We just need a little helping hand to make life enjoyable

20 minutes could save you $40 per month or more

By Priya Raman on 24 November 2010 | Topics - Personal Finance

No No!  Hold on! This is not a GIECO Ad that I am replaying.

Read on and see how I managed to save $40 bucks a month by just doing my routine checks into bills and visiting the service provider’s web site. All it took was a 20 minutes on the phone with a service rep, who was surprisingly in the Thanksgiving mood and no waiting time whatsoever.

As with all households we have fixed expenses that include utilities (telecom, waste, power and water). While we have moved everything to e-bill and electronic bill pay, we do have this routine activity to review the bills and see if something is off kilter. So today was the telecom bill review day. We have a basic DSL (Pro as it is called by AT&T, with 3Mbps speed), a family plan for wireless 59.99 per month (550 minutes per month and the other bells & whistles like free in-network calling and evening/weekend relief) + a barebones landline required for DSL.

So with all that we ran a $105 per month. Add uncle sam’s toll on top of that to make it ~$120pm.

While checking the AT&T website today we saw that the same DSL plan we had was going for 19.95 so we jumped on the call to move to that plan. Whilst we were still talking to the rep it seems like AT&T’s latest promotion kicked in and the same $19.95, which we were already delighted to have, now had become $14.95. Straight $15 per month shaved off the bill. While doing that we also saw AT&T had introduced a new option where you do not need to have a landline to run DSL. This was double dipping at its best. We moved our DSL to $14.95 and cut that landline. That is another $15 per month saved. I hope the telemarketers, who so lovingly called us at dinner time, on that line, won’t feel disengaged.

Then onto the wireless service. When it came to cell phone usage, we fall into that reluctant bunch that uses the  cellphone only for necessity and not those long conversations about nothing. As a result a lot of our monthly quota of minutes went unused (despite the rollover of minutes). Google Voice, Skype is increasingly become our mode of conversation.  We impressed upon them the fact that we have been a loyal customer for 12 years and we are definitely considering moving to another service if we cannot cut down our current fare. Lo and Behold, the “customer success” person pulled out a magic plan – not advertised on their site. Apparently it is only reserved for loyal customers (wink!). As you can imagine the customer acquisition costs for AT&T are much higher than the small reduction they offered to a loyal customer. So there – we went from 550 minutes a month (250 of which was unused) to 450 minutes a month. We get to keep all the other bells and whistles and still have lots of talk time to spare.

So  that’s how we saved $40 a month by spending 20 minutes on the phone. Here is the breakdown – add it all up and it comes around $480 per year. Not shabby eh?

Update: Just something to keep in mind while working telecom companies (sigh!), they are not your typical “smart” companies. AT&T leads the pack of … So don’t overwhelm them asking more than one change at one go. Ask one change on one call and then call again for the next change. Believe me it is worth it.

About the Author Priya is a working mom of two. Besides her steady load of work at home taking care of her kids, she finds time to work for her husband's company, help her childrens' school and conduct summer camps. She created the site Little Respite to share some of her ideas/thoughts with other fellow parents, friends.
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  • Lisa Daley

    Thanks so much. I seriously did not know that we no longer need a landline for having AT&T DSL. That saves me 15 dollars a month too.