Am I Getting Scammed with this Mobile Deal?

Mobile deals are ubiquitous nowadays. There’s just so much competition on the market, that everyone from operators to manufacturers and even third parties are forced to offer deals to try and get your custom. If you’re on the lookout for deals on phones or contracts, then you might be wondering how reliable these deals that you’re being offered are. Nobody likes to be scammed, after all. Today we’re talking about the most frequent kinds of deals you encounter on the mobile market, and whether they’re worth taking or not. So before you sign up, read this to make sure that your deal is a good one.

Am I Being Scammed?

Whatever kind of deal it is you’re being offered, the chances are that you’re not being scammed in the traditional sense of the word. Even with so many deals on the internet, true scams are picked up on pretty fast and are closed down. However, are you getting what you sign up for? Not necessarily. There are plenty of deals that whilst they’re not scams, aren’t anywhere near as good as they sound. Most of these deals depend on misinformation, or at least misleading information. They’re not illegal, because if you read the deal carefully enough you’ll find out what you’re getting (or not getting), but the onus is on you to do the research and make sure that it really is as good a deal as it seems…

Incentive Contracts…

A common way that mobile operators lure customers into signing contracts with them is with the promise of a shiny new mobile phone for zero or no money down. These are called incentive contracts. You will get what you’re promised, however incentive contracts don’t tend to be a good deal when you break them down. Basically, your phone isn’t free. The monthly cost of an incentive contract will be higher than the monthly cost of a SIM only contract- that is, a contract that comes without a phone- even when both contracts have the same monthly calling minute, text message and mobile data limits. This extra cost is an instalment that you’re paying on the phone that you get. When you add up all the instalments over the course of your contract, you’ll find that you generally end up paying more than the retail price of the phone that you receive. For some people, an incentive contract is the only way that they can get the mobile that they need. But if you have the cash to buy a phone up front, you certainly should, and then just sign a SIM only contract. You get a far better deal this way.

Free Texts and Other Services…

Another common way that mobile operators lure you into signing contracts is with the promise of free texts or other mobile services added to your contract. This isn’t really going to hurt you, of course, but it’s not really a deal as such. You’re presumably already signing up for the size of calling plan that you need. Those extra texts and calling minutes, or whatever you’re being offered, probably aren’t going to be used. This is a good way of making customers think that they’re getting something for nothing, when in fact you’re probably not going to make use of whatever it is you’re being given. Feel free to accept free services, but don’t think that you’re getting a great deal, since you probably aren’t.

Cash Rebate Deals…

There are a couple of different kinds of cash rebate, or cash back, deals on the market. Sometimes manufacturers or even mobile operators offer cash back. These rebates are generally quite small, and they do represent a good and reliable deal, as long as you remember to claim your rebate. The deals that aren’t so good are those that are offered by third parties. These third parties are generally web sites these days, rather than physical stores. What happens is that the site is offered a commission by the mobile operator for every contract that they sell. But since the contract prices with the site are the same as with the operator, the site wants to dissuade you from signing up directly with the operator and make you go through the site instead. They do this by offering you a cash rebate. The rebate is smaller than the commission they receive, which is one of the reasons that they can afford to offer it, since they’ll still make a profit. But they also rely on the fact that either the customer will fail to apply for their rebate, which many do, or that they will end up forfeiting some or all of their cash back. The process for claiming your rebate will be complicated and strict, and failing to abide by the conditions in a timely manner will result in your claim becoming invalid. What generally happens is that you are required to send certain bills to the site in order to claim a percentage of your rebate.

So, for example, you must send your third mobile bill within five days of receiving it to claim twenty per cent of the money owed to you. It’s generally a random assortment of bills that the site requires, rather than sequential bills or every even numbered bill, making it even harder for the customer to remember to send the bill on time. Send a bill late or fail to send on, and the rest of your rebate is forfeited. With good organisation and an eye for detail it may be possible to get your full rebate, though it will probably take you around a year to get the complete amount. This is why these deals aren’t technically scams, and haven’t been removed from the internet. However, these deals do tend to be far more time intensive and trouble than they’re worth. You’re far better off dealing directly with mobile operators to get a contract, rather than going through third parties.

 Sam Jones‘s son wanted to be sure that his phone deal gave him plenty of href="">free texts.  Checking online using uSwitch and similar sites meant that he could be sure he was getting a good deal.

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