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Cell phone deposits

OrganichuOrganichu poopspeesRegistered User, Moderator mod
edited September 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
2 years ago I was really stupid (having just turned 18) and I went kind of nutty with credit/contracts etc. Unfortunately, amongst other things, I defaulted on a Cingular bill.

I soon learned my lesson and became fastidious w.r.t payments. Furthermore, I summarily paid all of my past debts. Now my credit score shows no ill marks, I have two healthy credit cards, and I haven't missed a payment on anything in my name in 18 months.

The thing is, all the major providers (AT&T, TMobile, Sprint, Verizon) are now telling me that I need a significant (ranging from $500-$1,000 depending upon the carrier) deposit in order to acquire a new contract. I have proof of my payment to collections, and they run my credit (which will show them the lack of any new blemishes) but they don't want to hear it. I can't really blame them but it is quite frustrating. I haven't been delinquent in over a year and a half.

Is there any way for me to do this? If not, I guess I'll head over to HowardForums and start looking at Prepaid rates.:P

Organichu on


  • JAEFJAEF Unstoppably Bald Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    With such a short credit history and a default on payment specifically on the bill of a cell phone company (which factors in very largely, obviously, on their credit checks,) you're going to be hosed with the major carriers through postpay. Start looking at your prepay options or check with any cheapo local carriers you have in your area.

    Honestly if you just want a phone for calls and texts and you won't use it too often, prepay's not really all that bad.

    JAEF on
  • AresProphetAresProphet Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Cell phone companies do not forgive easily. Once you've defaulted on a payment to one of them, you're a risk no matter if that's the only thing you messed up. Your actual credit score and history matters less than how well you've paid your previous cell phone bills. Cingular was still slapping $750 deposits on people who'd cancelled an (old) AT&T account 6 years ago with a balance of $50 that never got paid. I saw this a few times working there.

    You have two options. The first is to get a prepaid phone (not viable for a lot of people, I know) and simply wait, and keep checking every so often (wait at least 90 days between having cell phone companies check your credit, or they'll reuse the old info) to see what happens. You may be waiting a very long time, however. Prepaid in the US sucks for the most part, unless you're someone in an area that a cut-rate local prepaid carrier has good coverage in, but you'll be stuck with a shitty phone. AT&T's prepaid lets you use nice phones, but you'll pay through the nose for minutes and especially data.

    The other is to check a carrier's policy on deposits, read every little word of fine print that tells you what you have to do to get it back and after how long, and just pay the deposit. In most cases it's 12 months without a late payment, and then you call them and it takes them another 3-6 months to finally get it back to you. This sucks hard, but once you've done this you're on the list as a "good customer" for that carrier, and they'll give you extra lines or whatever without blinking an eye. You'll typically have the money back before the contract is up, at least.

    Have you checked to see if you qualify for T-Mobile's T-class or Q-class credit? You pay a higher activation fee and can only get one line (and can't get the super-high minute plans) but other than that it's a standard contract that you can get all the features with. It's usually a $75 (instead of $35) activation, and the phone sometimes runs up to $50-$100 more, but after being on T-class for a year you're considered a "normal" customer. They may have changed that since going to 2-year contracts though.

    You can try going into a store and asking how this stuff works now (I only know how it worked 2 years ago) but it's entirely possible you'll run into somebody not above lying to you about deposit policies. Be careful, if you do.

    AresProphet on
  • OrganichuOrganichu poops peesRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2007
    Thanks for the oodles of information, guys.

    JAEF: If I do need to go prepaid (which isn't something I'd be loathe to do, just something I'd be unhappy to do... I don't really use data, and I use fewer than 50 SMS/MMS a month) I'd prefer to go for a GSM service since I already have a nice unlocked phone. I wouldn't be opposed to going CDMA if they'd allow me to get a phone of my choice, $ not being an issue.

    AresProphet: thanks a ton for all that. :) I didn't think to inquire about any special programs. If I'm going to have to wait 90 days, though, I think I'd prefer to just get prepaid.

    Organichu on
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