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Calculate savings with Golan Telecom, HOT Mobile, Rami Levy, Home Cellular

Use the No Fryers calculator to find out whether Golan Telecom, Home Cellular, HOT Mobile, or Rami Levy Communications are right for you!

In December 2011, Rami Levy was the first new player to debut.  Now, they have been joined by Home Cellular, HOT Mobile, and Golan Telecom.  Each offer straight-forward pricing, with some including “unlimited” plans.

How do you decide which is best for you and if any are a better deal than what you current have?  We’ll take a look at pricing and other factors which you should take into consideration.

Which is the best price?
Get your last couple of bills together, and figure out what your average use of minutes (all types – in network, other cellular, and landline), SMSs, and internet.  You’ll get your results in just three easy steps!

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that’s not good enough

Last month my annual contracts for my internet finally expired.  But just in case I would forget, HOT and 012 called me about 100 times to try remind me that there are some limited time deals – act now! – that I had to sign up for in order to get a good deal for my next year’s contract.

But getting a deal is never about “acting now” or closing any kind of deal before doing a proper comparison.  So I had to tell the people at HOT and 012 to lay off for a while until I could get all the facts and numbers straight.

After calling a couple of internet providers, I decided that I wanted to pay ₪ 50 NIS for HOT and ₪ 25 a month for 012 (I used to pay ₪ 70 and ₪ 50 respectively).  So I waited for HOT to call back and asked the salesman about the offer.  I was offered the regular sale they had going (₪ 59 a month, one year obligation) and advised strongly to act now because (1) it was less than I was paying now and (2) the salesman was not sure for how long the offer would last.  I tried bargaining him down, but when we reached a stalemate, I suddenly remembered Dave Ramsey’s strategy and decided to give it a try.

“That’s not good enough.”  I said.  “If that is your final offer then I will have to hang up the phone and call Bezeq.”

“Let me speak to my manager” the salesman said.  After waiting for about 30 seconds, the salesman reappeared with another offer of one month free and a year of obligation. 

As a side note, the salesman wanted to begin the free month immediately, even though I already paid full price for this month.  I had to get him to agree to reimburse me for the outstanding amount of the month I already paid for (alternatively we could have started the free month next month – either way, the salesman’s original intent was very deceptive).

Next stop was 012, a much simpler company to deal with.  I called 012 and was offered ₪ 40 a month (one year obligation).  I remembered Dave Ramsey’s line and gave it a shot:

“That’s not good enough.”

She spoke to a manager and I was immediately offered one mofree month

“That’s still not good enough.”

 She spoke to a manager again and got me a second free month.

“That’s not good enough.”

“Sir,” she finally answered, “how much do you want to pay?”

“I want to pay ₪ 30 a month and get 2 free months (average of ₪ 25).

So after speaking to a manager, she came back with a final offer of ₪ 25 a month, with one free month (average ₪ 23 a month).  It’s cute how some companies do not use math when they negotiate.

A look at my saving using the “that’s not good enough” approach:

Previous internet price: ₪ 120 a month for HOT and 012 combined

Offered price: ₪ 99 (₪ 59 from HOT, ₪ 40 from 012): A savings of ₪ 21 x 12 months = ₪ 252

Bargained price: ₪ 77 (average of 54 from HOT and 23 from 012):  An additional savings of ₪ 22 per month x 12 months = ₪ 264

Total savings:  ₪ 516

responsibility by default vs. laziness


Last week I stopped a pickpocketer from stealing ₪ 100 in my wallet, or at least that’s how I felt.

The culprit was my old friend Orange.  When I received my monthly cell phone bill, I noticed that I was charged ₪ 98 for various repairs on my cell phone.  I called up customer service and asked for an explanation.  Apparently, when I brought in my cell phone to be fixed a few weeks ago (battery was dying too quickly and they changed the front panel), I was charged ₪ 98 for the service.  This came as a shock to me because (1) I had the exact same repair done a year beforehand and it was covered under the maintenance fee I pay every month (2) I asked the guy if it was under maintenance at the time of the repair and was told “yes” and (3) I was never told I would owe any money – if I owed money for the repair, shouldn’t I have been told either at the time of the repair or at least when I received the item after the repair?

So I was sent so another department for some answers.  According to Orange (1) the rules of what is covered by maintenance changed sometime over the past year and (2) they have the right to charge me up to ₪ 100 for a repair even without my consent (they claimed that when dropping off a phone to be repaired one must sign a consent form allowing them to do so.)

The ₪ 100 policy is an interesting one.  They should be calling me and getting permission to do a service that charges me money. But they changed the default and in doing so changed the game.  Instead of making themselves responsible to ask to take my money, they make me responsible to make sure they don’t take money (and in this case, don’t even allow me that right).  And less you think this is a semantic policy change, changing the default position is a powerful tool that can have dramatic effects.

In one of his trademark style articles, Freakonomist Stephen Dubner discusses why similar countries have dramatically different levels of organ donation:

…take the following pairs of countries: Denmark and Sweden; the Netherlands and Belgium; Austria and Germany; and (depending on your individual perspective) France and the U.K. These are countries that we usually think of as rather similar in terms of culture, religion, etc., yet their levels of organ donations are very different.

