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

    Telstra offer "welcoming credit" if you're coming from another provider. I've been able to organize it for most of my friends and family.. It's normally $200's worth of credit which is pretty sweet.

      That's only for Customers who sign up over the phone. The retail stores themselves are not allowed and can't do so. Just wanted to clear that up.

    I'll be hitting Telstra up for more data when (if) i re-contract; the included data on their new plans is complete crap compared to what I'm currently on.

      This, so much this. 1Gb is JUUUST enough for me.

      Yeah I'm currently on their old $60 a month plan and that gives me 1.5 GB of data. I was a little bewildered when they introduced their new $60 plan that only gives 1GB.

      I'm not off contract for another few months though, but I think I'll stick with it a little longer after that. I will need to upgrade my phone eventually, but I'm hoping there's a better plan by then.

        Yeah that's the plan I'm on. The $59 plan with the 64 GB iPhone 4S, total cost is $72 per month. Currently to get a 64 GB iPhone 5 on the new $60 plan it will cost $81 per month, and that comes with less data. It's ridiculous.

          What I'm actually hoping to do is, if they still have their same plans by the time I want to upgrade, I'll just flatly tell them "I'm paying $60 a month for 1.5GB of data now, so if you are only offering me 1GB for the same price, I'll look elsewhere".

          I know they are under no obligation to still give me the same contract if I choose to end it, but it's worth a shot.

          Interestingly, their $60 BYO phone plan gives you 1.5GB of data, but the equivalent plan that includes a phone is $80. And even if you went for the extra $20 a month, it would still end up cheaper than buying the phone outright.

          Last edited 09/05/13 11:55 am

            That's a good idea, hope it works for you! I'll try that also, as the 1.5 GB is perfect for me, I never go over it but always use at least 1 GB each month, so I'm happy to stay if they can bump up my data for free. I'm already going to be paying an extra $10 each month just to get the 64 GB iPhone so I'm not prepared to pay more than that for the same data I used to get included.

            Yeah it's always been like that. The BYO plans give you the equivalent of one spend level higher on the plans that include phones, e.g. the old $59 BYO plan gave you the same calls/data as the $79 plan that included a phone, and the current $60 BYO gives you the same as the $80 plan with a phone, and $80 BYO gives you the same as the $100 plan with a phone etc.

    Best trick goes as follows... Ring up your current telco at end of plan, state that you wish to disconnect. They will ask you why; state that you have been offered a better deal through [insert name of one of the other big 3]. If you're not with Telstra, say "Telstra" and add in that they also have better coverage. The telco will immediately start bartering with you: "Would you be interested in staying if we offered you a $10/month discount?" They'll always come in low with the first offer, so say, "No, but if you were willing to offer a $20/month discount, unlock my phone, and increase my data cap by 2GB/month I might consider it." They'll say they need to confirm with their supervisor. So long as you didn't ask for something ridiculous, they will come back and say "Yes".

    Last edited 08/05/13 10:58 am

    As someone who used to work for Telstra, do not go in store asking for additional data/calls unless you're willing to speak to a store manager and spend a large amount of time in-store. When I worked there CSR's were unable to do much beyond signing up new contracts, paying bills, selling stock and modifying contact information. A vast majority of higher level activities can only be done by phone operators when calling the support lines, the CSR's instore call the same number as you, so keep that in mind when you go instore as that will take them time to do, which holds up other people wanting things done themselves.

    Your best bet for getting additional stuff on your plan is to call from home, or call off of one of the landlines in a Telstra store.

      I was told this exact thing by an in store CSR :)

      Thanks @solv3ig!!! This is good information to know!

        No problems, just hoping to save some headaches from both parties. It was a nightmare working there and having to take a good chunk out of your shift for just one customer, can tell you, it's not fun having angry customers in queue yelling at everyone in the store because you're effectively reducing the staff available.

        Not that I had a problem with helping the person I was with, just don't like seeing people walk into Telstra thinking something will be quick and then finding out that it's actually quite long and arduous.

        Last edited 09/05/13 10:01 am

      I can confirm this too, There's basically no discounts Telstra owned store staff can offer you. Will have more luck on the phone.

      I was looking through this thread and hoping to find someone saying this! You're absolutely right. As a current Telstra CSR, I have absolutely no power in store to make these sorts of decisions. Your best bet is calling and threatening to disconnect.

      Totally agree, I was a Floor manager at Telstra and I couldn't do anything unless I got some kind of reimbursement from someone up the food chain via email- I couldn't guarantee and could take DAYS so I NEVER did this. I advised they call, often from the store itself. It was insane the amount of times I told the customer "DON'T TELL THEM YOU ARE CALLING FROM THE STORE" so they say "Im' sitting in Telstra ........", and then they are pissed off when the operator doesn't offer them anything!
      If they got the shipping code for the handset they can send it to the store and I could give one out of stock immediately. So in short trust the guys in store they get hamstrung by processes and just because you think it can happen it doesn't necessarily mean it can but believe me we know all the tricks, we use them on our own phones/plans.

