Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Getting a deal at T-Mobile

Remember when I mentioned that Neill and I want to save save save this year? Well, that means that we've got to spend smarter. This means evaluating where our dollars are going and figuring out how to get more bang for our buck. The first stop on this train? Our cell phone bill.

Neither Neill nor I have ever been into having the latest and greatest cell-phone, but lately we've noticed that we're paying T-Mobile a hefty chunk of change for not so great service. What with my busted black berry that can't even ring and Neill's old side-kick, we started feeling like we were paying top dollar for second shelf products.

So, we started wondering whether we could find a better deal somewhere else. After doing some research on-line, we came up with a game plan. Visit Spring and Verizon to see what they could offer and then see if T-Mobile would be able to beat their deals in order to keep our business. Great idea, right?

However, this plan was prematurely halted when I realized I was still under contract. Ooops! This means I couldn't switch carriers without paying a 200 dollar fine. We wanted to avoid this - unless we were able to switch to a service that could lower our cell-phone bill by about 20 bucks a month without cutting out any of our services. (In a situation like that, forking over the 200 dollars up front would actually in the long-term save us a bit of money.) Unfortunately, it didn't seem like we could get what we wanted for a significantly lower price than what we pay now at other cell phone companies. So, we resigned ourselves to stick with T-Mobile.

Just as we were feeling defeated, however, we noticed that T-Mobile was currently having a buy one get one free promotion on their new 4G Google android phone. Could this possibly be our saving grace?

Are things ever that easy? No. The customer service lady sweetly informed us that I was not eligible for the promotion because I was still under contract. For me, the phone would cost almost 320 dollars.

And that is when I got a little annoyed. Angry even. I realized that it would be less expensive to cancel my service than to buy the phone. So, when we got home I called the customer care line and firmly let them know that I was unhappy. This got me transferred to a retention specialist who after some cajoling offered to sell me the phone for 199.99--one penny less than it would cost to cancel my service with them. I countered by reminding him that Neill and I pay T-Mobile more then 3,500 thousand dollars every two years and questioned why he was arguing with me about 200 dollars. He said it was the best he could do, so I asked to speak to the manager.

This is where things started to turn around. After some negotiating, he started to offer things that made staying with T-Mobile worth our money. Firstly, he offered Neill and I two myTouch phones for about 150 each. When I still hesitated, he offered to lower the cost of our monthly data package plan from 60 dollars to 40 dollars for the two of us. That's 20 dollars a month! Over the course of our two year contract, that is 480 dollars that can stay in our savings account instead of going to T-Mobile! The icing on the cake? When all is said in done, after a few more tweaks our monthly cell phone bill is actually going to be close to 10 dollars less per month than we have been paying. Getting more phone for less money? That's what I'm talking about!

But wait, the deals don't end there! One thing that is great about the myTouch is that you can use it as a wireless hotspot. Because of this feature, we'll no longer have to pay for the USB broadband modem that would purchase to use on our netbook whenever Neill has to work on the road. At 50 bucks a month, that cost adds up quickly! While this isn't something we buy every month, we estimate nixing this from our expenses will save us about 600 big ones over the course of our two year contract.

Here is a breakdown:
Saving 10 dollars a month on our cell phone bill for 12 months = $120
Saving 50 dollars by not having to buy usb internet access for 12 months =  $300
Total savings: 420

After subtracting the price of the phones, we still end up 120 dollars ahead. Plus, this doesn't reflect the big savings we got in terms of what we are getting for the price. Normally, to upgrade to the myTouch our cell phone bill would have gone up about 30 dollars. So, we're happy to basically break even. It is like we are still paying for our old phones, but getting brand new super powered phones!

While it was a huge pain in the arse to spend over an hour on the phone negotiating with different customer care representatives and being placed on hold (a lot), in the end I'd say it was worth the effort. Thankfully, we won't have to go through all of this again for another two years. Maybe then we can get our cell phone bill lowered even more?

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting a good deal on cell phone service?


  1. That's awesome. I had a somewhat similar experience with Cingular back in the day (free phone when I wanted to leave.)

    Another one for me was the cable company. A few years ago I called to cancel some TV features that I never used, and they unexpectedly offered me a 6-month bundle that was much cheaper than the plan I was going to switch to. Granted it was only for a limited time, but once it expired I still switched plans.

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  3. Hey! That *is* a good deal! We should try that with our cable.

    We actually got suckered into spending more than we wanted on our cable. When we got our new tv over the summer we decided to upgrade to hd. When the representative came to install it they said we had to get an hd-dvr box, which was of course more than just a normal hd cable box. Instead of dealing with the hassle of calling, complaining, having someone else come out, etc., we just stuck with it. And of course, now I'm kind of addicted to it. But, maybe if we called and threatened to leave they would cut us a break?


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Every comment brings a smile to my face!