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Deal or No Deal: Which Mobile Deals Should You Take?

By Edited Jun 1, 2014 0 0

Get the Best Mobile Phone Deals Available

Given the amount of competition on the UK mobile market, it's no surprise that there are tons of deals available. Everyone from manufacturers to operators to third parties are anxious for you to buy from them, and so offer special discounts to persuade you to purchase. But not all deals are created equal. Today we're talking about the commonest deals offered on the mobile market, and whether or not they're worth taking. So before you end up getting scammed, read on to find out which bargains really are bargains, and which aren't...

Free Texts or Calling Minutes...

A common ploy among mobile operators is to offer free texts or calling minutes when signing up for a contract. Whether or not this is a good deal really depends on you. If you've chosen your calling plan carefully, you'll know how many texts and minutes you need, so those free texts and minutes are pretty unnecessary. They're not going to hurt, of course, but the mistake lies in thinking that you're getting a great deal when really you're not. It's far better to go for a deal offering something that you're actually going to use, than one offering something that you're not going to use.

Free Mobile Phones...

Another common tactic is offering free mobile phones to customers signing mobile contracts. These are called incentive contracts, and tend not to be good deals. Of course the phone that you're getting isn't free at all. Your monthly payment on an incentive contract is higher than on a SIM only contract (a service contract that doesn't come with a phone) even when both contracts are with the same operator and have the same monthly limits for calling minutes, text messages and mobile data. The extra that you pay is basically an instalment payment for the phone that you get. And when you add up all the instalments that you pay over the course of a contract, you'll find that you actually pay more than the retail price of the phone that you receive. If you don't have the money to pay for a phone up front, then an incentive contract might be the only way that you can get the mobile that you need. However, for solid long term savings it's far better to sign a SIM only contract and just buy your own phone.

Free Gifts...

Free gift deals aren't as common as they once were, and are rarely offered by mobile operators these days. Rather they're offered by third party web sites. You have to be extremely careful with free gift offers. What generally happens is that you're promised something nonspecific, such as a flat screen TV. When your TV arrives you find that it's a cheap, obsolete and practically useless device that you don't really need. Occasionally you'll be offered something more specific. If you know the model name and brand name of what you're receiving, then you can check out the specs on your gift to see if it's something that you really want. Don't sign up just to get a free gift that's going to be useless to you, you're not getting a deal at all, and it's really not going to be worth it.

Cash Rebates...

Sometimes cash rebates are offered directly from manufacturers or from mobile operators. These rebates are usually relatively small, but there's nothing wrong in taking them. What's more of a problem is third party web sites that offer cash rebates, since these tend not to be deals at all. What happens is that these web sites are given a commission by mobile operators for every mobile contract that they sell with that operator. In order to persuade you to buy from them, rather than direct from the operator, the site says that if you pay full contract prices they'll give you a cash rebate. They can afford to do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, the rebate amount will be lower than the commission they receive, so even if you end up getting your full rebate the site still makes a profit. Secondly, they rely on the fact that most customers simply don't claim their rebates, which is true. Thirdly, and most importantly, they also rely on the fact that even if you do claim your rebate, you're probably going to forfeit it. The terms and conditions for claiming your rebate will be strict and complicated. The way it usually works is that the site choose a random set of four numbers, say two, six, seven and eleven, and then tells you that you need to send your second mobile bill to the site within five days of receiving it to get a quarter of your rebate, then your sixth, seventh, and so on. Many people forget to do this, many more people don't do it in time. And once you miss one bill, the rest of your rebate is forfeited. These rebate deals just require more time and attention than they're really worth. And even if you do end up qualifying for your entire rebate, it can take a year to get the full amount, since it will be paid in instalments. You're much better off avoiding these deals, and dealing directly with mobile operators.

Mass Market Deals...

Finally, there are the general discounts that you see offered by retailers. These are usually high street electronics retailers who are simply discounting prices. There's nothing wrong with getting a mobile on sale, in fact some people would consider it the smart thing to do. But do be careful about what you're buying. Make sure that it's the model that you want, and not something that you're buying just because it's on sale. Also, make sure that you know the market. If a retailer is starting to offer great deals on a certain model, it may mean that a new version of that phone is about to be released and the retailer is trying to clear shelf space for it. You may or may not want the more up to date version, but at least check first.

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