NEW YORK (AP) — Verizon is hiking prices on its cellphone plans, though the new rates come with changes that might actually save you money.
If you do nothing, your prices won’t automatically go up. But new benefits announced Wednesday — including better options when traveling in Canada and Mexico — require you to switch to the new rates, which start Thursday.
While people still make plenty of calls, plain old data — much of it for streaming video and playing games — is emerging as the most important part of your cellphone plan. Verizon’s changes reflect that. Even if you’re happy with your current plan, it’s still a good time to review it.
THE PRICE HIKES
Verizon’s prices are going up by $5 to $10 a month, but you’ll get more data. The cost per gigabyte is going down.
Under Verizon’s old plan, individuals paid $50 a month for 1 gigabyte of cellular data. Starting Thursday, the base plan will offer 2 gigabytes for $55. A family of four sharing 12 gigabytes previously paid $160; now, the same family will pay $170 for 16 gigabytes. Prices don’t include the phone.
If your data needs fell somewhere between two offerings, you had to bump up to the higher plan. Now that each offering is getting more data, the lower plan might meet your needs. Let’s say you need 2 gigabytes a month. Before, you had to pay $65 for 3 gigabytes and let 1 gigabyte go to waste. Now you can buy the 2 gigabyte plan for $55.
If you were already using up most of your 3 gigabytes, you can stick with the old plan for $65 rather than pay the increase. Any future changes will subject you to the new prices — unless, that is, you’re on a plan introduced before last year, such as “More Everything.” Those older plans will still let you change your data levels.
HOW MUCH DATA DO YOU NEED?
When comparing plans among carriers, estimate how much data you use with and without data-hungry streaming video. T-Mobile, for instance, exempts many leading video services and music from data quotas, so you won’t need to buy as much. But it only offers that free streaming at DVD quality (lower than high definition) and for plans that include at least 3 gigabytes of data.
Verizon makes a similar exemption for its own video service, go90. But leading services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon will still count against your limit.
USING MORE DATA … OR LESS
If you exceed your data limit, Sprint and T-Mobile won’t charge you extra, but will slow your data speed to a crawl until the next billing period. You’ll be able to check e-mail and post a Facebook status, but forget streaming video. Verizon is also introducing this slower option, which it counterintuitively calls Safety Mode. It’s free for plans with at least 16 gigabytes of data. Otherwise, you pay $5 a month per account for the “safety” of not getting charged even more for going over.
What if you don’t use all your data? For plans of 3 gigabytes or more, T-Mobile lets you roll over up to 20 gigabytes of unused data for up to a year. Verizon, like AT&T , now also lets you roll over data. But it’s a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. The rollover data disappears after a month if you don’t use it — and to do that, you have to run through your monthly data allotment first.
Sound complicated? As carriers try to match each other on price and benefits, they still need to maximize revenue — and increasingly that’s through higher data buckets and other fees.
MAKING THE SWITCH
Carriers typically let you switch your data allotment from month to month. Verizon is introducing an app to make it easier to monitor your data use and switch to a bigger data plan. You can also downgrade, but changes don’t take effect until the next billing cycle. You can try timing your changes to your actual usage, though in practice it’s easy to get burned.
You still don’t get billing based on actual use. With gas and electricity, you don’t choose how much energy you expect to need beforehand. You get metered and billed. Google has tried to extend this concept to the phone industry with its Project Fi service, but it hasn’t caught on. Verizon’s vice president of consumer pricing, Rob Miller, says the company found in testing that consumers prefer the certainty of knowing what they’ll pay from month to month.
You can use your U.S. data allotment while roaming in Mexico and Canada. There’s no extra charge if you’re on a Verizon plan with at least 16 gigabytes. Otherwise, you pay $2 per day per line.
AT&T offers a similar benefit for Mexico, though only for plans with at least 15 gigabytes, while all of T-Mobile’s standard plans include it for both Canada and Mexico. With Sprint, you get up to 1 gigabyte of high-speed data when traveling in Canada, Mexico and much of Latin America.
Sprint and T-Mobile also offer free roaming in other countries, but at slower data speeds.
GENEVA (AP) — Swiss border guards have caught a 21-year-old Eritrean trying to sneak into southern Switzerland inside a piece of luggage on a train from Italy, a tactic not previously seen by local authorities amid an influx of migrants trying to reach northern Europe.
