Then get on the phone and get busy. Here’s some evidence that it’s worth the time and effort to call up your pay-TV service, wireless provider, and credit card company and demand better terms.
Bob Sullivan, author of Stop Getting Ripped Off, is a huge proponent of being a pain in the butt as a means to stop the insidious practice known as “bill creep.” You know the way that monthly fees and charges have a way of inching up $1 here, 43¢ there, and then an extra $19.95 all of a sudden? That’s bill creep.
Sullivan’s technique for taking on bill creep is to simply take one lunch hour per month and call up one of the various creepy companies you deal with—wireless provider, auto insurer, cable company, etc.—and make sure that you don’t hang up unless you’ve managed to lower your monthly bill. Threatening to cancel the account is often necessary.
Sullivan has created a Facebook Group called the Red Tape Fight Club. The 1,300+ members don’t go shirtless while trading punches in some seedy basement or anything. Instead, its noble mission is this:
to harness the power of public commitment to motivate one other and take on unfair fees and charges
And a post at Sullivan’s blog lists the top 10 member success stories. There are stories of consumers who are now saving $40 a month on DirecTV subscriptions and $70 monthly on cable-phone-Internet packages, of folks who made credit-card annual fees and late fees disappear—all because they took a few minutes and made a simple phone call.
Sometimes, when you call up, you won’t be offered a cheaper rate, in which case your only viable strategy is to cancel the account—which is OK only if you can live without the service. One woman explains how she did just that with her land line recently, saving her more than $200 a year:
“I asked to cancel the line and they asked why but didn’t offer any incentives to keep it. It only took about 3 minutes to get it canceled. I saved about $18 a month by getting rid of the phone. … My advice for others would be to not stop trying. It’s hard to find time to stay on hold or call back repeatedly, but in the end the money saved is worth it.”
TV A La Carte: One Man’s Dream