How to save money on your cell or cable package plans

When it comes to saving money on your cable or phone plan, one consumer expert recommends negotiating or calling your service provider regularly to make sure you’re getting the best deals.

Tobie Stanger, a senior editor of Consumer Reports, told CTV News Edmonton that monthly bill service providers such as phone plans, cable, Internet, home alarms or lawn services will have constant offers to keep attracting customers.

While the special pricing in the fine print might suggest they’re only available to new customers, Stanger suggests checking if you can get a loyalty bonus or asking if there are other perks for existing customers.

“Especially when you have a bundle where you have the cable and the internet,” Stanger said. “These companies want to keep their business.

“And yet, if you don’t constantly bug them about the service you’re getting and the price you’re paying, they’re going to assume you don’t care,” she added. “But you care.

“So it’s worth checking out how they can get you a better deal.”

Canada has three major wireless service providers, including Bell, Telus, Rogers and affiliated brands, which account for nearly 90 percent of cell phone plan subscribers.

The remaining 10 percent includes regional airlines and smaller market players, says the Competition Bureau of Canada.

Since 2014, the bureau has found that Canadians are likely to pay more when using a national wireless carrier.

In addition, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has determined that despite increasing demand for mobile wireless services, Canadians still pay more for cell phone service than other countries.

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On average, Canadians pay more than $90 a month for cell phone service. Statistics from the CRTC show that the average consumer paid around $62 a month for internet at home last year.

When it comes to data, the average Canadian cellular plan is around $68, with an average usage rate of 2.9 gigabytes per month.

Stanger recommends consumers regularly review their usage to ensure they are getting value for money and using the full breadth of services offered in their telecom packages.

“Look at the bill you have right now and see if there are any items that you can cut back, for example if there are services on your cell phone bill or on your home phone that you no longer need” , she said.

Before your contract expires, Stanger says, consumers should review their service packages and what competitors are offering. The senior editor of Consumer Reports suggested contacting the base annually if your services are provided on a monthly basis.

“Do your homework on what you think you can save,” she added. “Check out the deals your company is currently offering, including for new customers. They might be willing to make you a deal.”

“And even if they give you what they say is their last best offer, can you say can you help me a little bit more?”

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If the person you’re talking to on the phone isn’t helpful, Stanger said, it might be beneficial to ask to speak to an employee retention specialist or a manager — assuming you’re calling during regular business hours.

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“You really have nothing to lose,” Stanger said. “They won’t say forget it, we don’t want to mess with you.”

When talking to service providers, Stanger says it’s important to ask open-ended questions rather than ones that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

“(That way) they can give you the breadth of options available,” she said. “When you say do you have a discount for blah blah blah just say yes or no. And that could be the end.

“If you say what can you offer me, they have to go through the entire list of products available and you can choose,” added the consumer expert. “It doesn’t hurt to say after all this, what else can you do for me?”

Ultimately, when you’ve gotten the deal you want or a better deal from a service provider, Stanger says it’s crucial to get the rep to email you with details of the new deal.

“So you have it in writing,” she added. “Then next time you get a bill, make sure it’s reflected.”

“If not, you need to make another call.”

Bell Media owns CTV News, a division of Bell.

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