Score Extra Perks From Your Phone Company

Coming off contract for your mobile phone and thinking of signing up again? You're in a powerful position. Don't just settle for the standard deal; now is the time to hit your provider up for extra perks and bargains. Here are some ideas for extras to request.

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Phone companies are loathe to lose customers. Acquiring up a new customer is far more expensive than maintaining someone who is already signed up. If you're on month 23 of a 24-month contract, you have more power over your provider than at any other time. Once month 24 rolls around, there's no reason why you can't jump to someone else.

There are scenarios in which actually doing nothing can make sense. For instance, if your current plan offers more data or call credit than the plans offered to new customers and you're not in an urgent rush to upgrade your phone, doing nothing can be a financially sensible move. However, if you're hoping to shift to a new phone, now is the time to swoop.

One common factor unites all these suggestions: you won't know unless you ask. Be polite and don't be deceitful — claiming you've been receiving terrible service purely as a gambit to score extra options is going to make you look stupid. But saying "I'm about to be out of contract and I'm looking at other offers, what can you do for me?"

The other core element is to research the market before you start asking for bonuses. If you don't know what's on offer with current plans, you won't know whether that's a better deal than what you're already getting. Perhaps more importantly, you won't know how "special" any special offer you receive actually is.

Options which you might be offered (and which might be worth asking for) include:

  • Additional data allocations A common gambit when signing up new customers is to offer additional data on top of the standard allocation. Often this is time-limited (1GB extra for the first six or 12 months, for example). That can be worth asking for, especially if you're a heavy phone data user.
  • Bonus months Some carriers will offer you a bonus "month" where you receive access without paying access or handset charges.
  • Waiving handset charges A variant on the previous concept; you're less likely to see this with brand-new phones.
  • Free movie tickets, MP3 downloads or other extras The usefulness of these will depend on whether you actually plan to use them.
  • A free prepaid Wi-Fi dongle This is quite a common offer. Wi-Fi dongles aren't especially expensive (you can often pick up older models for under $30), but it's a potentially useful bonus if you don't own one and don't want to use your phone as a hotspot.

If readers have additional perks they have lined up in the past, please tell us about them in the comments. Happy bargaining!


Comments

    I want....a shrubbery!!!

    Just tried this with Telstra and they wouldn't budge!

    No perks for me it seems...

    I'm not sure what you are basing this on, but in my experience in the telecommunications industry this is untrue with the exception of business customers, who usually have fairly individual pricing anyway..

    Last edited 08/05/13 7:27 pm

      Admittedly, I've only been with every major telco provider and only worked with one of them, but in my (possibly not as vast) experience, there's nothing actually false about this article. You might not get a result every time, but more often than not, I've been able to get something extra in an offer - and I don't consider myself a particularly good haggler.

      Pretty much every provider will offer you something if you say you're leaving - particularly when you do so in store, and particularly if you're with a re-seller (who seem to have a little more discretionary elements to their offer). Often, it's only one of their other plans, but if you're familiar with the options, you can sort the wheat from the chaff. When I left Voda in February, they offered me a $5 per month discount on their iPad plan, as well as a free wi-fi dongle (that was after knocking back their standard upgrade offer for an iPhone 5). There might've been another offer in there, too, that was another standard plan.

      When I left Optus a couple of years ago, they offered one of their $10 per month mobiles as $0 per month one (actually, when I went to leave Optus the first time a few years before that, they ended up convincing me to leave one of my numbers there with a brilliantly cheap $0, PAYG plan - which they had stopped formally offering, but kept in reserve as an incentive when they thought it was worthwhile).

      They offer much better perks for business customers, but as long as you do your research, you can often haggle something out of them.

        Well good luck with that. I will say, some customers (like my Mum for example) they do seem to have decided that she is a customer that they want to keep based on some arbitrary process designed to reduce churn, but as a general rule this IS untrue as a matter of process.

    As a person working in a telco store, it can go both ways. In store we have very little influence on pricing/bonuses. We get told if theres a targeted offer for new or existing customers for a certain timeframe. Some of these apply to all new or recontracting customers, others are targeted to specific customers with notes on their account (generally have received a call/sms/letter about the offer)

    Getting handset charges waived often means having to speak to a retentions team and providing them with a different telco's offer, normally they will just match that offer. You will need to threaten to port out to speak to the retentions team. As the article states, with newer handsets this is often very difficult.

    Online sales channels are sometimes able to offer 1 or 2 months free access that the stores are unable to match on lots of occasions. The catch being the handset is delivered to you (with delivery cost), not collected immediately and often the stores are less inclined to help you out having not purchased there.

    We get a lot of customers wanting to recontract early and in recent times it has become very strict. Having upgrade fees waived involves a representative over the phone and often the retentions team but gone are the days of having hundreds of dollars of fees waived. They will generally offer a discount on the fee, reducing by $50/$100 or they will offer to split the upgrade fee up over a number of bills. At the end of the day, they know if you really do plan on changing carrier, you stil have to pay them out.

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