Loyalty Could Save You £270!
Existing customers can often feel ripped-off by mobile phone providers looking to snare new customers. Here's how you can make loyalty pay...
The phrase `brand new customers only' probably conjures up images of a familiar TV advert, aimed to annoy and amuse us in equal measure.
The advert of course is Nationwide's, but the message -- however annoying, remains a pretty universal one. Banks and other businesses often bend over backwards to get new customers, only to leave existing ones firmly in the shadows.
And, when it comes to mobile phones, things are no different. Take my current deal for example, where my loyalty was allegedly rewarded with 200 minutes and 200 texts for 'only' £15 a month. Not bad you might think, but just today I looked online to find a new deal with the same provider would get me 350 minutes and 650 texts for the same price.
With another ten months to go on my contract before I can potentially switch deals, I do sometimes feel like I have the word `mug' stamped on my forehead...(now you know why I grew a fringe).
In fact, there's often not much you can do as an existing customer tied into a 12, 18 or even 24 month contract. In some cases, it can even get to the point where you have to threaten to switch providers to get something comparable to what a new customer would be offered.
However, all is not lost, and there are some interesting rewards out there for existing customers if you know where to look.
Breathe easy with O2
Take for example O2. If you've been an O2 pay-as-you-go customer for more than three months, or a pay-monthly customer for more than six, you'll qualify for O2 Treats, which are designed to reward your loyalty.
Pay-as-you-go customers could get 40 free picture messages per month or 25% discount on calls to other networks for three months just for sticking with them. You need to have topped up by an average of £10 a month to qualify.
Other than that, it won't cost you anything extra apart from your loyalty. Call 2211 from your O2 mobile to claim your reward.
Dongles on the cheap
However, if you are an existing pay monthly customer with 3, you can get a dongle for as little as £5 a month when you sign an 18 month contract. £5 buys you 1GB of data, which, according to 3 will get you 30 hours of surfing, allow you to send 650 emails and download 60 music tracks and 30 two minute videos.
There are other plans which are also half price for existing customers. This means that you could get 3's top plan, with a data allowance of 15GB for £15 instead of the usual £30, a potential saving of £270 over the 18 month term.
If you're unwilling to tie yourself in for that long, a 12-month contract will get you a free modem as an existing customer, while new customers will have to fork out up to £49.99.
When it comes to landline broadband and loyalty, existing O2 customers are eligible for its highly praised broadband service for just £7.50 a month, saving you £5 off the normal monthly price. This £60 annual saving is available to all pay monthly customers, as well as pay-as-you-go customers who top up by a minimum of £10 every three months.
Plus, if you take out O2 mobile broadband at £20 a month, you can get O2's home broadband service free for a year. Just be aware that at £20 per month, O2 has the most expensive dongle currently on the market, and there are cheaper deals to be had elsewhere.
Alternatively, if you're willing to cut ties with BT altogether, Orange Home Max normally offers unlimited 8 Meg broadband, home line rental, plus free evening and weekend calls, as well as calls to over 30 international countries for £12 a month for the first three months, and £24 thereafter.
However, if you're an existing Orange customer on an 18 or 24 month mobile contract, you can get this service for just £17 a month, a saving of £48 in the first year alone.
In addition, don't forget that you can get 2 for 1 on cinema tickets with Orange Wednesdays, available to all Orange customers at a cost of 35p per text. Not bad if you're looking for a cheap date. Just, er, don't tell your companion that....
When all is said and done, these extras won't mean much to you or your wallet if you fail to shop around. You should think of these as added bonuses for being loyal as opposed to reasons why you should stay with a provider.
If there's a better deal elsewhere, take the plunge and switch, as the plethora of deals for new customers will always outweigh the offers for existing ones. But for now, hopefully these few ideas will make being a loyal customer a little less painful. And as always, more tips from fellow Fools are welcome!