Might you be overpaying for smartphone data?

June 18, 2013 (CHICAGO)

In fact, in Illinois, they pay more than a billion dollars a year for data they never use, according to the Citizens Utility Board.

We devour data -- but are we smart about what we pay for it? Marshall Chandler believes he is.

"I decided to switch to a carrier that fits my actual needs, which is $50 a month," said Chandler.

However, many smartphone users are not paying such close attention.

"The study we release today shows that Illinois wireless consumers are overpaying by $1.4 billion a year because they're simply on the wrong cellphone data plans," said David Kolata, executive director of the Citizen's Utility Board.

That's 1.4 *billion* with a B. It averages out to just shy of $150 a year that smartphone owners in Illinois pay for data minutes they do not use. Why? Many customers opt for unlimited data even though CUB says the average use is less than a gigabyte a month.

Tim Harrington just changed his data plan, but it is not what he would prefer. He is an advocate of pay-as-you-go.

"It's like going to the gas station. You fill up with gas, you pay the guy, you pay exactly for what you get," said Harrington.

The major carriers tout their sharable data plans - multiple phones on one account as a means of getting more value for the data dollar. But CUB suggests there should be more diverse plans.

"By shining a light on this issue, we hope that more consumers can take a look at their bill, use free tools that are out there like a CUB cell phone saver to optimize their plan and hopefully carriers will come out with more diverse plans that will benefit folks," said Kolata.

"When cellphones first came out and they were the thing to have, I didn't pay any attention to it. I was too wrapped up in it," said Lisa Flaws." "I do now absolutely."

Flaws is more focused on data costs because she has two teenage daughters who enjoy texting. Apart from changing your plan, CUB points out that you can lessen the data drain by using wi-fi whenever possible and by turning off apps that may continue to run when you are not using them.

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