Just about everyone, it seems, uses cell-phones. But few people know how to use them wisely. Once you start walking and talking at the same time, the etiquette of cell-phone banter becomes unclear. And the bills start piling up. Here are ten rules that you won't find in the user's manual.
- To save money, bundle your cellular and long-distance phone plans. AT&T, for example, will link your cell-phone bill with your business phone bill for further savings and credits.
- If you're thinking of buying a new cell-phone to replace your current model, consider changing cellular providers. Promotional packages that include a new phone can save big bucks.
- When you're on the road all day, bring an extra battery. I haven't yet tested a phone that accurately indicates the amount of talk time it has left.
- If your cellular provider offers a PIN password number, use it. It can reduce (though not eliminate) the chances that someone will steal your number and run up huge bills. If you leave your local area and start roaming, you may need the number to gain access to a different provider.
- Those who are serious about security should never discuss confidential matters over a cell-phone. Despite claims to the contrary, it's even possible to decode a digital cellular phone call.
- Keep your voice down. Even though everybody lining up for that flight to L.A. seems oblivious to your conversation, they can hear every word. If you have a bad connection, walk over to an out-of-the-way spot or call back.
- Never leave your phone on in a meeting. It stops conversation when it rings, and everyone will know that you'd rather be somewhere else. Get the voice-mail option and check your messages — if you must — by leaving the room.
- To cut your cell-phone charges, turn off the phone and turn on a pager. Even an inexpensive numeric pager can help you screen calls. And it helps conserve your cell-phone's battery.
- Before signing up for a paging service, place a few calls to acquaintances who use that service. You can quickly determine how easy (or difficult) it will be to reach you by page.
- Lease pagers, don't buy. Pager technology is constantly changing. Today's cutting-edge pocket pals can set you back as much as $400. Lease, and you can always change services.
A version of this article appeared in the June/July 1996 issue of Fast Company magazine.