I was perusing the personal finance news yesterday morning, as per usual, when I ventured into a dailyworth post entitled “3 Quick Tips to Save Hundreds of Dollars“. Good title. I clicked on it. Their first tip caught my interest because it was on the topic of saving on your cellphone bill. Truth be told, I have long neglected that bill, and I have had the same plan for upwards of four years. This is partially because the company I work for subsidizes the cost of my cellphone bill, but this is mostly because I haven’t built a call center representative into my meeting schedule.
While the post pointed out that market dynamics make this the right time to get a lower monthly payment, it didn’t provide much in the way of practical tips on how to do so. My comment in that post, which you can see for yourself, was to ask for a script or list of questions I could use when phoning my wireless carrier. Then I thought, well, why don’t I create my own script and publish it here on this blog for everyone to use?
After meeting with my esteemed wireless utility advisory committee (read: my husband and the internet) I figured out the nuts and bolts of how I wanted my script to read. I found a Gigaom article explaining AT&T and Verizon’s complex shared data plans particularly enlightening. My husband also mentioned that you can actually get a shared data plan as a single person (with you using all of the data in that plan). That was new news to me. Now equipped with the fact that all cellphone plans were open to me, I took a look at my options.
Assessing My Needs
Every negotiation I do works off of the premise found in the 1st rule of negotiating: she who wants it less wins. I had to first build a case that made me want Verizon Wireless (my current wireless provider) less than they wanted me. In my corner, market dynamics, and the increasing rivalry between carriers, helps me a lot here. The fact that my contract isn’t over until June works for them. With that in mind, I first documented what goods Verizon Wireless was currently offering me and at what price they were selling those goods to me. In the interest of full disclosure, this included:
- Unlimited Minutes: This is becoming less and less important to me, but this is needed as a failsafe. There are times when my company’s teleconferencing system goes down, and I can literally wrack up 300 minutes per day just from conference calls. I had been paying $89.99 for my base plan.
- Unlimited Text: With iMessage this is also becoming less and less important to me, but I’ve noticed pretty much every plan has this now. This is included in my $89.99 base plan.
- 4GB of Data: I actually use less than 3G of data per month, but my data does peak to 4GB if I am traveling a lot and using my mobile hotspot in hotels and airports. I pay $50 to have this amount of data.
- Mobile Hotspot: As i just mentioned, this is a necessity for me. I have more than once turned a rental car into a mobile office. This hotspot is included with my 4GB of data.
In total I pay $140 per month for my plan. First things first, I looked at what I had and decided if this is what I actually need. It is. Paying for access to more data may seem like a good option, but I really don’t use the data I have every month. I also don’t want to run the risk of going with 3GB and getting charged fees for going over. I will keep an eye on my minutes and texts over the next six months or so, but for now I am keeping the plan as is.
Now I go out into the marketplace and see what others are offering. I decided to be honest with myself and only look at AT&T because that’s really the only other provider I would go with. They didn’t have a 4GB plan listed, but they did have a 6GB plan for $70 per month plus a monthly device access fee of $20 ($90 per month in total). I used that to create my script.
I first have to mention that Verizon made it very challenging for me to get in contact with a customer service representative. They clearly had my account tagged as highly profitable as is. Once I got a call center representative on the line, I used the following script:
Hi, I have been a [Verizon Wireless] customer for [over four years]. I currently have a plan with [unlimited] minutes, [unlimited] messages, and [4GB] of data that I pay [$139.99] for. That also provides me with [a mobile hotspot].
I am aware that [AT&T] is offering a [Mobile Share Value Plan] that provides [unlimited] minutes, [unlimited] messages, and [6 GB] of data. I also get [access to a mobile hotspot]. Their plan costs [$70 plus a $20 device access fee]. What plan does [Verizon Wireless] have that is comparable to this?
The Bottom Line
Keep in mind, I didn’t want 6GB of data, but I was searching for a rival company that was offering more for less. The plan that they came back with that included 6GB of data was actually $10 more than AT&T. However, they offered a 4GB plan (what I wanted) for the $90 per month ($50 plus a $40 access fee). I told the customer service representative that in the long term I would be going with AT&T (why not get more for the same amount of money), but I did make sure to lock in the rate she provided me with because it was $50 less than I was currently paying. It’s likely that when my contract is up in June, and I really do want to switch, I may go through another round with Verizon since my contract will be expired and they don’t have the early termination fee to hold over me. For now, I am happy that I will have an extra $600 per year in my bank account.
Stay tuned tomorrow when I provide you with tips from call center representatives on how to get the best deal out of them. Also, please let me know about your experiences with negotiating down rates. If you have a superior plan, then leave the details in the comments section below. This community of women will benefit from your information!