Whether you are a business owner or consumer, you are going to have phone bills...landlines, cellular services, Internet services, cable, or other circuits.
Most people look at the monthly cost and if it is comparable to what suppliers say you are going to pay on a month to month basis and pricing does not go up or down too much, you pay it!. This is your first mistake.
Based on years of experience auditing and negotiating telecom services, I would like to offer a few tips on what to look for on these bills and how to ask the right questions.
- Understand your bill. This is the most important step in lowering your monthly bill. If you do not know what you are paying for then how would you know how much you should be paying for it? You should be able to break down all services being charged including taxes and surcharges.
- Determine your requirement. What services do you actually use frequently and need on a regular basis? For example, on your cell phone bill if there is a feature or plan you can add or remove on the fly and use it once ever few months, add it when needed and remove it when you are done. Another example is paying for cable channels you never watch. If there is a show you really like, it probably makes more sense to rent the entire season through Netflix or Redbox. Take a look at some historical bills and see what you actually used over a period of at least 6 months. You would be surprised on the items you can remove from future billing.
- Know the market. There are so many suppliers in the game now offering the same services you need and are available in your area. Spend more time looking at various services and suppliers and do not only focus on the BRAND NAME products or what you see on the first page of a Google search. There may be free services and applications that although may come from another supplier, are compatible with the service you have. This also leads into my next tip...
- Ask Questions. If you are not sure what you are looking for or need help in lowering your bill, ask a customer care rep. They may not come out and say it, but they will offer choices if asked to help retain you as a customer. Some sales reps know about upcoming services or technology along with promotions that will meet all of your needs. Some people like to make threats about moving to another supplier and although this sometimes works, it is really a hassle if you have to move and then move back. Managing contract terms and getting new equipment can be a burden.
- Understand your bill. Yes the same as my first tip. If you make changes are successful in lowering your bill, then make sure you continue to audit it monthly. Your requirement might change, the vendor may apply charges (taxes and surcharges) differently and technology may change with new services becoming available.