Wireless-Phone Bills Causing Financial Stress
It’s a story all too familiar to many parents: When Eren Celozzi signed up for a Verizon Wireless family plan, the monthly bill for three phones was supposed to be $199. But some months, her teenage daughters just can’t stop chatting, and the bill goes as high as $290.
“That’s a whole car payment,” said Celozzi, a tailor who owns Hems While You Wait, in Hyannis. She regularly threatens her girls with the ultimate consequence — “I’m taking you off my phone bill” — but the overcharges keep coming.
“It’s stressful when you’re a single mom,” she said.
Even as giddy consumers await delivery of their new iPhone 5s, a less happy side of mobile life is emerging. Think of it as “iStrain,” or wireless-induced financial anxiety.
Once discretionary, cellphones have become a fact of life for the vast majority of Americans — as have the bills consumers incur for plans that cover calls, texts, and data.
Nearly half of Americans with mobile phones pay $100 or more per month, and more than 1 in 10 spend at least $200 a month, according to a September survey by CouponCabin, conducted by Harris Interactive. That’s a major cost for those struggling to make ends meet.
“People say ‘I have to pay my phone bill, I can’t pay the doctor,’ ” said Jay Gonsalves, president of the Action Collection Agency of Boston, in Middleborough. “People put cellphone bills right up there with paying the rent.”