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Study Claims Average Cell Phone User Pays $3.02/Minute

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Found this odd claim reported in the Christian Science Monitor:

In San Diego, mobile users pay more than $3 per minute on average. The Utility Consumers’ Action Network surveyed 700 cellphone users and found that the average cellphone bill went down since 2004, falling from $57.92 for a single-line account to $37.15 today.

However, “cost per minute can be outrageous,” says the report. “Doing the simplest of calculations – dividing the total cost by the number of minutes – we find that the average ‘account’ is paying $3.02 a minute.” This average is driven up by a small slice of consumers who buy large plans but rarely use them. If you cut out these big-spenders, the average falls somewhere between 50 cents and $1 per minute – far more than the “10 cents a minute” claim made in many ads.

The study says that part of the problem comes from consumers overestimating how many minutes they need, which makes them overpay for plans (study claims that they only use 32% of their total time allowance). In addition, consumers rarely change their contracts once they’ve signed up.

This is a strange study. How could an average cell phone user possibly pay $3/minute? The study doesn’t mention data usage, cost of the phone (which is heavily discounted with most contracts), night/weekend/anytime minutes, text messaging, or taxes.

The study (located here) needs to clarify its claims. At the moment, they don’t make much sense.

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