Chances are, if you have a mobile phone, you paid too much, both for the phone itself and the service plan that makes the phone usable. For the purposes of this post, we will focus upon the plans themselves, since that is where most people overspend.
It is no accident that most of you pay too much for your mobile phone service. As a matter of fact, your service provider planned it that way. Now, you may be asking, â€œHow do you know who my service provider is?â€ The answer is simple; they all do it. It is not like they are breaking the law or even being outright deceptive. They merely know which buttons to push to get you to spend more. Letâ€™s look at some of those buttons.
- Â You donâ€™t want to run out of minutes, or bandwidth! Especially with the smartphones that everyone seems to be using, service providers are pushing customers to purchase plans that offer lots of minutes and a large (for smartphones) bucket of data usage. They warn you that your speed will be throttled back if you hit your usage cap, and most of you buy more than you ever need, just to be certain you never hit that cap. The result is that you probably never use all your available data bandwidth, but you pay for it, nonetheless. You wouldnâ€™t stand for paying for petrol you didnâ€™t use in your automobile, but youâ€™re essentially doing the same with your data plan every month. And youâ€™re probably under contract to keep doing it.
- Â You want the most economical plan you can get. When service providers hear this, they are more than happy to set you up with a plan that has a minimal data cap. Why? Because they know that many people who purchase such limited-usage plans will inevitably exceed their data allowance, and not be willing to curtail their usage until the billing cycle rolls over and they get a fresh allotment of data bandwidth. When you reach that point, the provider will sell you a small block of additional bandwidth, but at a significantly higher price than if you had opted for a more generous plan in the first place. Again, it is in your contractâ€¦ somewhere.
- Â You donâ€™t want to shortchange your family members. Most providers offer family or sharing plans, whereby all members of the plan share from a larger allotment of bandwidth. These plans sound great, but the above caveats apply here, as well. And if you happen to have a teenager or university student on your plan, he or she will logically assume that all those bytes of data are for him or her, and use the smartphone accordingly. Subscribers don’t want their convenience to suffer, so they pay for cover-all family plans they don’t necessarily need.
- There are a few simple ways that you can lower your mobile service bills and still enjoy the convenience of a smartphone. Some involve a bit of research, and some call for handy apps, but most important is that you keep track of what you are getting and what you are paying for.
- Â Closely monitor your bills. It can be highly frustrating to pore over your mobile service bill every month, especially if youâ€™re unsure as to what all those categories and numbers really mean. But if you will compare your bills month to month, you will get a good idea as to where you are spending too much, or not getting all you are paying for. And if you are on a shared or family plan, you will see who is using the bulk of the planâ€™s allotment, which will give you ample evidence to support a good talking-to with the most gluttonous user(s). Not that doing so will actually result in any changes in behaviour, but you will feel better for having tried.
- Utilise a third-party app to monitor usage. There are a number of online services that offer free monitoring and analysis of your bills and give you pricing equivalents from numerous service providers, so you can see whose plans best meet your needs and your budget. Such comparative analyses can prove invaluable, and could well end up saving you a sizable chunk of money over the course of a year.
- Â Renegotiate your contract whenever it is possible to do so. If you purchased your mobile phone as part of your contract, you shouldnâ€™t have to keep paying for the equipment once the contract period is up. Your service provider would just as soon you continue to pay, of course, but common sense should tell you to quit paying for something you already own. Some providers will lower the plan cost, usually by offering a different plan, rather than acknowledging that youâ€™ve purchased the phone. You may also be able to renegotiate your contract if your service provider is offering less expensive plans to new customers. After all, while that new customer is an unknown quantity to your provider, you are an established customer, and less risk means more money for the provider.
- Ask if your provider has a customer retention department. This is the final point of leverage negotiating with service providers. Most will offer much better deals to existing customers who are considering switching networks. You might be surprised at just how anxious your provider is to keep you onboard.
You can usually get a better deal than the one you currently have, often without switching networks. While the game does appear to be stacked against the customer, it really isnâ€™t. It is just that most customers never learn the rules, and havenâ€™t learned how to keep score.