Speak English Around Town » LESSON 4 - Buying a Service Plan

Buying a Service Plan

Tom is shopping for a new cell phone plan. Its tricky because there are many options. Mike, a salesman at the cell phone store, helps him choose the right plan.

Tom: Hi, I'm in the market for a new cell phone plan.

Mike: Do you have a plan now?

Tom: Yes, with MobileOne. But it's about to expire.

Mike: You're not happy with them?

Tom: No, I'm not. Their service is terrible. My calls are always breaking up.

Mike: Cellular Star's service is first rate. You'll get great reception. What are you looking for in a plan?

Tom: I need 400 minutes a month for daytime calls. I'd like unlimited night and weekend calling.

Mike: What about call forwarding, voice mail, and text messaging?

Tom: I don't need any of those bells and whistles.

Mike: The Choice 450 is our no-frills plan. That'll run you $39.99 a month, plus tax.

Tom: That doesn't include long-distance calls. does it?

Mike: Yes. it does.

Tom: So it's $39.99 a month, plus tax.

Mike: Yes, and there's a one-time fee of $35. That's for setting up the account.

Tom: Any hidden fees?

Mike: No. Of course, you'll want to read the fine print of your contract.

Tom: Right. I don't want to get stuck with a plan that only lets me make long-distance calls between midnight and 3 a.m.

Mike: Did I mention that if you sign up for this plan by Friday, we'll throw in a free phone?

Tom: I could use a new phone.

Mike: It's a great offer, with no strings attached. All set to sign up?

Tom: Before I sign on the dotted line, I'd better make sure I know what I'm getting into.

  • all set to
    ready to (do something)
    Example: The salesman at the Gap asked, "All set to check out?"
  • bells and whistles
    product features which are attractive, but not essential for the product to function
    Example: I just want a reliable car. I'm not looking for a lot of bells and whistles.
  • (to) break up
    to lose a phone signal; to start losing a phone connection
    Example: I can barely hear you. We're breaking up.
  • could use
    need; have use for
    Example: Your ties are all stained. You could use some new ones.
  • (the) fine print
    the part of a contract with special rules and limitations. These are often "hidden" in small print, which is why you'll often hear: "Be sure to read the fine print."
    Example: Julie didn't read the fine print of the fitness club contract carefully, and now she's stuck with a lifetime membership.
  • first rate
    of the highest quality
    Example: If you're looking for a restaurant, I recommend the Mediterranean Grill. The food there is first rate.
    NOTE: You will also hear the term "second rate" to describe something that is of inferior quality or not very good.
  • (to) get into
    to get involved with (often used in a negative sense, as when one has gotten involved with something that is now unpleasant or not wanted)
    Example: My evening MBA program is more demanding than I thought it would be. What have I gotten into?
  • (to) get stuck with
    to have something unwanted or undesireable that one cannot get rid of
    Example: I'm in charge of cleaning the bathroom once a week at our dormitory. I don't know how I got stuck with this task!
  • hidden fees
    extra charges that are not made clear from the beginning
    Example: When you sign up for a new credit card, make sure there are no hidden fees.
  • in the market for
    shopping for; interested in buying
    Example: We're in the market for a flat-screen television.
  • no-frills
    a simple and basic service or product
    Example: If you want to fly cheaply, try a no-frills airline like Ryanair.
    NOTE: "frills" are extra features or benefits
  • no strings attached
    with no limits or special demands attached (to an offer)
    Example: Kim got a full scholarship to Stanford, no strings attached.
  • one-time fee
    a charge that you only pay one time
    Example: To join FitOne Gym, I had to pay a one-time fee of $199, then a monthly membership fee of $49.
  • (to) run you
    to cost you
    Example: It's going to run you $600 for a one-year membership to Club Five Fitness.
  • (to) set up
    to establish; to arrange; to put something new in place
    Example: I set up direct deposit so that my paychecks are automatically deposited into my bank account.
  • (to) sign on the dotted line
    to agree to or sign up for something ( often by signing a contract or agreement)
    Example: I'm interested in joining the gym but before I sign on the dotted line, can you please explain the cancellation policy?
  • (to) throw in
    to include for no additional fee
    Example: If you sign up for a one-year gym membership today, we'll throw in a free set of towels.
Practice the Expressions

