I thought it was ‘just another bill’, until I clicked on the link and opened the email.
‘Gosh’, I said. ‘Can that be right?’.
Of course, it was right, and I had to cough up the cash.
It was a mobile phone bill, and the damage was enough to make paying it quite painful.
It was then I decided to call my smart phone service provider and ask whether a better deal was available and sure enough one was.
I want to walk you through how to save money, and wrangling with your utility or phone service provider is a great place to start.
The phone call
I find it fascinating that many people can’t conjure up the energy to make a phone call when it could save them quite a bit of money.
I do, however, understand the hesitation.
It’s entirely possible you’ll be kept on hold for hours on end and when you finally do get through to a real person, you may walk away empty handed.
But when you do make the call, there’s a few things to get right:
Have a very clear understanding of your problem and know how to communicate it very clearly.
Ask direct questions like, ‘I’m on this plan and paying [this much]’. ‘Is there a better deal you can offer me?’
And if the customer service offer says something to you that you don’t understand, ask them to explain it again to you.
People think asking questions is a sign of weakness. It’s not. Continuing on with a conversation without really understanding what’s going on is far worse, and it’s also obvious to the person you’re dealing with that you don’t know!
Fit for purpose
Technology has come a long way over the past 10 years. What used to cost companies a fair amount to offer you as a service isn’t nearly that expensive anymore.
Put simply, many services you use shouldn’t be too expensive assuming your data usage is around average.
And unless you leave every light on in the house all the time, and your energy needs are indeed normal, you should be able to receive a competitive energy service.
The bottom line is only pay for what you need, with a small margin for error.
It’s a complete waste of money paying for things you don’t need. I bet major corporations make a lot of money from customers paying for services they’re not using or don’t even know they have.
Do a small amount of homework to work out what you need in terms of energy consumption, childcare, credit, insurance and entertainment/communications, and find the best deal that suits those needs.
Now, to the big one, switching banks.
The bottom line is, if you’re not happy with the service you’re receiving from your bank, let them know.
Banks have very well-formed complaint handling procedures in place, and most of them genuinely want your business. However, if you’re not receiving the service you need, you should speak up and ask for it to be rectified.
If not, request to be transferred to another bank. It will involve filling out paperwork and it will take time (potentially weeks), but it’s easily enough done.
It’s really important though that you do your homework to make sure that the bank you’re switching to will in fact give you a better service.
Hundreds in savings
So, back to me. I called up my phone service provider and expressed my concern about the bill.
I didn’t complain. I just said I was worried I was paying too much.
It turns out I was paying $100 a month more than I needed to be paying.
I was warned my new billing cycle would take a month to kick in, which meant I was headed for another bill shock but, sure enough, last week the bill came in my inbox and it was substantially less.
Many not participating in the COVID-19 economic recovery
Last week I spoke with a Melbourne plumber that deals with around-the-clock emergencies.
His business is doing very well, but he sees a lot of people every day that can’t pay the bill he gives them after completing the job.
He says it’s mostly single mums who find juggling childcare and working part-time very difficult, and those on welfare, that show the most distress when paying the bill.
For me, it just highlights how much $100 extra a month could help a lot of people.
Or maybe it’s only $20 or $30 you can save. In any case, if you can find it, it’s worth the effort.
A $50 a month saving over a year is $600 – that’s a rental payment or two, or several nights out on the town to decompress.
Disclaimer: this is not tailored financial advice. It’s general in nature only and does not take account of your personal circumstances.