Dramatic video posted online showed a man’s hand, then arm, then head jutting out of the rectangular bag as he struggled to unzip it from the inside. He then got help from a border guard, unfolding his legs only to be led away.
The incident shows the lengths some migrants are prepared to go to reach parts of Europe seen as more welcoming to migrants. Italy and Greece have been the major entry points to Europe for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees over the last year. The central Mediterranean Sea route has mainly drawn Africans, while the Greek route has primarily seen Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis.
Mirco Ricci, a Swiss border guard official in the Ticino region, said Wednesday the man was detained Monday evening on a platform in the southern Chiasso municipality and sent back to Italy because he opted not to request asylum. Officials confirmed the video was authentic.
“We’ve had people try to sneak in in a car trunk,” Ricci said. “This is the first time we’ve seen in Ticino that we’ve found someone in a bag.”
Early figures from Switzerland’s federal customs administration show a recent upsurge in migrants — mostly Eritreans, as well as Somalis and Nigerians — caught trying to enter Ticino in recent weeks. More than 3,400 were apprehended since May 30, at least 700 more than for the rest of the year combined.
ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — Police say detectives monitoring social media over the holiday weekend watched a live video of two men throwing fireworks at dogs chained in a backyard in South Carolina.
Investigators say the men threw dozens of firecrackers at the dogs Friday in Rock Hill. One dog tried to hide in a shelter, and the men threw fireworks into it.
Police went to the home Tuesday and found fireworks and other evidence. Animal control took the dogs, noting they appeared injured and needed to see a veterinarian. Police spokesman Mark Bollinger says officers had to wait to get search warrants over the holiday weekend.
Officers arrested 25-year-old Tevin Anderson and charged him with cruelty to animals. Police are still looking for 21-year-old Deangelo Roseboro on similar charges. It wasn’t known whether Anderson has an attorney to contact for comment.
PARIS (AP) — The stars mingled among the tailors, dressmakers and seamstresses at the Chanel couture fashion show Tuesday that saw Karl Lagerfeld transport the behind-the-scenes ateliers to the catwalk floor for their 15 minutes of fame. It proved that the fashion industry does, occasionally, give back the love.
Here are some highlights of the fall-winter 2016 collections.
Will Smith and daughter Willow were among headlining front-row VIPs at Chanel’s Grand Palais show, swooping in to thank Lagerfeld effusively after the show. The couturier held court after the collection next to the myriad artisan tables, sewing machines, mirrors, silk and cotton bobs, mannequin busts and real-life atelier seamstresses who worked diligently in front of guests even as the show took place.
Fashion Week regular, Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain, praised Lagerfeld for championing the workers who rarely get a piece of the glory, yet who have often been with the house for decades.
“Sometimes, with each piece you forget how many hours are spent on the beading and the intricacy of the embroidery of each piece,” Chastain told The Associated Press, wearing a pale embroidered Chanel jacket and sheer silk blouse.
“It was very special to have that showcased. I love these women. I love the work that they do. And I think that this collection actually really personified the Chanel house and also the work that goes behind everything,” she added.
Lagerfeld said that since the famed rue Cambon atelier was too big to transport in its entirety, tailors and dressmakers who didn’t get a chance to attend the morning show would have their moment in the spotlight during a second showing.
Chanel’s designer added that despite huge advances in technology such as laser cutting and enhanced embroidery, much of the design work “is still made in the way it was made a hundred years ago.”
It was a graphic and highly structured collection this season for Chanel that riffed nicely off the steely architecture of the Grand Palais venue.
Large angular — often tubular — arms defined the clothes’ architecture, worn by waif-like models in chic black high-heel boots that rode high up the leg like ruffled pants.
Piled-up ethereal hairstyles added to the play on shapes.
Lagerfeld’s fashion mastery was on full display — to produce what he called his “modern graphic effect.”
Shoulders were beveled and cut at extreme angles to create an optical “standing up” style that gave the illusion of a flat-front to many of the looks. They were delivered, as ever, in fastidiously beaded clusters on autumnal shades, or else embroidered in shimmering threads.
