Wednesday, 22 February 2012

How-to: Navigate the Mobile Carrier Jungle

Sometimes, crowd-sourcing good advice is the best way to go; several heads are better than one, right?

With kind permission of one of my mailing lists, herewith is some of the best advice for dealing with those crafty mobile carriers: how to get a decent deal on your next mobile phone.

Yes, 24 months is the standard these days. However, most (Vodafone's website in particular) also lists contract lengths of 12 and 18 months as options (with 24 the default). Daniel L.

12-months is a rarity these days; if you can find it compare the costs over 12, 18 and 24; you are trading off lower cost against longer duration.

18 or 24 months are pretty much the norm with most MobOps if you want a free phone with the deal. If you have one you like already, or are willing to shop for it and get an unlocked one, you should be able to get a 'simfree' deal with most MobOps for anything between 30 day rolling to 12 months, or more if you are masochistic. Keith

Do you need the latest shiny-shiny?
You can pick up a decent second-hand handset and get a cheap PAYG SIM for
a lot less than you'll pay on contract... Vic

Depending on your usage, that is. You need to cost out Pay-As-You-Go against the contract bundle - calls, text and data.

Usage is King
I'm partially sighted so for me - a 2" screen is the proverbial chocolate
fireguard - but of course these customer service drones can't get
their head around that.   They seem bemused when I say I hate touchscreens
(which I do for phones - ipad is different!) and I don't want the net on the
move.   All I basically want is a phone which can do huge fonts and has
buttons - and that's it.   I scarcely even text nowadays but that's useful
for (for instance) contacts from the kids' school. Rob M.

Just like my parents; choose the phone according to your needs, not the other way round. You can dramatically cut costs.

Consider the bundle
By "voice packages" do you mean telephones or sim-only? The latter are
widely available on a rolling monthly basis (and some good deals too:
unlimited texts, unlimited mobile Internet, 250 voice minutes per month
for £10/month). Keith

Find a bundle with the right balance of voice, text and data and make sure you can swap options from month to month.

The single best thing to do with any MobOp is phone up and ask for their retentions department and request PAC codes. Retentions have the power to offer deals the sales guys can only dream of.

You don't have to tell them why, but my suggestion is to tell them you are going to Giffgaff. £10/month for decent voice, txt and data bundle, and run over O2's network so it's pretty reasonable in most areas.

It's a fair bet they will put you through to 'retentions' to offer you a deal not usually offered on the open market to retain your business and thus reduce churn. This is the norm for MobOps (and I say this as a veteran of that business since the late 1990s).

However: before you agree to *anything* insist on them providing the Terms and Conditions in writing, and do not allow them to initiate any kind of transfer or change which helps THEM before you have had a change to inspect it carefully.

Bcause, some of them seem to have developed a nasty habit of providing you with a contract which is a little less good than the one you discussed with them, and leaving you to contest it. Most people obviously don't bother. I, being a veteran of the art of complaining about unfair terms and un-agreed to terms, will not shy away however.

So, despite having a file about 1 foot thick on a certain providers mis-sales and cockups with me and my family, they have seen fit to prolong their agony of keeping me despite my request to migrate elsewhere. What they offered, and I recorded them offering, now differs from what they claim I agreed to. My comment: "See you in court, along with my file from two years ago when Otelo told you to STOP being unreasonable!" So, bring it on.... Jack

They play hard, so play hard with them. Don't cave in or be fobbed off. Not getting what you want? Go elsewhere.

Haggle. My Brother is with Vodafone, and he always gets a better deal
than they advertise. Philip S.

Keep the Evidence
Yes - record the calls! Sounds tin foil hatish but a verbal contract is worth only the paper it is written on!  Remember to get them to name the company, the date/time, thier name and that they are authorised to offer the deal they present to you. Its not been unheard of for a company to script deals then turn around and say the script was incorrect/out of date/should not have been used etc and try and force you into a lesser contract a month later via a short text. Jacqui

Hopefully armed with this collective advice, you can go out and get the deal you want. My thanks to my mail-listers. RC