One of the many advantages of not getting a phone on contract is that it makes you less beholden to one specific carrier and improves your negotiating stance with them. If you’ve got a phone on contract the likelihood is your carrier knows they own you, at least as long as you keep getting new handsets that way.
Like many at Ausdroid, I stopped getting my phones on contract some time ago, and in the long run, I know I’ve saved money (at least I do when I don’t buy phones too often but that’s a different discussion) and got a better deal. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to accept the plans as they are offered. You can negotiate, and we’ll give you some tips on how.
My plan is a 12 month SIM only (or BYO) plan. That means I’ve signed up for 12 months but without a handset; I buy my own phones outright. It helps if you’re not with the carrier that’s offering the best deal, but even if you are, you can still sometimes get a bonus if your carrier is equal with a competitor.
I’ll use this week’s announcement of the Optus One Big Switch deal as an example. I’m not currently with Optus, however, 10Gb for $40 would be lovely, so I contacted my carrier. Many of us use the chat interface (where this is available) for this – this seems to yield better results than a phone call or walking into the store – and I ask them to price match, just like JB or Harvey Norman, same thing.
Obviously, you can’t be 6 weeks into a 12-month contract, and your account should be in good standing (i.e. you pay all of your bills on time), it also helps if you’ve been with the company for a few years – or at least more than 6 months. But even if you haven’t, it’s worth a try.
Now before you embark on this, the likelihood is that you either have to be willing to switch and pay the cancellation fee (which could still save you money in time) or bluff well, very well.
The process is something like this:
- Find a deal you’re interested in like the Optus Big Switch plan
- Get on to your carriers chat support, Optus (via the app), Telstra, Vodafone via Twitter
- Tell the operator you want to review your plan
- Be honest, tell them you want a price match up front, even give them the url to the plan you want matched
- Be nice (yes really, this is a real person who’s just doing their job, don’t be that person)
- Be prepared that they may not match, simply ask what your termination fees are
- If you are not offered a deal ask to be transferred to either the customer retention or terminations team
- Go through all that again
If it doesn’t go well, again don’t be rude, even if you are switching. Simply inform them you are done and you will be in contact with their competitor to arrange the porting. At this stage, you will normally get their last offer if you weren’t already successful.
I did this today, it took about an hour of intermittent chatting whilst I was doing other things. In the end, your success will come down to how steadfast you are and how reasonable your requests are. I basically got everything I wanted, and in return I agreed to a new 12 months contract, which I will more than likely vary in 6 months time, rinse and repeat.
If you do negotiate a deal, it’s always good to make sure that the deal continues indefinitely. For me, if I vary nothing else I will be on the same plan at the same cost indefinitely. It’s no good negotiating a deal that expires in 12 months, odds are plans will be better then but try and get an ongoing deal.
Other things to consider are the data overage charges, I always make sure I get the auto 1GB for $10 top up plans. It’s just safer that accidently going over and incurring a large cost.
Have you negotiated a great deal with your carrier? Let us know how you go.