Eveningwear was, so said Lagerfeld, inspired by the work of 19th-century English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley — whose graphic drawings were evident in shoulders and hems sporting crests of feathers, and dresses that flared out in soft cages.
Square shoulders against geometric patterned jackets, skirts and pants were the essential formula for Giorgio Armani’s rather mature fall couture show.
The Italian couturier is such a master that it doesn’t seem to matter if he doesn’t reference the trends and fads associated with wearable styles that have hit runways.
He’s bigger than that.
The 81-year-old deftly produces, season after season, timeless sheeny designs.
Tuesday’s show saw plays with houndstooth and crisscross motifs on peaked jackets.
They merged into ball and dot motifs on long coats and pant looks, with raised ’30s hairstyles that evoked Katharine Hepburn.
Brand ambassador Cate Blanchett, one of Hollywood’s most classical-looking stars who also immortalized Hepburn in “The Aviator,” aptly held the front row in a dark floral Armani dress.
KENZO LAUNCHES PERFUME
Actor Bradley Cooper was among the celebrity guests who partied the night away with canapes and champagne at the storied 19th-century town house the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild.
The uber-cool strobe-lit event marked the launch of Kenzo’s new fragrance — the first created by the current designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim.
Leon and Lim said the scent mixes the freshness of their home state of California with a dash of French flowers.
The soiree also saw a screening of Spike Jonze’s new modern dance-themed Kenzo campaign film, and the night also featured a totally wacky dance class led by the choreographer of Sia’s hit music video “Chandelier,” Ryan Heffington.
New York’s J.Mendel presented his first official couture collection in Paris, showing that couture as an industry is alive and kicking and can boast an ever-expanding calendar.
The intimate 39-piece collection showcased private fur designs that the couturier, whose real name is Gilles Mendel, has been making for many years.
It was all about the shoulders.
Truncated upper-chest silhouettes that sensually exposed the shoulders, created a sense of delicate femininity. This was complemented by mid- to floor-length gowns that featured subtle plays on perforation, or else showcased delicate sheer silks embroidered with fine beads.
Not since Karl Lagerfeld’s Fendi couture presentation, which triggered controversy last year, has there been such a decadent display of fur in Paris couture.
A black fur coat, with cutout sections, had a decadent weighty feel as its hem stroked the historic wooden show venue floor. Elsewhere, a brown fur coat had a deftly sensual shape, with shoulders that opened up and dropped, as if in a state of seductive undress.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP
HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong officials said Wednesday there’s little chance a bookseller wanted in mainland China will be sent back after mainland authorities threatened him with tougher punishment if he didn’t return.
Security officials also said they will further investigate the case of Lam Wing-kee, whose revelations last month about being secretly arrested and interrogated over his company’s books rekindled fears that Beijing is tightening its grip on the semiautonomous city.
Lam, who went missing last year, said he was allowed to return to Hong Kong in June on the condition he bring back information about his bookshop’s customers. But he went off script and held a news conference to talk about his ordeal of being held for months in the city of Ningbo, near Shanghai, and vowed never to return to the mainland.
Ningbo police warned Lam on Tuesday to return to the mainland, “otherwise they will be forced to take other legal measures,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The police said Lam violated his bail terms by declaring his intention not to return to the mainland.
Hong Kong Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said “there is no legal arrangement for the transfer of persons to the mainland authorities” because the city has no extradition agreement with the mainland. Lai and other officials spoke to reporters a day after meeting with their counterparts in Beijing about the case.
The Hong Kong delegation was given a summary of the case against Lam by police in Ningbo, where the investigation started after police found books published outside the mainland were being sold illegally, Xinhua said.
They were also shown a video of Lam eating meals, having a haircut and getting his blood pressure checked as evidence he was well treated during his detention. However, it also showed him sitting in a room with padded walls and no visible windows, watched over by surveillance cameras from several angles.
Lam was one of five men who worked for a publisher churning out racy books on China’s Communist leaders. They operated their business legally in Hong Kong, which has wide autonomy and a separate legal system, but their books were banned in the mainland. He and the others disappeared last year, only to turn up months later in the mainland, detained or involved in investigations.
NEW YORK (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton lost his way for a while. He never lost his prodigious power, though.
