After three consecutive months of running over my minutes and getting billed for too many text messages, I called into my service provider feeling very fed up and ready to cancel. Almost everyone who uses a cellular phone has had that moment where they open the bill and are shocked by an exceedingly high balance. Staying within your allotted minutes is not as easy at it seems and inevitably we run over. These months when the big bills arrive however, can be a great opportunity to save money in the long run. These companies have websites to help you monitor your usage and offices where you can go to speak to a representative face-to-face but I’ve learned after several years with several companies that you get the best deals when you call in to talk to the operator.
The first good experience I had with an operator was when I called in to cancel early in my contract. I was determined that I did not have the ability to stay within my plan and therefore I should just go back to using my home phone. So I called up and explained to the operator that I wanted to cancel my service. There would be a penalty fee for canceling my contract but I would save money in the long run because the plan was costing me way too much each month and I could not afford to go to the higher plan.
The operator tried to talk me into a different plan and even offered to reduce the charges on the current bill but when I insisted that I wanted to cancel she forwarded my call to the cancellation department. The cancellation department consists of operators who are authorized to give away almost anything to keep customers from canceling. The operator not only waived all my overage charges he reduced the cost of the service by 25% a month for the rest of my contract. From this experience I learned that it is a good idea to call in to talk to a real operator whenever you have a problem with the bill. Even just calling I to ask for clarification will often prompt the operator to reduce or remove any extra fees above your normal plan. Incidentally I did end up staying with the service.
Another time I called in to discuss the bill, and this was several months after my contract had actually ended, so I could cancel without any penalty at this time. I told the lady that I was not sure why my bill was so high although I did actually know that I had gone way over my minutes. The bill however was not very clear on explaining the extra charges. She explained that I had gone over my minutes and quickly added that they would waive the fees for the extra minutes I used. She then reviewed my account and saw that I was done with my contract and went on to offer me even more. She said I was eligible to upgrade my phone and get a plan with more minutes at a cheaper cost than I was currently paying. I was skeptical though and asked how much it would cost to upgrade my phone. She told me that it would normally cost $170 but that she would credit my account. In the end she removed the $50 for the extra minutes I had used in the previous month, gave me a $400 phone for free, put it in for express shipping at no cost and changed my plan to one that was even cheaper than my current plan. The lesson I learned was that if you do stick with your carrier beyond your contract it is a good idea to call in within a month or two from the end of the contract and see what you can get.
Cell phone companies are just beginning to tap this market that is still less than 25 years old and the only thing that limits their profit is the number of customers they can keep signed up for long-term. They are willing to do almost anything to keep you as a customer. Just remember that you will get the best deal by calling in to speak to an operator.