New, cheaper data plans from AT&T were announced yesterday. The new plans (which will start on June 7th) will cost $25/month for 2GBs and $15/month for 200MBs. Excited that we may be able to reduce our cell phone bill I logged onto my account yesterday to find out how much we could save.
Imagine my shock when I saw a balance of $392! (Our bill is typically around $140 for 2 phones) So I immediately start trying to decode where the overages are coming from, and deciphering all the terms and gobbeldy gook (I’m sure that’s a technical term). After some digging around my account info I found that after reducing our rate plan in March we had burned through our rollover minutes, and then some.
I called to reduce our plan in March to save about $25/month on our bill. I figured that saving $25/month or $300/year was worth it. What I didn’t know was that our usage would go up as my business has grown, or that I would be using my phone more frequently for conference calls. What I either missed or misunderstood was that by changing our rate plan ALL our rollover minutes would be capped at our new plans level, meaning we lost about 1600 minutes.
I didn’t panic, I know AT&T is known for it’s great customer service (even if my phone doesn’t always put through calls properly). I called this morning while the boys were occupied playing, and talked to an awesome customer service rep who had a great attitude (Why is this so rare customer service people? I want to talk to nice people when I call!).
He immediately shared the options for our rate plans, and we picked one that suits our current needs, and rolled it back to the beginning of this billing cycle so no future overages will happen. That alone saved me another $200+ in overages this month.
With one hurdle down, I was worried that wouldn’t bode well for my other big question. Could AT&T remove the $240 in overages from last month? After a minute long hold, which felt like an hour, the customer service rep came back on the phone and said he would credit the account back in full for the overages. He went back and credited our account for the $242 we were charged this month for going over. While on the phone I hit the refresh button and like magic my bill is now back down to our typical monthly bill.
While I am grateful that a 20 minute phone call saved me nearly $500 (that’s a great ROI!) there are a few important lessons I learned that I’m happy to share so you don’t have to make the same costly mistakes.
5 ways to get good customer service (and keep more money in your wallet)
- It doesn’t hurt to ask: While the mistake was my fault entirely, by asking AT&T to credit us, and change our plan I saved $500. Not every company offers the same great service, so be hopeful but realistic. What’s the worst that can happen, they’ll say no?
- Understand the fine print: I misunderstood that our minutes wouldn’t carry over, a slick trick on AT&T’s part. I pay a good amount of money for those minutes, so I should get to keep them even if I change plans.
- Read you bill: I should have read my bill more carefully. If I had I would have seen $3 in overages in March, and $20 in April and called to change my plan sooner.
- Saving small amounts isn’t always worth it: Yes, it’s important to save money, and slash expenses when you are trying to pay off debt or meet your savings goals, but sometimes saving $10-15/month means you end up spending more somewhere down the line. The same can be said of home and car repairs, clothing, and so much more. Sometimes saving ten bucks means spending $100 down the line. Focus instead on the bigger wins, like maybe getting rid of the cell phone altogether.
- Be polite: If I had called in a rant, and threatened to leave (um, not going to happen, my iPhone is like my 5th child), yelled at the CS rep, etc. they could have been mean right back at me. By being polite you can often get your complaints heard and fixed. IF you can’t call and be polite, don’t bother calling-it’s not worth your time, or theirs.
Do you have any stories of savings gone wrong? Slashing expenses only to have to pay way more because you didn’t think it through? I want to hear your stories, leave me a comment.
Disclosure: This post is not sponsored by AT&T or Apple, they have no idea who I am though they do like to take my money.