TULSA - Pre-paid plans promise talk, text and data for $30 to $50 a month, easily slicing most customer's monthly bills in half or more, all without a contract.
With an eye toward saving you money we enlisted the help of some viewers to see if pre-paid cellphone offers can cut your bill in half.
Straight Talk customer Raymond Carusone is a believer.
"Never got it shut off, never lost a call," said Carusone.
Straight Talk is a service from Tracfone and is marketed by Walmart.
Jack Stallings was ready to try out Straight Talk for us.
He's paying $160 a month under a two-year contract with US Cellular.
"Then I started reading and I didn't even take the plunge," said Stallings.
The hang-up for Jack? Straight Talk's 30 pages of terms and conditions.
Stalings' career: IT specialist. He ran down a few of the terms he thinks could be a problem for some cellphone users.
These are some of the items from the terms and conditions:
Certain mobile phone features may not be available throughout the entire network or their functionality may be limited. Their contract states specifically we may remotely change your wireless phone software, applications or programing without notice. At our sole discretion to anyone, for any reason, at any time.
Our repeated efforts to reach a Straight Talk representative for comment went unanswered , but their website promises nationwide coverage and you can use their service on your current phone.
Stallings says tried out the service on a friend's phone and didn't hit any snags other than what he says was slow Web access.
Dana Fusco also wanted to help look into pre-paid options.
"It's going to be a good opportunity for me to see what's going to be my best savings," said Fusco.
She's currently on a pre-paid plan with Cricket but was intrigued by the offerings on Boost Mobile 's website, including shrinking monthly payments and more phone options than she saw through Straight Talk.
Fusco then found something she says she didn't like.
"With Boost Mobile, I was never able to get through to a live person," she said. "I tried several times. Went through menu options, about five, and I finally just got very frustrated and gave up. They want you to do all of your business online and I don't care for that."
We reached out to Boost Mobile and a representative got back to us immediately with this statement:
We are proud of our customer service and regret any customer having concerns or a bad experience. We're not perfect but continue to take strides to enhance our customer service: in addition to our customer care toll-free number 1-866-402-7366, Boost has FAQs available on our website and a special team of care representatives monitoring and responding on our Facebook page and Twitter pages. Boost Mobile products are available nationwide at nearly 20,000 major retail stores, including Best Buy, RadioShack, Target, Family Dollar, Walgreens and Walmart, Sprint retail stores and independent wireless dealer locations where sales staff is trained to answer and help consumers with their wireless needs.
Boost also now offers 4G service on some plans and shrinking monthly payments that could take a customer's bill from $50 to $40 dollars per month in 18 months if all payments are made on time.
Despite drawbacks found by some of our viewers , many people are making the switch from contracts and monthly billing to pre-paid plans.
Because of increasing popularity AT&T , Verizon and Sprint all now offer unlimited prepaid services for $50 dollars a month.
Stallings says pre-paid may be fine for basic needs.
"If you just made phone calls, checked emails and sent text you would probably be OK," he said. "But for somebody who uses a device heavily and relies on especially the Internet or streaming or multimedia capabilities of a phone it's not a good deal."
Fusco plans on sticking with her Cricket service -- phone, text and data for $45 a month.
We found the phones offered through pre-paid sites tend to be more expensive than buying a device when you sign a two-year contract, but if you cut your overall bill in half and stay with pre-paid for at least six months you'll generally more than make up for that initial expense.
A newcomer to the pre-paid cellphone service arena is Solavei which launched in September of this year. It uses T-Mobile's infrastructure and its web site promises unlimited 4G, voice, text, data without a contract for $49 per month. Rather than spending a lot of advertising dollars promoting its service Solavei relies on its own customers to recruit friends and family. Offering discounts on monthly bills to referral fees to income depending on how many people customers refer to sign up with Solavei. The company also claims if customers bring their own "qualified" phones to use Solavei's service they'll provide a free SIM card.