How to Negotiate Your Cell Phone Bill
If your cell phone bill is getting out of hand you might be able to negotiate a lower rate that saves you hundreds of dollars annually. Convincing carriers to lower your bill takes more than a quick phone call; you’ll need to carefully prepare your strategy if you want to get the absolute best rates. We interviewed two bill negotiation experts to find out what you need to know about negotiating a lower cell phone bill.
Is it possible to negotiate a lower cell phone bill?
Yes, it’s possible to negotiate a lower cell phone bill – but it’s not necessarily easy.
“It takes a lot of time and research to fully maximize the savings on your bill,” says Mark Chen, CEO and founder of BillSmart. “Hold times are 30 minutes plus for some carriers and the discounts you can get in July will be different from August.”
Services like BillSmart and similar services like BillFixers.com, BillCutterz.com, BillShark and EZ Save employ experts to negotiate lower bills for their customers. These companies boast up to 95 percent success rates of lowering customers’ cell phone bills by an average of 25 to 35 percent, which amounts to hundreds of dollars saved annually.
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However, those that go it alone don’t always fare so well.
“Someone who spends 40 hours a week is going to get better results than someone who calls in and asks for a discount,” says Chen. “An expert can review your plan usage to remove unneeded services and time the negotiation for periods when providers are giving the greatest discounts.”
Still, carriers know customer loyalty is waning and they must be competitive to survive.
“It seems that customers are forgoing loyalty and instead opting for whichever provider offers them the best price for their monthly services,” says Sydney Alcala, Vice President of BillCutterz.com.
Bouyssou, Alcala, and Julian Kurland, co-founder of BillFixers.com, have successfully negotiated lower carrier bills with all four major carriers: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. What’s more, the new “no-contract” model makes the negotiation environment more customer-friendly than ever.
“The new plans only make negotiations more fruitful,” says Kurland. “The more options that are out there, the better consumers have it. Having ‘no-contract’ options is great for consumers because there is no contract to prevent you from switching carriers if the costs get too high.”
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How much can you save by negotiating your cell phone bill?
If you’re able to achieve the success rates enjoyed by BillXperts.com and BillFixers.com customers, you might be able to lower your cell phone bill by as much as 25 to 35 percent. Carriers are heavily focused on customer-retention – it’s far cheaper to keep an existing customer than to get a new one – allowing customer service reps (and even entire customer retention departments) some authority to reduce rates.
Here’s what a 35 percent discount looks like on major carriers’ “unlimited” plans:
35% Discounted Price
Total Monthly Savings
Total Annual Savings
Verizon Start Unlimited
AT&T Unlimited & More
Sprint Unlimited Basic
T-Mobile Unlimited Essentials
Is it worth paying someone else to negotiate your bills? Companies typically charge around 50% of the amount they save you over one year. Thus, if a company saves you $20 per month, you’ll pay them $10 each month and keep the remaining $10. Since they only charge if they save you money, it’s probably worth it – but you’ll save more if you can do the negotiating yourself.
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Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to negotiate a 35% discount – or any discount at all. Your ability to negotiate depends on several factors, including your strategy and current market trends.
“If you’re already on the lowest rate with your provider, it’s time to take a break. The market is competitive and every couple of months the big carriers release new plans that you can possibly save with.”
Want to offset part of your bill? Many phones are worth $100+. Find the value of your phone.
How to negotiate a lower cell phone bill
If you want to negotiate your own cell phone bill, here are some tips:
- Study your latest bill to determine if you’re being billed for any unnecessary features; a simple downgrade might be all you need. “Make sure you review your bill for any unusual charges, like third-party add-ons or phone insurance. If you didn’t sign up or no longer want these services, call and remove them ASAP,” says Alcala. “Check your usage and make sure you’re on the best plan based on your needs. Don’t pay for 20GB of data when you only use 5GB.”
- Compare your carrier’s competitor rates. If you find a better deal, tell your customer service representative about the offer and that you’ll have to switch unless they have something comparable.
- Know what you want. Don’t just ask for a discount, ask for a specific discount. That allows you to set a starting point for negotiations.
- Use a script. You don’t want to be tripped up by questions or statements you didn’t anticipate, so write a script to recite with everyone you talk to. Be careful to consider how they might respond, and have answers for that. For example, if a carrier tells you they’re priced higher because they have more reliable service than the competitor you’re considering, you can counter that the competitor’s service is adequate in the area you intend to use your phone.
- Ask for supervisors. If one customer service representative can’t help you, ask for their superior until you get someone who can.
- Take notes. Write down the names of the reps you speak with and what was discussed. Be sure to log the time and date of all calls, especially if any discounts are promised to you.
- Be willing to jump ship. Empty threats are easy to spot; if you’re actually willing to switch carriers your position will greatly improve. You might need to be prepared to pay early termination fees or pay off a financed phone in order to switch.
- Be polite. Chen puts it, “It’s important to be polite but firm with a customer support representative. It’s their job to assist you and you’re making it easier for them to help when you’re not screaming at them every 5 seconds.”
- Call during off-peak hours. Morning hours tend to yield better success rates.
- Be persistent. Prepare to spend several hours on the phone and to speak with multiple representatives. “You might not reach someone that can or will help you on your first call to a company,” says Kurland. “We often make three or four calls before we’re satisfied that we’ve gotten the best deal for our customer.”
How to call your carrier Use these numbers to call your carrier to negotiate your cell phone bill:
- Verizon: 800-922-0204
- AT&T: 800-331-0500
- Sprint: 888-211-4727
- T-Mobile: 800-937-8997
Negotiating a lower cell phone rate might seem like a tedious task, but you can take solace in the fact that, if successful, you’ll save hundreds and even thousands of dollars over the long haul.
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