You can get better discounts on your telecom services if you have a professional negotiator on your side.
If you want to reduce your telecom bills, you can call your supplier to negotiate discounts.
Telecom companies, keen to hold onto long-term customers, usually agree to lower your rates if you ask.
The last time I asked Rogers for a better deal, I reduced our household’s bills by 15 per cent. But we still paid close to $600 a month for a landline phone, four wireless phones, cable TV and Internet service.
Anxious to get more savings, I hired a professional telecom negotiator, Mohammed Halabi, CEO of My Bills Are High, to cut my expenses.
The 30-year-old has worked in telecom for more than a decade, starting as a top salesman for Radio Shack. He helps both companies and individuals trim their monthly costs.
“I reviewed your accounts and I must admit you’ve done a great job of managing it,” he said. “But we’re confident we can save you approximately 22 per cent on your Rogers expenditures.”
He ended up saving us $150 a month before taxes — or 28 per cent.
As do most other companies that negotiate telecom bills for you — such as Cell 4 Less Consulting, Saveutel Communications and Phone Bill Cutters — Halabi charges a contingency fee.
This means he takes the first few months of the savings he finds for you as his payment. And if he can’t find any savings, he charges nothing.
Why hire a professional negotiator? Many of us are short of time and energy to keep calling suppliers and asking for better deals.
Also, it can be hard to wrap your head around all the telecom rate plans and subsidized hardware on offer — even if you go to a great shopping website such as Comparecellular.com.
“Many people pay too much because there are so many options and they don’t have time to figure out whether or not they are getting the best deal — even after they have spoken directly to their service providers,” say Heather Morgan and Mike Weatherbee, founders of Cut My Costs Inc.
The company helped a couple with three children reduce their monthly bills to $400 a month, down 60 per cent, while increasing their service quality.
“We were able to leverage our clients’ history with their provider to get rates we knew were possible, but were not generally public knowledge. This household already had a contract, but we were able to renegotiate it,” Morgan explained.
I decided to beef up my negotiating muscle after getting a referral from Mark Weisleder, a Toronto real estate lawyer and Star contributor. He met Halabi at a trade show and authorized him to negotiate his family’s bills.
“It’s nice to find a company that is on your side and is willing to fight the carriers on a consumer’s behalf,” Weisleder said.
“He found me substantial savings, after analyzing my own usage and being aware of plans and discounts that are not widely publicized.”
Halabi also negotiated for Pioneer Petroleums and Snack Express stores, saving the company 60 per cent on its cellular phone expenses. It recently did the same for the company’s landline bills
“We call him the Phone Whisperer,” says Robert Pettorossi, Pioneer’s chief financial officer. “He’s persistent and gets discounts that other people can’t. What he did was get us more services for less money.”
When working with our family’s bills, Halabi asked about what we needed. He thought we should eliminate our home phone because we use it so little, but my husband and I wanted to hang onto it.
So, he kept going back to Rogers until he found us a home phone plan at $19.99 a month before taxes — less than half of what we paid before.
Our home phone discount lasts for two years. Our wireless phone discounts last for three years. Our cable TV and Internet discounts last for one year.
“The plans that have been attained are not offered to the public,” he said in his report. “They are highly discounted. We advise that no changes are made without consultation.”
Being long-time customers was a bonus, he said. Our Rogers account had existed since 1979, “the longest tenure that our expense management agents have seen.”
Those who are opposed to long-term contracts may want to steer clear of an expense management service.
“It’s to your advantage to have us lock in these discounts for as long as possible,” Halabi says. “Locking in your services, contingent on receiving a great deal, is essential to saving money.”
Businesses have been hiring telecom consultants for years to cut their costs. With the availability of such services for individuals, telecom companies really have to stay on their toes.
Ellen Roseman writes about personal finance and consumer issues. You can reach her at email@example.com . Her new book, Fight Back, is available at bookstores, online and at StarStore.ca.