February 20, 2015 by phicks2012
Why is it that companies we once dealt with — but no longer use because their rates and/or billing practices and/or customer service were not acceptable — can advertise that they have the lowest rates and the most user-friendly services when we KNOW that to be untrue?
For example, my old cell phone provider advertised monthly service for around $25 with a one-year contract, but then added in taxes and other charges that brought the actual bills up to over $50 a month — this for a basic flip-phone with neither data nor texting. I was stuck with that provider for years simply because I could not get any bars at my house with any other provider, and negotiating to try for a lower rate helped not at all. I was assured by their billing department that I was already getting the lowest possible rate, and that nothing at all could be done to reduce my monthly bill.
But, only recently, I was finally able to change to Cricket Wireless, and I now get the same phone, the same connectivity, PLUS unlimited texting all for a $25 flat rate — more services for half the price, and no locked-in contract. I am saving over $330 a year, and still seeing my former provider advertising the same low monthly rates when I am pretty much positive that these still do not include the taxes and additional charges that had invariably been added to my own bills during my time of service with that company.
I was similarly stuck with satellite TV for a long time because cable was not available in my area, but I now have been with the same cable provider (Comcast) for a number of years, and have cable TV, high-speeed internet, and home phone service — the infamous Triple-Play. About once a year I have to renegotiate with them to get a lower monthly rate based upon whatever special promotion they are running at the time, and my friends ask me why I don’t change to satellite when they advertise such low rates. The answer is that, as previously stated, I’ve HAD satellite. The rates were initially low, but didn’t stay that way, and every time the weather turned bad the dish reception was adversely affected. Also, at the time you could not get either phone service or sufficiently fast uplink internet speeds via satellite to allow for on-line gaming — and my understanding is that while technology has advanced, some of these things are still more or less true. Just recently a friend who switched to satellite had to get phone service elsewhere, wound up with occasionally iffy TV reception, and (to her shock) saw the monthly rates sky-rocket after the initial introductory period.
In the meanwhile, despite the need for periodic (and admittedly annoying) renegoiations, my cable reception is nearly always excellent, regardless of the weather, my home phone service has mostly been problem free, and my internet speeds and service have been great. I HATE their (mostly out-sourced) billing department, and could tell you HORROR TALES about dealing with THEM over the past couple of years in particular, but their customer service and repair services have been such that I’ve had nearly NO complaints about those. As long as I’ve been able to avoid dealing with the billing department — trying to communicate with people who clearly do not understand the English language all that well and have a tendency to muck around with your account without authorization — I’ve been well-satisfied. So, “No” I would not go back to satellite — despite their tempting ads — just as I would not go back to my former cell provider.
So my advice here is that while sometimes we are stuck with particular sevice providers simply because we really have no other choice if we want ANY sort of service, there will eventually be better alternatives. However, we do have to ask around and find out what the pros and cons really are, and to pin these companies down to make sure we know what the actual monthly bills are going to be — and for how long those rates will be good, and whether or not future promotional deals will allow us to renegotiate to again get a lower rate.
If you are independently wealthy, of course, you might not care. 😉