Six ways to screw your mobile service provider

Cell PhoneWhat do you do if you don’t like the total on your monthly cell phone bill? I wait till the contract expires and sign a new one on different terms. That is not what my friend does. He is who I call an extreme bargain hunter.

I was amazed at the elaborate sequence of steps he recently went through to accomplish what he did — cancel his existing contract, get a new phone for free, and reduce his bill with Sprint to $20 for a 500 minutes plan with unlimited nights and weekends (before taxes). How did he do it? Below are some of his tips. While all of them are legitimate ways to save money, some will require time spent on the phone with a service representative.

1. Text messaging rate change means you can avoid Early Termination Fee

Whenever your company raises text messaging rates or changes other contract terms, this constitutes a material breach of contract and entitles you to canceling the service agreement without paying Early Termination Fee. Just watch for that letter in the mail and be prepared to spend half an hour on the phone arguing with service reps. This Consumerist article gives hints on what traps you can expect when you call. Here are some more links: canceling Spring, canceling Verizon, canceling T-Mobile.

2. Keep your provider & phone number but get a new account

Mobile providers often offer cell phone promotions only to new account holders. Folks at FatWallet have masterminded an elaborate plan on how to get a new account without leaving your existing provider. The secret is pretty simple, just move your service and port your number to a “pay as you go plan” with another provider and then come right back in as a new customer. This sure means some hassle but at the end you do get that phone free after rebate. :-) Some argue they were able to convince the sales rep to get them the “new account” discount by simply telling they were canceling the service. I would certainly try that option first and,… your mileage may vary.

3. You don’t need an employee to get 25% off service via Sprint Employee Referral Offer (SERO)

This has been one of the most popular discussions ever on the FatWallet forums. It currently has 172 pages and comments just keep pouring. In a nutshell, you don’t need to know anyone at Sprint to be entitled to their popular Sprint Employee Referral Offer and the 25% off service fee that comes with it. Just use this link ( and this email “” to sign up.

The program was available through 2006 and is now extended till December 31, 2007. There is a long discussion at SlickDeals forums which you might want to scan as well if you have a day to spare. ;-)

4. Get an extra discount from your school, employer and/or a loyalty bonus

If you work for a big company as my friend does, there is a good chance they have agreements with wireless providers to offer service to their employees at a discount. My friend was able to get an additional 15% off on top of the reduced SERO rate. Many colleges/universities offer discounts as well. Check with your own school.

On top of that, some wireless providers have a loyalty discount. Sprint for example has one at 10%. Don’t forget to check on it as well. If you qualify for both, apply the loyalty bonus first and then your school/corporate discount. Some useful links and tips can be found here.

5. Make your free nights start earlier (6pm instead of usual 9pm)

Free nights and weekends usually start at 9pm. That doesn’t mean however they have to start at 9pm for you. If you go through those long forum threads mentioned above, you will find that a lot of people were able to successfully negotiate an earlier time by simply sending an email like this (insert your provider name where needed):

I am already a XYZ customer. I absolutely love XYZ. It is far better than any carrier we have ever been with. I was just hoping there was a way in which our current plan could be enriched. We really need some sort of a text plan, and 7pm nights. Are these options available? Can we please work something out? Thank you for your time and careful consideration concerning our wireless needs.

6. Sign up for paperless billing and get a credit

It turns out that Sprint offers $5 for signing up for a paperless billing. This means you will not be receiving paper bills any more, just email notifications. You can still see all the account activity and past calls online. I have not verified if this is a one time credit or a recurring one. Either way it is worth the try. Call your provider and ask them if they offer this option. It is a double win, save money and save trees!

Have you used these or any other tips? Tell us in your comments.

See also:

6 Responses to “Six ways to screw your mobile service provider”

  1. 1 XynamaX Mar 30th, 2007 at 6:33 am

    Here’s an easy one:

    Let’s say there’s two of you in your household, in my case me and my wife. I started a new plan with T-Mobile, got my phone free after rebate. I ordered a phone for my wife (under her own new account) and she got hers free-after-rebate. Once we got both rebates back, I transferred her phone to my account and we got a reduced rate because I switched the to the family-plan. We went from 2 seperate bills at $40 each ($80/monthly for both) to a combined family plan of just under $60 per month. Saves $240 a year and we both got brand new phones.

    This was with T-Mobile.


  2. 2 Hu$tler Mar 31st, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    I love Sprint..haha…you think your friend got it good with sprint…haha…man, my family plan with 5 phones was $28.71 last month. You should check out my post about doing drop calls to get at least $15 off each month

  3. 3 Yan Mar 31st, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    I might add dropped calls to the list. The reason I didn’t add them in the first place because it is not a very practical hack. Your credit depends on (is opposite to) the quality of service and if I were at $15 which is 30 dropped calls per month I would be inclined to change the provider.

  4. 4 olga Sep 1st, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    i am trying to receive the sero discount but i dont have the pin to put in after the email address. can anyone please help me?

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