You're Worth More as a Customer Than You Think
One of the "secrets" to living within your means is to reduce your costs wherever you can. Short of cancelling services or doing without, paying the least amount of money for a product or service is key to reducing your costs of living. I was recently able to get my internet costs reduced by about 20% by doing a little research and making one phone call. From start to finish, the total time I spent was about 20 minutes.
One of my friends was considering switching to Verizon FiOS as their Internet Service Provider (ISP). I use FiOS for both internet and phone, am very happy with the service and said so. I pay $80/month for unlimited local and long distance phone and 10/2 internet service (that’s 10 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload).
One of the other people in the discussion said that they always get a discount by signing up for the 2 year contract. As soon as it expires, he calls up, threaten to leave and gets renewed at the lower contract price.
I had been on the 2 year contract but once it expired, I hadn’t thought to call and negotiate for a lower price. After doing a few minutes of research, I gave a call to the Verizon customer service number. The conversation went something like this:
Verizon Rep (VR): Good morning and thank you for calling Verizon. How can I help you?
Me: Good morning. I’m a Verizon customer and I currently have the 10/2 internet access plan and Verizon Freedom Essentials phone plan. I pay $80 a month for this bundle and I noticed that you’re offering these two services with 15/5 internet access on your website for $65 a month. I was wondering if I can receive that price, or do I need to contact Comcast?
VR: Let me take a look. What’s your account number? (Pause while I give her my information.) Sure, we can bundle those together for $65 a month. If you sign up for a contract, you can lock that price in for the next two years.
After a bit of conversation and finalizing the order, I had reduced my combined phone and internet cost by $15/month, or nearly 20% of the $80/month I was paying. Not only that, my internet service download speed was increased by nearly 50% and my upload speed more than doubled.
The lessons that I learned? First, check for deals from your current ISP and from competing ISPs. For most businesses, it is cheaper to keep you as a customer than to try to find a new one. If your ISP is offering other customers a particular deal, in most cases, they’d rather give you that deal than to spend time and money to replace you.
Second, know what your limits are and be prepared to switch providers. From my research, I knew that among the deals Verizon was offering was 15/5 internet service plus unlimited phone for $65/month and 25/25 internet service plus unlimited phone for $80/month. I was prepared to leave Verizon and go with a competing ISP (Comcast) had they not matched either of those deals for me. (I figured that if they wouldn’t reduce the price, at least they should offer me the much faster service for the same price.)
Third, when negotiating on the phone, be polite but be firm. I didn’t have to, but I was ready to ask to speak with a manager to explain how I was very happy with Verizon and didn’t want to switch, but would have to if I couldn’t get a better deal.
Fourth, it never hurts to ask. I’ll be saving $180/year for the next two years for better service than I had. That’s money that stays in my pocket. Of course, you can use this for other services and products as well.
And you can bet that when my ISP contract expires in two years, I’ll be back on the phone armed with information on the latest deal.