Saturday, March 10, 2007

Cell Phone Carrier Tips & Tricks

The vast majority of people in the US use one of four major cell phone providers Cingular, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Additionally, the vast majority of cell phone users in the US are dissatisfied with the customer service provided by these companies.

What you may not have known is that many of those same pushy reps that attack you at the wireless stores and mall have flexibility to negotiate with prices and incentives. The Consumerist has recently seen a rash of former employees from these big four providers write in with tips and tricks about how to game the system. I'll give a quick summary of the tips for each of the big four. These may not work in all scenarios, but the worst thing they can say is "no" so what do you have to lose?


  1. You can sometimes avoid contract extensions if you change your plan at a store.
  2. When buying a new phone offer to purchase accessories and data packages for a reduced price phone. You can cancel the package the minute you leave and return the accessories later.
  3. You may be able to convince the commission hungry rep to give you the rebate in the store. Then you can go to the website and print off the mail-in rebate form, submit it and voila.
  4. Negotiate to get website prices in store.
  5. If you go over on your plan go in and as for them to credit the difference if you up your plan. You can always drop down again later.
  1. Reps get paid more for new contracts than upgrades.
  2. Reps make tons of commission on accessories and text packages, so use them as a negotiating tool. Mention you will get a text package and accessories and you give yourself leverage for getting a good phone deal.
  3. Mention the lost or stolen program for 25% off.
  4. If your package is 59.99 a mo or higher you may be able to get a new phone at a discount after 12 mo.
  5. The Unlimited Data Plan with a new Treo will get you a massive discount on your phone because it counts almost as much for reps as a new sign-up.
  6. Insurance and 2 yr contracts are a rip-off.
  1. (This is probably not legal and as a result I'm not endorsing this one at all) If you lose, break or have your phone stolen you can get one on eBay and bring it in after it is activated. If you have the extended warranty they will probably cover it and replace it. Of course they will catch on if this happens repeatedly.
  2. Buy at the end of the month when reps are desperate.
  3. Try to get the Sprint Employee Referral offer. Don't know an employee? Grab a business card from a rep to get a steal on your min package.
  4. Work for a big company? You can probably get a big discount.
  5. Switch to electronic billing and statements, then move your address to some random place outside Sprint coverage. You can then probably convince them to break your contract without penalty because they can't serve you anymore.
  1. T-Mobile can price match on same services, for same terms.
  2. Reps can give away accessories so ask for some accessories if you throw in a messaging package.
  3. Play the rebate game like with Cingular, ask for it in store then fill it out online too
  4. Reps don't get paid much based on how large your voice package is.
  5. If you break your phone, buy a prepaid on and put your sim chip in it.
  6. You can get a better deal if you upgrade over the phone.
  7. Call to get your phone unlocked. That way you can move to Cingular (or another provider that supports the same network if you want later).
Stick it to "the man" with the help of the consumerist and read the full text of the articles I used for this post: T-Mobile, Cingular, Verizon, Sprint