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How to Negotiate the Best Cell Phone Contract

Updated on August 24, 2017
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

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

Negotiate a Cheaper Deal

Mobile business phone technology
Mobile business phone technology | Source

Cell Phone Contract Negotiations - Success Stories

The video below was made by “The Real Deal” from US TV channel cbs6 Albany. They filmed people negotiating a renewal on their cable contract, but the same tactics can be used to renew cell phone and landline service contracts. 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.

The Real Deal: Negotiating Your Cable Rate

Check The Market Before Renewing Your Contract

There are a few large players in the phone service provider market, but there are also many smaller companies trying to gain a toe-hold. In most countries this results in a highly competitive market for your business. Cell phone companies know that once a person has signed on the dotted line, many will remain a customer with them for years.

Most people allow their phone service contract to auto-renew each year without checking out the competition. You should survey the market every year to see if your current contract is still the best for you. Do not allow yourself to be ruled by inertia! The following tips will help you negotiate or renegotiate your phone service contract and get the best deal each time.

Tips For Successful Negotiation

1. Plan ahead and be prepared.
2. Remember the sales person works on commission.
3. Consider "buy-it-now" discounts.
4. Compare and contrast prices and deals.
5. Empathize and be friendly.

1. Plan Ahead and Be Prepared

It's easy to be drawn into making a quick decision to buy if a sales person says the price is “for one day only”. Without comparative facts and figures to hand, you may be fooled into thinking that you're getting a bargain. It's only when you get home that you realize the deal may not be as good as you thought. Before starting any conversation with a phone sales person make sure you've done your homework and know competitor prices and deals.

Cell Phones Are The Focus of Attention

Cell phones are part of everyday life. Two women text messaging, California State University.
Cell phones are part of everyday life. Two women text messaging, California State University. | Source

2. Remember the Sales Person Works on Commission

A phone service contract is a long-term deal (usually between 12 and 24 months) and so a few dollars per month difference adds up over the length of a contract. If you're the kind of person who wants to take advantage of special offers, then you must do research 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 and 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.

A New Contract Can Include a Free Phone Upgrade

Cell phone mobile camera
Cell phone mobile camera | Source

3. Consider "Buy-it-now" Discounts

“Buy-it-now” discounts may or may not be worth considering. It all depends on whether what is on offer is what you originally set out to buy. If you have done your pre-shopping research properly, then you will know whether the offer really is a bargain price.

As part of your pre-shop planning, you should decide on a plausible excuse that can 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 that you find it really difficult to resist sales pressure, then 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 that you will only sign the contract today if an extra discount is offered.

Insider Tips to Reduce Your Phone Bill

The video below is an ABC News report on how to reduce your cellphone bill. The tips given are based on insider information from an ex-employee of a major phone service provider.

1. Use comparison websites to see if your current package fits your actual usage.

2. Check your bill. Make sure there are no “extras” being charged for but you're not using.

3. Many phone service providers offer discounts to certain professions or employees of particular companies.

4. All fees (such as those for activation or termination) are negotiable.

How to Shrink Your Cellphone Bill

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.

How to Bargain and Negotiate

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