Some of us fail to update to promotional rates. Others of us forget to cancel services we no longer use. And a few of us are being charged for calls we didnt make or for options we didnt order.
Use these five ways to cut your phone bill:
1. Check your bill for services you didnt order or no longer use. Mistakes happen. Whether a typo, miscommunication, or sales person under quota, the result can be an unintended charge on your phone bill.
Basically, your monthly bill consists of four types of fees; local service, taxes and surcharges, optional services, and long distance. While you cant do much about service and taxes, you can do something about optional services and long distance.
First, look at each entry on your phone bill. If you find an item that you dont understand, call the toll-free number, and ask for a clarification. If the item is a service you didnt order or a call you didnt make, ask for a refund (and a cancellation number, if for a service). The company can and will do this, but you have to ask.
Next, evaluate the optional services on your phone bill. The $5 monthly line maintenance fee youve paid for three years has cost you $120. When was the last time you had the repair technician out?
Maybe its time to drop this plan and pay for inside phone line repairs yourself, if and when they occur. (Remember, the telephone company is still obligated to repair problems outside your home at no cost).
Other extra-cost options you may want to cancel include voice mail (an answering machine equals six months of voice mail), feature subscriptions (if used less than six times monthly, pay per use instead), and additional lines (when on the Internet, forward your home phone number to your wireless phone). Savings range from $5 to $50 monthly using these tips.
2. Ask for a package discount. If you plan to add a wireless phone, Internet, burger, fries, and soda, your best deal for telephone services is often with and/or calling features, ask about a package discount. Much like buying a package. Most companies offer a 10 to 30 percent discount if you "bundle" your communications needs together.
Advantages include combined billing (saving checks and stamps), one point of contact (for questions and technical support), and "freebies" (calling features "thrown-in").
You wont have to provide a credit card (like most outside Internet providers), and you will save on deposits (often necessary for new wireless customers).
Disadvantages? The same reasons that make life simpler by "bundling" can also make life complicated if you have a problem. Lets say you have difficulties accessing the telephone company Internet service and withhold payment on the Internet portion of your bill.
You risk losing all of your residential telephone services due to "SNP" (Suspended for Non Payment). Talk with friends and family first to obtain their experiences with a particular companys services before committing to a package.
3. Get a better long distance rate. If you havent compared rates among long distance companies in the past 12 months, youre probably spending too much. Domestic long distance rates can vary from three cents to thirty-five cents a minute.
How do you get the best deals? Go to the Internet and use a shopping service to compare rates. Some companies charge a few dollars monthly for discounted minute rates, while others charge no monthly fee, but charge more per minute.
Also, check with your membership warehouse, recreational vehicle club, or trade union to get a lower group rate. Currently, the best long distance rates are offered by prepaid calling cards (three to six cents a minute) and wireless phones (typically, $30 buys 3000 minutes of free long distance - - about one penny a minute).
4. Save money by calling ahead before you move. When making moving arrangements with your local telephone company, request that the transfer fee be billed over three installments. Also, ask for an evaluation of your present telephone services to see if any discounts apply.
Telephone companies periodically offer 30-day free trial periods on new features, and even offer free equipment (such as caller identification boxes).
After calling your local provider, contact your long distance company directly. Although your local company will designate your choice of long distance, the long distance provider is under no obligation to continue your discounted rate at your new phone number.
In fact, they may "bump" your rate two to three times higher, unless you specifically request that your current discount be continued.
5. Get rid of your home telephone. Yes, get rid of your home telephone. A typical landline incurs $15 to $25 monthly in access charges and taxes. Wireless phones are exempt from nearly all of these, and better yet, offer free long distance.
If you currently spend $35 to $40 monthly in long distance, consider replacing your home phone with wireless service.
You gain the convenience and security of a wireless phone (usually offered at little or no charge), avoid costly taxes, and enjoy free features like voice mail. All this for about $30 monthly which is less than you pay for long distance alone.
Before buying, make sure that you reside in a home coverage area. You dont want a wireless phone if you reside in a roaming area, which is more costly than a payphone.
Also, for those who think they need a telephone line to access the Internet, think again. Alternatives now exist using cable (television) and wireless (satellite) modems to access the Internet.
Given the five options weve discussed, there is no reason you cant stay in touch with loved ones and still save $15, $25, even $50 monthly on your phone bill.Pay for Calls You Didn't Make?
by Terry Shorter email@example.com
Editor's note: This scam requires a PBX to work. According to ATT, most residential users will not be effected. They further state that a repair person "would never call customers and ask them to help check phone lines". The target for the scam is generally businesses.
Beware of a long distance scam that could cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars! Many times this scam has been originating from many of the local jails/prisons.
This information was forwarded from Marc Pearson. Here's what an individual said concerning his experience: "I received a telephone call last evening from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T Service technician who was conducting a test of our telephone lines. He stated that to complete the test I should touch nine (9), zero (0), the pound sign (#) and then hang up. Luckily I was suspicious and refused.
Upon contacting the telephone company, I was informed that by pushing 90#, you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which allows them to place long distance telephone calls billed to your home phone number. I was further informed that this scam has been originating from many of the local jails/prisons.
I have also verified this information with UCB telecomm, Pacific Bell, MCI, Bell Atlantic, GTE AND NYNEX."
This unsettling experience can only point to one conclusion. DO NOT press 90# for ANYONE...EVER!
Please pass the word along to others.
Terry Shorter is the IT Director for PK Communications pkcomm.com
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