Auto Pay. Are you over paying for services?

Money Down the Drain

In the last decade we have started to pay for services on a monthly basis. A few dollars here and few dollars there, before we know it, hundreds of dollars a month are being paid out. 

Is it time for a service provider audit? Are you paying too much for services, or worse yet, have overlapping services? Are service providers slipping a few extra dollars on your monthly bill without your knowledge? We all have services like cell phone, internet, cable/satellite, software, email, and many others that can really add up to a lot of money. A quick audit can summarize these services and, probably lower your monthly expenses.

Cell Phone Bills are Out of Control

Over the past two months I have been auditing my clients communications bills. This started as I needed to make changes to their services. While looking at their bills, I discovered that they had not updated their plans in years. 

I was able to cut $164 per month off of one clients AT&T bill. Another client saved $103 per month off their Verizon bill. While these are the exceptions, the average has been a reduction of about $40 per month in cell phone bills. Check your plans. You should be paying no more than $35 per month for unlimited talk and text per line and $20 for 2GB shared data. Even if you are still in contract and paying for a phone, you should still be able to get this pricing from all of the providers. The key to making this happen is that you have to call them and be firm that you want these plans. They are not going to automatically reduce your bill. They like taking your money!

Cable/Satellite Services Drain Your Wallet Too

I was able to reduce several Brighthouse bills some by as much as $98 per month. When you call them you need to tell them that you want to take certain services out, like whole house DVR. They were charging a total of $65 per month. When I told them that I wanted the entire DVR service removed, the charge was reduce to $5 per month. On a personal note I was able to reduce my Brighthouse bill by $10 per month and increase my internet speed from 10MB to 100MB.

Again you have to call them to get this reduction. You have to be firm and not let them sell you more services. The service providers have all created a protocol to stonewall the consumer into keeping the current service or upgrading. You need to speak their language and push back. 

 

Land Lines That Don't Work

I still have clients that use Verizon for their land line, I know that it is hard to believe. During this last storm, the land line went down and there was no estimate on when it would be fixed. The decision was made to switch to Brighthouse for the landline. When I called Frontier to cancel the service, they offered to cut the bill from $80 per month to $40 per month. It did not matter, we canceled the service anyway. One more note about Frontier, while I was at a client's house fixing her computer, I noticed a Frontier bill on her desk. She has no services with Frontier. When I looked into it, they were billing her for services that she does not have and has not had for 3 years. If you are still doing business with Frontier, look very closely at your bills.

Automatically Sending Too Much Money

The last topic I want to cover is auto pay for your bills. Many of my clients set this up years ago. Two of the ways that this can be set up are sending money from your bank to pay the bills or having the bills deducting from your account by the utility. I am not a fan of either method.

While I do pay all of my bills on line, I look at them every month before they are paid. I have one client that set up the checks to be sent from the bank every month to pay her bills. The result is that the cable bill was over paid and now there is a $3,300 credit on the account and the gas bill was underpaid resulting in a past due balance. I have another client that has rental property. Her tenant had the bank automatically send her a check every month for the rent. The tenant suddenly died and the rent checks kept coming.

Another problem with the method of sending checks from your bank to the biller is that many people do not set up on line access with the utility, ie Verizon, AT&T,... This can create a problem when you need to call in to make changes on your account. Most companies require a PIN or answers to security questions. If you have not set up an on line account then you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get help. I had to deal with this a few weeks ago.

Island Computer Consulting can audit your account to insure that you are paying the best price for your services, all of you accounts are set up properly and that payment methods are set up.

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