ACTION LINE: Your ‘term’ contract pays for your...
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Aug 27, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

ACTION LINE: Your ‘term’ contract pays for your cellphone: know what you are paying for

Hamilton Spectator
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Do you have your wires crossed?

Do you think you've just "bought" that nice, new cellphone at a super discounted price and you're only paying for a 24-month service plan?

You are either fooling yourself or you have poor reception.

Or, more likely, you forgot to ask some serious questions when you visited the retail outlet … before you signed on the dotted line.

Let's get some historical perspective here, folks.

Cellphones are BIG business. About as big as it gets these days.

Land phones are dinosaurs.

We've been fielding dozens of complaints at Action Line for years, just about your cellphone service and the assorted "hidden" fees and charges.

What are you actually paying for each month?

If your phone is lost or stolen, what will you owe? What must you pay to get out off that contract before you can enter into a new one for a replacement phone?

The terms are becoming more transparent, but only because telecommunications firms have been dragged through the mud and ordered to play more fairly.

Car leases used to be just as dangerous, before the Ontario government made them more transparent.

And consumers are always the last to know what is going on.

I can guarantee you one thing: Nobody is going to sell you a $700 phone for $200 just because you're sweet and innocent.

It is possible to buy a phone outright and pay for a usage plan.

But that's not common, especially with expensive smartphones.

"About 90 per cent of people choose the term-contract approach," says Bell Canada spokesperson Mark Langton. "You get a phone for a lower price or even no upfront cost and pay (the balance) over the course of the two-year term. The reality is that most new smartphones are as expensive as they are powerful and the term approach does make them more accessible."

You are free to choose any type of service plan that fits your needs. Incoming and outgoing calls, texting, data use … you pick what's best for you.

But each month, you will be paying down the actual cost of that phone.

On my plan, I pay $20 per month off the actual cost of my Samsung 5. Do the math. If you put down $230 and pay off $480 ($20/month for 24 months), you pay for the $700 phone.

Years ago, car leases were vague. Most consumers were never told what interest rate they were paying. They didn't know or even try to negotiate the amount of the monthly payment or the buyback cost at the end of the lease.

But you'll never know if you don't ask.

Most of us learn life's lessons through trial and error and hope we survive. It took me a decade or so to learn about cellphone insurance coverage. Service providers don't go out of their way to tell you about that, do they?

For as little as $7/month, you can be protected against loss or theft. You will still have to pay a deductible (approximately $250), but it's cheaper than breaking your existing contract and entering into a new one.

Your other option?

Buy a cheap phone and pay as you go.

But keep in mind that your cellphone service provider is not giving you a super discount.

Remember who paid $1.3 billion for Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment.

If you have a consumer problem, call 905-526-4665 or email amacrury@thespec.com . Not all calls and letters can be answered.

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(1) Comment

By Hadenoughyet | AUGUST 28, 2014 09:59 AM
Anyone who doesn't already know this isn't smart enough to operate a smart phone..............Common sense dictate all of this. The money to buy the phone has to come from somewhere, I have NEVER EVER seen a corporation give anything away to anyone unless there was an underlying benefit for them. They are NOT in business to loose money or give it away.........
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