How to Negotiate for a Better Deal with Your Cell Carrier

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Like many other Sprint customers, I have been anxiously awaiting the release of the BlackBerry Curve 8330. Today it finally became available. However, I just purchased a new phone with a two-year contract from Sprint last year, long before the original Curve for AT&T was even released. As a result, I was only eligible for $75 off a new device when I signed up for another two-year contract, which makes the Curve an unattractive $524. If I was a new Sprint customer, I could purchase it with multiple discounts and rebates for $179.99, but by staying loyal to Sprint for the last eight years, I was screwed. Or was I? I called Sprint and told the nice electronic voice that I wanted to cancel my service. Without a moment of hold music, I was transferred to a customer service agent, who asked why I wanted to cancel. I calmly explained that I had been patiently waiting for the Curve to come to Sprint, but I was put off by the $524 price tag as an existing customer. I pointed out that it was cheaper for me to pay the contract termination fee of $200 and purchase the Curve as a new Verizon customer for $169.99 than it would be to buy the Sprint Curve as an existing customer. The agent instantly offered me the new customer price of $179, waived all fees, and promised to have it to me by Tuesday afternoon. I ended the call by thanking him for his courtesy and assistance. So what's the moral of this story? Be nice and you can get whatever you want? Sprint is desperate to keep customers? Or did I just get lucky with a good customer service agent? Anecdotal evidence suggests that it's a little of everything. Here's how to get what you want from your cell provider.
  1. Be polite. Just like sending back a bad meal at a restaurant, you're much less likely to get unwanted spit if you act nice and polite. The customer service agents know you're the customer and that the customer is (almost) always right; there's no need to point it out. On that same note, if you get a customer service agent who isn't friendly and clearly doesn't care what your issue is, politely hang up and call again.
  2. Do your research and know what you expect the outcome to be. It only takes a few minutes to look up another carrier's pricing online, but being able to point out how the other carrier is offering you a better deal is vital to getting what you want.
  3. Be prepared to cancel your service. Let the agent know that you don't really want the "hassle" of switching carriers, but you'll do it for the savings. If you still can't reach an agreement that you're happy with, leave the provider—you'll most likely never get what you want from them.
Have you ever tried negotiating a better deal with your carrier for the latest phone? What have you done to get a discount? What's worked for you? What hasn't? Share your tips and experiences in the comments.