Professor Charles Lankau Offers Smart Shopping Tips for Smart Phones

11.21.2012 Article, Faculty News, Retail, Science/Technology

Smart Shopping for Smart Phone Black Friday Bargains
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Whether it’s the Apple iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy x3, many people hope to ring in the holidays with the latest smart phone. Whether that means upgrading a phone for yourself or your spouse or purchasing a first cell phone for your teen, negotiations expert Charles Lankau has tips on how not to bust the budget.

“Smart phones are exciting, and they’re almost a necessity, but plans are expensive,” says Lankau, a professor at Wake Forest University Schools of Business. “We need to be smart phone shoppers, especially during the holidays when the temptation to make a quick decision is high.”

Before buying the newest phone with the latest jingle bells and whistles, Lankau suggests consumers consider how thoughtful planning may make for a happier post-holiday purchase.

Don’t fall in love with the newest technology. One of the best things about the release of a new model smart phone is that the earlier model’s price drops. Consider this option if your teen is prone to losing things.

Stay in the market and do your research. Flexible plans offer variable options for texting, data and minutes. Though contracts often offer a cheaper phone initially, the monthly savings in a flexible contract often make paying for the phone up front the better deal.

Keep your unlimited data plan contract. If you’re in an old contract with unlimited data, stay with it, and renew it every two years. In the early days of data phones, people talked more and used the Internet less. Now, demand has flipped. If your old contract is good for you, keep renewing it and don’t let service reps convince you to switch to a different contract unless you know that you will prefer it and it will be cheaper.

Think about how the phone will be used. Young people text more than talk so a phone with unlimited texting is often more important than unlimited minutes. Look at plans that provide the services that suit your family.

Negotiate. We have more power than we know as consumers. When you let your provider know you’re shopping around, they are often authorized to negotiate deals. Ask the customer service rep if he or she is on commission, and see if you can work together for a win-win outcome.

After you’ve chosen your new phone or upgrade, Lankau suggests you check your monthly bill carefully to fight cramming. Cramming is when external providers add extra charges directly to your cell phone bill. These might appear on the invoice as service fee, service charge, calling plan, or membership. “Fight cramming, especially if you’re in a cell phone contract,” says Lankau. “No contract, no cramming.”

The FCC recommends that every charge, be reviewed for accuracy since crammers often try to go undetected by submitting $2 or $3 charges to thousands of consumers.