My personal favorite (note the sarcasm here) is the Internet Cost Recovery Fee. What is it for? “This fee helps defray costs associated with building and maintaining our High-Speed Internet broadband network, as well as the costs of expanding network capacity to support the continued increase in customers' average broadband consumption.” So not only are you charged for your service (fair enough) but you also pay extra to build and maintain the carrier’s equipment. These are just several examples of “mystery fees” on your bill. Before you get too mad, know that all of these fees must be explained by law. You can call your carrier and sit on hold or you can do a quick web search for surcharges or a billing glossary on your carrier’s website to find definitions of all the terms used on your bill. If you find any that are optional (and that you can do without), consider canceling them.
OK, enough complaining, now for the good news. Many carriers offer discounts to new and current customers. These discounts typically expire after a certain period of time and the provider rarely notifies their customers that said discounts are expiring. In many cases, these discounts can be renewed but it is the customer’s responsibility to renew them. So do yourself a favor; take a close look at your next Internet or phone bill, research the charges listed and call your service provider if you have any questions. While you’re on the phone with them, be sure to ask if you can get either a lower rate or faster speed (at your same rate). In many cases you can! While results vary, in some cases customers have gotten nearly 50% lower rates or doubled their speed just by asking about current offers in their area! Again, this isn’t always the case but even if you save 10% on your next bill, isn’t it worth a few minutes of your time? Please note that some offers are only available if you “renew your contract.” Many DSL customers aren’t even aware that they’re on a contracted plan so be certain to understand the terms before making any changes. Remember the old Latin proverb, “caveat emptor,” or “Let the buyer beware.” Don’t just pay your bill, understand what you’re paying for.
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with multiple service providers to choose from, take the time to look at what the competition is offering. Many times you will find that one provider is offering the same services for a lower cost or perhaps more services for the same price that you currently pay. Use this to your advantage by calling your current provider and tell them that XYZ company has such and such a deal and then ask them to beat it. This will take some time out of your day but can pay big dividends as you get the providers to compete for your business instead of simply taking whatever they offer you. Remember to get any special offers in writing (it’s best to have the agent email you) so that you have a record of the specifics in case you speak with a different agent later, or if you need to send it to a competitor for a price/service match.
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