Will Verizon Wireless Please Stop Harassing Me To Renew My Cell Phone Contract
Published 2/6/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
For the last few weeks I've been receiving incessant phone calls several times daily from some unknown toll free number - specifically 1-800-261-1646. Because I have a habit of screening my calls and not picking up my cell phone if I don't recognize the caller ID, the missed calls kept coming in. The unknown calls were perplexing because I recalled signing up my number for the National Do Not Call List. Eventually I gave up and chose to call the number back to see what was up.
The Verizon Wireless Sales Pitch - May We Bind You To A New Multi Year Contract With Just A Few Freebie Offers?
When I called the number, at first there was dead air and I wondered if I had called a scam number, but then a voice over the phone introduced himself thanking me for my interest in Verizon Wireless and requested my cell phone number. I was a bit suspicious but since my cell phone was indeed serviced through Verizon Wireless and I figured my cell phone number wasn't really confidential information, I gave him my information. If he had inquired about the last 4 digits of my social security number I might not have readily given him the number, since I was still a bit suspicious at that point. But with my phone number information, he immediately ascertained my name so I figured he was at least somewhat legit.
Immediately he launched into a sales pitch to get me to sign up for a new binding multi year cell phone contract. On that point he was correct as my current wireless phone contract was near expiration. He informed me that I was eligible for a new phone (although he didn't specify what model it would be) and offered to throw in an extra 100 minutes per month if I would be willing to renew my wireless contract. He offered to mail me my new phone replacement right away but I refused to get suckered in. I told him the extra minutes were useless since I never even get close to reaching my monthly limit and that I probably could find a better deal online without the need for a contract extension. Unable to lock up the contract and without even saying thank you or goodbye, the supposed Verizon Wireless rep hung up abruptly - a typical sales commission driven response.
After investigating further, the phone number traced to a 3rd party outsourced vendor working with Verizon Wireless to help it secure new contract renewals. Apparently the vendor's allowed to call individuals on the Do Not Call List because they are calling on behalf of Verizon Wireless to customers who are all current or recent Verizon Wireless customers. However, it should be noted that they can still be blocked if you tell them not to solicit or call you ever again.
My Advice For All Those Nearing The End Of Their Cell Phone Contracts - Negotiate With Leverage
Cell phone wireless contracts are the most anti competitive mechanisms that major wireless phone carriers like Verizon Wireless, Sprint-Nextel, AT&T, and T-Mobile use to keep their users in line and bounded to them in customer servitude. This contractual obligation is frequently renewed and extended through clever solicitation of verbal consent, and the dangling of seemingly attractive freebie carrots - shabby offers that are not really all that great.
Currently my phone plan is under Verizon Wireless' America's Choice 450 Anytime Minutes with Unlimited In calling for $39.99 a year. However, because I took advantage of student and corporate employee wireless phone discounts, I was able to save 19% off my monthly cell phone bill. My 2 year wireless phone contract is indeed going to expire in a month or two but I have no intention of renewing my contract just yet. I want to make sure I maximize the leverage I have when negotiating better terms.
Wireless carriers are desperate to retain their customers and look to using legal contracts to prevent them from jumping ship to another carrier. My advice is to initially resist the temptation to accept any of the free phone deals, upgrades or whatever extra minutes they offer, because once you accept, you automatically agree to a new contract extension. Wait until your contract is fully expired before you negotiate - you'll have a lot more leverage with these wireless companies once your contract is up. At that time, you have the option at your disposal to leave and go to another provider without a termination fee - their nightmare scenario.
So, wait till your wireless contract is up, and then ask for any and all upgrades you want in addition to a new phone at zero cost. Currently Verizon Wireless only advertises a measly "New Every Two" year phone upgrade that only provides a paltry $50 or $100 good towards a new phone. In my opinion, that's not good enough - so be sure to demand more minutes, more functions (like internet access), and a new phone for free. They will happily oblige but just remember, you'll be signing a new contract with them for another year or two in the process, but at least you'll know you truly maximized your options.