Tip: Speak to the Retentions department for large discounts on your cell phone bill

While we patiently wait for the passage of the 1and1 Internet inspired domain propagation woes, here is a quick tip that can potentially save everyone a good chunk of cash on their monthly cell phone bills. Note that this tip is designed for people in the United States; because of the different way cell phone plans are designed in other parts of the world, this tip may or may not work outside the USA.

All major cell phone service providers have a department called Retentions (also known as Customer Loyalty). The sole purpose of this department is to make the customer happy; to do whatever it takes (within reasonable limits) to make sure a customer stays with the company. Often times this means attractive discounts towards monthly plans and phone purchases for “loyal” customers.

How good can these discounts get? T-Mobile USA sells the Samsung Vibrant for $199 with a two year contract, which includes a required monthly data plan for $30/month. I know someone who ordered the Samsung Vibrant for $50 with two year contract and $20/month for the same data plan. In other words, a savings of $640 (plus how much is saved on tax) over two years.

Discounts are not limited to just when you want to purchase a new phone or a new plan. If at anytime you find a better deal for the services you have, especially if said deal is available at a different provider, call up and speak to the Retentions department. The worse that can happen is they say “no” and you have wasted 20 minutes of your life; on the other hand you may get lucky and get rewarded for your efforts with a sizeable discount.

Now not everyone can get the same discounts and flexibility of the Retentions department varies from company to company. However, generally speaking, the longer you have been with a company the better discounts Retentions can give you.

So how to talk with Retentions? Most (if not all) major companies have voice activated customer care systems. If this is the case, call the customer care line and say “Retentions” or “Customer Loyalty”. If this is not the case, call the customer care line and connect with any representative. Once you have connected ask to speak to Retentions or Customer Loyalty.

Remember the amount of discounts or benefits you get from Retentions is highly dependent on how long you have been with the company. However, here are a fee tips to get the best discounts possible:

1) Whenever speaking with a representative of any company, you should always be kind, courteous, and patient. Speaking to Retentions is no different: Be kind when you speak with them, be courteous by greeting them (EX: “Hi, how are you doing today?”), and be patient with their response.

2) You may not want to cancel your service with the company, but the representative does not know that. Mildly threatening to cancel your services can go a long way towards convincing the representative to entice you with better deals. (EX: “That iPhone on AT&T is such a nice phone, I have been thinking about getting it.”)

3) As I already mentioned, the length of time you have been with the company is a big factor to the amount of discounts you get. Therefore, if you have been with the company for more than a short period of time, be sure to remind the representative how long you have been with the company. “I have been with your company for X years and this is the best you can offer me?” is a favorite line of mine.

4) Research beforehand. Find.out what types of deals other customers are getting. The more information you have, the better you can gauge the discounts offered to you.

5) Representatives are people. Each representative has a different personality and they can have bad days. So if you feel the rep you are talking with is not offering the discount(s) you are looking for (this is where research is important), end the call and call again. Chances are the next rep will offer you a different deal. (Be warned the deal may not be a “better” deal but if this happens you can mention how a previous rep offered you X deal.) Indeed, I have had two reps offer me two different prices (difference of over $100) within a couple of hours of each other (i.e. I called in multiple times).

Let me repeat your mileage will vary; not everyone will be able to get discounts and not everyone will get the same discounts. However, it never hurts to try. Good luck to everyone.

Have other money savings tips? Share with us in the comments below.

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