5 secrets from the mobile-phone trenches

Ever wonder how to break a contract without paying a fee? Or how to stop spam texts? One Verizon Wireless salesman is telling all.

By Aimee Picchi Mar 19, 2013 8:20AM

Customers enter a Verizon Wireless store in New York City on July 23, 2010 (Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Buying a mobile phone means sifting through a dizzying array of options, from the type of phone to the data plan. And with some wireless companies dinged for their customer service, it's not always clear whether you're getting the best advice from the salespeople.

But one anonymous Verizon Wireless (VZ) store manager is telling all to readers at website Reddit, taking questions on topics ranging from his view of the iPhone (bad) to how to break the dreaded contract.

One thing is clear from readers' questions: The wireless market often seems like a confusing morass of obligations, tricks and loopholes. 

Here are five secrets revealed by the store manager, a six-year employee of Verizon Wireless: 

1. How do you get out of your contract without a termination fee? "Only way I know of is if Verizon somehow didn't live up to their end of the arrangement," the manager writes. What would qualify? If the carrier's map shows your house should get coverage but your reception is terrible or nonexistent, you may have a loophole to exit. However, he warns that Verizon might just buy you a $300 service booster to fix the problem. The only other way is to find someone else to pick up your contract. 

2. Why do sales people hate the iPhone? Part of the reason is the salespeople earn "complete crap" in commission, but the manager cites another criticism that has been lobbed at Apple before. "Apple keeps changing things, therefore forcing people to buy new stuff. You would think we would like that at the store level because it increases our accessory sales," he writes. But it's "arrogance on Apple's part."

3. How can you get a new phone while still under contract? The manager encourages people to buy used phones (OK, they're not technically "new"), which consumers often sell on Craigslist when they upgrade for the latest device. Consumers can then go online and activate the phone, or dial *228 on Verizon phones to activate. (That number will also allow you to update your phone's software.)

4. Can you keep your unlimited data plan? One of the much-hated changes at Verizon Wireless is its attempt to eliminate contracts with unlimited data plans. So is there any way to keep that sweet deal when you upgrade to a new phone? Absolutely. But there's a catch: You'll need to buy a phone outright and avoid signing a new contract. (The manager notes that he practices what he preaches, writing, "I've actually maintained my unlimited data package as well just by buying phones outright.")

5. How can you stop spam texts? One tip that works for all carriers is to reply with the word "stop" if it's a spam text that's advertising something, the manager notes. That will unsubscribe your phone from the messages. The FCC also suggests you forward unwanted spam texts to 7726, which will help block future unwanted messages. 

More on moneyNOW

Mar 19, 2013 3:19PM
What 'secrets' were actually revealed here?
Mar 19, 2013 1:03PM
Data plans and 2 year contracts are a scam!
Mar 19, 2013 1:01PM

Get a used phone or keep your phone after contract ends and sign up with a prepaid carrier.  straighttalk, net10, pageplus, etc.  You will save thousands.

Mar 19, 2013 3:07PM

Another useless article that makes common knowledge statements. These are insider secrets? kept from whom? who are the idiots who would read this article and believe they have gained some form of insight. Maybe I should write for msn, I have gotten better information from my shoeshine guy than any of these articles.


Mar 19, 2013 1:15PM
t-mobile are crooks.......$1540 to release me from their "strangle hold"
Mar 19, 2013 3:30PM
#1 is false. You cannot claim that your house doesn't have reception so you should get out for free. They'll say, "we show that you should have reception in that area, we'll do some tweaking (nothing) to see if that helps. Wait 10 days to see if it has improved, and if not, call us back."
10 days and a different rep later: "We show that you should have reception in that area..." (you explain the entire situation AGAIN, and then some) "Ok, we'll send a technician to check out the tower. Wait 10-28 days blah blah blah." Aka: Suck it! We're gonna keep finding excuses to drag you along until you get fed up with us and buy out of contract or deal with us, but you're not getting out for free that easy!

However, there is a way to get out for free, and that's if your carrier changes your contract. For example, when Verizon got rid of their unlimited data plan, you could have kept the unlimited data plan and never upgraded (as some still have to this day), because if you upgrade, you have to take their new plan, or you can call to claim that you "don't agree to the new terms" and because they're the ones changing your contract; you want out and can get out for free. This also works if they increase the total to be paid for your plan. If there is an increase in the monthly plan price, you can again claim that you "don't agree to the new terms" and you can cancel for free because they are the ones ruining the contract you have established with them for two years.

