Thursday, March 15, 2007

MARCH 15, 2007

Well, the Bottom 3 turned out to be hard to predict, but we did get the elimination right. It was Brandon Rogers who went home last night, and he wasn't surprised about it. We talked with JD Roberto from American Idol Extra on the Fox Reality Channel who will be joining us every Thursday of the season. He said Brandon knew when he forgot his words, and went first, that he was toast. Yet, he was excited about his Idol experience. If you missed it, Phil Stacey and Sanjaya Malakar joined Brandon in the Bottom 3. Coming up, next week's theme is rumored to be British Invasion week. Yikes!

The Consumerist website reached out to jaded ex-employees of the four biggest cell providers... Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and Cingular. . . to get insider secrets on how to BEAT the cell companies. Here are some of the highlights:

*Never get a two year contract. It just saves you $50 on your phone. Get a one-year contract. . . and then you can get out earlier. . . or upgrade your phone after 10 months.

*Get 25% off a new phone, even under contract. Just say your phone was lost or stolen and you get that discount.

*Know what the reps get paid for. The sales reps make commissions for selling things like accessories, extra lines and text messaging packages. So, play hardball: Say you'll get a text package. . . if they knock an extra $50 off the phone. Most of them will. Then. . . you can always call Verizon and cancel the text package.

*Shop at the end of the month. T-Mobile sales reps have a quota system. So at the end of the month, they'll give you big discounts and free accessories to hit their numbers.

*They'll price-match. . . if you ask. The company has an unadvertised price-matching policy: If you see an ad where their phone is being sold at cheaper prices than the ones in the store, they'll match. You can even get the match up to a month after you buy a phone.

*Upgrade over the phone. The sales reps at the store don't get paid much if you upgrade your phone. When you call in, and threaten to switch providers, the customer care reps DO get paid to keep you as a customer. . . so they'll give you better deals on upgrades.

*Get credit if you make a mistake. If you go over your text message limit one month, go into the store and ask them to credit the difference if you sign up for a bigger texting package. They'll almost always do it.

*Change your rate plan in the store. Over the phone, you'll have to wait until half of your contract is up to change your plan. They don't enforce that in the store.

*Get a bigger plan, and upgrade more often. Want to get an iPhone when they come out??? Sign up for a bigger cell plan, around $75-a-month or more. With a plan that big, you can upgrade your phone halfway through your contract.

*Get the employee referral offer. Sprint gives employees' friends and family members BIG discounts. What to do: Go to the store, and get a sales rep's card. Then go to the Sprint employee referral website, punch in the guy's e-mail. . . and get the deal. (

*Get a discount for working at a big company. Sprint has deals with a lot of major corporations. . . for example, Chase bank employees get 28% off their BILL. . . not off the phone, off their bill.

*At the store, you can say you work for a major company and get the discount. . . they don't ask for proof that you do.