Fill in the blank with the missing word:

  1. A new Honda Civic will run _____ $16,000 with tax.
    • a) you
    • b) at
    • c) on
  2. Did you read the _____ print before signing the contract?
    • a) small
    • b) little
    • c)fine
  3. Can you recommend a simple DVD player - one without all the _____ and whistles?
    • a) buttons
    • b) bells
    • c) rings
  4. When I ordered tea from the Aroma Tea Shop, the company threw _____ a free sample of some oolong tea.
    • a) up
    • b) in
    • c) on
  5. Charlie was _____ set to order a cappuccino at Starbucks before he realized he forgot his wallet at home.
    • a) ready
    • b) every
    • c) all
  6. A real estate company in Florida is making a special offer: buy a house and get a new car, no _____ attached.
    • a) roof
    • b) strings
    • c) threads
  7. Be sure to read the contract carefully before signing on the _____ line.
    • a) solid
    • b) thick
    • c) dotted
  8. If you're looking for a hotel in Manhattan, I recommend the Pierre. It's _____ rate.
    • a) first
    • b) second
    • c) fine
  9. Club Five Fitness is no-_____ . They don't even provide towels.
    • a) thrills
    • b) frills
    • c) fills
  10. We thought our car rental would cost $100 a week, but it ended up costing $200. There were lots of _____ fees.
    • a) hiding
    • b) hidden
    • c) secret
Answer Key
Practice The Expressions
  1. a
  2. c
  3. b
  4. b
  5. c
  6. b
  7. c
  8. a
  9. b
  10. b
Answer Key
Language Lens: Negative Questions

Negative questions can be used to:

=> Confirm that something is true or has happened. You are assuming something is true and you are just checking.
Example: You didn't tell Ted we think he's a lousy boss, did you? (Expected answer: No, I didn't).

=> Express surprise that something hasn't happened
Example: Haven't you mailed that letter yet? (Note that this can often express annoyance. The person asking the question is annoyed that the other person did not do something).

=> Offer a polite invitation
Examples: Won't you come in? Wouldn't you like some coffee?

Study these examples for ways to answer negative questions:

Didn't you see the car coming?
- Yes, I did. (Do not just say "yes" in response to this type of question. Give a complete answer: "Yes, I did.").
- No, I didn't. (You may also say just "no" without "I didn't.")

Aren't you hungry?
- Yes, I am. I Yes, I'm starving!
- No, I'm not. I No, I just had breakfast.

Won't you sit down?
- Yes, thank you.
- No, I've only got a minute.

You're not tired after your trip?
- Yes, I am tired. (Do not just say "yes.")
- No, I'm not tired. (Note here that you're saying "No ... " even though you are agreeing with the person who asked the question. You're confirming that you're not tired.)

Quick Quiz

Part A: Practice answering negative questions:

Example: Didn't you get my e-mail? (You didn't)
Answer: No, I didn't.

  1. Don't you like spinach? (You do)
  2. Don't you want to rest before dinner? (You don't)
  3. Didn't she understand the joke? (She didn't)
  4. Aren't they on vacation in Italy? (They are)
  5. Isn't he graduating this year? (He isn't)

Part B: Turn these statements into negative questions:

Example: I think we're going in the wrong direction.
Answer: Aren't we going in the wrong direction?

  1. You're moving to San Francisco.
  2. They're going to New York today.
  3. You' re thirsty.
  4. You want another piece of pizza.
  5. She broke her arm.
Answer Key
Part A:
  1. Yes, I do.
  2. No, I don't.
  3. No, she didn't.
  4. Yes, they are.
  5. No, he isn't.
Part B:
  1. Aren't you moving to San Francisco?
  2. Aren't they going to New York today?
  3. Aren't you thirsty?
  4. Don't you want another piece of pizza?
  5. Didn't she break her arm?
Answer Key
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