How to Negotiate Your Cell Phone Bill
Paying too much for wireless service? We’ll show you how to negotiate your cell phone bill and get a lower rate
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.
"You'll need preparation and a lot of patience," says Julien Bouyssou, co-founder and CEO of BillXperts.com. "It's not unusual for some of our representatives to spend several hours on the phone with a carrier to negotiate the best price for our customers."
Services like BillXperts.com 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.
"Based on customer feedback, individuals who try to negotiate directly with their carriers rarely obtain a significant discount," says Bouyssou. "It seems most people don't know exactly what to ask for, are not prepared to handle the negotiation, or simply don't have time to waste on the phone."
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:
|Price||35% Discounted Price||Total Monthly Savings||Total Annual Savings|
|Verizon Start Unlimited||$70||$45.50||$24.50||$294|
|AT&T Unlimited & More||$65||$42.25||$22.75||$273|
|Sprint Unlimited Basic||$60||$39||$21||$252|
|T-Mobile Unlimited Essentials||$60||$39||$21||$252|
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 getting the best price on the market, the carrier knows it and you are unlikely to get any price reduction," says Bouyssou. "Also, all carriers have a bottom price for each of their plans. If you try to go below this price point, it raises a red flag and they will prefer to lose you as a customer rather than give you a discount."
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. As Bouyssou puts it, “Customer service representatives talk to frustrated people all day long. Make a difference: the nicer you are with them, the more likely you are to obtain some savings.”
- 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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