Tech-Friendly: Negotiate a lower smartphone rate

Paul Gorski
Paul Gorski

By Paul Gorski

Smartphone rates for shared and individual contract plans are dropping like a rock. It seems every month or so one of the major carriers offers yet even lower contract plan rates, even offering to pay off your old contract. U.S. Cellular (USC) has an offer of $130 per month for four smartphones with 10 GB of data, and USC will pay off your contract (with the usual annotations and exceptions). Visit http://www.uscellular.com for details.

Sprint (http://www.sprint.com) is offering to cut AT&T and Verizon customers’ rate plan “in half.” Again, subject to the fine print.

Armed with this information, go to your own carrier and ask the customer service rep for a lower rate. If the representative tells you that you are locked into a contract, gently remind that person that other companies are willing to buy your contract out, but that you wish to “remain a loyal customer, so just help me a little bit here.”

If that does not work, ask to speak to that person’s manager and repeat the “but I am a loyal customer of so many years, don’t you want to keep my business?” tear-jerker of a tale.

Watch out, much like buying a used car where certain add-ons increase your monthly payments, ask for the contract rate with and without a new phone. Often, the service rate, voice/text/data is low, but the carrier saddles you with a pricey per month charge to buy the phone. Again, break out the costs: 1) phone and 2) voice/text/data.

If the well-acted sob stories do not get you a lower rate, contact the national support manager or vice president of customer support and tell that person you are switching because their employees do not value your business. Let me know if you need help contacting these VIPs.

Believe me, the effort is worth it. You might be able to save $100 or more a month on your contract. Is $1,200 per year worth fighting for? I think it is. If all else fails, switch carriers.

Good luck.

Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

Posted Jan. 7, 2015

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