With the economy the way it is today, more and more people are looking around for ways to pinch pennies and save a buck. Carpooling, being sure to turn off all the lights, and less needless spending are becoming much more of the norm. One big area that many are looking at to try to cut down on is on their cell phone bill. More people are abandoning the high costs of a “regular” cell phone plan that racks them anywhere from an average of $78 and up a month*, and turning to a pay-as-you-go or no contract cell plan. With this in mind, enter Walmart’s latest way to try to offer up the goofy big yellow smiley face to their customers.
Just announced today is Walmart’s plan to offer up a no-contract wireless service to their customers at two different pre-paid price ranges. The plan is called “Straight Talk,” and so far has received good reviews from customers in the pilot program across over 200 hundred different Wal-Mart stores, according to Walmart’s VP of Media Relations, Greg Hall. The launch will begin at over 3,200 Walmart stores on October 18, 2009.
So what is this going to cost you and what does it offer? You can pick from either a $30 or $45 a month pre-paid plan. The $30 a month “All You Need” plan gets you 1,000 minutes, 1,000 text messages, and 30 MB of web access. You also get free 411 calls and nationwide coverage. If you think you don’t want to limit yourself with your minutes and messages, you could choose to upgrade to the $45 a month Unlimited 30-day plan, which gives you (obviously enough) unlimited calls, text messages and mobile web access, as well as free 411 and nationwide coverage.
Considering that the average US adult plunks down almost $80 a month for their cellular service to get 1,000 minutes a month, this is a rather good deal. But, the question comes in to play, how’s the service? The biggest complaint with this type of deal is that, yeah, you save money..but you also get what you pay for. One of the names splashed around a lot anymore is Boost. But many users of this service give awful reviews stating they lose messages, constantly have problems connecting to the network and lose calls all the time. Yet others claim to love it. Where you live probably plays a huge role in what kind of service you receive due to coverage.
Before going out and signing up for any pre-paid plan, I’d recommend finding someone in your area that has it and ask how they like it. How does it work for them? It may work spectacularly for someone in Chicago, and never connect for someone in Podunk. Or it may have a problem of losing text messages left and right, but the calls go through somehow (which many people claim for some services). If this is the case, if texting isn’t a major issue for you, it may still be more than worth it for you to save that $50 a month on a plan like “Straight Talk.”
Straight Talk customers can refill their balance one of two ways – buy a refill card at the store, or register online at either the Walmart website or StraightTalk.com. You can also pick up your phone for the plan at your local store. Phones range from the LG 220 flip ($39.98) all the way up to the Samsung 451 QWERTY keyboard phone ($99.88).
* Source: Nielsen Mobile Bill Panel Data