I know this from experience. I dropped T-mobile for free when they nixed the 5 Favs or My favs program, whatever. And I also got out of Verizon for free when the unlimited data plan was dropped. I am now with Sprint and very happy. I haven't come across a way to get out for free with them yet, but then again, I'm not really looking for a way out.
Mar 19, 2013 3:19PM
$55  month no contract unlimited talk, unlimited txt, unlimited data. Works for me. And no complaints. Be with carrier for 4 years.
Mar 19, 2013 11:31PM
I dropped Verizon YEARS ago after they tried to pad my bill for an extra $500.00 2 months in a row telling me the phones that I bought for my family (wife and 3 kids) went over their minutes. Next day I took the kids phones away and locked them in my safe that not even my WIFE has the combo 2 and low and behold another $500.00 over minutes fee added to the next months bill again! I told them to shove the phones AND their contract up you know where and I haven't paid it to this day AND I NEVER WILL !!!!  I've NEVER had a contract phone since and I have a Galaxy II smart phone and I have unlimited DATA and NO CONTRACT !!! Contracts are nothing more than a piss poor excuse for piss poor service !!! Verizon can EAT MY SHORTS...WHEN I'M DONE WITH THEM !!!
Mar 19, 2013 11:16PM
What kind of recommendation is Tip#5?
Never, never, never reply to the text with a STOP request. Spammers knowingly send out massive amounts of unsolicited messages in hopes to find someone responding to their text via the link or sending a stop command.

now the spammers know your line is a live line and will resell this to others.

the writer needs to do better research by actually visiting the MMA or FTC site for the proper guidelines.

One word:Tracfone!  Two words: Save money!
Mar 19, 2013 3:05PM

 I wouldn't give verizon,AT%T,sprint,or any of them the time of day.

Theres ways to buy the phone and not get locked in.

Mar 19, 2013 7:06PM
Switch to TracFone
Greatest plan EVER.

Mar 19, 2013 5:15PM
I don't intend to upgrade any of the 3 devices I have with Verizon right away and they start dropping off contract next month. My choice of phones usually last me 3-4 years anyway. The charges for service seems very HIGH! Will see what else is out there before I do. Altho Verizon does seem to be the most reliable carrier...I have several friends that went with Net10 or Straight Talk and were EXTREMELY unhappy with cell coverage. Trust me, they are NOT nationwide carriers. And the cheaper phones are terrible. They wound up going back to other phones. Anyway I didn't see any real secrets given in this article. Plus I have family that have iPhones and they are nice but don't do what the other phones do with the "locked system" they HAVE to run on.
Mar 19, 2013 7:14PM
Buy a tracfone, it works, it;s cheap, no contract,  great deal.  Use it anytime we travel in our motorhome.  Never text since it's a waste of time.  If you want to talk to someone call them.  It's simple and easy.  Since tracfone uses all other companies cellphone facilities, it works as well as any other major cellphone service provider.  You can own the phone for $10 or $15 and the service costs about $7.00 per month.  Save your money and forget the $200 or $300 cell phone. 
Mar 19, 2013 6:47PM
"Apple keeps changing things"?

Really? Apple's had 6 models in almost 6 years.
Currently almost 4,000 distinct Android models, not to mention Blackberry, Windows, etc..

Look, this isn't an Android/Apple thing - there's some excellent non-iPhone devices out there - but Apple makes one connector change and the moaning can't stop?
Mar 19, 2013 1:04PM

If you want to win at this game, invest!  If you buy Verizon stock from a dscount broker for your 401K retirement, you can WIN  Stock is @ $48.62 share pays a $2.06 share dividend which today is 4.23% on your money.  Wait for stock market pullback and the % will be higher on your money.

As Verizon raises prices, changes plans, profits more, you profit!

Even 25 shares that cost  $1216 pays you $51.50 in tax free dividends. Buy more figure the return.

10 years from now that stock could be worth thousands tax free plus $500-600 in tax free dividends.

Play the game a win.  I bought a utility stock when I was 12 and at 17  sold and bought a small motocycle to take me to school. 

Buy the stuff you use anyway, even if you hate the company if they pay a good dividend and will only grow over the years.

Mar 19, 2013 3:44PM
I have always bought my own phone and used pay per minute plans. I use t-mobile pay as you go. It's 0.10 per minute, but for me it is way cheaper than a contract plan.
Mar 20, 2013 9:47AM

I was in the business for 14 years... and the whole "doesn't work at my house" reason was valid back in 1999 when coverage was sparse. Now you have your 15 days/30 days after activating to know whether it works at your house, after that, you are stuck. If you provide a death certificate, that will end a contract for a family member. I live in Montana and have heard some T-Mobile customers saying they got out of their contracts because there is no T-Mobile coverage here (thus roaming 100% of the time) and they moved here. They had to provide proof of residence (electric bill, etc) but that may work for some smaller carriers- moving to a state with no coverage. Military usually have some flexibility with "suspending" service but not ending a contract.


As far as these "5 secrets".... blah! Pretty much common sense. My cell phone bill is higher than my car payment and that is what society has made of the cell phone carriers. We have given them so much POWER that they can take away Unlimited packages, they can force us to have a data package on smartphones, they can make retail prices so high that insurance is almost mandatory... the only way this will ever change is cell phone carriers lose some of that power and people go to the Straight Talk Smartphones ($45 unlimited everything) or the Net10's, etc. But this will at least take 5 years or so... I will be making this transition myself in the next 9 months... so, we'll see.

Mar 19, 2013 5:50PM
B00st M0bile...Unlimited talk text data and 411 calls for $40 a month...I can not beat that and its on Sprint Network which I am a driver in 12 states and get great reception for all of the midwest...
Mar 19, 2013 7:47PM
This article doesn't  do me any good... I don't have Verizon
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