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My Phone Bit the Dust - Another 2-Year Contract??

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash
When Canadians drop their phones in a public toilet and race home to try the rice-trick (and it fails because why would something everybody says works ever work for you!?) they get this compulsive urge to replace the newly coronavirus-ridden device with a brand-spanking new financed phone with a 2-year contract. 

That contract provided a $0 brand new phone... what's not to love?*

It's never zero dollars. You've made a terrible decision.

To give you an idea of how lucrative this cell phone + plan bundling business is, I went ahead and looked at my local mall to see how many stores sell phones and plans. It's a Cadillac Fairview mall so it's quite big with 120 stores (for comparison the Eaton Centre in Toronto is 235 stores and the West Edmonton Mall is 800+). It may (or may not) surprise you that of the 120 locations to be leased, 18 of these locations are betting they can sell you a cell phone + plan, or a whopping 15% of the mall. That's crazy! With retail stores in fancy malls such as this one being known for expensive leases it's no wonder in Canada that selling phones is big business. 

I'm here to tell you why it's a bad idea walking into these locations and why I'm sticking with Public Mobile after my phone decided to hit the bricks.

It was "a good deal" syndrome

People think locking themselves into a contract is a lucrative move on their part because buying the phone outright doesn't make sense. Paying $600-1000+ and then signing up for a provider is dumb, you should've just paired the two and gotten the phone discounted heavily or for free. But that's exactly what you shouldn't do! Choosing Telus or Rogers as a provider is actually the dumb part because they artificially increase their plan prices to subsidize your new phone. To protect their investment, you're typically paying $400 or more to exit this contract within two years. 

There's a better route. The big 3 all offer discount brands with identical network quality for savvy individuals like us who bring their own phone. Such brands as Public Mobile (Telus) or Chatr (Rogers).

** For the sake of simplicity, I only focus on one brand: Public Mobile. I think they're the best and before you ask, no, I am not paid or sponsored for this opinion. I truly think they're the best for the Canadian FIRE community. I have a referral code for them too at the bottom of the article if you're interested in supporting the blog and my mission. Thanks!**

So instead of getting your new phone for $0-200 from the big 3 and buying a clunky and expensive phone plan along with it, try buying an "outdated" or refurbished phone off Amazon / Facebook Marketplace / Kijiji for $150-300. By frontloading the cost of the phone and reducing the cell phone to its bare essentials from Public Mobile will greatly reduce your costs over time. Here's the proof:

Subject X buys a new phone from Best Buy. It costs $200 but it's the newest model out there. I'll admit, it's a damn nice phone, it's got like 8 cameras and other cool shit. 

Next, X gets a phone plan that's $65/month locked in for 2 years, the max allowed. The phone plan isn't much though - its unlimited national evenings and weekends, 500 national minutes for all other times, unlimited international texts, photos and videos, 2.5 GB's of data and call-display. Subject X's transaction then looks like this:
  • Phone: $200
  • Activation Fee + Sim Card: $35
  • Monthly Plan * 24 months: $1560
  • Subtotal: $1795
  • + Ontario HST (13%): $2028.35 or $84.51/month for X's new phone
That is an expensive phone plan to me and if you're thinking $84/month isn't too bad, you need to keep reading. Let's go to our next guinea pig.

Subject Y buys a refurbished Google Pixel 2 XL off of Amazon for $260. I'm being specific about the phone in this case because I want to you to google this "outdated" phone and see how great it still is and to further highlight that nearly all new features added to phones since 2018 are worthless.

Subject Y buys a sim card from Public Mobile and signs up using a referral bonus and stays for two years, just like Subject X. Subject Y doesn't give a shit about referrals so we'll leave that at zero. They get the tried and true $25/month plan with unlimited national calling, unlimited international texts, photos and videos, 1GB of data and call display. Here's how this transactions looks:
  • Phone: $260
  • Sim Card: $10 (there is no activation fee with Public Mobile)
  • Monthly Plan * 12 months (first year): $276 - I took off $2/month as offered by Public Mobile when you sign up with a credit card
  • Monthly Plan * 12 months (second year): $264 - I took off an additional $1/month as offered as a loyalty discount when you stay each year [this is capped at 5 years]
  • Using a Referral Code: -$10
  • Subtotal: $800
  • + Ontario HST (13%): $904 or $37.66/month for Y's new phone
As you can see, Subject X is a typical Canadian sucker and Subject Y is a savvy FIREwalker. Subject Y is saving $46.85/month which is the equivalent to buying Spotify, Netflix and a discount gym membership for FREE. All because you did a bit of homework, exercised patience, got a used phone, and gave up a bit of data you don't need anyways because you would never stream Spotify or Netflix and your local gym has free wifi to use!

When put into this super obvious spotlight it's hard for people to argue against a discount service like Public Mobile. They'll either cry that the network uses 3G (which doesn't matter) or that there isn't enough data. But those are both just fronts to the real reason people won't switch over - it's just slightly harder this way. 

It takes a bit of time to research a phone and pick out a suitable plan - then wait for the sim card and/or phone in the mail. These whiners just want a convenient answer to their immediate problem, regardless of the price. That's why 15% of my local mall is dedicated to these people! If you're a FIREwalker then you've made it your business to optimize your life and downgrading your expectations for what a phone-buying experience should be.. and this will save you $46/month OR MORE. That's what I call a deal.

Thanks for reading! I've written a checklist for switching over to Public Mobile that you can read here. If you're looking for my referral code, it's this: Y4LY99 - Thanks for any patronage you offer :)

Ryan Myricks

You can email me here: (I respond to everybody!)

* Getting a brand new $0 phone with a contract is nearly impossible. At best your new phone is actually 6-8 months old already and it's being pushed for $0 to make room for the new model that just came in. It's that OR you're getting the discount "lite" version of the main model.

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