About a month ago I was installing a new dishwasher and I was using Tag’s cell phone as a flashlight. Being the handyman that I am, I got water all over the place and it destroyed Tag’s phone.

We had been talking about getting on the same cell phone plan for a while, and my little mistake made “someday” become “today”.

I had dropped my phone in the toilet a few weeks earlier (oops) so we both needed new cell phones at that point. We decided to spend a Saturday shopping around for new phones at the four big companies: AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon.

Four Companies, Four Options

Our first stop was at AT&T and they were offering a promotion for buy one Galaxy S3, get a second for $100 off. We weren’t thrilled about the plans, but we had our first option.

Next we went to Sprint. They had a little bit cheaper plans but didn’t have the phones we wanted at the right price.

Third we went to T-Mobile. At this point we had the brochures from the first two places in our hands and we were comparing the T-Mobile plans to the other two right on the spot. We didn’t like what T-Mobile had to say but they did offer us a $50 discount if we signed a contract that day. They knew we were shopping around and they wanted to stop us from looking elsewhere. Of course we still left.

Finally we went to Verizon. Their plan was better than AT&T and about the same as Sprint (after my company’s corporate discount), and they did have the phones we wanted but they weren’t on sale.

Make Them Compete

Instead of just picking the best option and going with it, we wanted it all. We liked Verizon the best but we didn’t like paying full price for two phones.

competition

photo credit: Paolo Camera

We told them that if they could match the AT&T promotion ($100 off) then we would probably choose to go with them. The salesman said he’d have to talk to his manager.

We left to think things over and the Verizon salesman called me back and said they wanted our business and they were going to match the AT&T promotion.

We saved $100 just like that.

Competition is Good for YOU

I guarantee if we had just gone to Verizon and said we wanted two phones that they wouldn’t have even considered giving us a deal. They don’t make money by handing out deals when they don’t have to.

The only reason they gave us the deal is because we asked for it and we were willing to go elsewhere if they didn’t match it.

Don’t be afraid to let companies know that they need to compete for your business. I used to think it was an insult to tell one company that you are also considering another. Now I’ve realized it’s just honesty and it’s good business.

Companies know they are in competition for your business, and they all want to win. If you give them a path to the finish line (give me this and I’ll pick you) then there’s a good chance you’re going to get it.

Readers: How have you pitted one company against another to save yourself money?