After writing the Spring Clean your Finances article in April, I was inspired to clean up my own finances. After evaluating where my money was going, I realized just how much I was spending on my phone – and how little I actually used it. In fact, my cellphone package was so bad that I was forced to get a home line in order to cut costs. It wasn’t until I’d written that article that I realized just how bad things had gotten. So I followed my own advice and went out and compared prices. I went to other service providers, asked about packages and contracts, and what they included. And what I discovered was alarming. It seemed that everyone was getting a better deal than I was.
So what did I do? I called my cellphone provider and in my most gutsy voice asked, “What will you offer right now to keep me from going to the competition?” The answer?
“Ma’am (and there’s nothing worse than being called Ma’am), there’s nothing we can do for you. You’re locked in your current plan until your contract runs out.” Wrong answer.
“Nothing, are you sure? Because if you don’t do something to retain my business, I’ll simply go elsewhere,” I threatened.
“Ma’am, you do realize that you’ll have to pay a penalty for each remaining month on your contract?”
She really thought she had me. I could tell by her tone. But I had something better. I had researched and I had done the math.
“Yes, I do realize that, but I went to another provider and calculated how much I’d be saving per month. By my calculations, I can not only pay your cancellation fee, but still save money AND get a free iPhone to boot.”
You could have heard a pin drop.
“Ahem – Ma’am, can I put you on hold?”
To make a long story short, I got my better deal. But sadly, no one reading this will be surprised by the treatment I received from my service provider. And this is the real problem. Whether it’s at the bank, through our credit card and insurance companies, or from our internet and cable providers, we’re so used to getting taken advantage of that we don’t even fight back anymore.
Ask yourself: When is it time to pack up, move on and call it a day?
1. When you can save money
The number one reason consumers drop a current provider is price. No one wants to pay more than they should for a service that could be provided by another company just across the street. Take the time to shop around. Your service provider’s competition is always trying to scoop up new clients. Quite possibly, there’s a deal right around the corner.
2. When you’re wasting valuable time
Tired of waiting in line? Can’t get through to customer service on the phone? Annoyed by the automated voice that doesn’t list your concern as an option? Time is valuable and you shouldn’t be spending too much of it on the phone with your service provider, no matter who they are.
3. When promotional offers for new clients are better than yours
You’ve seen the ads. They’re offering new clients 6 months of free service, a PlayStation 3, a fancy new phone – and what have you got? A big bill and a headache. You’re justified in your anger and it might be time to move on. Before you go though, ask to have that offer extended to you as well. They might just say yes.
4. When you find yourself compensating
We are extremely adaptable by nature. Some of us do it without even thinking. But when you find yourself compensating, and you’re being put out by a service, it’s time to switch providers. At one time, my home phone package was so bad that I stopped calling my family altogether. I realized that our strained relationship had nothing to do with us, and everything to do with my phone company. I switched shortly afterward and life went back to normal.
Compare and contrast
Now that you’ve made the decision to move on, what are you going to look for in a new provider?
- Solid reputation
- Strong customer service
- Faster/better coverage
- No hidden fees
- More bang for your buck
- Rewards for loyalty
Before you cancel
Before you run out and cancel everything in hopes of a better deal, here some things to consider:
- Will changing providers affect your credit rating?
- Are there any penalties for switching? If so, are they worth paying?
- Will your new provider be any better in the long run?
Writer for RateSupermarket.ca