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Expenses and Savings: Phone May 9, 2007

Posted by pf in Expenses and Savings.
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Today we got this strange call from AT&T with a recorded message letting us know our new phone number was connected (same number as we have today).  Huh?  We’ve had this number for more than 7 years, how is it now “new”?

Of course, we called them back to ask what this was all about and were told that due to the recent sale of the phone company, our existing number was being “connected” with the new company.  Otherwise, no change. 

 Ok, fair enough…but now that I had them, I determined I might as well figure out whether or not there are any opportunities to reduce my current phone bill.  As expected, amongst the plans that were described, we seemed to already have the one that made the most sense for us.  However, I remembered that we also had long distance service that we never use (always use cell phone) and so I wanted to cancel it.

Of course, in order to do so, I had to call the old phone company because they still controlled the long distance portion of our phone.   Geesh.  I called the old phone company and asked them to cancel my long distance.  A simple transaction, yes?  Not quite. 

Apparently, my “long distance” with them includes regular long distance plus a package for local toll calling.  Local toll calling is any call that is between 15-50 miles.  For us, that is the majority of our calls, so we need to keep that.   To figure out what package we needed, I asked the rep to tell me how many minutes in local toll calls we made each month, for the past 3 months.  Apparently, I wasn’t communicating well because she just couldn’t get what I was saying and kept giving me numbers that clearly made no sense (ex: total minutes for all calls).  Finally, we got there and I selected the same package I have now for $11.95 / month.

Well, I then wanted to know how much I would be saving by canceling the long distance portion (excluding toll calls).  Again, communication is fuzzy and I can’t quite get the rep to understand.  I became so frustrated, I told her I thought she was “great”, but I needed to speak with a supervisor.   She put me on hold for a minute, came back and told me the supervisor line was busy.  She tried again…same result.  As you can imagine, I’m about to jump out of my skin as I feel I am helpless.  Not to be outdone, I asked her if we could start all over from the beginning and see if we could get there together.  FINALLY, I got what I wanted…$3.95 / month for the long distance portion only.  That’s it?  Whee?

So, she finished that part and then said she would have to reconnect me to the new phone company to finish the transaction.  I got connected to a nice rep who was very efficient and was closing the transaction.  I randomly mentioned something about keep the toll call portion and she said “What?”  “She didn’t tell me that.”  “I was canceling the whole thing”. 

Whaaaatttttt?  Are you telling me I could have just done this all through you in the first place?  “No, you still would have to call them first, but after that, then I can”.   Sigh….  Anyway, we finally got it all corrected.  Before finishing the call, however, I asked about the optional linebacker service.  It’s the service that insures you against any needed repairs to your wiring, etc inside your home.  It’s about $7 month.  I’ve always had it and never gave it a second thought.  As you might expect, I have never needed it, either.

I asked her what she thought and she said she doesn’t have it herself, but can’t really advise me one way or the other (a very familiar phrase in our litigation filled society).  She also told me that if I had a problem, it would cost $71 for the service visit plus $15 for every 25 minutes the technician had to be there.  The way I figured it, as my house is relatively new and I’ve never had any problems, I decided to take the gamble…”danger” is my middle name.

Honestly, when I had first considered looking into my phone service, I thought I would do something more drastic such as getting rid of a land line phone entirely.  Unfortunately, my wife was very adamant about having the land line and so my big idea was quashed before it got off the ground. 

Anyway, after all is said and done it looks like I’ll be saving about $11 off my phone bill each month plus any taxes, fees, etc.  Not much…but it all adds up and I’ll take it…despite the cost of the aggravation.

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