Make the call

Everyone knows I hate two things in life: wasting time and wasting money. It’s a constant struggle, balancing the desire to get the best price for things we need without a huge time investment. This morning I was reminded how a few minutes of my time can save a decent amount of money.

I’ve had an ongoing battle with cable companies. I’ll be nice and not name names, but the two companies I’ve tried in San Diego make me crazy. The service is fine, but they offer promotional rates that expire shortly after you sign up, and suddenly you find yourself spending $160 a month on basic cable and Internet service. The inconsistency of billing is maddening for anyone trying to maintain a budget, so three years ago I switched to DirecTV for our TV services. While they also offer promos, they last longer and can be extended easily (see below), so I’m a happy customer. Unfortunately for Internet access, I was stuck with the cable company.

I received the cable bill yesterday and saw a $30 fee for a phone line I was told would be free to install, and my monthly rate for Internet service had gone up $10. I dread spending time to make these calls, but I was doing some Web research, so I dialed them up and worked while I was on hold. Once I reached a representative and asked about the fee, she immediately credited it back to my account. It is frustrating that I had to call for that to happen. What if I hadn’t? They would have gladly debited my bank account the full amount. So then it was on to the $10 monthly increase. The billing lady told me that a promo had expired (surprise, surprise) and when I asked to have it reinstated, she said she had to transfer me to another department. Four minutes of bad music later, I was told that they could not add a promo because I have a contract. I calmly explained that being a contract customer should make me more deserving of a discount, not less. Somehow, magic occurred and she was able to apply the discount. Of course this is only for six months, then I’ll have to call back again. Total time spent = 10 minutes, five minutes of which I was able to multi-task and do work. Money saved = $30 now plus $60 over the next six months. As annoying as it was, saving $90 for 10 minutes of my time is probably worth it.

As for DirecTV, I made a similar call to them last week, though it was much faster, without anyone ever saying no or transferring me to another department. Although my promo had expired, they found a new 12-month credit for me right away that saved more money ($25 a month, when before it was $20) and also let me know I was eligible for a free equipment upgrade. I didn’t have to plead my case and it took less than five minutes, all while sitting outside of my office building enjoying San Diego sunshine. Saving $300 in five minutes. Definitely worth it!

All of this being said, I have to admit that I recently noticed that a $5 credit is no longer being applied to my cell phone bill, and I haven’t taken the time yet to call Sprint about it. I guess it’s a bit ironic that the call I haven’t made is the one that gives me the ability to call anyone at all. I’ll put that on my calendar for next week…because it’s worth the time to make the call!

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