Every year we purchase a pair of new cell phones using the best available cash back bonus deals. The primary use of our phones is to, well, make phone calls! We hardly care about extra features such as text messaging and built-in camera. Our only goal is to make free money since we donate our free money earnings to charities. To reduce the monthly cost we enroll in a family share plan. We have been doing this successfully for the last 3 years.
Our existing cellphones are not very reliable, one of them is almost nearing retirement. We badly needed a new pair this time. Typically there is a 12 or 24 month contract with the service provider with new deals. Our current contract ended in August 2006. Since then we have been intermittently searching for a superb deal.
The most helpful sites that aided our search were: Cellularchoices, MyRatePlan, LetsTalk, Wirefly, Point, A1Wireless, IntelenetWireless. We also noticed that many of these sites are in fact partners of Inphonic. After a lot of surfing and patient searching the best deal that catered to us was in the last week of December.
Here is the cost analysis of the above deal:
- Cost of new phones (2) : $0
- Activation cost: +$70
- Shipping cost: +$10
- Mail-in rebates: -$125*2 = -$250
- Approximate cost of mailing 4 rebate forms (with return receipts): +$20
- Our current plan is $49.99 per month. New plan is $59.99 per month for 24 months.
- So additional cost of our new monthly plan for 24 months: 10*24 = +$240
Please note that we are ignoring the difference in taxes, with the new plan our taxes will be higher.
Thus if we switch we would have to spend an extra (70+10-250+20+240=) $90 for the 24 months period. Of course we would have a new pair of phones. Nowadays due to portability of cell phone numbers we might be able to keep our current numbers but it is not guaranteed. We asked ourselves "Is it worth the trouble"?
Then like a flash it occurred to us to call T-mobile's (our service provider) customer service, and find out if they had any deals to offer. We had spoken with them a couple of months back but in vain. Nevertheless we felt like trying again.
We got connected to a live person in less than 3 minutes. We honestly described to him how urgently we needed a new pair of cell phones and requested him to upgrade our phones FREE of cost; even better if there were any cash back deals. He informed us that there were no cash back deals, however, he could give us FREE phones if we signed a 24 month contract!
We noted down the model names and looked them up on the internet. We chose a Samsung T619 cell phone with built-in camera and blue tooth enabled - pretty loaded :). Initially the customer service representative told us that we would have to pay shipping a cost of $20. Then miraculously he waived it off and even ordered a 3-day expedited shipping for us! Also, he told us that there would be no activation charge, not a single dime! We felt that the universe had rewarded us for our loyalty and perseverance.
Here are the highlights of our extended stay with our current service provider:
- FREE, new and upgraded phones [Samsung T619].
- FREE activation.
- FREE shipping.
- Same account, same phone numbers (no hassle of calling thousands of folks to update our numbers).
- The same monthly plan of $49.99 (500 any time minutes, unlimited Weekend & T-mobile -T-mobile, etc) for 24 months. Currently the lowest cost family share monthly plans (by all service providers) start at $59.99. This saves us $10*24 = $240 before taxes.
- No mail-in rebate forms to mail and patiently wait for months. No need to call several times for follow ups to get the MIR checks.
- Last but not the least we might get back $20 or more by recycling our old cell phones.
So, before finalizing a new deal, it would be wise to call your current service providers as well and find out the best they can offer. There is nothing to lose. We hope our experience with T-mobile proves to be useful for our audience.