Anyone can easily save money on their bills. Find out how someone who has never switched a supplier in his life slashed a third off his annual broadband bill in a ten minute phone call.
It may surprise you to know that, while I heartily champion the mantra of "not paying more than you need" for anything, even humble personal finance writers can have their failings. And mine is currently broadband.
The fact of the matter is we needed to get online in a hurry when we moved into our home and so simply transferred over our current Virgin deal and left it at that. Poor, I know. It's been in the back of my mind ever since, but I have yet to do anything about it.
Why haven't we switched to a cheaper deal?
The thing is, as in most relationships, my husband and I have some unspoken responsibilities. He, amongst many other things mows the lawn, empties the rubbish and makes sure the car will run. I, on the other hand, am in charge of bills. It works really well - he really couldn't care less which suppliers we're with and I don't like bins (or grass...or oil!). So the onus is on me to switch.
The trouble is, while this agreement worked perfectly at the start, children then entered our lives. And between writing and trying to circumvent trips to casualty, I now rarely have a minute to myself - and when I do I shamefully confess that I use that time to sleep, read a book or watch some (pref. American) drivel on TV. So although we do have the cheapest gas and electricity deals possible, I can't say the same for our broadband. And so it ticks on.
Sometimes, however, things change. Maybe it's caused by interplanetary collisions; possibly a full moon, but occasionally one of us will take on the other's jobs. And at this juncture I decided to go against type and empty the bin. No, only kidding. My husband, inspired by reading my colleague Szu Ping Chan's article decided to call our broadband supplier (family members: feel free to faint).
Call your supplier
So what did he say? Well, firstly, he asked if there was a better deal on the market than the one we had (as we were currently getting 1MB ADSL broadband for £15 per month (£180 per year) you will be unsurprised to learn that there was).
He was immediately offered the option they currently present to new customers of switching to their (up to) 8MB service for £18 a month.
"Come on, can't you do any better?" he badgered, and was told that if he were to switch to their phone and broadband package he could get the same speed for £10 for the first three months, and £15 thereafter, which would include free evening and weekend calls. This would be a total of £165 for the first year and £180 for subsequent years.
"But I've just been reading an article that states that O2 is offering 8MB for £7.34 per month for O2 customers and £12.23 for everyone else" he interjected.
This seemed to do the trick. As a "loyal customer" he was then offered the same deal previously presented, but for £10 a month, straight. So that's (up to) 8MB ADSL broadband (with unlimited downloads) plus free evening and weekend calls for £120 per year - saving a whopping £60 annually on what we're currently paying for a 1MB service.
Not bad, eh?
Indeed, surprised at what he could achieve with a little time and knowledge my husband is now chuffed to bits and has been regaling all with his one-man triumph against the multi-national bloodsuckers.
Of course, not wishing to rain on his parade it could be argued that we could possibly do even better. We could switch mobile phone to O2 to benefit from the aforementioned deal (or one of the other cheap deals listed) and investigate whether or not we could get cable broadband or if it's cheaper to use a dongle.
We also need to check whether switching our phone from BT to Virgin is best for us. While on the plus side BT's line rental is due to rise in April, it has other benefits including allowing you to dial those rip-off 0870 and 0845 numbers for free as part of your calling package (although, unless your package includes free daytime calls this may be of limited value as many 0870/0845 numbers are for daytime use only). There are certainly some sums that need to be done.
But, by going through with this deal we would certainly avoid the effort of switching supplier (and the potential hassles of obtaining our Mac code), the obvious disruption to our broadband supply, possible set-up fees and worries about reliability of service. And the best bit is I haven't had to do a thing.
It certainly proves that getting a cheaper deal is not difficult - armed with a little knowledge you can save a surprising amount of money for very little effort, even if you've never attempted to do so before.
So does this mean I now need to find out where we keep the lawnmower?!
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