CHICAGO, Aug. 13 /EMWNews/ -- The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) on Wednesday launched the "CUB Cellphone Saver," a state-of-the art online tool that automatically analyzes individual wireless bills, identifying the cheapest calling plans, providing customized money-saving tips, spotting billing errors, and potentially cutting a caller's costs by hundreds of dollars a year. The tool can be found at http://www.CUBCellphoneSaver.com. "In a world of skyrocketing energy prices and a struggling economy, consumers want tools that can show them easy ways to protect their bottom line," CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. "Our job is to fight for cheaper telephone, electric, and natural gas rates, and the CUB Cellphone Saver is another weapon in our arsenal. We are thrilled to offer such a groundbreaking service that within seconds can cut through cell-phone confusion and show consumers how to save money." During the initial testing phase, the CUB Cellphone Saver showed consumers how to cut their wireless bills by an average of about $260 a year. In four simple steps, the CUB Cellphone Saver allows residential customers of the five biggest wireless companies -- AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon -- to upload an online copy of their bill for a full analysis. In a matter of seconds, a report shows the cheapest plans offered by those carriers, given the cell-phone usage reflected on the consumer's bill. People already on their carrier's cheapest plan get a message alerting them of that fact. The tool also shows consumers ways they can cut their current bills without switching carriers and paying an "exit" fee for leaving a wireless contract early. For example, the tool could spot a costly service a consumer doesn't need, recommend switching to a cheaper plan within the same carrier, or identify billing errors. An "Email My Carrier" button allows consumers to send their wireless company an e-mail requesting specific money-saving changes, based on the Cellphone Saver's analysis. Helpful videos and a "Frequently Asked Questions" section explain each step. The CUB Cellphone Saver is still considered a work in progress, so CUB encourages anyone who uses it to send their thoughts and questions through the tool's "Comments" page so the consumer group can continue to improve it. To use the CUB Cellphone Saver, residential customers must have online billing with one of the biggest five carriers. (The companies offer online billing for free, and they allow customers to continue to get a paper bill unless they request otherwise.) Prepaid plans and business plans, as well as AT&T bills that combine wireless and landline service do not work with the tool. The software behind CUB's Cellphone Saver is provided by a company called Validas, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas. This is the latest online tool offered by CUB. In 2007, it launched the "Local Phone Cost-cutter," which recently reached the milestone of showing consumers how to save a total of $3 million by finding the right local calling plan. CUB is Illinois' leading nonprofit utility watchdog organization. It was created by the Illinois legislature in 1983 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers and since then has saved consumers more than $10 billion by blocking rate hikes and securing refunds. For more information, call CUB's Consumer Hotline at 1-800-669-5556 or visit http://www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.
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