In A Tight Spot, A Prepaid Phone Can Replace A Broken One

Reader Brandi’s expensive T-Mobile Dash broke after only 7 months, leaving her phoneless and sad. The T-Mobile store was unhelpful — as she’d already used her phone discount to buy the now-broken Dash. What to do?

Brandi says:

Recently my expensive T-Mobile Dash broke after only 7 months of use. I had to get another phone, so I went to my local T-Mobile store and browsed their selection, but was told I would only be able to get a “partial” discount on the price of a phone because I had gotten a discount several months before that, and you only get the full phone discount once every 22 months. Even with the meager discount they offered, the price of a new phone would have set me back at least $90 for all but the least expensive phone that was a little too basic for me.

I left and went and read some information online and found out that you can buy a packaged t-mobile phone that is sold as a “pre-paid” phone and simply insert your SIM car and have it work like any other phone. They had one model available with a camera (which was my only requirement) and I purchased it for $55.

When the salesperson was ringing me up, she started trying to set up the phone. I told her not to worry about it because I wasn’t going to be using it as a pre-paid phone, but I was going to put my own SIM card in there. She got really quiet and sad that she would “have to pretend that I didn’t hear that.”

My guess is that they don’t want it leaking out that you can do that, because even though the phones are cheaper, when they sell a phone as pre-paid, the price for minutes more than makes up for it.

I inserted my SIM card into the phone and it worked perfectly and just like any other new phone I would have purchased.

Don’t worry, Brandi — T-Mobile is still making lots of money having you as a customer — and a happy one at that. We’re sure they won’t begrudge you the use of a prepaid phone.

What do you do when your phone breaks? eBay a used one? Unlock an old model? Does this tip work on other carriers? Share your phone emergency tips in the comments.


Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.