I'm very attached to my mobile.
I've had my Nokia handset for so long that the battery only lasts for about a day now - but it's an old trusted friend and it's never let me down.
Even though it's at least four years old, the little beauty contains an electronic compass, a torch, a thermometer... it even has a spirit level Incorporated into the frame.
The camera's a bit rubbish - and the text memory is tiny - but I got it free with a contract, it's helped me escape from a forest and put up a mean set of DIY shelves, and I'm not getting rid of it yet...
I'm less attached to the bills I receive. Over the years I've negotiated, wrangled and bargained my mobile costs down as much as possible. Here are my cost-cutting tips:
Dodge rip-off insurance
First of all, beware mobile insurance that's sold alongside the phone itself. These policies are often horrendously overpriced and come with a host of ridiculous exclusions. For example, some will only pay out if your phone is 'forcibly removed' from you (rather than, say, just being pick-pocketed from your bag). What's that all about?
Is your handset really valuable enough to spend £70 a year insuring? Often the most annoying part of losing your phone is losing all the numbers in it - and insurance isn't going to guard against that.
If you really want insurance, you'll generally get a much better deal from a stand-alone provider. Alternatively, you could get your phone covered outside the home under the 'personal possessions' section of your home insurance policy - for a fraction of the price.
If you're coming to the end of your contract, you're in an excellent position to bag yourself a better deal. Here's how to go about it:
- Have a look at all the packages on the market - from all the different operators - and decide on the best deal.
- Then call your existing operator and say you want to leave them.
- You'll be directed to a department full of customer service staff desperate to keep your business...
- Then haggle! Ask them to beat the deal you've found - and if they refuse, take your business elsewhere.
The longer you've been with your operator, the better deal you're likely to get (as a 'loyal customer'). I've been with Orange for ten years, and now pay £10 a month for a contract with loads of free any time/any network minutes and texts. If you've heard of any better deals, let me know!
If you're tied into a seemingly endless contract, don't panic. Several operators now allow customers to downgrade while still under contract - often to a 'basic' version of the same plan. Just ask your operator what the options are.
Are you paying for your bill?
I once found I was paying over £1 extra every month, just to have my bill sent to me in a paper, itemised form. I'm sure I was never told about this extra cost, or asked whether I wanted to be billed in this way..
The moral of the story is, open your bills and actually read them! There could be all sorts of nasty extra charges lurking there. I opted for (free) non-itemised billing as soon as I realised I was being charged - but that was after several years of inattention. Doh!
Make money from your old mobile
Why not recycle those old handsets you have knocking about and make some cash to put towards your bill? There are now several companies which specialise in this - check out Environfone or Mopay for starters.