How to Negotiate a Bargain Cell Phone Plan

Updated on May 6, 2019
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

I write about employment issues, ways to earn money and how to get best value when spending it.

How to Get a Good Deal

If you want to save money, check out the 3 P's of smart negotiators.

1. Prepare

Find out competitors prices before you start the conversation. Know what you can afford and what (if any) your deal-breakers are.

2. Present

Have all the facts at your fingertips. State clearly the smartphone model you want and the features it must have. Be prepared to name competitors who are offering good deals so the salesperson can see you are a serious buyer.

3. Pause

Stop talking. Give the salesman time to consider what you've told him and make you an offer. Silence is an effective bargaining ploy. Be prepared to stick your ground, but also be willing to meet the store's offer halfway.

Check out the competition before you start to bargain.
Check out the competition before you start to bargain. | Source

1. Plan Ahead and Be Prepared

It's easy to be drawn into making a quick decision to buy if a sales person tells you the price is “for one day only”. Without comparisons to hand, you can be fooled into thinking you've bagged a bargain. It's only when you get home that you realize the deal is not as good as you thought. Before speaking with a phone sales person, make sure you do some research and can quote competitors' prices and deals.

2. Remember Sales People Work on Commission

A phone service plan is a long-term deal (usually between 12 and 24 months) and so a few dollars per month difference adds up over the contract term. If you are the kind of person who likes to grab special offers, make sure you do your homework ahead of visiting the store.

Most salespeople (including call center and retail store staff) are working to some kind of commission system. It's in their interest to sell you a particular cell-phone contract package. It's easy to be sucked in by their enthusiasm. So, you need to be prepared. Be clear in your own mind what type of cell phone you're hoping to buy. You should aim to buy only the product that exactly matches your needs.

3. Consider "Buy-it-now" Discounts

“Buy-it-now” discounts may or may not be worth it. It all depends on whether the offer matches what you originally set out to buy. If you have done pre-shopping market research, you will know whether you are being offered a genuine bargain deal.

As part of your pre-shop planning, you should decide on a plausible excuse to be used to get away from persistent salespeople. It could be something like “I need to check with my partner before I sign anything”. However if you know you find it really difficult to resist sales pressure, make sure you deliberately leave all your credit and debit cards at home.

Sometimes you can use the keenness of the salesperson to get a better deal. Drive a hard bargain by stating you will only sign the contract today if an extra discount is offered.

How to Bargain and Negotiate

4. Compare and Contrast Prices and Deals

The key to getting a good deal is to have all the facts and figures at your fingertips. Check out websites where relevant phone products and services are discussed. Look at what other consumers have said about them. Read reviews from technical journalists and visit the phone provider sites as well. Make a note of the best price deals on offer so that you can refer to these if you are talking to a store salesperson later.

Some people are a bit cautious about negotiating in phone stores. However salespeople are used to customers negotiating. Their initial price offering is usually pitched a little high in expectation of some haggling by the customer.

The US government advice to customers on getting a good contract deal is as follows.

1. Research the prices and services available before you start serious shopping.

2. Talk to friends and family about their experiences with particular phone service providers.

3. Decide what elements of service you need in the contract; voice calls, texts, voicemail, overseas calls, data.

4. Pay by credit card as this can often give you extra protection if things go wrong.

How good a negotiator are you?

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5. Empathize and Be Friendly

A standard sales technique is to make you feel as though you have known the sales person for years and that they are your friend. This builds trust and rapport and is supposed to make you more likely to buy from them. They do this by empathizing with you. They ask a few questions to elicit how you are feeling or how your life is going generally.

With a little practice, this technique can be turned on its head. The salesperson is a human being too. They will warm to you if you show an interest in how their day is going. Don’t be over-familiar with them, but make some general comment about how busy the store is and how difficult their job must be. Be polite in your enquiries. See if you can get them to tell you a little bit about how many more sales they need to hit bonus that month. If you are lucky, they may reveal the best time of the month or week for you to return to get the best chance of a good deal.

Cellphone Bill Secrets: How to Get a Better Plan

Cell Phone Contract Success

The key tips are:

1. Ask to speak to the retentions department straight away.

2. State that you want a better rate for your existing contract.

3. If you get a negative response, hang up and call back later. In a busy call center, you will most likely speak to a different staff member the next time. They may be more flexible in what they can offer you.

How Can I Get a Free Phone With My Mobile Network Service?

Your cell phone contract may be "stand-alone" or it could be part of a bundle. Bundle deals can include any or all of the following; home broadband, cable TV, landline phone rental, or a new phone upgrade every one or two years. You need to think about what you want included before you start negotiations. If a free phone with regular upgrades is the deal-breaker then bargain hard for what you really want.

However, nothing is truly free. You will pay a higher monthly rental if a phone is part of the deal, compared to a SIM-only contract.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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