Help Squad: A little phone time can cut monthly bills

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No one enjoys sitting on hold while trying to reach a customer service representative at a large company. That said, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing over the past month, not just with one company, but with several.

Why? I wanted to see if I could save money on some of my monthly bills by inquiring about new rate plans and other factors that might make my payments lower. Here are my results.

1. Cable, Internet and Phone Service: Because I’ve been living in the same place for several years, it has been awhile since I inquired about new rate plans for my cable, home phone and high-speed internet services, all provided by the same supplier. I wanted to check for promotional rates, as well as find out what would happen to my monthly bill if I cancelled my home phone service, since I can’t remember the last time I actually used my home phone, other then to answer sales calls, which are mostly recordings.

I spoke with a few different representatives as I kept getting transferred and given different rates by different people. But finally, a manager agreed to lower my rate by $19 per month, which included the disconnection of my home phone.

A very important point: if unlike me, you don’t want to give up your home phone, calling your cable, home phone and Internet provider — whether they are one company or more — to find out their latest promotion is wise, because you could be paying more for your services per month than their current offer. What’s nice is, the company will gladly give you the current offer. You just have to ask!

2. Security System Company: When I had my home phone disconnected, I didn’t realize it would affect my home security system, which was linked to my home phone. So, I called my security system provider, where a representative told me they could set the system up to link to my cell phone, but that it would cost $99, plus an additional $9.99 per month.

I explained to the representative that I disconnected my home phone so that I could save money, and that had I known about the security company’s additional charges, I probably wouldn’t have done so. The response: the representative agreed to have someone come install the system for no charge, and keep my monthly charge the same!

3. Mobile phone: Very similar to the cable, home phone and Internet provider, mobile phone companies offer special promotions almost all the time. It has been many years since I set up my mobile phone service, where I’ve been paying the same rate ever since. I wanted to find out if a current promotion might end up costing me less per month than I was currently paying, so I gave them a call. Guess what? With the current promotion, the company was able to lower my bill by approximately $70 per month!

4. Large hospital bill: Did you know that if you have a medical bill that is quite large resulting from a high deductible on your medical insurance policy, you can actually set up a payment plan with almost all hospitals or medical groups? If you call the billing department, they can set it up so you can pay a low amount every month. In my case, a large North Shore hospital allowed me to pay $75 per month for an $1,800 bill.

5. Homeowners and Auto Insurance: In all the years I’ve had insurance for my home and car, I’ve never paid too much attention to what exactly the coverage is. I leave those details up to my agent, who I know well and genuinely trust. That said, I decided to do some research to figure out if there was a way to reduce my premium. Here’s what I found out.

For both home and auto insurance, if you are willing to have less coverage and a higher deductible, your premium will be lower. I decided it wasn’t worth it for me to take the risk, but everyone feels differently. Just know that it is an option.

Also, if you’ve had no car accidents, or claims or losses in your home for awhile, call you agent to see if you can get your premiums lowered. Lastly, if you get your homeowners and auto insurance from the same company, you do receive a discount.

My total savings: From this point forward, I will be paying $89 less per month for the same services! I can also take a deep breath knowing I’m only paying $75 per month to pay off my medical bills.

What I found with all the representatives I spoke with from the companies I called is if you just ask to pay less, chances are they will accommodate you. The money I’m saving each month might not seem like a lot, but saving $89 per month for five years equals $5,340. Now that’s a lot!

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