Monday, April 26, 2010

A New Phone, A New Plan

The time had finally come. I had been waiting so long to get a new phone. Until recently, my sidekick had been the Sony Ericsson w810i, a utilitarian device that served me well since 2007. But as with all technology, it was time to upgrade. And since I stuck it out with my w810i for so long, I figured I now deserved the latest and greatest.

What I wanted

My main requirements were pretty simple: I wanted a smartphone with a basic phone+data plan and caller ID.  Since I've been mucking around with Android development, the smartphone would have to be an Android phone.  After much research, I settled on a sexy thing called the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 (I'll work on a review of this phone shortly).  I didn't care much for the phone plan details because even the most basic phone plan would generally suffice as I don't call a whole lot of people nor do I care about long distance.  In Canada, it looks like the standard data plan is 500MB/month and I was ok with that too.  The only other thing I really needed was the caller ID for weeding people out. 

A little homework... 

Now that I had decided what I wanted, I started looking at plans.  My original plan was with Rogers and consisted of a very basic $20 plan, $8 for caller ID, and a deprecated $6.95 access fee for a grand total of $34.95 before taxes; not a great plan by any means.  The good thing was that my contract had ended back in 2009 so I was basically a free agent.  I had the power to switch plans or providers as I please without penalty.  I would use that to my advantage.
Since I was getting a smartphone, I wanted to add a data plan.  Rogers' cheapest voice+data plan was $50 plus a government regulatory recovery fee of $2.58 (varies by province).  Add in Caller ID ($8) and I was looking at $60.58/month.  To buy the X10 outright would cost me $500 but if I got on a 3 year plan I could get the phone for $150.  This would be my benchmark. 
Other worthy mentions were Wind Mobile's promotion ($150 credit for switching an existing phone number to them) and Bell's promotion ($10 off any voice+data plan for a 3 year contract and free Palm Pre phone).  Honestly though, none of the other providers were really in the mix as only Rogers carried the X10.  Wind didn't have a single Android phone in their lineup, and Bell's Android selection was weak.  But still, I could use these promotions as leverage in my negotiations. 

...goes a long way!

On a lazy Thursday afternoon, I decided to call Rogers to see what they were willing to offer me.  I immediately asked for their Customer Retentions department and was quickly greeted by a rep (one thing that has impressed me about Rogers in recent years is that I never have to wait on the phone for long).  I quickly explained my current plan and the new plan that I wanted.  Then I told him about the promotions that Wind and Bell were offering and how I thought that I didn't see anything from Rogers that was competitive with these promotions.  When I asked him if there was anything he could do about it, he politely declined.  I tried again and again from various angles (reminded him of all the services I had with Rogers, the number of years I had been with them, etc.) but this dude just wouldn't budge.  After a couple minutes of this I knew he was going to stonewall me so I gave up and ended the call.  From reading on forums, I knew that discounts were based on the rep's discretion, so I would have to try again.
The next day I called Rogers retention again.  This time, I told them I wanted to cancel because the guy from yesterday was not willing to give me any discounts.  I again explained what phone and plan I was interested in, informed the rep of the various promotions out there, and reminded her of the years and services I had with Rogers.  This rep was much more agreeable with me and asked me to hold on for a couple of minutes while she "worked something out".  When she got back to me, she gave me $10 off the $50 voice+data plan AND free caller ID!  On top of that, she said that I had built up credit for these past few years that I had been with Rogers and that entitled me to $50 off the phone.  After giving me a few extra bonuses - waiving of the activation fee and a few months of unlimited calling - I ended the call on a much happier note.  The end result?  I am looking at $100 for the X10 and $42.58 for voice+data (500MB data) and free caller ID with free unlimited messaging as part of the package!

Tips on how to negotiate with Rogers

So, what should you do when negotiating with Rogers? 
First off: do your homework!  Figure out your requirements and what Rogers plans and services satisfy them.  Then find out what other providers offer including promotions.  Figure out everything down to the nitty-gritty.  When I was talking with Rogers, I knew exactly all the fees involved including the old $6.95 access fee (no longer applied to new plans, but existed in my original plan), the government regulatory recovery fee, and the emergency access fee.  Also, you should be aware of your limits.  If you just started a contract, haven't been with Rogers for very long, or don't have other services with them then won't have much to negotiate with.  
Secondly: make a plan of action.  Before calling Rogers, I had written up a short plan of action.  In it, I put in some info on how I would approach the rep, what I would ask for, what I expected to get, and what to do if the plan doesn't work out.  You see, I'm quite bad at improvising.  If I didn't have a plan of action I'd most likely fumble and botch things up.  I think it's better to be prepared anyway. 
Third: be aware that discounts are based on the individual's discretion.  As you read above, my first call to Rogers ended in stalemate and I was prepared for that.  You just have to keep trying.  I have read stories of other people trying 4-5 different reps before they got one that gave them a deal. 
Fourth: Keep your cool.  Be patient.  Don't lose your temper as it gets you nowhere. 
Good luck getting that deal!


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