MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When the cell phone bill arrives each month, do you just open it, cringe at the fees and send in the payment?
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Hey, maybe I could negotiate?”
Well if you’re upset about cell phone fees, speaking up could save you big bucks. So, exactly how much can you haggle with your provider?
Experts are dialed in on the ways to keep money in your pocket.
When Mimi Sun was due for an upgrade and got a newer model iPhone, she was shocked to see her carrier tacked an “upgrade fee” onto her bill.
“I definitely was like, ‘What? I’m not paying so much money.’ And, I was staying with the same carrier, it’s not like I’m changing anything,” said Sun.
An upgrade fee, when you’re already paying for the new phone is the latest example of a “one time” charge some cell phone companies “ding” consumers with.
This analysis of the four major U.S. carriers, by cheapism.com, found they can put a dent your wallet of up to $36.
“The advertised price is never the true price. If you look at the small print it says plus fees and taxes. That can add anywhere from 17 up to 24 percent on top of the bill,” said Louis DeNicola of cheapism.com.
Experts says if you’re fed up, speak up because carriers have gotten competitive when it comes to fees.
“Everyone in the United States that wants a cell phone has a cell phone. So they have to find a way to differentiate themselves and the easiest way to do that is price,” said telecommunications expert Michael Bremmer.
That’s what Sun found after a quick call to customer service, reminding them she’s been a long time customer.
“I said, ‘As a courtesy, can you take that off?’ And they said ‘Yeah, sure no problem,'” said Sun.
There could also be other fees that may not be a problem to negotiate off a bill but if the money is going to Uncle Sam in taxes or government imposed fees, forget it.
And those monthly administrative or regulatory fees, which range from twenty-one cents to about 2.50 a line, probably not.
But what about those hefty fees for going over your limit on your voice, text, or data plan or for roaming internationally?
“It didn’t really cross my mind, thinking about my cell phone plan,” said Sun.
With no international plan while vacationing in the Dominican Republic, Joshua Fuentes got quite a surprise when he returned back to the U.S. – a $2,000 phone bill.
Experts said if you’ve been a good customer and don’t usually go over your plan.
“Call into customer care and ask to have those fees waived. The worst they can say is no,” said Fuentes.
Luckily his carrier said yes when he called and he said they reduced his bill 90%. Now he highly recommends speaking up versus immediately paying up.
“I was happy that I called and negotiated the prices because the price they originally gave me, there’s no way I could pay it,” said Fuentes.
Early termination fees and late fees are also charges experts say you can try to negotiate.