Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Being the Squeaky Wheel

Today my husband was in the mood to nag. Fortunately, he got on the phone and started politely interrogating the company that provides us with a package of phone and internet services. We're not crazy about this company, but we live in an area where there aren't all that many providers to choose from. Our package includes very high speed internet access and unlimited long distance calling. Normally, these would both be unwarranted luxuries. However, because my husband has been telecommuting about half time for the last two years, and will be telecommuting about 80% in the new year, these are both really fundamental to his job.

We got this package almost two years ago, and at the time it cost us $95 per month. In the time we've had it, the monthly charge has crept up by about $18 per month. We weren't happy about it, but calling around told us that there were no better deals. But today my husband got ahold of a customer service rep and had them go over every detail of the plan, as well as pricing information for alternate plans. He's pretty devious. All he did was spend about 45 minutes having the rep explain every line item on our bill, and go over the pricing for other local, regional and long distance calling plans, as well as pricing for different internet connection speeds. During all this time he was up front that we were looking to trim costs for our plan, and willing to cut parts of it or find another provider entirely.

In the end the rep offered him a $20 reduction per month for the next 12 months. That's $240 for the next year that can go to our mortgage instead. That 45-minute phone call was effectively worth $320 per hour. Not bad, wouldn't you say? This is the kind of thing that brings a warm, devious glow to our hearts. The squeaky wheel got the grease. And he got his urge to pester out of his system without taking it out on me! I call that a good day.

Which of your regular utility bills might be worth reviewing? Could you spare 45 minutes for a tedious phone call that might save you a few hundred bucks?

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