Recently, my brother decided to upgrade his Droid. Since I’ve been in the market for a new phone, I decided to see what this Droid hype is about and take his old smartphone to give it a test run. Since I was already up for a renewal and I’d need to upgrade my data plan, I decided to negotiate with my provider in an effort to reduce my monthly bill. The plan worked. I received one month free, an additional 100 text messages for two years, free, and a $50 credit on the account with a one year renewal. Not so bad, although I think I could’ve held out for more. So, here’s what I learned about the best way to negotiate a phone contract.
Go in with a plan — When it comes to your phone service, let the provider know what your needs are. Which do you use more, text messages or do you mostly talk? I knew it was impossible to talk down the price of the data plan ($29.99), but I’m a texter and barely use the entire 700 talk minutes I already have. In this case, additional free text messages were more enticing. Also, keep a list of a least three providers that are offering more attractive plans or services than your current provider and feel free to discuss this with the customer service representative.
Talk to a manager — The customer service representative already offered one month free, but it wasn’t enough. Don’t hesitate to ask to speak to a manager. When I asked to do so, the representative told me I would just receive the same deal. Don’t get discouraged, stick to your guns and insist on speaking to a manager. After letting the manager know my options, needs, and my loyalty to the company, we eventually worked out a deal with 100 bonus texts for two years. But it still wasn’t enough. I told the manager I’d have to think about it because the deal is still not great. That’s when he threw in the $50 credit.
Be cordial but firm – Often times when it comes to negotiating it can feel like ‘them vs. me.’ But the adage is true, and if you’re looking to catch flies, whip out the honey and put down the vinegar. Be pleasant, confident and firm–no attitude. Everyone needs an ego stroke every now and then so let the customer service rep know what the provider’s great points of service are. But also mention where other companies come up strong, and where your current provider comes up short.
Go for broke — Ask for more than you want and let the provider talk you down. In hindsight, I would’ve said, since I text a lot and this data plan is pushing my bill up, contingent upon my renewal, I’d like three months free, 150 additional text messages free for two years and a $100 credit. I would’ve then pushed for the manager to meet me halfway. But this is a lesson for next year.
Document it – Once you’ve come to an agreement, document everything; date, time, manager’s name and if possible, the manager’s contact information. Also, make sure a note stating the conditions of your agreement is attached to your account.
What is your negotiation strategy? What’s the best deal you’ve received on a phone bill? Which providers seem to be most flexible?
Renita Burns is a content producer/staff writer at BlackEnterprise.com