The Skills of Negotiation

I went into Southport yesterday and walked past a Phones4U salesman who said he could buy me out of my current mobile phone contract and give me a better one and a new phone. Always looking to save money I went into the shop to discuss it. I told them what my tariff was – £15 a month for 600 minutes and 2000 texts, going down to 300 and 1000 respectively. I told them I used my phone abroad, or planned to with work, which may happen. I said I also had £5 of downloads I used to buy music and also I get free Premier League highlights and goal and news alerts for my football team. She asked me what type of phone I like and how I tend to use it. They went upstairs to discuss it.

Down she comes with a new phone in a box. She unpacks it and puts a SIM in, turning it on to show me what it does. She asked me what I thought of it to which I said it was fine, but thinking it was a bit presumptuous showing me the phone first I told her that the contract was the important bit.

She got out a bit of paper and started writing down the details. 500 minutes and 1000 texts a month. Vodaphone Live for downloads, although she didn’t know how much it was. Ability to use abroad at a flat rate of 75p per call, although that doesn’t really bother me as I’d just claim it on expenses anyway. A function where I could check my usage – big deal.

£40 a month, plus £49.95 for the phone. “Are you interested in that?”


Now how thick do they think I am? Beat my current contract. £40 is not less than £15, even for 200 more minutes which I don’t use anyway. I told them, pointing out the obvious, that it is £25 per month more than I was spending currently. So she got her boss to come out and have a go.

First play was that he’d reduce the monthly tariff to £35. I laughed, saying that it is still more than I pay already.

He told me I was getting more for the money, so I told him that I was getting more I wouldn’t use.

His second bid came in – “I’ll waver the cost of the phone”. I told him that I had no major issues with my current phone, so getting a new one didn’t bother me too much.

Third offer. “We’ll give you £50”. I smiled and asked why they would just give away money. He said it was cause they had to buy me out my contract, which I thought was a given in the deal, not a point to bargain over.

They started telling me about the insurance, which came out as two times more than I pay already. Telling me that they only recommend it for three to five months anyway due to the depreciation of the phone and the fact it would then be “old” didn’t really wash – five months insurance for the same as I pay for a year is again not cheaper than my current deal.

Five moves in and we’d reached desperation. “What can I do to reach a deal with you today?” Well, you have to at least match what I’m currently on. Once they would do that I could talk about the gimmicks such as football highlights.

They reduced the tariff to £17 but didn’t budge on the insurance. It was coming obvious we wouldn’t see eye to eye so I started to wrap things up. He told me that they had some deals they could do but they were only allowed to do a certain number a day and he didn’t want to ring his manager about it then, so feeling not very important I walked out.

The last offer of £17 was about the place they should have started – it was very poor business on their part of they were genuine, which I believe they were, but they really don’t think much of their customers if they act with everyone like that. I just felt a but insulted.

All that said, the amount you can negotiate with them means that when I do come to change my phone I will talk to them again.

I called at JJB on my way home and bought some socks off the gorgeous Emma…

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