I thought it would be easy to reduce my phone bill. Ha! A few lessons learned about cutting through the phone company’s red tape.

att answering machine

Buying a digital answering machine for $15 means we can eliminate the $10 a month charge for “unified messaging” on our phone bill! At least now we’ll be able to see when we have messages.

Yes, I still have POTS (plain old telephone service) that works well even when the electricity goes out. I’m sure readers have other solutions that work for them, and they will want to know why we don’t have U-verse, Vonage, etc., etc.  We have an AT&T landline and high-speed Internet access, and that’s what I want to stick with…but for a lower cost. I have a VoIP MagicJack line and separate phone, bought years ago, that I use for business for a few bucks a year and the quality has only gotten better over time, thank goodness. And as anyone who follows TFF knows, I am deliriously happy with our cheap Tracfone cell phone service (read about it here). It’s what works for our family and keeps our bills low.

So, I called AT&T to lower my landline bill. It wasn’t pretty. The first rep was super-aggressive, trying to sell me U-verse and basically telling me how wrong I am not to have it installed. (Oh, yeah, how about the door-to-door AT&T salesperson that walked into our backyard to try to sell us U-verse! Talk about aggressive!) I hung up on her (sort of nicely), and called back. This time I got a great rep (Ed). But I learned a couple of tips that I hope will make your experience run smoother. (Read more tips about lowering rates from The Krazy Coupon Lady blog here.) It’s all common sense, and we’ve read about all this before, but for some reason, I thought, hey, the rep will “take care of it all for me.” Wrong!

1. Have a recent bill in front of you so you know what you’re talking about.

2. Research options online first! Get the options that you want  from the site, write it down, along with the costs. That way the rep knows you did your homework and will find it difficult to argue. I did not do that for the first phone call where I encountered that awful rep. My mistake…

3. Immediately tell the rep what you are not interested in hearing about, and that if they try to sell you that product/service, you will hang up. I did that the second time and it worked like a charm.

4. Aggressive reps don’t listen well. The first rep assumed I had all HD tvs when she insisted on pricing out a package. I told her not to assume everyone has HD or even a flat screen (we only have one small one and we’re waiting for the two older tvs to conk out before we bite the bullet for HD). She sounded shocked that we didn’t have HD throughout the house! How dare she! 

5. Know how the numbers add up! The first rep said that we could get U-verse for three tv’s, phone, Internet for nearly $150 a month for a year and that would be cheaper than anything we could ever get. If I were in a more frisky mood, I would have challenged her and read off what we get now (reduced cable for three tv’s to $35, kept my super high-speed Internet for $33, and wanted to reduce phone service down to $29 which equals: $100 a month). I couldn’t care less about bundling because that is not always the answer to reducing monthly rates/fees.

Okay, enough ranting. Just take a tip and be prepared up and down before you get a rep on the phone. If you don’t like the rep’s attitude, tell them you’ll think about it and simply say “thank you, goodbye,” and call back again.

ps: I may try again to get that Internet cost down….I may have to get Ed back on the phone!

~Marilyn, TFF

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