Cutting My Wireless Bill, All I Had To Do Was Ask
Saving money one bill at a time
As someone who fully embraces the tenets of personal finance and someone who is surrounded by people with very expensive cell phone plans, it dawned upon me one day that it had been a long time since I had looked at how much I was paying for cell service.
First, some background. I have service with one of the major telecom services and believe very strongly in having good cell phone service, because the last thing I would want is to not have service when I need it most. I have a moderate voice plan with unlimited long distance and no special conditions as for when and how I use my cell phone minutes.
For data, I was under a 2GB plan which I'd been on for a couple years, and I'd only gone over my data cap once (with the fee being subsequently waived because the phone should not have been using data). And I had a limited text plan for 500 texts or something like that.
Go Online First
So, before I make the call to the wireless company, I decided to do some research. Google failed to find me any useful coupons, but it gave me some ideas. I read the story of a young woman who first optimized her account online, called Sprint, and ended up lowering her monthly payments by 30%!!
First things first, log into my wireless account. My plan was basically what I had imagined except that I actually had a 1,000 minute plan which meant that I was paying for hundreds of minutes every month that I never use! In 5 minutes, I was able to save $5/month or $60/year.
I then logged into my text and data settings. Like with my cell minutes, my data plan was not the lowest tier, and thus, again I'm paying money for privileges I do not partake in. Only this time I saved $10/month in two minutes and a total of $120/year! Text settings were just right so no additional savings to be found there.. *sigh*
So for about 7 minutes of my time, and without leaving my seat or picking up a phone I'm up $15/month which I can then use to do the following:
- Save $15 or
- Buy 2 pizzas or
- Buy gifts for my siblings or
- Rent some DVDs at Redbox or
- Stock up on bottled water and canned food for the Apocalypse
Not a bad start, right?
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An Unexpected Surprise!
As you might imagine, I'm also an avid reader of many personal finance blogs and I just so happened to come across an article about how cell phone carriers were killing off certain texting and data plans! While I'd already gotten off to a good start, I now had ammo for the call. I also did some homework so I'd be best prepared for showtime:
- Read Ramit's scripts for getting discounts over the phone
- Made a note of how I'd been with this cell company for 2 years
- Made a note of potential cell phone upgrades if I was offered one
- Got baseline pricing for the competitors
Now I'm ready to save some real money!
Saving in 3 Steps
New carrier plan
$5/month plus unlimited text
Free month of service
I believe that being frugal and making smart money choices is like any other exercise. As we continue to practice good habits in saving money where possible, finding deals for what we want, and having a good time at it, then we become better at dealing for a living.
I'm committed to sharing my experiences with getting the most out of using credit cards, saving and spending tips, and I might even add a slice of perspective without trying to be a psychoanalyst like some other personal finance folks out there.
Please let me know what you think and if you'd like to hear my take on a specific topic.
PS. I've also started writing on my own site: dealforaliving.com.
I found the customer service line online, and made a call around 10:30 in the morning. I knew to stay away from early morning hours when the lines are flooded, as well as lunch hours when just as many people call and some customer service folks have to eat and are unavailable.
Sarah answered the phone, and once I asked her for the Customer Retention Department she immediately patched me in to the right person. She verified my account info and I was off to speak with a Dwayne in Customer Retention.
Dwayne was very nice and started the conversation by thanking me for my business, which I always appreciate hearing. I started with something like this:
"Dwayne, I'm calling because while I'm happy with the service that I'm getting with Sprint, I noticed that some local competitors are offering good rates and special promotions for new customers like myself. I want to first make sure that I'm getting the best deal possible and then also talk about extending my wireless contract".
The key points were to be nice, establish my reason for calling, give them a reason to work with me and also mention his name. As Dwayne looked up my account information, I quickly went through some thoughts in my head: I'm nearing the end of my contract, and would love to not have to think about changing cell phone plans. I want to save money every month even if I'm stuck with my current phone. I've been a customer for nearly 4 years.
Dwayne: "Thank you for your patience, and for your business. Based on what you've told me, I did see a new data and texting plan we've just made available for customers (exactly what I'd read about!!)"
The new data plan would include unlimited texting (thank you, freedom) and save me yet another $5/month. I was then offered an early upgrade to a better phone which I declined because I'm waiting for the new iPhone. And when I said that while I appreciate the $5/month that i really am considering moving, Dwayne offered me a customer loyalty bonus of 1 free month of service worth $80!
Now that's customer service! And you know what, I took the offer and am happily enjoying my wireless service. Because I went in with a good script and got straight to the point, my call only last about 8 minutes. So for 15 minutes of total effort, I saved $80 on the spot plus an additional $20/month for an annual total of $320!!!!!! That's a lot of guacamole.
It's not news to anyone reading this that you can sometimes save money just by asking for us. I know that culturally we're not necessarily used to haggling or asking for discounts, but in some cases, we are great customers of good companies that would be willing to incentivize us to stay with them.
You can very easily save money on your bills by doing a little research, logging into your accounts online, and making a quick call that you've prepared yourself for. And I hope that more and more people share their stories of saving money. Let's save $1 at a time, y'all!