CBD top17
The Cellular Back Door
Home Voice Mail Numbers Alternative Networks Secrets Prefix Employee Discounts
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: "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 #6: 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 #7: 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 available 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 #8:
NEED MORE MINUTES OR DATA? JUST ASK!

Although this is now less of a problem, one of the most common self-inflicted wounds is running out of minutes or Data before you run out of month. In many cases the carriers will be able to spot you some extra 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 or data 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 #9: 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 voice mail access number, but most likely, your phone book entries won't work without adding the proper prefix. 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 #10: 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 #11:  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 #12: 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 your existing phones and just add a Wireless Home Phone "box". You can cut the cord and cut your monthly charges more than in half, and save even more considering that you'll be getting all calling features, including Long Distance, all included.  There are options for both a Wireless Home Phone as well as Wireless Home Internet are available.

SECRET #13: MANAGING YOUR WIRELESS PHONE NUMBER
We now have a full page of methods to manage your wireless phone number: how to move it, keep it, change it, or hide it.

SECRET #14: SMALL CARRIERS: DO THEY HAVE THEIR OWN NETWORK?

There is a growing number of small wireless carriers that have sold or turned off their own cellular network and now sell wireless service under their own name but as an agent of one of the larger carriers.  They may not want you to know that you could find the same or better deal at the major carrier's store.  It may not be a bad thing, many of these cellular 're-sellers' can give you better customer service or bundle discounts with their other services.  Just remember to ask if they have their own network or maybe how many cell sites they operate.


Back to the Top

click_box