Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Still stuck paying $35 or more for a home phone that you can’t or don’t want to give up? I have a new option that could lower your cost for the same service to $15 a month.
Verizon and Straight Talk are teaming up to introduce something called Home Phone Connect, which promises unlimited local and long distance calling, voicemail, caller ID, three-way calling and more, all with no contract. Visit VerizonWireless .com or StraightTalk.com for more details.
This home phone service does not require an Internet connection. You purchase a $99 wireless base station that you put wherever you get a good signal in your home.
Once you purchase it, you can even port your number over from the monopoly local phone company.
Meanwhile, most people who stick with the local phone company are paying $35 or more for their service, not including any special features.
If you don’t want to fool around with new technology and still want to keep the land line you have, I have another way you could save some money even on that.
In order to make sure you’re paying as little as possible for your current land line, call up your phone company and ask for the “state-regulated tariff rate” or the “plain old telephone service (POTS) rate.” If the rep feigns ignorance, ask to speak to a supervisor and make your request.
With the tariff rate, you get a basic dial-tone with no frills or extra features. It should cost between $7 and $18 per month, though you’ll still pay an additional $10 or even $13 per month in junk fees.
For example, I pay $29 a month for a land line at home that my wife wants. So that means I have to skip eating a couple of days a month to make up for the expenditure — only kidding!
– Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog