It’s amazing how quickly we’ve all become addicted to our smartphones.
I didn’t even own a cell phone until 2006. Ten years later, I’m officially a smartphone junkie. Whenever there’s a lull in the conversation for even a millisecond, I’ve got my phone out of my pocket looking up the latest nonsense happening on Twitter. How anybody killed time before having a smartphone is a mystery that’ll never be solved.
With our fancy cell phones come a big financial commitment. People routinely spend at least $100 per month on talk, text, and data plans. I find this preposterous. There’s no reason to pay that much, yet millions of Canadians do.
Here’s how you can save money on your cell phone bill.
I’m amazed at the number of people who refuse to go with one of Canada’s low-cost cell phone providers, choosing instead to give their cash to Telus, Bell, or Rogers.
Switching to Fido, Koodo, Virgin Mobile, Public Mobile, or any other discount carrier is an easy way to knock $10 or $20 per month off your bill. The best part? These discount carriers are owned by the big guys and use the same network. I’ve been a Koodo client for about a year now, which is owned by Telus and uses Telus’s network. I’ve never had an issue with signal quality or dropping calls.
If you insist on going with one of the “big three”, make sure you go with the one that provides other services so you can at least get a bundle discount.
The best time to shop around is during the holidays. That’s when all the providers are trying really hard to woo new customers, since it is their busiest time. You’d be surprised how many people give the gift of a recurring liability to their loved ones.
There’s one problem with shopping around. You can’t do it while on a contract. Which brings me to the second way to save money.
Don’t get a contract
On the surface, getting a phone contract is a great deal. The phone company lets you buy a piece of technology interest-free in exchange for committing to use their network. Anytime somebody lets you use their money for free, you should do it.
But there’s one big problem with having a contract, and that’s the inability to switch to a different provider. You can’t take advantage of exclusive deals for new customers if you’re forced to stay with one provider.
The other thing the phone company counts on is you forgetting about the contract. Some providers are nice about it and only charge extra for the amount of time it takes to pay off the phone. Others aren’t, and will hold you to a more expensive contract as long as you’re a customer.
I’d be willing to bet that 80% of us regularly don’t even get close to using our data caps.
I realized this a couple of years ago. I had two gigabytes of data as part of my plan. After looking at my usage for the previous six months, I discovered I never even got close to using all my data. In fact, I hadn’t even gone past one gigabyte. I immediately downgraded to an inferior plan and saved $10 per month.
It’s the same thing with unlimited minutes. I hate talking on the phone. If somebody calls me, I’m doing my best to shoo them away. My voicemail tells people that they’re far more likely to get a response if they text or email me.
So why would I have unlimited minutes? There’s no good reason for it, so I dropped that part of my plan too.
Even if you go over one month, the penalties for doing so are less than if you’re continually paying for service you don’t use.
Call and complain
Many people who are happy with their providers don’t really want to go through all the hassle of changing. But they’d like to get the same kinds of deals as new customers. What’s a person to do?
The answer is simple. Just call into your provider and ask for a better deal.
You’re not likely to get much with the first person you call. Front-line customer service reps have very little freedom to offer anything but a token amount. Ask to be transferred to a manager or a someone in the customer retention department.
These are the people who can help you. You might have to threaten to leave to really get the ball rolling though.