A couple weeks ago I learned a valuable lesson. Well, truth be told, it was one that I already knew but was apparently slacking on. The lesson? Always check in with your billers (utilities, garbage, sewer, water, cable, etc) on a regular basis to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.
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Some of you may be thinking, well, if I didn’t have the best deal possible wouldn’t my electric company/cable company/etc let me know? Umm, I don’t know how to break this to you but the answer is no. It’s actually Hell No.
I found this out the hard way a couple weeks ago when our trash/recycling bill arrived in my email inbox and was more than $20 higher than usual. Our bill is typically $32.94 per month for recycling and trash pickup. So when a bill for over $57 arrived, of course I clicked onto the bill to see what was up.
What was up was that somewhere along the way our trash company decided to start charging extra for extra bags and we didn’t know about it. Mr. CMF had put some paper bags of grass clippings at the curb on the day in question, so we knew that we had in fact put out extra bags. We just didn’t realize that they charged extra for that, and we were perplexed because all last autumn we had put out extra bags of leaves from the yard and we didn’t get charged a cent extra. We didn’t recall receiving any sort of notice from the company that they had changed their policy on this. And they had in fact charged us what we felt was an awful lot- $3.50 for each extra bag times six bags meant that our bill was $21 higher (plus tax). Ouch!!
So of course I called the company to air my grievances and see what they had to say for themselves. After all, we don’t enjoy flushing money down the toilet, and we try to keep our fixed expenses as low as possible. The rep that I spoke with was very polite and informed me that they have had the policy of charging $3.50 for each extra bag for “a long time.” Weird, since we’ve been customers for two years and we’ve put out extra bags (and all kinds of other extra stuff, for that matter) in the past and we’ve never been charged extra. Despite my best bitching, I was only able to get her to cut the fee in half- so it went from $21 to $10.50.
When this call really started to pay off, however, was when she asked me if I would like a bigger trash can so that I may avoid this problem in the future. Hey, that’s a good idea!! Does it cost more?
After a pause, she informed me that I could have a 50% bigger trash can for $5 less per month. So I would get a bigger trash can, could put more crap in it and avoid more of this extra bag nonsense, and pay only $27 a month including tax. Really? How is that possible? I asked her. She quickly informed me that there is now a new pricing plan available.
Of course there is. I’m sure that one of the competitors has a lower price and so they dropped theirs to stay competitive. And why would you bother telling your existing customers that they can now get a cheaper trash plan? (Dripping with sarcasm).
Anyway, my point today is short and sweet: If you haven’t checked in with your regular billers lately to see if there are any new pricing plans that you may benefit from, you should! I also did this with our cell phone plan and our cable company recently. The cable company had nothing for me in the way of a better deal, but when I checked to see if I could get a better deal on our cell phone plan I ended up finding out that we could switch to a slightly bigger data plan for $10 less per month!
Keeping tabs on these things can save you money, and the companies are not likely to tell you if you don’t ask. The other thing you can do is to call around to competitors to find out if they have lower rates and either 1) use that knowledge to get your biller to drop your rates or 2) switch companies. If you need help in this area, check out Trim to help you analyze your bills and reduce your rates.
Have you saved money lately by checking in with your billers to see if there are any cheaper pricing plans that you may benefit from? If so, how much money were you able to save?
Suggested Reading: It’s a little off-topic, but while doing some reading on ways to decrease our fixed expenses, I came across a great book with TONS of ideas for insulating and weatherproofing your home. If you are interested in become more energy efficient-savvy, I recommend checking out Insulate and Weatherize: For Energy Efficiency at Home (Taunton’s Build Like a Pro).
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