Ever since broadband to the home became commonplace in the 2000’s, the internet bill is one that most households can’t live without. As more and more people “cut the cord” on their cable bill, home internet service is as important as it’s ever been.
While some lucky folks have direct fiber to the home via something like Google Fiber, the vast majority of us either have service through a traditional telephone service provider (such as Verizon), or a traditional cable television provider (such as Comcast).
This bill can be an expensive one. It’s hard to get actual figures for costs, because so many bills include bundled services (wireless, internet, TV, all together) but at least in my case, I pay $75 a month for 40Mbps speeds.
Well, at least I would if I were paying full price.
New customer promotions are great, kind of
The easiest way not to pay full price for internet is to be a new customer. I would wager that every major service provider has some sort of new customer deal, wherein you are charged a promotional rate for one or two years. This is a savvy move on the part of the companies, because they know that once you’re a customer, you’re unlikely to switch to another provider.
However, the savvier customer knows that promotional periods expire, so over the long term, the regular price becomes more important.
Case in point. Which is a better deal:
a) 1 year promotional price of $10 with a standard price of $80
b) 1 year promotional price of $20 with a standard price of $60
Unless you plan to cancel within a year or two, option b) will always be cheaper.
New customers become old customers
I was prepared to deal with my $75/month price for internet. I think fast, high-quality internet is more than worth paying for, and switching to a slower speed wouldn’t save me much money.
And now that I’ve been in my my new home for over a year, my promotional price of $19.99/month had indeed expired.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned when managing my own bills over the years, it’s that deals are always out there.
And one of the best ways to get a deal is to ask for one.
Customer service (round 1)
So one day, I called CenturyLink, navigated through the byzantine customer service phone tree, and finally got to a real live human.
I said that my promotional rate had recently expired and that I was wondering if there were any other promotional deals that I could take advantage of.
See how easy that is? It’s just a question.
The agent looked at his computer for a little while. He came back saying that I could get a better rate if I signed up for their TV service.
I expected this. Bundling is a huge source of profits if for no other reason than the more services you have with a company, the harder it is to switch away.
In fact, while I was writing this very post, I found this email in my inbox:
But I don’t want any other services other than internet. So I declined and asked what else he could offer.
More clicking of computer keys.
And then: “We can offer you another promotional rate of $19.99 per month. But you’ll need to commit for 1 year of service.”
He said the new charge would be reflected on my next month’s bill. It really was as easy as that.
Customer service (round 2)
But of course it’s never as easy as that. I never got an email confirmation of the change, and sure enough, when next month rolled around, I was still paying full price.
Reminds me of the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch: “If you want to get anything done in this country, you have complain until you’re blue in the mouth.”
Happily, fortune favors the diligent. So, I called back, and explained the situation. The new guy said he couldn’t offer the exact same thing, but he could offer me $19.99 for six months and $29.99 for six months after that.
(Isn’t that interesting that the deal was totally different? It makes me think that they are making it up on the spot.)
That’s still far less than $75. So I accepted. And this time I got an email confirmation of the change. Score!
By spending maybe two hours on the phone, I managed to net a savings of $600 over the course of a year.
Worth it? I think so.
You can do this too. Try calling your service provider and asking if there are any deals. The results may surprise you.
But enough about me. Have you ever lowered your bills just by asking?
Latest posts by Mike Pumphrey (see all)
- Can you use an HSA to save for retirement? - October 19, 2017
- The investment hat trick: The health savings account (HSA) - October 16, 2017
- This is why I don’t pick stocks - October 12, 2017