As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a sucker for a good deal. Anything that means I’m saving money but still getting the service I want sends me into a tailspin of delight: 20% off dinner deals, 2-4-1 cinema tickets, 50% off my first six months of an internet contract, I go crazy for all of it!
The only trouble is – I’m not exactly the most discerning customer out there! I try, but I fail an alarming amount of the time, because I don’t bother to read the fine print. I’m also not exactly that hot on maths. Let’s take my phone for example; I’m stuck with it for at least another 6 months because I signed up to a two-year deal, with no automatic upgrade or replacement if anything goes wrong. I’m now paying way over the market odds for a model that’s gone swiftly out of fashion and struggles with data roaming anywhere outside the M25. The worst part is I didn’t even shop around!
My housemate is a bit of a wizard when it comes to finances and I’ve learnt some great tips from him. Watching him negotiate a new phone contract is a thing of beauty.
Firstly, understand your power as the consumer. Let’s look at this for what it is; you are signing up for at least a year (more likely two) long contract from which the phone company is going to be guaranteed steady income. They don’t want you to take your business elsewhere, so make your stand. If you see a better deal with another company, or with a better model of phone, then don’t be afraid to go to the company and negotiate. Tell them you want a better deal because their competitor is offering one, and nine times out of ten they will absolutely be ready to negotiate with you. This also goes if you have been with the company for a substantial amount of time. If you ask for a loyalty discount then most phone companies will be willing to negotiate a certain amount to keep your custom.
Secondly, always get an upgrade agreement. To be fair this is usually built into contracts these days; especially if you get your contract directly from the big phone companies like O2 or Vodafone. However, if you’re going to buy through a retailer as opposed to the phone companies themselves, then be careful. Even though sometimes their monthly tariffs look more attractive, they as a rule do not offer an early handset upgrade. This can mean (as I found out to my cost!) that you actually end up paying more over the length of the contract, for an older model phone because you cannot change it.
Thirdly, never ever buy phone insurance. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out. As a standard grown up you’re going to already have contents insurance for things in your house (at least I hope so! Let’s talk about that in another post). Put your phone on this instead of taking out separate phone insurance. Usually, your contents insurance will be a much more cost-effective option. It will be a cheaper monthly payment, and if your phone is lost or stolen you will be able to claim and then buy a new phone. If you do have to claim it might push up your premium slightly when you come up for renewal, but if you offset the chances of having to claim, against the price of phone insurance then it’s usually the much better choice. Phone insurance is typically much more expensive, and may still not cover you for things like water damage, or theft whilst you’ve left it unattended. Furthermore, some insurance providers won’t replace your phone if it’s damaged or lost. Some will attempt to repair it or give you a refurbished phone as a replacement; sometimes they will even provide you with a downgraded handset as a replacement. All this can mean that in reality, you’re paying a large extra monthly cost for no good reason at all.
We all know our phones are almost extensions of ourselves in this day and age, so it’s worth spending the time researching and investing in a good deal!