DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

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20 January 2014

Save money on your accounts

We take the time every year to review our accounts because sometimes there are savings to be made. January is a good time to do it because we all feel fired up at the beginning of the year and often we've got more time because of the holidays. We wanted to increase our internet download capacity from 50GB to 100GB. We've been on 50 for a few years now and while we don't go over, we sail pretty close to the wind most months. The problem is that while we wanted to get more for our money, we didn't want to increase the amount we were already paying.  I started doing some research to see what our supplier's competition was offering. One of them had a plan that gave us what we wanted and it was cheaper than what we've been playing.


When you do this sort of research, you have to make sure you're comparing apples with apples. We want to keep some of our products bundled but that ruled out Optusnet, they don't offer broadband in our area. We also want the best service, uninterrupted service delivery and good technical support. Our current supplier, Telstra, delivers that most of the time.

So armed with information about a couple of their competitors having the product we want at a cheaper rate, I phoned Telstra and told them what I wanted. And that was to double my internet download capacity and not pay anymore for it. Cheeky, yes. I told the operator that while I was happy with the service I was currently receiving, I had to stick to my budget and would change providers if I had to. 

Straight away she transferred me to the "loyalty department". :- )

I repeated my request to the new operator, and was asked a few questions about how we used our home phone. We don't use it at all very much now because we use the mobile phone instead. She came back and told me that if I signed a contract for 24 months, she would change our home phone to a more expensive rate but we would have 100GB at ten dollar less than we pay now. Of course I took up the offer.

I tell you this, not because I think I'm anything special for getting a better deal, but to encourage you to look at your accounts and see if you can do the same.  If I had not done this we would have paid ten dollars more every month for the next 24 months and maybe some months we would have gone over our limit. Taking that ten minutes to enquire gave me a better deal for less money; I saved $240 over those two years. It's not a lot, these types of savings never are, but it's worthwhile doing because when you add that $240 to other savings we make, it's quite something.

You can do this sort of thing for insurances as well as your phone and internet charges. Just do some research first so you can show the person you talk to that you know what the opposition is offering and that you are prepared to change service providers if you need to. Be polite. I told the woman I spoke to that I would change if I had to but didn't tell her that I didn't want to change providers, I would hate to have to change my email address, I would rather miss the rest of this year's cricket than inform everyone I would need to inform that our email was different. I kept that to myself and used it as a bargaining tactic instead. We have to use whatever we can when we bargain. Service providers hate to lose existing good customers. So if you've been a good customer, use that to your advantage, do you research and make the call. You might just be surprised.

Have you made a saving like this recently? What did you do? What tips about saving on utility, insurance and service account can you share?

There is an excellent thread on the Down to Earth Forum about this subject with some great hints. 

16 comments:

  1. Morning Rhonda........I recently changed my home and contents insurance from Apia to Gio and ended up saving $70/month. Murwillumbah is flood prone, but although I live close to the river, I'm not at risk, we just get cut off by water filling up the lower lying areas. When Gio recently opened an office in town, I thought I'd just go enquire, because the people working there are locals and know the area... in fact the woman I spoke to lived in my street as a child....Apia give you a policy based only on postcode, and my postcode comes up as high risk. So I ended up changing....after speaking to Apia and telling them what Gio were offering but they wouldn't reduce my premium because of what my postcode tells them. Now I save quite a bit because Gio were willing to assess my situation based on facts and knowledge. It does pay to ask.

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  2. Great advice, Rhonda. Not long ago we changed satellite internet companies and got a much better deal for less, and today I begin investigating bank account options. Recently I had to upgrade my mobile phone as the other one broke down, and the lowest plan they could offer with the new phone was more than double what I was paying. With a few well-placed words and advising that I didn't use my phone for internet at all, they agreed to keep me on the same plan. I think it was the "keep the customer happy and with us so they don't leave for another company plan"! The fellow said they did this but never advertised the fact.

    It pays to ask, and little savings here and there do add up.

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  3. At this very minute my husband is sitting at the next desk, comparing costs of auto insurance. Last week I canceled my landline at work and went cellular - not only will it save money it rids me of all those annoying automated sales calls - many of which came from the landline phone service! And I just changed credit card services at the shop to reduce the expense of accepting credit cards for online sales. A penny saved....

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  4. Hi Rhonda, it is a good idea to review service providers now and then. I recently had a similar experience with negotiating internet connection for my mum as she was quite close to her GB limit each month. Mum ended up with more GB for the same amount of money.

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  5. I have always investigated alternative plans and then phoned my own company with the hope of saying but with a better deal. Last year I did this with the electricity and I phoned Origin to see if they could do any better given I had been with them for over 20 years and they said no so I changed providers. I was very annoyed recently that I got a letter from them saying that they would match what the new provider was giving me if I came back. In this case it's a matter of too little too late. I do know loyal customers get over looked unless you ring them. Often newer plans or newer customers get way better deals than someone who has been a customer for 10 or 20 years. This particularly relates to mobile phone plans or home phone plans so you have to ring up and see what they can do for you every year and like you say that one phone call could save you $240. It's absolutely worth revisiting all your bills once a year. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  6. We review our suppliers every time they come up for renewal. Nowadays with the no-claim bonus on insurance being transferrable, there is no benefit to staying with the one company if they can't compete. Of course, you have to be realistic about the hidden costs of switching, like having to change email address when switching internet providers.

