I put off calling my cell phone company to negotiate a better
rate for about six months.
It’s tedious, and frustrating, and endless other, equally
unappealing tasks kept getting in the way.
I was going to call them tonight. This weekend. During my
walk to work.
But I never did.
So when I finally popped into a Verizon store to upgrade my
iPhone 4S (yes, I know, it’s a dinosaur, etc.) before it
took its last, shuddering breath and left me without a
phone, Google maps, or a camera, the associate took one look at
my account and winced. “You’ve been overpaying for years,” she
told me. “You should have been paying about half of this.”
Half. Half of my bill. That means I was overpaying by
100%. I was paying double what I needed to pay.
I had been paying about $98 per month for … I don’t know. A
while. More than two years, definitely, because I finished out my
two-year contract. Apparently, Verizon no longer even offers the
plan I was paying for, and the plan it does offer is unlimited
talk and text and 3GB more data for about half the price.
Now, I am paying for a brand new iPhone, unlimited talk and text,
and phone insurance through Verizon, without any kind of
committed contract, for about $85 a month (exact amount to to be
determined upon the arrival of my first bill). More than
$10 less a month — saving over $100 a year — with brand
new hardware, more storage, and more capability.
And if I had never gone in and asked, I would have kept right on
overpaying. It wasn’t even a matter of negotiating. No hardball.
No “I’m leaving” posturing. No wheedling or research required.
I don’t even really blame the company. Who was going to go
through my bill with a fine-tooth comb to see if I was
This isn’t a story about saving money on your phone in general.
If I wanted to do that, I could buy a second-hand iPhone off eBay
(a solution suggested by our tech team when I asked — just be
diligent about reading the sellers’ reviews!), or even better,
buy a different, cheaper model of Android. I could have hooked it
up to the obscenely cheap Republic Wireless, and subsisted
largely off wifi.
But that’s not what I was after. All I wanted was a new operating
system that wouldn’t shut off just when I needed it most,
preferably staying at Verizon because it’s the only network that
gets coverage everywhere I ever go (except JFK terminal 8, for
This is a story about asking. About not psyching yourself out. If
you have 10 minutes in next week, give your provider a call, or
drop in to a storefront, and just ask: Is my phone plan the
lowest I could be paying right now?
You might be surprised by what they say.