    I hit month 23 yesterday. Might have to go have a chat with someone tomorrow

    Long time Voda user have to swap to telstra ( boost ) for country driving..voda offered $43 p/ m for iPhone 5. . Nearly did but shit data allowance

    i rang optus just yesterday to find out the cost of breaking my contract. (im still 12 months away) and the lady asked why.... i simply said im looking at my options as i want to try and save some money..

    She looked into if it would be worthwhile dropping to a lower plan, but that was also going to cost alot..... so she said, "what if i give you a $10 credit each month for the next 12 months?"

    when i asked what the catch was she told me there wasnt one.... just a way to try and help a customer.

    So i think it depends on the person you get on the other end of the phone.... if you get lucky like i did you can get it quite easily.

    I tried to call Telstra last month at 2 months to go from a 24 month contract $50 a month. Wouldn't play dice at all. I will try again this month and again after contract is over. Guy said Telstra not doing any deals at the moment and I haven't found any body on whirlpool posting successes :(

      Same thing happened to me when I rang up. So I rang back a few times and told them I was looking around. Eventually I got put through to the customer retention line. Now have 4 Gb for free on my phone and im still not under contract.

    Last renewal of twelve iPad data plan, Telstra wouldn't offer anything special.
    Only stayed because I still had $100 credit of unused data.
    Working hard to use it all up this time and switch at next renewal.

    Yeah got $10 credit per month from Optus after i threatened to leave to go to a MVNO.

    When I resigned with Optus as my contract was up, I got a great deal! They waved my handset fee even though I asked for the 32GB iPhone 5 and gave me an extra 2GB of data. I did say that I would resign if they could do the no handset repayments but the data they just said have, this is on the $60 plan by the way. Definitely resigning when the iPhone 6 is out.

    damm, im with amaysim prepaid, do u think i have any bargining power?

    Just got $15 handset cost waived on a HTC One with Voda with 3 months left on my plan. Very happy : D

      While I'm happy for you I suspect this is not the case. Vodafone may have waived it for a period of time but given my knowledge of their internal policies (I'm writing a thesis on them and have interacted with them quite a lot lately) you are stating they offered you a $360 waiver over the life if your contract. Given no one person can offer more that $120 total waivers I suspect you made this up.

        I don't think you are right. Where do you get the belief that CSRs can only offer $120?

    TPG
    No lock in contract
    $18.99 a month for $700 credit (half of that is TPG to TPG the rest is any network) and 1.5GB data.

    Down side is that they don't do phones, but if you buy a phone outright and jump on this plan you save a fair bit over a comparable 24 month plan .

    New phone ~$700ish plus $20 x 24 ($480) = $1200 ish.

    Compared to $60 a month x 24 ($1440) + $5 x 24 handset fee ($120) = $1600 ish

    Gee this discussion is pretty long and sharing info is good but society surprises me sometimes when a story gets a lot of feedback like this when another which is an atrocity have very little.

    I am not a do gooder because thats why I ended up here but social issues get lees comments than a mobile phone contract renewal story.

    If I wrote a story on how to save $10 a month on laundry powder would it get the same feedback?

    When it comes to customer retention, Optus is very stingy even for a long time customer like me (for over 17 years). When my contract was nearly up, they did not even attempt to retain me despite I have given hints. Glad I made the move to quit Optus and I will never go back to them ever!

    While I appreciate what giz is trying to do with this article you should have maybe contacted the phone companies directly and spoken with them regarding their internal policies regarding retention.
    I am currently completing a thesis on mobile phone communication companies specifically Vodafone in Australia and a simple email or call would have gotten you the following information which the phone companies seem quite happy to share.

    Telstra:
    customers need to complete the full 24 months of their contract if the wish to upgrade.
    $50 fee if the choose to upgrade early.
    Early upgrades must go on current in market plans.
    Out of contract customers can keep their old plans but will pay a higher MRO.
    Credits and waivers are not offered unless customer is moving to a comparable plan and network coverage.
    Current stats show Telstra has a 86% resign rate so offering incentives to keep customers not a priority.
    Call centre and online staff unable to offer incentives for resigns, only new connections. (Not been on network in past 36 months)

    Optus:
    Can upgrade at 23 months completed.
    Can keep old plan but will pay higher MRO and old plan will not be 4g unless it already was.
    In store staff can not offer retention credits.
    Call centre staff not able to offer incentives for resigns, current in market offers for resigns sufficient.
    New customers can save by bundling services together. (25% off home broadband with a mobile )

    Virgin:
    Do not offer resign credits under any circumstances yay change to in market plans.
    Phone payments lower for resigns vs news.

    Vodafone
    Has specific priority care department.
    Offers based on customer level (they call them value bands)
    Can keep old plan but only current in market plans will be 4g.
    Max credit that can be offered is $120 over a 24 month contract ($5 per month) must have multiple services to obtain the full $5 per month.
    In store staff have power to make offers and can seek direct authorisation to offer more than limits.
    More likely to get offers for switching to higher plan than current one.
    No discounts on iPhones or newly released handsets.
    More credits available for three customers.
    Won't match Telstra offers.
    Exclusive deals for crazy johns customers.
    To get deal matched or beaten customer must provide a written offer from competitor.

    All that from a couple if emails over past few weeks.

    So asking.. Might be worth it but be prepared to be let down.

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