    Recently we had to renew our car insurance. The renewal notice had an enormous increase, so we were definitely looking around. We did this online, and discovered that the online quote from the SAME COMPANY was very competitive - and hugely less than what was on the renewal. So we rang them. The result was that the person on the phone couldn't match the quote online, so told us to cancel our existing policy and take up the new on from online. So we ended up staying with the same company for much less than was on the renewal notice. Crazy!

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  7. Rhonda, recently Telstra rang, as they do, about whether we were happy with our plan and then they offered us heaps more downloads for the same as we were paying apart from going from $2 to $3 for our distance calls so we went for it. I also have an Optus prepaid mobile phone with plenty of credit for distance calls and free calls on the weekend so, at the moment, we are happy with what we have. It is well worth researching and having a look at different plans.

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  8. My husband just saved us almost $500.00 a year on our car insurance after doing a bit of research. It's definitely time well spent ... but can test your patience. He commented that the customer service he encountered was pretty bad in some cases. He's the right person for the job though, I probably would have given up after the first 15 minutes of sitting on hold. Bless his persistent soul!

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  9. It is refreshing to read so many people checking their costs. Better in our pockets than theirs! I recently changed electricity companies. We were offered a fantastic deal by a new company, I told them I would think about it and asked them to call me back the following day. I took that time to ring my current company, and was put through to their "loyalty department". They went over the figures but couldn't match the new deal. I ended up changing companies ... and saving me not only in the electricity rates but the daily service charge alone saved us $730 a year!

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  10. It's great to read about what you're all doing to save. It goes to show that the savings are there is you do some research and ask. Well done everyone!

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  11. We had something similar happen regarding our newspaper. All we ever wanted was just the Sunday paper delivered. Several years ago the newspaper company changed their policy and we had to buy the Sat paper as well. A few years later it was the Friday paper and then the Wed paper if we wanted a delivered Sunday paper and free internet viewing of the paper on line. We got fed up with them and decided to just not get any paper delivered and just go to the store to buy a Sun paper at more expense. We did not have the time to read the paper during the week. I did phone them to tell them about our plans and the supervisor did say that he could take it back to just Sat and Sun delivery but that was it. So we stopped the paper delivery. A few months later we got a call from the newspaper. Would we be interested in a delivered Sunday paper only! We had to commit and pay up for a year ....at a really good rate ......so we finally got what we wanted!

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  12. I just plodded along & accepted that my insurance provider was doing the right thing as I had been with them for over 35 years. Of course not, so I changed home insurance & Green Slip saving over $500.
    Rang Telstra last week & changed our home line rental to a lower rate saving $156.00 per year. We do our best not to use the landline as mobiles - even cheap plans cover most calls.The only difference is that local calls would be dearer.
    Indeed, shop around.You are so right Rhonda, we all need to ask.

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  13. Glad to hear you are happy with Telstra, Rhonda. I've heard so many complaints about them in recent years, but apart from the occasional hiccup, we've been very happy with them on all fronts. We've gone into one of their shops with our account (one account covers landline, mobiles, Foxtel and Bigpond) and sat down with a staff member to see where we could save money, and they've been very helpful, explaining to us how we could save.
    We are equally satisfied with Allianz for our home and car insurance, as I've shopped around for other quotes and nobody could beat their price, so we've stayed with them.
    The only one I've had no satisfaction with is electricity and gas. We had a dual fuel account with Energy Australia, and just to see if it was worth changing suppliers I went to Energy Watch who is supposed to work out if you are getting the best deal. After countless phone calls we were changed to the new company also called Energy Australia (don't ask, I don't know either), and our bills have almost doubled. But everyone is complaining about high power bills, so I don't know if we are just in the same boat, or if we've been taken for a ride by Energy Watch. I just cannot be bothered arguing with them any more...

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  14. Wonderful post, and timely as I had 2 car insurance premiums due. I rang a competitor and it seems I'm on the best deal with my current provider, so that was good to find out. I'm ringing Foxtel today to see if as long, loyal customers can get an upgrade for free, can't hurt to try...will let you know how I go!! I did have a win with my bank not so long ago, I had been unwell and forgot to pay my credit card on time. I'm a stickler for paying it in full on or before the due date and have never paid interest. So when I realised I'd missed it I rang and was honest with them. They could see I had never missed a payment and kindly deducted the interest. I never hurts to ask, so thanks for the reminder.
    Warm regards,
    Jan

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  15. So I called Foxtel today about my old clunker Austar box and faded remote. Was just honest and asked what can they do for an upgrade for loyal customers, the consultant and I were laughing as I said I knew i was being cheeky, so they dropped the $150 upgrade fee and have dropped the $10 a month extra to our subscription for 6 months, so that's a big win!! Guy comes Thursday...mystar here we come, My husband is SO excited!!! Thanks again, Jan x

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  16. My car insurance arrived just before Christmas and even though my car is now a year older the premium had gone up $50(to$461) which I was not happy about. I went online to my current insurers site and put in my exact car details that were listed on my renewal to see what a new quote would come out at. The new quote was $494! With the same company for the same car! So I clicked on their price beat guarantee and put in the original renewal price of $461 and they beat it by $51!! So my new premium ended up costing me $410 and I'm still with the same company, all for the sake of a few clicks of the mouse. :)

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