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. For years.
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 overpaying?
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 some reason).
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.