Smart Financial Decisions: Saving Hundreds of Dollars an Hour Making Phone Calls

Financial IndependenceIn today’s edition of Smart Financial Decisions, we’re writing about a simple, but incredibly effective, way to save significant amounts of money.

And almost all of us can find ways to use this skill.

It’s called picking up your phone and making a phone call.

As I’ve gotten more serious about pursuing financial independence and early retirement, I’ve used this skill more and more often.

This year alone I’ve made several phone calls that have saved the ROMT family well over $1,000.

Not a bad return for a couple of hours of “work”!

In November I received notice that my satellite radio subscription was set to renew this month. Given that I spend at least an hour a day in my vehicle, my subscription to SiriusXM is one of the few completely unnecessary luxuries I allow myself.

But the cost for a one year subscription renewal had climbed to over $230 when state and local taxes and fees were included, a significant increase from the last time I renewed.

I enjoy listening to some channels on SiriusXM I can’t get anywhere else, but was it really worth almost $20 a month to me?

I wasn’t so sure.

I logged into my account to see if any special offers were available to existing subscribers (there weren’t), but it was real easy to renew my subscription, purchase a more expensive package, or update my credit card with just a few clicks.

The one thing that wasn’t easy to do online was cancel my subscription. It took a few minutes of hunting just to find the phone number I’d need to call to do that.

The day before my subscription was up, I did a quick search online to find out how much subscribers could potentially save if they took the time to call SiriusXM and threatened to cancel their service, rather than just letting the automatic renewal charge hit their credit card. It sounded pretty easy to cut my bill in half, but my goal was to do even better.

So I picked up the phone, made the call, waited on hold for a few minutes, and then finally spoke with a customer service rep. As soon as I informed her I wanted to cancel my subscription because it cost too much, she offered to cut the base price in half to $99 a year (plus taxes and fees).

From my research online I knew SiriusXM was offering a special deal of 6 months for $30, but only for new subscribers. Some who had written about their experience calling the company to cancel existing service indicated it was possible for those renewing their subscriptions to get a full year for $60.

So I decided to press my luck.

I told the customer service rep thank you, but that I’d still like to cancel my subscription.

At this point, she came back with the “special offer” I had hoped for. Because I had been a loyal customer for many years, she could offer me a full year of service for $60, plus taxes and fees.

At that price, it was worth it to me to keep the subscription, so after a few seconds of “thought” about the new offer, I agreed to renew for another year at the lower price.

Taking into account my Internet search and the phone call, I spent at most 15 minutes on this project.

The result was lowering what SiriusXM had originally asked me to pay by almost 70%, representing nearly $160 a year in my pocket, rather than theirs.

All because of one simple phone call.

To put the money that one call saved me into context, if I could actually earn $160 for every 15 minutes I worked, for 8 hours a day, five days a week, and 52 weeks a year – I would make over $1.3 million a year!

Obviously, the opportunities to “earn” that kind of money making a phone call are few and far between, but the benefits are so significant compared to what the vast majority of us earn there’s really no excuse not to pick up the phone. Yes, we’re all really busy – but we shouldn’t be too busy to do something that can save us hundreds of dollars an hour!

My recent experience with SiriusXM wasn’t the first time this year I was able to get paid like a millionaire for making a quick phone call either.

A few months ago, my online subscription to the Wall Street Journal was up for renewal. I use the subscription at work and to get ideas for an occasional posting on this website, so I wasn’t likely to cancel my subscription. But I was shocked when they asked me to pay about $360 a year for the renewal, a significant increase from last year.

As with SiriusXM, there was no easy way to click a button online to renew at a lower rate or cancel my subscription, so I had to make a phone call in this situation also. For 15 minutes of effort, I cut the proposed bill in half, to $15 a month. Saving $180 in 15 minutes seems like a good use of my time to me!

Early RetirementMaking a call saved our family the most money when I phoned Comcast earlier this year to cancel our cable television subscription after they proposed increasing the cost again.

I did some research on digital antennas like the AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor TV Antenna – 50 Mile Range and Sling TV, and this Gen-Xer was ready to join millions of Millennials and cut the cord for good. The plan before calling Comcast was to keep two-thirds of our triple play (the high-speed Internet and phone service), while dumping the cable television.

But I could be convinced to do otherwise if the price was right when I spoke with them.

Fortunately, it was.

The conversation with Comcast took a bit longer than my discussions with SiriusXM and the Wall Street Journal, but it paid even bigger dividends. By the end of the conversation, I was able to cut our monthly bill by 25%, while keeping the exact same triple play service we had, with many more channels than we would have had access to with a digital antenna and Sling TV. This 30 minute call saved our family several hundred dollars a year.

I know there are some readers who are probably thinking, “Congratulations ROMT, but you could have saved 100% on each of those bills if you had just cancelled your service when you were on the phone!”

You’re right, but we made the decision that the money we eventually had to pay for these subscriptions was worth it to our family. Your results, of course, may vary!

Big companies know many of us don’t like making phone calls to them and spending time on hold, especially after we’ve gotten used to doing almost everything instantly online. So while it’s easy to purchase a new service online or let a subscription renew automatically (frequently at a higher price than you paid last year), providers generally make it difficult to get a better rate without picking up the phone, knowing many people won’t bother to make that call.

Don’t be one of them.

Readers need to keep in mind that companies like SiriusXM, the Wall Street Journal, and Comcast desperately want to keep their existing subscribers. In many situations, it costs companies almost nothing to continue providing service to a current customer. Which is why they will frequently offer savings of 25%, 50%, 75% or more to those of us willing to make a phone call and threaten to cancel our service!

As I’ve outlined above, the potential savings can be tremendous in the context of the amount of time actually involved. And who doesn’t need a nice financial boost on the path to financial independence and early retirement?

As Benjamin Franklin said, “A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned!”

What’s the most money you’ve ever saved by making a phone call?

4 Comments

  • Payton Jarratt

    December 19, 2017

    Really great post. I may try calling my car insurance company and threatening to switch if they can’t lower my rate.

    Reply
    • ROMT

      December 19, 2017

      That’s a great idea! As much as insurance companies try to market their products as unique, auto and homeowners insurance are pretty homogenized and commoditized products. You might not be able to cut your bill in half, but if you shop around you can probably find a better price than you are currently paying.

      Reply
  • Mr. Robot

    December 20, 2017

    Hi ROMT! Great post and thank you for sharing. The most I got while negotiating was bringing the monthly down from 59.95 to 18.20 for six months. This saved us a lot! I’ve got one or two posts for the beginning of this year but they are in Dutch so you’ll have to use Google translate 🙂

    Reply
    • ROMT

      December 20, 2017

      In percentage terms you can’t do much better than that Mr. Robot! Thanks for reading and taking the time to share your experience.

      Reply

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