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How To's
How can Wirefly offer such great deals? Is it a scam? What’s the catch?

Wirefly Learn » How To's

May 14th, 2010


Wirefly has the phone I want for a much better price than anywhere else, what’s the catch? Is Wirefly a scam? How can Wirefly offer so many phones for free? Can I trust Wirefly? Is Wirefly a reputable and safe site to buy cell phones from?

We’re happy that you are doing your homework and taking the time to ask yourself these questions before you buy. You’ve been taught that if something sounds too good to be true, chances are it usually is. Well, in our case, offering unbeatable deals on cell phones is our business — and it’s how we make money. We’re not here to scam you. We’re here to help you … and, yes, make money, while doing so.

Our business is simple. The major carriers (AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint) pay Wirefly a commission to help them acquire new customers, or renew existing customer’s contracts, without taking up the time of in-store store employees.

Wirefly passes much of that commission back to customers in the form of huge discounts on cell phones. The phones that Wirefly sells are the exact same phones you’d purchase at a carrier store or local retailer. They are brand new with full U.S. warranty. In fact, the phones come directly from the carriers. We aren’t allowed to sell anything else. Wirefly is the internet’s #1 authorized agent for cell phones from AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Alltel.

THE CATCH? It’s really simple, actually. You simply need to maintain the carrier contract you agree to for 181 days after your order. The long version of that is:

When you sign up for wireless carrier service through Wirefly, we discount your phone purchase price by an Equipment Discount amount ranging from $200 to $300. By ordering through Wirefly, you agree to repay this discount if, during the 181 days after your new equipment is activated, if you:

* Fail to pay your balance due to your carrier each month
* Disconnect this line of service
* Transfer this equipment to another line of service
* Change your carrier service rate plan to a lower monthly service rate plan
* Deactivate the email/data feature if one was required at the point of purchase
* Transfer/port an existing phone number from another account if this is a new line of service
* Replace an existing account with this account if this is a new line of service
* Return or exchange your phone and it is not in its original, new condition with no more than 30 minutes of usage

If you break any of these contract provisions, except as a result of a documented service quality issue related to the carrier service, you authorize us to charge your credit card in repayment of the Equipment Discount.

We have an outstanding customer service record that we are proud of. We have helped millions of people set up or upgrade their cell phone service, and save money in the process. We offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, with free shipping both ways on returns. Unfortunately, the world of cell phone contracts can be confusing, and confusion can lead to complaints – even accusations that we are running some kind of a scam – particularly when the deals seem too good to be true.

Any confusion is usually related to one of the following:

Credit approval. After we take your order for a new account, we must get approval from the carrier before your phone can be activated and shipped. If you have insufficient credit history, the carrier may reject the order, or ask us to collect additional information. We try to make this clear, but when the carrier rejects the order, the blame sometimes falls on us.

Deposits. Sometimes, based on a credit check, the carrier will approve the order only if we collect a deposit from the customer. Of course, we would rather not have to ask for a deposit. When we do, sometimes we are accused of “bait and switch” tactics.

Upgrade eligibility. We offer upgrades that let current customers get a discount on a new phone when they renew their contracts, provided that they are eligible for an upgrade at the time of order. Sometimes, although the customer is able to place the order on our site, the carrier will report that the customer is not yet eligible for an upgrade. In this case, we will cancel your order and attempt to notify you that you were not yet upgrade-eligible. Of course, you will not be billed for the purchase.

Rebates. Cell phone rebates can be confusing and most people don’t like them. That’s why Wirefly has not offered rebates on any products since 2007. We don’t even offer rebates from the carriers. All of our prices are simple and straightforward. The price you see is the price you pay with no need to wait for a rebate.

The equipment discount. The cell phone that we offer free or at a significant discount may have cost Wirefly several hundred dollars or more. Since we are only able to offer you such great equipment discounts because of our commission-based business model, when you order from Wirefly you agree to be charged the phone’s full cost if the carrier reports to us that you broke your cell phone contract, or if you return a phone and it’s been damaged in some way. This protects both Wirefly and the carriers from fraud, and allows us to continue to offer the great deals we are known for.

