I Got A Crazy Deal: Samsung Galaxy Skyrocket

AT&T will love this post for sure but you all have to know this is possible. If you don’t ask for anything, you won’t ever get anything.

Last week I posted asking What Would You Do: Should I Get a Smartphone? Thanks to you all I came to the realization that it would be worth the money for me and it could help me be more productive during time in which I’d be doing nothing else. After all, I rarely spend money on myself.

There were only two problems I had to solve in order to get my first smartphone.

The first was my girlfriend. She has wanted a smartphone for months and I have kept telling her that due to her tight budget she couldn’t afford it and they weren’t really worth it anyway. Well now that I’m getting one I can’t exactly say that they aren’t worth it.  Her budget is still too tight to be able to afford one.

This is where Jason from Work Save Live came in to save the day. In the comments on my smartphone post he had a great suggestion and I plan to implement it! I am going to pay for her smartphone data plan for a year for an early present. Since her birthday, our anniversary and Christmas are all 14 days apart we’ll just call it an early present for one of these since they happen all at once.

The second problem I had to solve was the cost of the phone itself. I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the free phones and I wanted to make sure I got what I wanted. I am going to have this phone for at least two years so I might as well get one I’ll love. It came down to choosing between the HTC Vivid and the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket.

I ended up going with the Samsung and it had a $150 price tag which was $100 more than the HTC Vivid. There was also the Samsung Galaxy S II for $100 less but it didn’t have 4G LTE like the Skyrocket and there were a couple other small differences that made me lean toward the Skyrocket. Now that I had decided which phone to get I had to figure out how to get a deal.

I did notice that they had the same phone refurbished for $9.99 online. This seemed like a great deal but they only had black and I wanted white. The warranty on refurbished phones was only 90 days instead of a year on new phones and as this was my first smartphone I really wanted a full year warranty.

I went to every AT&T store in the area, two Targets and Best Buy to see if I could get the phone cheaper than $150. I tried to haggle with all of the sales representatives but they wouldn’t budge. I found it cheaper on Amazon.com but it was still $125. I knew there was one more option but I had to plan my actions out to get the best discount possible.

I Called AT&T

I figured if I could call the cable company and get a discount why wouldn’t it work with AT&T. I knew I had to have my list of reason why I should get a discount on the phone and the price I was targeting in order to have a successful call. I figured since I had nothing to lose I would shoot for the stars and ask for the phone free.

So here were my selling points on why they should give me the phone. First, I was a loyal customer. We have had AT&T cell phones for as long as I can remember. We had them when they were Cingular so it has been at least 8 to 10 years.

Next, my contract had expired. If I wanted to I could take my number and move to Sprint, Verizon, Boost Mobile or any other company I wanted. Verizon also had some free phones I liked so I could use that to my advantage. The Samsung Galaxy S III (the next new Galaxy Phone) is set up come out in the next couple weeks which will likely lower the price of the Skyrocket.

Another thing in my favor was my contract expired a year ago. That was another year that AT&T didn’t have to subsidize a phone for me so I was actually saving them money. They just didn’t have any new phones I wanted and at the time I didn’t want a smartphone so I didn’t upgrade.

Finally, with a smartphone I would be getting a data plan and that would be even more revenue for AT&T. Discounting the phone would pay off for them in the long run. Now that I had my selling points it was time to make the phone call.

How I Pulled It Off

When I called AT&T I spoke with a nice lady but I’m pretty sure she was from a foreign country. She didn’t understand everything I said and spoke with a heavy accent but she was able to get the job done. I told her that I wanted to upgrade my phone to the white Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and that I was really hoping they could get me a better deal on the phone.

It took her a while to figure out which phone I wanted but once she finally got to it she told me it was going to cost $150 plus a $36 upgrade fee. I reiterated the fact that I was a loyal customer and I wasn’t bound by a contract and asked what she could do to keep my as a customer and get me a better deal on the phone. I reminded her that Verizon had some free phones that I like and they weren’t going to charge me a new customer fee like AT&T was trying to pull off with my upgrade fee.

After a long pause of many minutes she came back and said her manager had authorized her to give me a discount of $75 dollars. I thought this was pretty decent but it wasn’t my goal so I went through my list again and told her while I really enjoy being an AT&T customer and that I hoped I could continue to be an AT&T customer. I told her I really needed the absolute best deal possible and asked if she could with her manager again.

Another long pause ensued and she came back to tell me that her manager had relented and she could give me the phone for free AND waive the $36 upgrade fee. I was shocked but really happy. She gathered the rest of the information she needed and my first smartphone should be here in two to three business days. I verified what I thought I was getting and she confirmed it. I had succeeded.