So, what could explain these differences? It turns out that it is the design of the form at the D.M.V. In countries where the form is set as “opt-in” (check this box if you want to participate in the organ donation program) people do not check the box and as a consequence they do not become a part of the program. In countries where the form is set as “opt-out” (check this box if you don’t want to participate in the organ donation program) people also do not check the box and are automatically enrolled in the program. In both cases large proportions of people simply adopt the default option.

Establishing a new default changes the game and puts the burden of decision and responsibility on the other party.  It says “this is how things are – and if you don’t like it then you’re going to have to do something to change it.”  It hopes for laziness and in the case of a challenge, ensures home field advantage.

Getting back to my battle with Orange – I argued my case with customer service rep after customer service rep.  At a certain point in the conversation I would be told, “listen, I can only inform you of the decision; I have no power to change it,” to which I would respond, “then why are we wasting each other’s time – please put me through to your boss or someone who does have the power to change it.  And after speaking to 3 customer service reps and a manager, I finally realized how to beat them.  I had to change the game back.

“I never signed any paper saying I work fork over ₪ 100”, I said.  “And by law, you have to keep your financial records for 7 years.  So either find the document you claim I signed saying I allow you to take ₪ 100 for the repair or give me back my money.”  “We will look into it,” I was assured.

I got a call the next day.  “We are sure you signed the document allowing us to take up to ₪ 100 for a repair, otherwise the Orange representative would not have taken your phone in to be fixed.  Nonetheless, we don’t want to go search through all of our archives, so we are going to return your money, but just this once.”

Game. Set. Match.

the secret of unattached negotiation

don’t renew – reevaluate and renegotiate

I recently looked over my cell phone bill and noticed something strange.  I was paying ₪ 20 for a service I don’t even use.  Back when I got my phone, I was going into the army and then grad school so I signed up for internet on my phone.  But now that I work full time, I only use the internet when I am bored on a long bus ride and forget to bring a book.  So I am paying ₪ 20 to not be bored about twice a month for 10 minutes.  I promptly called orange and canceled my internet service on my cell phone.

Looking over your monthly fees can potentially save you a bundle.  When the internet subscription runs out, providers are quick to get you to renew your service with a brand new contract and fail to present the best deal.  Last June I was called by a provider and was told that if I would sign for 18 months I would get a special price.  I told them I was willing to do it if the length of the contract was less and they agreed.  At my work place, I ordered a newspaper for the office and brought a subscription to Yediot down by around ₪ 400 by bargaining.

The point is that when you have the option to renegotiate your contract, you have a golden opportunity to cut your expenses.  That is why providers try to sign customers on for long term contracts.  Once a year or so when a subscription expires, try negotiating; you’ll be thrilled by the results.

Please Note the Following:  During the next week, there is a golden opportunity for anyone who as HOT of Yes television service.  Read this article from the Jerusalem Post and see how, because of a channel that was recently canceled, subscribers can renegotiate their contracts or leave within the next few days. Good Luck.

PS – for some negotiating tips, learn how to bargain like an Israeli

bargain like an Israeli

Have you ever noticed how Israelis get fantastic prices for items while we Americans are stuck paying through the nose?  It’s because we don’t know how to bargain.  Bargaining was the one skill that I can certainly say made me more Israeli.  But in order to bargain, some ground rules have to be made:

1 – You bargain before you make the decision to buy, not after.  An American likes an item, decides to buy it and then asks for a discount.  Why would the seller realistically give you a discount?  You’re going to buy it anyways!  The Israeli, on the other hand, looks at the item and says “maybe I’ll buy it…and maybe I won’t.”  Now the seller will go down much more in price – he wants to make this sale happen.

2 – Have an idea of how much you’re willing to pay before you look at the price tag.  You can look at some other items to see if your willingness to pay price is reasonable, but don’t let a single price tag dictate a price to you.

3 – The more alternatives, the more room to bargain.  In Petah Tikvah (where I live) there are dozens of shoe makers.  I clearly have my favorite, but I let him know that I am ready to take my business elsewhere if he won’t match the price I want.  On the other hand, there are only so many stores with English books, so my power is limited there.  In fact, if I want a book, I’d prefer to wait until the next time I go to Jerusalem in order to gain back my bargaining power.

4 – Don’t get sucked in by standard bargaining tricks.  Negotiators teach you that by drawing someone in for a longer conversation, making the sale sound personal, and a slew of other techniques, you can “win” a negotiation.  If you’re not comfortable with the techniques the other guy is using, make up an excuse and leave.

5 – Never buy under pressure.  In Israel, there is no such thing as a one day sale.  Trust me, the item can be bought another day and another time.

6 – Be nice, but firm and strong.  Whining will not get you anything, and yelling at the poor guy will probably just make him say “to heck with the sale”.  Have a spine, but be respectful.

7 – Bargain with more than money.  Remind the owner that you are a potential repeat customer.  If he demands a certain price to fix your shoes, tell him to throw in a pair of laces.  Buying a suit?  Tell him to throw in a tie.

8 – You can bargain almost anywhere: This is Israel – you can bargain at stands in the streets, at stores in the mall and nearly everywhere in between.

9 – Just ask.  Even if you’re violating all the rules I put above, there is logic in asking for a discount.  It is bargaining goodwill for money.  Storekeepers usually over inflate their prices anyways and are willing to trade it for the goodwill generated by “giving” a discount in order to have you leave with a smile and a story (“you wouldn’t believe how easily I got this metziah and such-and-such a store.”)