Shop Now for Phones from AT&T Wirelesss, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

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252 Responses to “How can Wirefly offer such great deals? Is it a scam? What’s the catch?”

  • Hey guys, I’m wanting to upgrade my verizon phone and I’m eligable. I’m worried about losing my contacts and passwords that I have in my phone now. Samsung stratosphere. Is it easy to transfer info to a new phone or do I have to go a pay to have it done. Tech savvy i am not, thanks”

  • also, does the phone charge me anything other than the .99 cents, when I first order it?

  • Hi,say if I was to order a nokia lumia. do I have to activate the phone right away or when I want too.?

  • I am interested in buying the samsung galaxy note 2 from wirefly but i am wondering how the payment works.. Do i just pay for the phone from wirefly and then my business with wirefly is done? Is my phone bill going to go up any amount? I am not quite sure how this works..

  • David
    May 19, 2012

    I have a Sprint family account with 3 lines. we are not up for an upgrade yet. Can i order a phone and extend my sprint contract or how does this work or not.

    • Hi David,
      You can order phones from Wirefly but they will be very expensive. You would look at the no contract price when looking at Wirefly.com. This would not extent your contract.
      Scott at Wirefly

  • I was told your phone prices are so good because you sell previously owned re-manufactured and resold or refurbished phones and not actual new company phones? I hope I was told wrong, as your prices the lowest I have seen.

    • Hi Wel,
      Wirefly on sells new equipment to our customers. When a phone is returned it goes back to the manufacturer and they handle any refurbishing and reselling of that phone.
      Scott at Wirefly

  • What happens if I buy a prepaid phoen, from say boost or tracphone? I run it for at least 181 days to fulfill my obligation to Wirefly? Thanks! So far, you guys seem outstanding.

    • Hi Elle,
      With our prepaid phones you are not required to keep them for any length of time and there is no penalty for cancelling your service.
      -Scott at Wirefly

  • so i just bought the droid 3 from verizon wireless since i could upgrade. Everything is goo except for the My Tech thing that the sales guy signed me up for. He said that $9.99 a month would be deducted from my card that i used to but the phone with. I don’t want it at all and he said if i didn’t want it, i would need to call them once i get the phone. I don’t want them to charge my card. please help!

  • Hey Bob,

    I want to upgrade both of my parents’ old phones (family plan). One will be upgrading from a non-data phone to a smartphone (samsung stratosphere) and the other to just the Brightside (non-data). How will the activation work? Will Wirefly send the phones and then we take them to a Verizon location to get them activated/transfer contacts? Will the smartphone be upgraded to the data plan already? etc. etc.

    Thanks, and keep those awesome Youtube vids coming!..

    • Hi Zack,
      The activation process will be the same for both of your phones once you receive them. You will receive step by step directions to activate your new phones in the box.

      -Scott at Wirefly

  • Say that i am eligable for an upgrade. My old phone was a lg ally with an unlimited data plan. if i wanted to buy a phone through you guys say the lg spectrum, would i get to keep the unlimited data plan although that phone is 4g? Thanks

    • Jake, yes, if you currently have an unlimited data plan, you get to keep it if you switch phones. Even if the new phone is 4G and the old one is 3G.

      Thanks for thinking of Wirefly!

      Bob at Wirefly

  • I have a family plan with Verizon. Two of the three lines are eligible for upgrades. If I buy a phone from Wirefly, am I under another 2 yr ‘contract’ with Verizon or just the 181 days with Wirefly?

    • Barb, if you buy a phone from Wirefly, you will be committing to a two-year contract with the carrier (Verizon in this case). You buy the phone from Wirefly but make your regular monthly payments to Verizon. As long as you make those payments on time, Wirefly’s interest in the agreement ends after 181 days. If you default prior to 181 days, Wirefly will try to recover at least some of the cost of the phone. After 181 days, the agreement is between you and Verizon, and Wirefly is out of the picture.

