Turning Phone Service Lemons Into Satisfying Lemonade

The other day we started getting this awful buzz on our land line. It makes it difficult to hear the person I’m talking to, and it’s just plain annoying.

I’m sure it’s a problem somewhere in the phone line, and that means it’s an expensive problem. Why?

Several years ago we switched from AT&T to Supratelecom, as their local service package was 2/3 of what we’d been paying with AT&T (though their ads said half – it always irks me that “taxes and fees” add so much to the bill!). We chose not to purchase the Inside Wire Maintenance plan because in my nearly 43 years we’ve never had to call a phone company for a service issue.

Until now.

Things are complicated by the fact that AT&T still maintains the outside lines. Given that we don’t know if it’s an inside issue or an outside issue, this could get veeeeeeeeeeeery expensive.

We considered just canceling the land line altogether, but we’re not ready to do that. Call us old-fashioned, but having the land line is still important to us. Cell phone reception is good, but what if we run out of battery, and the electricity goes out and we can’t recharge?

But the thought of paying all that money… What’s a frugal girl to do?

Go digital, my friends.

We already have Comcast Digital Cable TV and Internet. If we bundle in phone service we’re sure to get a deal, right?

So I went to Comcast’s website, and they had a pretty good offer. Regular price for local and long distance (something we don’t have on our land line now, as we’ve just used our cell phones for long distance), including call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID (and lots of other features we could care less about) is $44.99 per month. Current customers can get it for $39.99, with a six month introductory rate of $29.99 per month. There’s also a $19.95 setup fee. I could sign up right then, right there.

Okay. I’m not thrilled. The introductory rate is a little bit less than I’m paying now, but with taxes and fees I’ll be paying a little more when the introductory period is over. And I don’t like the setup fee. This may not be a great option for us after all. I’ll pay the same, but I don’t want to pay more. There’s no information on the website about how the switch happens (for example, do I have to contact my old provider?), so I decide to call. Maybe I can get them to waive the fee. Maybe we’ll keep it for six months, and if we haven’t moved by then we can always try another service.

So I call. And being the savvy shopper I am, I don’t tell them I’m calling to take advantage of the $29.99 per month introductory rate. I just ask the very nice girl who answered to tell me about the digital phone service. And she does.

She tells me all about the local and long distance and other features. She tells me about the $44.99 regular price. She tells me about the $29.99 rate for those who already have cable or internet, but tells me it’s a 12 month rate, not a six month.

I’m smiling.

Then she tells me that if we have cable and internet, the 12 month introductory rate is $19.99.

Now I’m doing a little happy dance.

Then she tells me there’s no set-up fee.

A big happy dance.

I ask about how the switch works, whether I can keep my number, etc. She explains, then tells me it’s a seventeen day wait because I have a provider other than AT&T and want to keep my number. No problem – my other company is going to charge me for the full month anyway, ending April 15. Comcast will come to set up our new service on April 11th.

I’ll live with the buzzing until then. I’ll just pretend I’m humming a nice ditty about the money I’ll be saving.

And beware web pricing. It’s not always better.


One Response to “Turning Phone Service Lemons Into Satisfying Lemonade”

  1. goodfountain Says:

    I really like digital phone. I have not had any issues. the only downside is if there’s a power outage, you will lose phone service, but so long as your cell phones are charged should you need them, you’re fine.

    We had some kinks getting it set up initially, but once those were ironed, smooth sailing.

    Interestingly, the reception is significantly clearer than our regular phone service had been. Really clear!

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