How to get a cheaper phone plan

Five ways to get your bills under control

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From the November 2016 issue of the magazine.

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cheaper phone plan

1. Buy your phone separately

You’re going to get better deals off the top if you’re not currently on a plan,” says Kyle Prevost of financial blog youngandthrifty.ca. If you’re caught halfway through an existing contract, you may find that the inability to walk away makes it harder to negotiate a better deal. Luca Cazzin, a student at Ryerson University in Toronto, found that the best solution is to “purchase a phone separately, even second-hand or from a third-party dealer, and you usually get 10-15% off for bringing your own phone.”

2. Know who to ask

The first person you talk to on the phone when speaking with a phone carrier likely can’t give you discounts, explains Prevost. Instead, he suggests asking to speak to a retention or customer service agent—these are the ones unwilling to let you walk away. Don’t bother negotiating in-person; the people at your local kiosk rarely have negotiating power.

3. Take advantage of grey markets

In Saskatchewan or Manitoba the plans are cheaper than elsewhere in the country. Prevost says this has caused a growing online “grey market” to emerge, where local residents will re-sell phone contracts to be used by buyers elsewhere in the country. Be careful, though: Using one may break the rules that your carrier has set out for you and using a false address on a grey market plan could be fraud.

4. Mind your phone manners

A respectful tone when pushing for a better deal may seem like common sense, but it’s tempting to play the angry customer card. Prevost thinks it’s better to stick with kind inquiries about better deals, rather than demands. “It’s been consistent across every carrier I’ve dealt with, that they don’t like to be outright leveraged,” says Prevost. “They almost like it to look accidental.”

5. Check out smaller carriers for better deals

There’s not a tonne of competition in the Canadian market, Jon Stone from cellphones.ca says. But some of the smaller carriers, as well as discount sub-brands like Fido can offer savings over the big names.


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