      Does that make sense?

      Bob at Wirefly

  • I want to buy the Razr MAXX on wirefly for obvious reasons. However, I am wondering if anything will change and/or do i lose benefits for buying from wirefly as opposed to verizon. For example, I have a droid incredible 2 with unlimited data at 30 a month, if I get the maxx will that still be the same or change? I have an upgrade from verizon ready to be used. Basically I just want to replace the maxx with my incredible 2 and keep the same plan (family plan), same data plan, same everything. Is that possible?

    • Andre, Wirefly offers the exact same plans for the exact same prices as Verizon. If you want to keep your DROID Incredible 2 on its unlimited data plan, and you have an eligible line that currently has a smartphone with an unlimited plan, then you can get the Motorola DROID RAZR Maxx and put it on that $30 unlimited plan. However, if the eligible line does not have a smartphone on it and you want to keep the Incredible 2 as it is, then you will have to add a data plan for the RAZR Maxx from one of Verizon’s current offerings. For example, the $30 data pak is good for 2GB of data, but Verizon is currently doubling the data, so you get 4GB of data with that data pak.

      In other words, you can only get unlimited data on line for which you already have unlimited data. If you have any questions about this, you can call Wirefly at 866-852-3216 and speak to one of the nice customer service people across the floor from me.

      But the bottom line is, when you buy a phone from Wirefly, you get the exact same deal on the monthly service that you would get from going directly to the carrier. The big advantage of Wirefly is that we sell the phones for less.

      Hope that helps!

      Bob at Wirefly

  • I am currently on a family plan with att but I am looking to switch to sprint. I want to get an individual plan for a month then at some of my family to the plan after they contracts have expired. I am just confused on the “Transfer this equipment to another line of service”… does that mean going from an individual plan to a family plan might break terms and I would have to pay full value for the phone?

    • JT, I don’t think there will be any problem with you starting Sprint service on a solo plan, then moving to a family plan. However, give Wirefly a call at 866-852-3216 to discuss, in case there are some unusual aspects to your transaction.

      Thanks for thinking of Wirefly!

      Bob at Wirefly

  • I want to buy a phone from ebay that comes from wirefly, since I have a family plan I just buy the phone and insert the sim? Easy as that, or what’s th catch because they are brand new phone that are worth much more than that.

    • Martha, Wirefly no longer has a “store” on eBay, so I’m not sure what you’re looking at. We stopped selling through that store several months ago.

      As for inserting a SIM in a phone… yes, you can do that. If you have a T-Mobile family plan, you can take the SIM out of one T-Mobile phone and put it in another T-Mobile phone. Assuming the new phone uses the same sort of service, it will work fine. If the old phone was a “flip phone” and the new phone uses Android, then the new SIM won’t work, because Android requires a data plan.

      You didn’t say who your carrier was, but generally speaking you can only use your SIM cards in phones sold for that carrier. You generally can’t use T-Mobile SIMs in AT&T phones, for example. With a couple of exceptions, Verizon and Sprint phones do not use SIMs and do not have SIM slots.

      Hope that helps!

      Bob at Wirefly

  • I am under a Verizon family plan where we are eligible for updgrade. My wife and I both want to upgrade to the Samsung Brightside. Is there any activation fee or any other charges for each of our phone if we upgrade? We both are planning to add the $10.00 texting plan to each of the phones.

    thanks, Jim C..

    • Jim, there is no upgrade or activation fee for Verizon, and the customer service people here at Wirefly say there are no other “gotcha” fees. Even better, Verizon Wireless $30 Gift Card Trade-in & Upgrade Promo going on right now (until March 31), so you can get two $30 gift cards for both upgrades.

      Depending on your credit background, there is a possibility that Wirefly will require a deposit. Since you get your deposit back after a time, this isn’t a fee. And it may not be applicable to you if you have good credit.

      Hope that helps!

