The following is a contribution from Justin at The Family Finances. Read more about him after the post.
One of the most important ways of getting a handle on your finances is to go through all of your recurring monthly expenses and making sure they are still providing an appropriate value to you. Too often, we fall victim to keeping the status quo when we could be getting a better deal on a particular service or cutting out the service altogether.
This is something that all of us (even personal finance bloggers) can fall victim to. The following is a true story about how I realized I was throwing money away with our DSL home internet service and what I did about it.
We purchased our house in the fall of 2008, and one of our first to-do’s was to sign up for internet service. I made the call to AT&T and signed up for DSL home internet service. The price was something like $14.99 for twelve months, and then the standard rate thereafter. This worked fine for us, and we’ve been pretty happy with the service.
We all know how general price inflation works, right? Generally speaking, the price of goods and services increase each and every year. Another way of putting it is that the same dollar you earn this year buys less goods and services each and every year.
Do you see where I’m going with this? The internet speed that worked fine for us in 2008 just wasn’t cutting it here in 2013. We’ve had Netflix streaming for a couple years now. Our living room was set up to where our television set was a good 30 feet from our couch, so the graininess of the video wasn’t really noticeable. However, the periodic buffering (also known as the “red bar of death”) was pretty annoying.
Not only was the connection speed less useful to us, but the price had gradually increased to $33 a month.
Line in the Sand
Despite the buffering and price increase, we would probably still be using the same internet had we not rearranged our living room furniture and moved the television set closer to our couch. Once our television was ten feet away rather than thirty feet away, the low video quality became very apparent to the point where we couldn’t not notice it.
I receive periodic flyers in the mail with internet offers from Comcast, and I knew that they had an offer for twice my connection speed that was $20 for six months and then $45 afterwards. I also looked online at AT&T to see what upgrade offers they had. They also had an upgrade for twice my connection speed; however, it wasn’t as good an offer. It would have been $28 for six months, and then $43 afterwards.
I decided to call up AT&T and see if they might match the Comcast offer. I’ve heard and read about so many other people and their awesome negotiating that I wanted to try it myself. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do a whole lot. I called, mentioned that I was interested in upgrading my DSL speed, and gave them the details of the Comcast offer.
The representative said he could give me the speed upgrade for $19 for the first six months, and then $38 thereafter. This was a much better offer than what they stated online, and was even better than the Comcast offer.
I was prepared for a battle. I had my notepad out on my desk. I had written out the details of the Comcast offer. I had run the numbers showing how much the annual cost of my current service was compared to the cost of the Comcast offer. I was prepared to cancel my service and switch if they didn’t give me a good offer.
In the end, the phone call took 15 minutes, and I didn’t have to argue with anyone. I didn’t have to ask for the person’s supervisor. I didn’t have to ask for the retention department. The first guy I spoke with made me a great offer, and I took it.
The Bottom Line
It’s amazing how one 15-minute telephone conversation not only got me less expensive internet service, but also got me a connection speed that’s twice as fast as what I had. I should have done this a year ago, but I was content with what I had. Inertia had a hold of me, and it took an outside force (moving the furniture) to get me to take action.
At least I went about it the right way, though. I researched my options, both from the competitor and my current service provider. Then I gave my current provider a chance to keep me as a customer, and they did just that.
Maybe I should rearrange our furniture more than once every four years…
*Editor’s Note* I’ve said many times before. It pays to ask! Whether it be for a larger discount or more services, the worst thing that could happen is someone says no! *Editor’s Note*
This contribution was written by Justin. He is always on the lookout for ways be a better husband, a better father, a better provider, a better employee, and just a better person. He writes about his journey at The Family Finances.