Monday, June 4, 2012

Things to consider before signing with a wireless carrier:

Choosing a new wireless carrier can be daunting. There are so many options to consider. I’ve been in the wireless industry for about 5 years and have worked for some of the best and worst cellphone carriers out there. Here are some simple insider tips that will help you get the most for your money.

• Will it work at your house? Work? Vacation home?
Think about the places that you spend most of your time and use each prospective carriers’ website to look up the coverage at that specific address.

• Do you qualify for a discount?
Most workplaces will make a deal with a specific carrier (or more than one) for their employees to get a discount on wireless service. Some credit unions, schools and social clubs do as well. The discount generally only applies to the monthly service fee of the primary line and not to the add-ons like text, insurance or additional lines. Most carriers will not apply that discount to an unlimited minute plan. Be sure to ask all of these questions (and more) and compare the discounts that you qualify for and even think about jobs you may have had a while ago, some carriers only require a badge to validate the employment discount.

• Do you get a bill credit for going paperless or having the monthly bill automatically debited from your account?

• What is the breakdown of the monthly plan cost?
For example, a lot of carriers add additional features (that cost) to the monthly rate and pass them off as being included in whatever cost they've just quoted you. Look out for additional add-ons like insurance and text or data plans.

Sample Family Plan Breakdown:
Phone 1- $110 (minus any discount you may qualify for)
Insurance for phone 1- $10
Additional data package- $10
Phone 2- $20
Additional data package- $10
Insurance for phone 2- $10
Phone 3- $20
Additional data package- $10
Insurance for phone 3- $10
Total: $210

• How long is the contract?

• What is the "Early Termination Fee" or ETF? Is it prorated?

• How often can you upgrade?

• What kind of deals do you get when you upgrade? Do you get an additional credit off the price of the phone? Or are you just eligible for the sale price? How much is the upgrade fee? And trust me, there’s a fee.
• What happens if the phone is faulty? Which brings me to insurance:

Carriers offer customers a discounted rate on a phone in the hopes of earning their business and they know that they will be making the money back over the course of the next 2 years. This is the same reason that customers are only eligible to upgrade every 2 years.

Without insurance or the availability of an upgrade, if you need or want a new phone, you will have to pay the full retail price of whatever device you want.

Iphone at time of signing new contract: $199.99
Iphone at full retail price: $649.99

With insurance, if you break/lose or get your phone wet, they (most carriers use an outside company called Asurion) will replace it. BUT there is almost always a deductible. And they almost always have to send you the replacement through the mail (most of the time overnight). So you probably will not be leaving the store with a working phone that same day. Find out how much that deductible is for your phone before you sign up for the insurance because depending on your device it may or may not be more cost efficient to get the insurance.
If insurance is $8 per month for 2 years, that comes to $192 total.
Let’s say that the deductible is $100. If you need to replace a blackberry, the full retail price is usually around $400.
$192 + $100= $292
$400 – $292= $108 in savings than without insurance

But, if you got a free simple camera phone when signing up, that at full retail price is probably still around $210. So:
$192 + $50 (the probable deductible) = $242
$242 - $210= $32 more than it would cost to just buy the phone at full retail.

Final thoughts:
*Always compare the prices in store to the prices online. Many times, the upgrade/activation fees will be waived and the rebate will be instant. If you can’t wait and want to buy your phone from the store, see if they will match the price.

*If you are grumpy and gunning for a credit – don’t take it out on the employees at the store. They will not credit you unless they are the ones responsible for whatever has pissed you off. Call customer care.

If you have questions, feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to answer you.