      Bob at Wirefly

  • I have an extra number available to me on my Verizon family plan. I want to add a phone using Wirefly. The phone I want is $20 on your site and $200 on Verizon’s, and I want to transfer a number from another service to my family plan when I purchase the phone. When I add a phone to my exsisting account using Wirefly, is the only contract between me and you the 181 day hold time? And then the regular contract from my exsisting account with Verizon will be the only other responsibility I would have?

    • Bob, Wirefly can easily do what you ask, including transferring the number to a new line on your Verizon family plan. As soon as you buy the phone from Wirefly, the new line will be added to your Verizon account and your current contract with Verizon will be modified to include the new service. Other than the purchase price of the phone, all your payments are to Verizon. If you default on payments prior to 181 days, Wirefly may follow up with you to secure payment for the phone. After 181 days, Wirefly no longer has an interest in the phone.

      Thanks for thinking of Wirefly!

      Bob at Wirefly

  • Am I able to change my T-Mobile plan? I have the 39.99 plan. Would I be able to change it the 4g monthly plan after my phone is activated?

    • Lonee, T-Mobile will allow you to get a more expensive plan, but not a less expensive plan. If you bought your phone from Wirefly, you can call us and we can adjust the plan to what you want (as long as it is more expensive), or you can go to T-Mobile and have it done as well.

      Bob at Wirefly

  • Thanks for the quick response! I have another question if you don’t mind…I see T-mobile has a special where the activation fee of $35 is waived through tomorrow night. Is the $18 upgrade fee waived as well?

    • Mel, I checked and it looks like the $18 upgrade fee is also waived through tomorrow (March 8, 2012). Happy shopping!

      Bob at Wirefly

      • Hi Bob,

        I recently received a bill from T-mobile and it reflects the $18 upgrade fee for each of my lines. The fees were supposed to be waived. What happened?

        • Mel, what is your order number? Give me that and I will look up your order to see what happened.

          Bob at Wirefly

        • My order number is 551136274. Thanks!

          • Mel, I checked with our customer service people and the wheels are turning to get you an answer. I expect to have something for you later today.

            Edit: I understand that you spoke with Wirefly yesterday and had your questions answered. Basically, the “waived upgrade fee” is something that gets paid up front, then the customer is reimbursed at the 3rd or 4th billing cycle. So keep a close eye on your monthly bills to be sure you get the credit. I apologize about the confusion… but thanks for shopping with Wirefly!

            Bob at Wirefly

  • Thank you for your quick reply.
    Let’s say if I wanted to use it outside the US and I used the internet will I be charge an arm & a leg for the usage? Also, I’d like to know if I get the phone, can you unlocked the phone?

    • Kimmy, Wirefly ships only to addresses in the US. If you are in the US, we can sell you a phone. As for what you will be charged if you use the phone outside the US, that is between you and your carrier. You don’t indicate what phone you’re interested in, but some phones are more “international friendly” than others. These are phones with slots for GSM SIMs, and most of the US carriers sell such phones — even Verizon and Sprint, which primarily use a system different from GSM.

      Wirefly sells a couple of unlocked phones, but these are simple “flip” phones. If you are interested in a smartphone, Wirefly does not sell unlocked smartphones. If you Google “unlock the [name of phone]“, you’ll find a number of places willing to sell you a code number used to unlock the phone. Wirefly has no connection with these sellers and we do not recommend that you modify your phone in any way.

      Good luck!

      Bob at Wirefly

  • Hi,

    I currently have two lines with T-mobile and I am eliible to upgrade. One of the phones is lost so the line is suspended. Do I need to have the line un-suspended before I upgrade through you guys? And will I be able to get a free phone for each line?

    • Mel, thanks for thinking of Wirefly for this upgrade!

      You first need to contact T-Mobile and un-suspend the one line. As long as both lines are eligible for upgrades, Wirefly would be delighted to work with you to get you new phones. We have lots of phones that are free for renewed lines, so you should have a good selection of both feature phones and smartphones.

      Bob at Wirefly

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