Is This Contract a Rip Off? The Guide

Nobody wants to get scammed. But with so many deals and bargains being offered on the mobile market, both for phones and for contracts, it can be tough to know what exactly you're dealing with. We all know that you doing get anything for free these days, but sometimes a deal just looks so tempting. Today we're giving you our verdict on some of the most common mobile deals that you see. So if you want to know if that deal you're looking at is really a deal or just a rip off, then keep reading to find out.

Incentive Contracts with Free Phones: Rip Off

Nearly every mobile operator on the market offers incentive contracts. These are calling plans that give you service for your phone as well as a free mobile phone, though occasionally with top end phones you have to pay a small one off payment. In our opinion, these deals are just rip offs. What happens is that you don't get the phone for free, as you may have already guessed. You instead pay for the phone in monthly instalments that are added to your phone bill. You can see exactly how much you're paying for the phone quite easily. Just find a SIM only contract that includes the same calling plan, that is, the same number of calling minutes, text messages and mobile data points with the same operator, and compare the monthly costs on the two contracts. The bad part is that if you add up all the instalments that you're paying on the phone, you end up paying more than the actual retail cost of the device. Okay, if this is the only way that you're going to get a phone that you desperately need you might have to sign the contract. But if you've got the cash go ahead and buy the phone up front and sign a SIM only contract instead, you'll end up saving money.

Free Texts and Other Services: Deal

Another common offering from mobile operators is adding free texts or calling minutes to your contract for signing up. This is a deal in that it's not going to cost you anything, and isn't going to hurt you. However, it's not a great deal. Presumably you're already signing up for a contract that's got a calling plan on it, and that calling plan is going to have a healthy amount of texts and calling minutes included in it already. The chances are that you're just not going to use many, if any, of those free texts and calling minutes that you're getting. The exception is if you're going for a pay as you go plan. Since these plans don't contain any texts or minutes, any free ones that you get are a definite bonus. If you get offered free minutes or texts on a pay as you go plan you should snap them up.

Free Gifts: Deal and Rip Off

You don't see as many free gift offers on the market as you used to. Occasionally operators offer them, but if you're being offered a free gift it's far more likely that it's coming from a web site or other third party. Free gifts tend to be electronics, and whether they're a deal or a rip off really depends on what it is you're being offered. Rarely, although sometimes, you will be offered something very concrete, a gift where you know the exact brand and model of what you're going to get. You'll need to do a little research on the brand and model to make sure that it's something good quality and you'll need to make sure that it's something that you actually want. But you're probably going to be quite safe with a deal like this, and it could well be worth taking. However, the way these deals usually work is that you're offered something quite general, a “LCD screen TV” for example, or a “seven inch tablet.” In these cases almost invariably when your gift arrives you're going to find that it's a low quality, obsolete item that you wouldn't even consider buying. If you don't know exactly what it is that you're getting, and exactly means knowing make and model, then skip free gift offers, they're not going to be worth it.

Cash Rebates: Rip Off

Alright, every now and again you get offered a cash rebate directly from the manufacturer or the operator. These rebates are usually small, and there's nothing wrong with them, they're not a rip off. You just have to remember to fill in the paperwork and claim your money. That's not really what we're talking about here. Here we're talking about the big cash rebate offers you get offered on buying mobiles with contracts, usually found on third party web sites. These offers are nearly always rip offs. These sites are given commissions by operators for selling contracts. The problem is that the sites can't actually change the price of the contract (that's controlled by the operator) so they can't sell it any more cheaply than the operator sells it. If that's the case then you as a customer might as well just deal with the operator and skip the middle man. So to incentivise the contract, the site offers you a cash rebate. There are a couple of reasons that they can do this. Firstly, the rebate is less than the commission they receive, so even if you get your whole rebate the site still makes a profit. But they also bank on the fact that not only will many people fail to claim, but also that many people will fail to meet the conditions. The conditions for claiming your money will be complicated and strict, and chances are that you're going to make a mistake and end up forfeiting your money. Even if you do end up qualifying, you don't get all your cash at once, it's divided into payments and could take a year or more to get. The best plan is to skip these deals, they're too time intensive and troublesome to be worth it.

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