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Friday, 12 April 2013

{2013} Money Matters: Cutting Costs (Part 2)

Remember in this post I thought I could save 57% on my monthly communication/entertainment bills by looking up better deals? Well, I was wrong.... We saved more!

After a couple of hours last week calling around TV licensing, VirginMedia and Orange, I've got to say I'm amazed! I was expecting to be cajoled into staying or have them try and sell me more stuff I don't need, but in reality, their customer service was top notch, they knew their stuff regarding other companies offers and they were realistic with the deals they offered us.

The deal we were hoping to get from VirginMedia was technically for new customers. I know from previous cheeky phone calls that they do NOT give these offers to current customers, no matter how hard you complain! But actually I've found that if you're cheeky enough to ask they might end up giving you a better deal. After prooving we'd done our research by discussing what other companies could do for us, we were offered a "better-than-new-customers" deal for £23.14 a month for 12 months! Bonus! We're not tied into a ridiculously long contract and it's even cheaper on average than the new customer deals! If we can't find it cheaper at the end of the 12 month period, then they said the discount will continue on for another year.

After speaking to Orange and VirginMobile, we made the decision to switch our mobile company. The best deal Orange could offer us was 4 times what we could be paying... They really wouldn't budge. I was gutted. I was going to miss Orange Wednesdays and magic numbers, my parents are with them after all and I've been with them for over 10 years now! We went to Carphonewarehouse online to check out what deals they had, and it turns out for the same VirginMobile deal they were 10% cheaper than Virgin! So Bruce ordered himself a SIM Card and they even chucked in a free handset they were trying to shift. (Well, sort of free, you paid £10 for the PAYG sim it comes with. But it was actually useful because he needed an emergency phone for the car and when he's flying!)

I was all set to buy my VirginMobile SIM, when unexpectedly the next morning Orange phoned us back to find out why we'd decided to switch (and try to rope us back in again). We told them our new deal (£10 a month for 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB data) and so they very kindly (and only a little bizarrely after the previous days performance) offered us 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data for £5.50 a month.... Err OK! That's cheaper than my current deal that only gets me 150 minutes, 200 texts and 250MB of data, plus I get to still use Orange Wednesdays! I guess they didn't think we were serious at first. So, I dare say we'll be making the most of the 14 day cooling off period from VirginMobile via Carphonewarehouse, now that Orange has pulled through for us.

So what's our saving? A whopping 62% on what we were paying last month. That equates to £739.48 saved this coming year from our previous £1185.54 expenditure. Hello holiday!

We definitely learned a few things about being more consumer savvy. If you want to have a go, I've compiled some tips for how you can make the best savings:

* Do your research. Most websites will have new customer and current customer pricing deals that you can read up on and see how your current package compares. It only took about half an hour to check out 3 or 4 alternative companies and find vastly better deals than what we were currently on.

* Think about your needs. There's no point in paying for tonnes of channels you don't need, likewise there's no point getting a cheap TV deal if you drop the only channel you wanted to watch anyway! Find out what you really want by checking your usage data (available on your bills) and base your bargaining on this.

* Stay calm and polite on the phone. The voices at the other end of the line are people too! Ask them their name, how their day is going and care. They might be the people that grab you a great deal and being nice (but firm) is the way to get what you want. If you threaten to leave and they CAN'T offer you a better deal then in your moment of anger you've played your last card, and might feel pressured to follow through on your threat. Staying calm also gives you thinking time so you can do some quick maths and check that they aren't screwing you over some how.

* Ask about everything. Maybe they'll give you what sounds like the deal of a lifetime, but the conditions of the deal state that you have to sign up to a 24 months contract, the cancellation fees are horrendous, and you get reduced coverage at certain times in the day. Whilst you have a human on the phone ask about everything, hidden terms, contract length, and verify what you're getting BEFORE they put it through!

* Have your credit/debit card and bank details handy as they might want to do a credit check (even if you're a current customer!) It'll save you scrabbling around whilst you're on the phone hopelessly trying to remember where you left your purse...

* Give yourself thinking time. When you've been offered a great deal, take the details of the deal, the name of the operator and give yourself some thinking time. No point rushing into it, especially when you might get a phone call the next day offering you something better. Call them back and accept the deal when you're sure about it, and have spoken to other companies. This will avoid annoying cancellations like we'll have to do with VirginMobile!

I hope my success has encouraged you to grab some savings for yourselves! If you want any more details on how I did it, just ask in the comments section.


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