Saving Money on Utilities

A lot of people think that when it comes to your utility bills, you pay what you pay. Making the time to find out about your utilities and paying attention to your bills could save you a lot of money — into the hundreds in our case!

Last year we decided that we were going to cancel our satellite TV for the summer. I just had our daughter and it was summer, so the only TV was reruns, and we didn’t have much time for anything anyway.

My husband called up our provider and said that we were thinking about canceling for the summer. We weren’t happy with what we were paying, we didn’t like that all of the ‘deals’ out there were only for ‘new’ customers, and we had a couple of satellite problems that we had called and complained about during the year, so we wanted a break. We said that we would re-evaluate all of our options after the three months was up (then we would have been considered ‘new customers’ again and could get more deals).

My husband wasn’t complaining, he just told it like it was. The agent asked if we would stay if they lowered our programming charges, and it went back and forth for a bit as we were set on leaving. Finally, we were offered 30% off all programming charges (even if we wanted to add new channels), as well, we didn’t have to pay for either of our receivers for the year. This was in exchange for us signing a 1-year contract. That was a pretty good deal, so we took it and stayed.

Now our TV is up for negotiating again, and we were going to consider another provider. We saved up for an HDTV and got one at a great price in February, and we wanted to get HD programming. Our provider wanted to charge for the HD receiver, while the competition was giving it away for free. We called up again and gave a few months notice that we would not be renewing our service, and again we were asked why. After our reason, we were offered an HD receiver with no monthly charge for 1 year, plus all of their HD channels free for 6 months… SOLD!

After we got off the phone this time we were feeling a little confident and we decided that we were also paying too much for our internet. So my husband called our telephone provider up and told them that he felt the charges were too high for what he was getting. (They ‘upgraded’ us last year and said our internet would be faster, it wasn’t). So our telephone company offered to take $5 a month off of our bill.

Sha-zam! Stop, drop and roll because we are ON FIRE!

Now here’s where it is important to read your monthly bills and ask questions if you don’t understand a charge. My husband reviews our monthly bills as we get them. Our first bill came in from our satellite provider after our set-up of our HDTV, and it was high. We called and asked them to explain the charges as we knew we were responsible for some of them, but we had questions about the rest. The customer service agent couldn’t explain it all, and ended up crediting us back $33. We still didn’t understand some of the charges and spoke to someone else who agreed that there were more charges that needed to be reversed back to us in the amount of $70 – for a total of $103. Plus we are also going to be getting another $40 because they were charging us for the rental of the receiver for a few months which they told us was free. So we got back $143 because we were on our toes.

The moral of the story is, read your bill and ask for clarification if you don’t understand. Also, when you talk to your providers, just ask what deals they have on right now, or if they can review your account to see if there is any where they can save you money. We have gotten some good deals in the past.

Note: Don’t just call your TV company up and try to call their bluff or you may be without TV channels, you need to be prepared to walk away for a bit if you are going to take this route with your negotiations like we did. The beginning of summer is a good time because everything goes into reruns, many customers drop off and this is usually when offers come out from television providers. Then you can return after their grace period is up (double check the length) and your TV company considers you to be a new customer again.

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