40 a year just to use their voice mail.  You can also program all of these functions with your computer for Free by using Google Voice.

SECRET #14: LEARN HOW TO USE YOUR PHONE WHEN "ROAMING"
You're on vacation and want to check your voice mail, but it won't work. If you are roaming outside your network's service area you may need to call your own number, instead. Codes like "*VM" may not work while roaming. If you're out of the country, a certain dialing sequence is required. GSM phones may decipher the sequence for you by adding a "+" before the number, but most likely, your phone book entries won't work without adding the proper prefix. Also, be very careful about using Data outside the US. You could rack up thousands of dollars in charges. Check your carrier's web site or customer service for instructions on what to do if you travel off their network or out of the country.

SECRET #15: GET A MORE "BUSINESSLIKE" PHONE NUMBER FOR YOUR CELLULAR PHONE

When you place an ad in the newspaper, Yellow Pages or your business card, often customers know that's a cell phone number, making your business look a little less 'legitimate.' With "Number Portability" you can fix that, although it's not free.

Contact your local wireline phone company and order a real phone line. You can "install" it wherever you'd like, some phone companies will assign you a "virtual" phone number that rings another. You won't have many choices of a number, but choose one with an "old" exchange people would recognize, or one that you recognize as "businesslike". Then, contact your cellular provider to "port" your number from wireline to wireless. You may need to establish a new wireless account, but the wireless carrier will help you through that. This action will cancel the wireline for you. Don't do it yourself, but check with the wireline later to make sure it terminated properly. There are more tips for number portability here. Of, course, you could keep the new wireline number and just forward the number to your cell phone. This can be done with both actual and virtual phone numbers. Some carriers offer "vanity" phone numbers that spell something, at an additional charge.

You may need to pay for a certain amount of wireline service, installation charges, and go through the headache choosing a long distance carrier, but in the end, you'll look like you're in business at an 'established' location.

SECRET #16: INTERNATIONAL WIRELESS LONG DISTANCE BARGAINS
Some carriers charge as much as .65 per minute for Long Distance charges to foreign countries, but you can make those calls for a few pennies per minute, or FREE! Here are some great alternatives:
  • TracFone customers get a toll-free number to call and then enter their international number and complete the call for FREE! You only pay the TracFone per-minute air charges.
  • Some carriers offer flat rate international calls. For example, MetroPCS offers an add-on for free calls to several countries. Cricket Wireless offers plans that include a fixed number of calls to Mexico and other international locations. Check the country list before signing up.
  • Use any Prepaid calling card with lower rates. You can add the access number to your wireless phone book, or enter the whole sequence with your frequently-called numbers. Calls, for example, to Mexico, can be as low as a few cents per minute, with no monthly fees.
  • Use a cheap, international long distance app through your Smart phone's Data connection.
SECRET #17:  DON'T GET LOCKED INTO A SINGLE CARRIER BECAUSE THEY "OWN" YOUR PHONE NUMBER OR FAVORITE FEATURES
Subscribe to Google Voice and get flexible Number Portability and a full slate of phone features all fully programmable.  You can choose what number rings what phone at what time, cheap international wireless calls, and voice mail that responds to each caller in the way you choose.  You really don't need a phone number.  You do need a data connection but can use various apps to make and receive phone calls and texts.  These include Google Hangouts, Google Voice and there are also "WiFi-only" phone services that do assign you a phone number, but you may not need to use the cellular networks to complete calls. Get more on our Google Voice page.

SECRET #18: 2nd PHONE LINE INTO YOUR HOME?  MAKE IT WIRELESS!
If you have a 2nd phone line coming into your home for a "business" line, the kids, or for a specific person in your house, you can use the existing phones and just add a Wireless Phone Phone "box". You can cut the cord and cut your monthly charges in half, and save even more considering that you'll be getting all calling features, including Long Distance, all included.  Options for both a Wireless Home Phone as well as Wireless Home Internet are available.

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