I was surprised that at no point did the representative offer me the refurbished option. I think I would have had a pretty hard time arguing against them giving me a refurbished phone for free.

The key takeaway I’d like you to remember is that you’ll never get anything if you don’t ask for it. In this case, the worst thing that could happen would be that the representative said no and I would have to pay full price for the white version or buy the black version refurbished for $9.99. I can handle some rejection if there aren’t any serious consequences and the benefit ($186 plus tax) clearly outweighed the disadvantages (none).

So, next time you need a phone, call and ask for a discount on the phone. What is the worst that can happen?

I have followed this post up with two more you might like. Check out the Should I Get a Smartphone Update and iPhone 5: How Cell Phone Companies Can Afford to Give You a $450 Discount.

Will you ever try this out? Did you have a similar experience with a cell phone carrier?

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. That’s pretty impressive Lance. I’m glad you decided to get the phone and I think you and your gf are definitely going to enjoy them!

    What a great deal though…I am not sure if I’ll try the tactic but I might. It really comes down to time for me. If I had an hour to haggle then I’ll be down. Who wouldn’t be down to get paid $150 for an hours worth of work?

    • I wasn’t doing much else that day and my mind was fixated on getting a smartphone so if I wasn’t on the phone I’d be looking at them online trying to score a better deal. Turns out 40 minutes was worth it. However if AT&T had US reps I bet it would have been a twenty minute call…

  2. I’m a big fan of asking to see what you can get. Works fairly often. I had ATT waive my upgrade fee, but didn’t think to ask them for a free phone. I’m in the same boat as you with my phone (no contract). When my iPhone dies, I may give this a shot.

    • If you’re planning on going with a newer iPhone I don’t think it’ll work due to AT&T’s contacts with Apple. Apple is very serious with its pricing deals, but if you go with another smartphone best of luck to you. I’d try either way, worst thing they will say is no!

  3. Wow! I didn’t see that coming. Sadly, I think I would have bailed after the $75 rebate. Great job.

    • I thought about it for two seconds but I knew if I didn’t get the new phone for free I would have likely bought the refurbished one for $9.99 even though it wasn’t white or I would have considered the $49.99 HTC Vivid a little more.

  4. Ornella says:

    You know what I really liked about your post? You were prepared with your selling points. You didn’t just ask from a free phone or a discount. You did your homework and then presented your case. That type of technique is awesome from negoitating a higher salary, too!

    Great job and congrats!

  5. Nice work!!! Calling these companies and using a little leverage always seems to do the trick. I also called AT&T and got the “A-List” for free for my wife which basically means she could call the five people she calls everyday for free. Saved us a boat-load on the amount of minutes we needed!

    • I may have to try getting some other discount at a later point but for now I am happy with the discount I got on my phone. It should be here any day now!

  6. I was wondering if you think this happens often or is a rare occurrence. I can’t believe it happens daily. If the staff started to give away to much then they might scale back this kind of help.
    It’s neat you went through one level of help and then busted through another to get an even better deal. It’s awesome, I was never able to push for good deals. I guess I’m to shy.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they did this daily. Overall they’ll still be making money on me over the length of my contract, just less than they would have if I paid $186 for my phone and activation fee. I bet the percentage of their customers that do this is 0.01% so they probably don’t have that much to lose.

  7. This is impressive. Good for you. A few years ago I went through something similar when I negotiated a contract for my own phone. It is amazing the deals you can work with a little effort.

  8. Um, I’m going to try this! I want a smartphone. I finally decided it’s time to come into the 21st century. But I can’t rationalize all the money…good to know! Did you come across any info for boost mobile when you were doing your research? I like their pricing options as far as plans go, but I’m trying to figure out coverage area/roaming rates etc.

    • I did look into boost mobile as their monthly payments are much better (especially if you aren’t on your parents’ family plan) but unfortunately where I live their coverage is spotty and subpar. If their coverage was the same I might have switched.

      • Good to know! It looks like they cover my area, but if I ever want to take a road trip… Something to consider for sure. Looks like pre-paid plans have come a long way since I got my first phone…however many years ago…

  9. Well done! Consumers should follow this pattern more often. I don’t but this is to do with being ‘chicken’.

  10. I am a great believer in asking questions. Although you are negotiating, you can keep it very low key by just asking questions. You just have to make sure you ask the right person the question. It helps when it is someone who has the authority to say yes!

    • I also try to sounds like I am working with the customer service rep rather than against them. Making it sound like they can help and we’re on the same side normally helps.

  11. I try negotiating rates and such with companies. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s always worth asking for what you want though. Awesome job!

  12. Excellent use of leverage in your negotiations! The balance of power was sufficiently in your favor this time around.

  13. Ornella says:

    Great post.

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