That would lead a consumer to believe there are countless companies from which to buy a cell phone online.
During a trip down pages and pages of search engine results, you will findbrand name companies such as Best Buy, Radio Shack, Walmart, and Sams Club along with phone manufacturers such as Motorola, LG and Nokia, all with the ability to purchase a phone, with a service plan, through their own companies website.
After painstaking research, it turns out that besides each cellular service provider's website, such as AT&T, T-mobile or Verizon , there are only 3 companies, or resellers, from whom fulfill the majority of online cell phone purchases.
These 3 companies are Letstalk.
com and Inphonic.
com Why buy through a reseller? : 1.
Better prices The example we looked at July 8th, was the BlackBerry® Curve for AT&T wireless.
AT&T Pay now price: $299.
99 Mail in Rebate card:-$100.
00 Final sale price:$199.
99 Inphonic / Wirefly Pay now price:$149.
99 Mail in Rebates:-$150.
00 Final sale price: $0.
00 Amazon Pay now price: $99.
98 Mail in Rebates: -$100.
00 Final sale price: $0.
00 Letstalk Pay now price: $99.
99 Mail in Rebates: -$150.
00 Final sale price: $0.
00 plus you get $50 back (after rebates) 2.
Freedom to Choose The wireless service provider websites do not show you what their competitors have to offer.
They showtheir "specials" or "featured" products with descriptions, pictures and the associated cost of their phone or plan.
In contrast, 2 of the 3 online resellers, Amazon.
com and Inphonic give you the ability to choose service plans and cell phones from the different service providers.
It's true that you have to toggle between pages to compare different provider plans or phones..
The third reseller, Letstalk.
com, gives you the ability to not only choose from different service providers, but compare phones and plans from the different carriers side-by-side.
They also offer expert and user reviews.
The Good, Bad and the Ugly We have reviewed and purchased a cell phone and plan from each of the three resellers, some of which were through their partner sites.
Here is how we rate each of the buying experiences: Website Functionality: Letstalk.
com - Navigation is superb, many offers to choose from.
The "Rate Plan Finder" and "Phone Finder" functions are the best.
We can view all the service plans available from the variety of carriers, and compare eight plans side-by-side.
This is the only site we have seen, in which a user can add a line to your existing family plan or wireless account.
The ability to buy unlocked phones and carrier phones without a service plan provides us with options and alternatives.
The one stop shopping for any type of phone and plan, whether it be porting your existing number, activating a new line of service, or adding onto existing accounts,make this site a winner.
The checkout is simple and straight forward.
com - Navigation is good, the buy flow leaves a lot to be desired.
Although they do have the ability to view a number of service plans on the same page, they are not well marked and a click on each plan is necessary to view all features of the plan.
The same could be said about the cell phone selection as well.
Amazon does not have a number porting process.
The consumer would need to do most of the "port" work with the new carrier over the phone.
This could lead to an extra $250 charge if the customer does not follow the exact procedure.
The checkout is a simple process, and the explanations of required information are very informative, especially the "risks of buying a phone and plan for someone else".
It is confusing as to why wirefly has phone offers on the amazon website.
com- Navigation is very good.
We are able to find phones and rate plans with ease, similar to letstalk's promotion page, you can select a different carrier or different phone from a pop-up window.
As with Amazon, the clear ability to effectively compare all plans or phones side-by-side is missing They do offer the ability to port your number to a new carrier without any involvement between you and your new carrier.
There are no bells and whistles here, a straight forward "Buy a phone & plan" website.
Customer Service & Support Inphonic-Wirefly.
com- Toll-Free Support via Phone:YES Email Support:YES Online status tracking:YES FAQ Rank Low to high:Medium BBB Ranking:Unsatisfactory Record Amazon.
com- Toll-Free Support via Phone:NO Email Support:NO Online status tracking:YES FAQ Rank Low to high:Low BBB Ranking:Satisfactory Record Letstalk.
com- Toll-Free Support via Phone:YES Email Support:YES Online status tracking:YES FAQ Rank Low to high:High BBB Ranking:Satisfactory Record [http://www.
html?bid=52263] Overall Comments With so many websites offering cell phone service, your choice really comes down to which one of the three national resellers do you want to do business with? Buying directly from the carrier is always an option, but the price differences and the ability to effectively comparison shop your service plan or cell phone would be lost.
Although all three resellers have their positive areas, it is this editors opinion that Letstalk provides the most complete, hassle-free, buying experience.
The ability to do it all on one site,and have the support of a very accessible customer service department, speaks volumes to the integrity of this company.