Friday, January 13, 2012

Month-by-Month Phone Plans

Yesterday, I added my girlfriend to my MetroPCS family plan. It saved both of us money on our monthly cell phone bill!

I'd been getting promotional notifications from MetroPCS for about a month -- add up to 3 more lines to your plan and pay $100! My individual cell phone plan was $50 (plus a few bucks for insurance; I pay $55 or $56 monthly), and hers was more, so purely from a budgetary perspective, it made sense to add her to my account. I'd been nudging her about it for a couple of weeks, and she's agreed that it was a good idea. Thing was, both of us had to be available at the same time, together, during business hours. This rarely happens. But yesterday I was home from work, and she came back from a meeting, and then her Blackberry died. So I asked her if she wanted to head to the store!

Now, this is why I love MetroPCS: there's no contract. There's no specific number of minutes I'm buying, like a lot of prepaid plans. (But you can do that if you want to.) I pay a flat fee, the same every month, and I get unlimited texts, unlimited calls, unlimited data. If I want a new phone (which I don't, more than once in 3 years or so, when mine breaks), I get a new phone. If I needed to cut back but want to keep my account active, I could drop to a lower-priced plan (I haven't done it in the 5 years I've been with Metro). If I wanted to switch to a different provider, I could do that -- no fees for breaking a contract. It's kind of awesome.

On the downside, sometimes I have to go into a MetroPCS store, and deal with staff. And I just don't think that's very fun. I generally know what I want, and would like to have it done for a minimum of time and expense. if I'm not sure what I want, I appreciate clear explanation of my options. And then I'd like the staffer to follow up on that. In the store, I always feel like I'm left staring at the wall while they enter information into a computer, punch buttons on my phone, and don't explain what they're doing or -- at the end -- what's been done. So that's not so great. But, yeah, that happens once a year, max. I pay my bill each month online, for free, and don't have to deal with people.

One useful thing that dealing with a person yesterday got me was a lower bill. Back in the day, I'd signed up for the $50 plan so I could get email on my phone. The guy behind the counter pointed out that my phone wasn't a smartphone (although it does have web browser access), so if I went down to the $40 plan, I would get almost everything I'd been using (minus direct email and the MetroNavigator GPS system) -- and that if I had two lines on a family plan, we'd only pay $70/month. Well, okay, downsell me. I went from $55/month to $35/month in 5 minutes.

My sweetie got a new phone, very similar to mine (a newer model of the Samsung Freeform) and a new number in our area code. Because her Blackberry was dead (no explanation for that; it just stopped charging), they couldn't port her old phone number to her new phone, or transfer her contacts. :( (ETA: Her Blackberry came back to life! So this may still be possible, with some hoop-jumping at both Metro and her old provider, T-mobile.) The new phone cost $49 up front, but it had a $30 mail-in rebate, so in a little while it will have only cost her $19. That's completely reasonable, in my opinion. And the salesguy tossed in a free case -- she picked a soft shell in a slightly different texture and color than mine. So now we both have little purple QWERTY phones! (Only I can't post a photo of the two of them together... because I'd have to use one of them to take the picture.)

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