Six Things To Do When Shopping For Cell Phones And Service

treoIn addition to our move, we’re about to switch cell phone services from a regional provider to Verizon, primarily because of signal availability in the area we’re moving to. We also happen to be not under a lengthy service plan, so we’re also looking to upgrade our phones as well since our old ones are on death’s door (we’ve been using them for several years and mine is literally on the verge of falling apart).

Here’s the process we intend to follow when switching to Verizon; it may be helpful for you in your own cellular plans.

Use your old bills as a basis for what you’ll do in the future. Looking at the last six months of our old bills, it became clear that we are paying for far too many minutes and so we’re looking for a lower-minute plan for our next purchase.

Do the research before you leave. Visit the websites of major providers and know what their plans are before you leave. You should especially know what sort of options you will want on your plan and which ones you don’t want, because salesman will often throw on services you don’t want if you don’t explicitly tell them that these are the only options you want. Also, have some idea of the phones available and what you want.

Know what you want before you walk in the door. For example, we just want a basic calling plan with only a relatively low number of text messages, because that’s what we use now, and also the ability to access a small amount of web data (limited data transfer, for Remember the Milk, for example). We also need new phones, but we don’t need high-end ones or Blackberries or anything like that.

Specify EXACTLY what you want and don’t want in your plan. Make it clear what you specifically want in your plan as soon as you begin talking, then tell them you’re going to browse the equipment for a bit. Why? This gives them a bit of time to think about their commission before you finish off the deal.

Don’t bother negotiating on the service plan. Plan prices are set by the national provider and local stores simply don’t have the option of negotiating with you, so don’t even waste their time. Instead, look for stuff you can ask for instead, like…

Ask for lots of other stuff. Ask for your activation fee to be waived. Ask for some free (or at least reduced) equipment. Since the salesmen typically don’t earn a commission on the equipment, they’re often happy to give a discount in order to seal the deal and get their commission from the plan. They’re going to be thinking “easy commission,” so take advantage of that mindset to get cheap phones.

This is almost exactly what we did when we first signed up for a cell phone service and we ended up getting no activation fee, all of our phones for free (they weren’t low end phones, either), and a few random items in the store for free, too. The guy behind the counter was about ready to explode with desire for getting his commission, so he was waiving everything and giving us all sorts of goodies just to get his commission on the plan we were purchasing.

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