Miami’s muscular slugger homered twice to match a career high with five RBIs and made a crucial play on defense, sending Wei-Yin Chen and the Marlins to a 5-2 victory that snapped the New York Mets’ five-game winning streak Tuesday night.
“I’m coming back,” said a smiling Stanton, who had three hits to raise his batting average to .226. “It’s a long road from here. That’s why you don’t worry about where you’re at on the season stats. Just keep plugging away.”
Chen (5-3) tossed seven innings of three-hit ball, spoiling Jose Reyes’ return to the Mets in his first major league game since a 59-day domestic violence suspension.
Back with his original team, the speedy switch-hitter received a warm welcome from the Citi Field crowd of 29,477 but went 0 for 4 with a strikeout in his first big league appearance this season. Batting leadoff after getting called up from the minors, Reyes quickly doffed his helmet to cheering fans when he stepped to the plate in the first inning. Some were standing and applauding.
“They showed me a lot of love and I respect that and I just tipped my hat as appreciation,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came here today and to see the crowd reaction like that, that was good.”
The four-time All-Star shortstop also played a new position, third base, but the ball was never hit his way.
All-Star starter Yoenis Cespedes and pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza homered for New York.
Mets starter Steven Matz (7-4) sailed into the seventh with a 1-0 lead before first-time All-Star Marcell Ozuna hit a leadoff single. Stanton then lined a 1-2 changeup over the left-center fence to put Miami ahead.
The Mets put two runners on in the bottom half, but Stanton prevented them from tying the game when he charged in to make a sliding catch of Juan Lagares’ two-out liner to right field.
Christian Yelich was hit by a pitch with two outs in the eighth and Ozuna singled again before Stanton sent a 3-1 fastball from Erik Goeddel into the second deck in left-center for his 17th home run, making it 5-1.
“He’s the most powerful guy in the league,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
It was the slugger’s 17th career multihomer game and first since June 9, 2015, at Toronto. Four of those multihomer games have come against the Mets, his most vs. any opponent.
“You feel like he’s going to be there,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “If he gets hot at all, it’s going to be a big boost for us.”
After slumping through much of a subpar first half, Stanton has started to break out with five homers, 16 RBIs and a .324 batting average over his past 17 games.
He hit .118 with two homers and five RBIs in his previous 29 games from May 7 to June 15.
“That’s what I’ve been working to get to for a long time now. Just happy that the work finally showed on the field,” Stanton said. “I’ve just been in there doing it over and over again with no results.”
Cespedes homered in the fourth, his first at-bat after the Mets put his picture on the big video board to inform fans the slugger had been elected to the National League squad. Cespedes tossed his bat aside after connecting on a drive that clanked off the facing of the second deck in left field.
“I know that Stanton can hit further than me,” Cespedes said through a translator.
One night after the Marlins squandered a six-run lead in an 8-6 loss to the Mets, Chen struck out five and walked one before giving way to a pair of All-Star relievers. Fernando Rodney gave up De Aza’s first career pinch-hit homer, but A.J. Ramos worked a hitless ninth for his 25th save in 26 chances.
New York had won seven straight at home.
YES AND NO
Though he’s not on the All-Star team, a grinning Stanton said he would participate in the Home Run Derby next Monday in San Diego if asked. “Unfortunately, I missed two Home Run Derbies that I was supposed to be in. I’ve got some catching up to do,” he said. “Tell ’em to ask.” Cespedes, who won the contest in 2013 and 2014, said he’d rather not take part this time.
Stanton has six home runs in his last 11 contests at Citi Field. He has 24 career homers against the Mets, fourth-most among active players, and six of his last nine hits vs. New York have been home runs.
Matz fell to 0-3 in his last seven starts after winning seven straight. He is 5-2 in 10 career outings at Citi Field, with both losses coming against the Marlins this year.
Marlins: 1B Justin Bour went back to Miami for an MRI on his sprained right ankle.
Mets: RHP Jim Henderson (right biceps tendinitis) was tagged for four runs and four hits in one inning of a rehab appearance with Double-A Binghamton against Hartford.
Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (2-4, 5.34 ERA) starts the series finale Wednesday afternoon against RHP Jacob deGrom (4-4, 2.62), who halted a 10-start winless streak last Friday against the Chicago Cubs.