How I Got Faster, Cheaper Internet Service by Rearranging My Furniture

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.

The Beginning

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.

Technology Inflation

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.

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  1. Our internet provider sucks. In general you have to go down to the offices in person to get anything done. So when Mr. PoP complained about an extra charge on our bill about 8 months ago and we got a bill reduction, it was a hassle, but we got $25! But they forgot to remove the bill reduction from our account… so we’ve been paying $25 less per month ever since.

    • Justin @ The Family Finances says:

      Wow, that’s incredible! That definitely makes the in-person visit to their office worthwhile.

  2. Man, I couldn’t agree more, right on, right on. We call diffrent companies all the time with the same tactic as you and it almost always works. In fact, it seems like the more prepared you are for your call (calculations all set up, numbers written down, etc), the faster and easier the call goes, haha. Good work, man. Definitely call again in 4 years!

    • Justin @ The Family Finances says:

      Ha, thanks. This was really my first time doing something like this (other than shopping for car insurance, which isn’t really done in-person), and I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll definitely use the strategy more often now.

  3. I love stories like this. I teared up a little at the end.

    Seriously, that’s awesome. I’m amazed at what happens when you just ask. Sometimes you’re disappointed, but usually something happens on the call that makes you happy.

    • Justin @ The Family Finances says:

      Maybe I should contact a movie producer and get the ball rolling on a motion picture, lol. It would have the suspenseful buildup of my wife and I waiting for a movie to load, then getting into a fight about the graininess. Finally I’d call AT&T, get our speed upgraded, and my wife and I would put in a movie and kiss… Now cue the credits, lol.

  4. Most big businesses have no idea how to treat loyal customers. Instead of giving them discounts, they gradually raise their prices and hope we won’t notice. And most people don’t, since they never check their bills!

    Since many companies reward new customers with lower prices, it usually pays to jump ship fairly often, based on who offers the best value at the time.

    • Justin @ The Family Finances says:

      Unfortunately, you’re exactly right. I work in banking, and some of our most attractive deposit rates (back when rates were higher a few years ago) were CD specials for new customers only. Of course, if existing customers specifically asked to get the special rates, we’d give them the better rate… but only if they asked.

  5. Many times, something changes and it sparks a new thought. I try to anstantly look at my expenses and see if I am getting value for the price.

    • Justin @ The Family Finances says:

      Right on the money! A periodic review of your recurring expenses is one of the best ways to beat the status quo.

  6. Ah the great cable/internet game. Yes, that is for sure one type of company that is usually running specials/promotion/deals…as long as you stay on top of the billing so that it doesn’t creep up unsuspectingly in your bill. It pays to ask!

    • Justin @ The Family Finances says:

      One thing I found when doing my deal comparisons was that some of the best deals are on their packages, like combining tv and internet or something like that. If my wife and I ever decide to make the switch to cable or satellite from our current rabbit ears, I’ll be sure and do a lot more research…

  7. Nice! There’s only two major cable/internet providers here and they don’t generally like to bargain. One company is usually just, “Meh!” when I call then and the other is happy to give me a great deal… if I sign on for 3 years.

    Usually, I find that buying my service from a third party contractor gives me the best price. I’m paying $30 a month for cable and internet right now.

  8. I did this for years, and finally opted for the “lower speed” internet with a fixed price for life. We’re at $40 a month, but don’t have to worry about rate increases anymore 🙂

  9. I have always had good luck negotiating with AT&T. Their CSR’s are always very nice and helpful. The one company that I have tried to negotiate with a dozen times that won’t budge is Directv. They are horrible!

  10. My ISP used to be very good but lately, they suck… big time… I’m still 6 months away form my contract though. Then, I’ll switch.

  11. That is awesome! I hate over paying for reoccurring monthly subscriptions for this exact reason. You just forget about them and obviously the business knows that. If you can optimize your monthly nut it allows you to save so much more!

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