Thursday, October 23, 2008

Corporate and Other Discounts on Cell Phones

First rule of getting a cell phone plan--make sure to ask for a corporate discount. Depending on which company you are affiliated with, that will be between 10-20%, off the top. Just for asking--not insignificant.

On top of that, if you drive a hard bargain, you can do much better than store prices. What I did, when switching to T-Mobile for a family of 5, was shop Amazon for our phones. Amazon has amazing, post-rebate prices, but there are a few catches. First catch is not too surprising--2-year service contract, just like you would get at the company store (though even more restrictive in details). Second catch--you have to mail in the rebate in a window--after 60 days, before 120 days of service. That is a big gotcha--everybody knows rebates are dicey at best, but having to remember to send it in after 60 days ups the ante. Third catch--they don't have a way to give you the corporate discount. To get that, you will have to ask after you sign up. I think that works, but it's not the best position to be in, so if you go that route, verify in advance that you will be able to get the discount (and nail down the % off) after the fact.

Those are complications, not automatic showstoppers--the Amazon phone prices are jaw-droppingly cheaper, especially for high-end phones (and it really adds up when buying 5 new phones). What I did, though, was to call T-Mobile to compare. I didn't bother with the store, I went to the business division. They couldn't quite match Amazon's phone prices, but they came close, with less of it in the form of rebates. The clincher, though, was that they offered a one-year contract. I was really kind of stunned by that--everybody knows to get the big discounts on phones, you have to sign up for 2 years. And we were getting the discounts on 5 phones.

1 year is terriffic. That just opens up your options. Either to switch carriers, if either dissatisfied, or just seeking a better deal.

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