Smartphone confusion costing you?

Between talking, texting and playing games, the high-tech hustle and bustle of the Boone family is costing around $240 a month. 

Amy Boone would like to pay less, but she finds all the smartphone plans confusing.

"It's a puzzle within a puzzle within a puzzle," said Boone. 

It is a pricing puzzle because as our investigation reveals, the four major U.S. carriers combined offer over 200 different cell phone plans. 

We worked with Validas, a mobile analytics firm that crunched the numbers for us and found that within those plans, there are thousands of combinations with options like messaging,
data services and device protection.

"You have to have choices for consumers, but then that choice creates confusion because when people want to buy, they want things simple," said Todd Dunphy of Validas.

Confusion often results in a "wireless waste," the difference between what you pay for your mobile plan and what you actually use.

Validas found that last year, Americans overpaid more than $52 billion and 83% of users with high limit plans did not use all they paid for. 

Dunphy said, "People are over buying in the fear that they're going to go over, but in fact, what they keep doing is never using those gigabytes they're buying."

How do you know if you are on the right plan?

Most websites of major cellular providers offer plan calculators and you can call your carrier for an analysis. 

The National Consumers League recommends reviewing three months of bills. 

"Are you using less voice than you thought you were going to? Are you using more texts than you thought you would? See if there's a way that you can adjust your cell phone plan 
or maybe switch carriers to find one that better meets your needs for a cheaper cost," said John Breyault of the National Consumers League.

Validas did an analysis of the Boone family bill and found they don't need unlimited data and simply changing to a shared data plan will save them $400 a year.

"It's a huge headache to try and figure this stuff out. I think a lot of people just let it go," said Boone. 

Now, Boone is happy to know that she can save money for other things.

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