I recently negotiated to get the “Joe Wood Plan” for smartphones extended to my partner’s Telus Mobility account.
Her previous phone was a BlackBerry Tour — essentially an old trackball Bold with a better camera. She got her phone for free on a one-year contract and paid $62 a month all-in for (what I think was) an overpriced package. But, mercifully, her Telus contract came up for renewal in September.
My partner was willing to renew, but she wanted a better deal and a better phone. She called a few times but the folks at Telus just wouldn’t do much for her. They offered her the new BlackBerry Bold 9900 for $100 (plus HST) — the exact same price I paid over a year ago for mine — on a three-year contract. The insulting part was that they wanted her to sign up again for the same overpriced plan.
My partner did the only thing she could in the face of an obstinate, overzealous, under-delivering salesperson: she cancelled her account, effective the end of October. I was proud of her for remembering her BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement), which was to simply walk away. A nice cellphone is useful and convenient, but it’s a luxury. Her plan was to buy a cheap pay-as-you-go and chat with her Mom on Skype.
Here’s the problem: I like my partner having a BlackBerry. It’s convenient. We can schedule reminders for each other and maintain our shopping list “in the cloud”. These sorts of conveniences feed my delusion that I have a personal assistant. And she’s way better than Siri.
To resolve her impending BlackBerry-lessness, I channeled my inner-Ellen Roseman and stepped up. My partner agreed that, if I could get her the same plan that I have, she would take it.
I’ve talked about my own cell phone plan before. I use a BlackBerry Bold 9900 that I bought last September for $113. In case you forgot, here’s my plan:
- 200 minutes local with unlimited evenings (after 6pm) and weekends
- 100 minutes long distance
- “My10″ unlimited calling to 10 pre-registered numbers anywhere in Canada
- 1 gigabyte of data (I watch YouTube videos on-the-road and still come nowhere near 1 gig, thanks to BlackBerry’s superior compression technology)
- Unlimited text
- Call display
- Voice mail
It costs me $50 a month, or $56.25 after Ontario’s egregious 13% sales tax. Telus has told me that my plan doesn’t exist as a formal bundle. It’s a grandfathered promotional plan for Saskatchewan customers with a couple “loyalty” add-ons. In my mind, this means that I should get to call it whatever I want. And so it’s the Joe Wood Plan.
The lifetime cost of my partner’s plan is approximately $2138 inclusive ($713 per year or $59.38 a month). By negotiating the new plan, I saved her over $200 while significantly improving her included features. These features will hopefully ensure that she never “goes over” on her bill.
As I’ve discussed before, always look at the life-cycle cost of your phone plan. A $5 charge doesn’t seem like a lot until you multiply it by 36 months and realize you’re wasting over $200, including sales tax. Then consider the fact that you, like most average schmucks, are paying your bill with after-tax dollars. Unless you’re able to deduct a reasonable portion of the monthly bill as a business expense. Am I willing to pay $713 a year for phone service? The phone is great, the plan meets all of my needs, and having the service improves my life significantly. In short, yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody. Use inclusive life-cycle costing to support your own fair evaluation.
If you’re a Canadian renewing your cell phone in the next few months, then definitely make sure that you get the same or better, regardless of who you’re with.
Are you with Telus? Why not call up, as a loyal customer, and politely ask for the “Joe Wood Plan”?
By the way, Telus, if you officially create the “Joe Wood Plan”, I won’t require any royalty payments. In fact, I’ll endorse it for free.