How to negotiate a good phone deal w/grandfathered unlimited data plan?
July 2, 2014 12:52 PM   Subscribe

I have an Android phone on Verizon with an unlimited data plan, and I'm looking to upgrade my phone.

I use around a GB a month at most, so I don't really plan to use a large plan. I'd like to get as cheap a monthly deal as possible, and upgrade my phone as well.

Whom should I talk to? This post suggests going straight to customer service, but other than that, I don't really know what works and what doesn't.
posted by Make Way for Ducklings! to Technology (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
When I still had a grandfathered unlimited data plan with Verizon, but was at the point of upgrading, I tried every tier from store clerk to customer service manager, and got nowhere. I even had my mom (who worked in customer service for 20 years and is a gem at getting things we didn't know we wanted) talk to them. And we have a family plan, been in good standing the entire time we've had Verizon, and our plan started when my mom got her first cell phone... late-90s.

What they told me, at every tier, is that they simply are not allowing unlimited data when people upgrade their phone. We had to renew the contract, and when that happens people are forced to switch over to the new pricing system. No exceptions. They're willing to lose business over this, apparently. If you can get somewhere with them... best of luck.
posted by DoubleLune at 1:00 PM on July 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

Wow you must have an older phone than I do. ;) When I went through this dilemma about 2 years ago, I just called Customer Service and said "I want to look at my options. I'd prefer to keep unlimited data, of course." They gently let me down about the unlimited data, but were prepared to offer me a comparably-priced family plan that covered our current usages with room to spare. We have three phones on the plan, and they reviewed with me what our particular usages were. We wound up with a plan that catered to our actual usage habits and that cost almost exactly the same as what we were paying for the previous plan.

All this is on Verizon too, in the US. Their website is really good for usage data and analysis too, and the chatting CSRs online are decently quick typists and better-than-average informed.
posted by carsonb at 1:07 PM on July 2, 2014

If you want to keep your unlimited data, you must buy your phone outright (in the $400-$700 range) and just activate it on your phone line. You don't necessarily need to buy it from Verizon though - you can buy a gently used Verizon model (i.e. or get the right model for Verizon and pay full price on another site like Amazon for a brand new phone.

But it sounds like, with only 1GB of use per month, that you don't really need to keep the unlimited plan. You can probably just upgrade to a standard 2GB plan, pay your $99-$249 subsidized price for your phone, and call it a day. Verizon does have additional "activation" fees that they charge when you upgrade and get a new phone, so you may have some success negotiating for that to be waived.
posted by trivia genius at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just FYI on your data usage. I just recently went from Iphone 4S (3G) with Verizon unlimited data using well under 2gb of data a month. I upgraded and now have a 5s. The first month with the new phone, I have used almost 3gb of data and still have 10 days in my cycle. So your data usage may jump just because you can with a 4G phone.
posted by sandmanwv at 1:15 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You only use about a GB a month now, but how old is your phone? What are it's capabilities? Something that you should think about is feature creep - new features use more data, new networks (4g vs 3g) allow more throughput therefore it's easier to use so you use more. We started using way more data when we went to 4G HD phones becuase it's so much easier to do the bandwidth intense things (youtube, podcasting, etc) and even after trying to pay attention to it our usage has slowly creeped up even more.

But yeah, I think you are hosed on trying to stay with the unlimited and getting a new phone.
posted by Big_B at 1:16 PM on July 2, 2014

Listen to Sandman.

I was doing 2-3 Gb a month with the 4s and my usage has nearly doubled with the 5S now: I can comfortable stream netflix from the gym or the train, and high-quality music from Spotify.

I was in Puerto Rico on vacation back in April and the internet service in our condo was terrible, I managed to hit 12GB on my phone.
posted by Oktober at 1:18 PM on July 2, 2014

Verizon will probably not give it to you. If you're willing to jump ship, T-Mobile and Sprint currently offer unlimited plans. If you're not, but willing pretend you are, I've often found retention departments have significantly more resources that customer service departments, if you know what I mean.
posted by General Malaise at 1:20 PM on July 2, 2014

Listen to Sandman & Oktober. I have two Galaxy Note 2s in my household, each with unlimited data plans.

Back when we had a pair of Droid X2s, we each used about 1.5gb per month. When we upgraded (and bought the phones at full price to preserve the data plans) we each jumped over 10gb per month. Netflix, GPS, Streaming podcasts, Full-size emails... it adds up quickly on these phones.

Verizon wants your unlimited data plan gone. They will offer no concessions for you to preserve it.

My advice is to buy the phones outright (you can find decent used smartphones all over the place), and keep the data.
posted by sandra_s at 1:33 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I bought a Tmobile unlocked Samsung phone for $115 from HSN. Works like a charm, has all the great Samsung UI and I am not locked to anyone. It is slightly smaller in size as compared to Samsung galaxy 4 but other than that, it is great.

Verizon and Spring are CDMA which means you cannot unlock them to take them elsewhere
posted by jellyjam at 2:59 PM on July 2, 2014

Nthing that no one at Verizon will let you keep your unlimited data plan. However, about 3 months ago, I called to deal with upgrading my phone and Verizon gave me their Max 6 GB plan for the cost of the usual 2 GB plan for the next 2 years. I was told they were offering that to people who were losing unlimited deal, so I assume you can ask about something like that.
posted by juliplease at 6:43 PM on July 2, 2014

I had an unlimited data plan on Verizon, and when I wanted to upgrade to a 4G phone in August 2013, I figured I'd have to give it up. But I bought a new phone from Amazon with a contract, paying about the same as I would have if I had gotten it from Verizon directly (not the full no-contract price), activated through their automated process without speaking to anyone at Verizon directly, and somehow I managed to stay on the unlimited data plan.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:03 PM on July 2, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all! I did some more research and now I'm actually looking into just buying a phone off contract. With the new price for 2GB/month and the device upgrade cost it's actually way more competitive than I thought it would be (the math suggests it would pay for itself in half a year after contract, and I'd have the unlimited plan to boot).
posted by Make Way for Ducklings! at 6:56 AM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

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