Save Money by Complaining (and Link Love)

keep calmIs it Friday already?  I honestly cannot believe that it will be Christmas on Wednesday.  Where has the year gone?  Thankfully, we’ve got all of our shopping done as well as most of our wrapping.  I plan on wrapping the last few this weekend so we can get this show on the road.  Santa is coming!

Speaking of Santa, we went to the free Santa exhibit in our new town this weekend.  And after waiting in the freezing cold for twenty minutes, my kids were less than interested.  My two-year-old didn’t want anything to do with the fat old man and my four-year-old only took the time to tell him that we moved and no longer have a chimney.

“We’ll leave the door unlocked for you,” she explained.  It was so cute.

kids santaAnyway, this post isn’t about Christmas.  Or Santa.  Or my adorable kids.  It’s about complaining and how a proper complaint can trigger a big discount.  Let me explain:

As many of you know, we can’t get regular internet at our temporary home because it’s out in the boonies.  One of our two available options was satellite internet, but we chose not to go that route because this isn’t our house and I didn’t want to stick a satellite up on someone else’s roof.  So, our only other option was a mobile wifi hotspot…which is spendy.  But, since the family friend who is renting to us is only charging us $700 per month, we decided it would be worth the extra expense.  Got it?

Anyway, the initial expense was the mobile hotspot itself which was $45.  However, I submitted a mail-in rebate for $45 that was supposed to cover that amount.  I also signed up for the 10 gigabyte per month plan based on advice I got from the Verizon sales guy.  He said that I would need at least 6 gigs per month since I work from home, but I added a few extra gigs since we usually watch a few shows on Netflix as well.

Then, boom.  We moved and started using our hotspot.  After a week or so, I realized that ten gigs would not be enough.  I mean, I’m not downloading videos or anything but I am on the internet for up to ten hours a day.  That adds up quick.  So, I upgraded my plan to 16 gigs.  A week later I had to upgrade it to 18 gigs just so we didn’t run out.  Total cost: $100 per month plus a $20 per line fee.  Ouch.

Shortly after I upped my wifi package, I received a postcard from Verizon.  It said this:

“Sorry, you did not qualify for rebate.  Reason: Wrong date.”

WTF.

A few days after that, I opened an email stating that my new bill would be $181.05.  That was the final straw.

So, I called Verizon yesterday.  And this is how our conversation went:

Me: Hi.  Somehow I got denied the $45 rebate I was entitled to without a proper explanation.  Now I get my bill and it’s over $180 when the plan I’m on should cost $120 per month plus tax.  It makes no sense. Can you please explain these charges to me?

Verizon Lady: Sure, it looks like you were charged a $20 fee each time you changed plans. Let me go ahead and credit you $45 for the rebate you didn’t get and another $15 for your troubles.  Your bill is now $121.05.  Is there anything else I can do?

Me: Nope!

Yeah, I totally didn’t expect that. 

Now, on to some link love:

Mom and Dad Money wrote about how to know when you need life insurance.

Color Me Frugal wrote about why she’s keeping her crappy car.  Oh, you don’t have to explain it to me!

John at Frugal Rules wrote about relocating for a new jobBeen there, done that!

Kyle at Rather-Be-Shopping wrote about calling customer service and hagglingYou go, boy!

Wealth Gospel wrote about how dumb professional sports really are.  (My secret favorite topic!)

Student Loan Sherpa wrote about life without student loans.

Fit is the New Poor wrote about last minute gift ideas for broke people.

I Heart Budgets wrote about travel hacking his way to HawaiiWinning!

Young Adult Money wrote about the fact that all laptops go to heaven.

jar-smOh, and one more thing.  My friend Forrest Fenn is raffling off a hand-made jar with prehistoric objects in order to raise money for Renelle, a single woman with a rare form of bone cancer.  If you’re interested in buying a raffle ticket, or reading more about it, check out this post on Forrest’s blog:

Raffle for Renelle

Do you have any big plans this weekend? 

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About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. Isn’t that crazy? It drives me nuts that companies will over charge you and yet sometimes all it takes is just a simple call to figure why the charges are so high just to get them reduced or reversed by the company. I am sure that there are tons of people out there that are over charged but just can’t be bothered to call to complain.
    Jen recently posted..Store brand or name brand?My Profile

  2. I have Direct TV for my house and renter downstairs. He had some friends stay with him for a week and their 19 year old daughter was playing around on the TV and racked up $300 in movie charges. I called DirecTV and explained how it was a mistake and if they could help reverse it, which they took off $250. It was embarrassing though because 6 of those movies were pornos as the customer service rep was reading it back to me.
    Charles@gettingarichlife recently posted..$15 An Hour Fast Food Workers And Sharing The Aloha LinksMy Profile

  3. Nice work on getting the rebate credited back! Back in the day when I was not as good with money I sometimes got bank fees and called the bank up to argue those. I usually got them removed by doing that. Thankfully these days I have my stuff together and rarely see bank fees. And thanks for the mention!!
    Dee @ Color Me Frugal recently posted..Why I’m Keeping My Crappy CarMy Profile

  4. That’s awesome that you were able to get the charges knocked off. It’s almost like companies like that are making a bet… “Well, only x% of people are going to call and contest these charges, so we can pay the customer service reps, discount all of their bills, and still make a profit when the remaining y% just auto-pay their bill without looking at it!”
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..He Said She Said – On Drug Screening For JobsMy Profile

  5. Sometimes all you gotta do is ask! On another note, we’re taking the kids to see Santa tonight and I’m pretty curious to see how Aiden reacts. My guess is he won’t care all that much, but we’ll see.
    Matt Becker recently posted..How a Single Mother Can Gain Financial ControlMy Profile

    • My kids have always been fairly indifferent. This year it was so cold (we had to wait outside) that they were totally over it by the time they actually saw Santa.

  6. I love when this happens. I didn’t even pay for telecom stuff for six months a few years ago because of calling in after having major trouble with them. Half was a fight – the other half was customer retention. I love how easy your call went.
    Alicia @ Financial Diffraction recently posted..Cost-cutting Measures I Live With.My Profile

  7. I couldn’t believe it when I called Comcast after my bill went up AGAIN and the person essentially got the bill down $60/month for the next year (No contract – my favorite). I hate that you have to play games sometimes to get a lower price, but I guess I don’t see that changing. Thanks for mentioning Sally’s post!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..The Weekly Quick Hits RoundupMy Profile

  8. Wow thank goodness they were able to refund you as that sounds kinnda crazy to get denied a rebate for the wrong date..and then for them to give you a little extra as well seems unheard of.

  9. Thanks for the link love!

    I am glad you’ve had good experience with Verizon! At least one person out there has to have something nice to say! :-)
    Michelle @fitisthenewpoor recently posted..Expert Tips For Your Debt-consolidation ProgramMy Profile

  10. Verizon is our provider as well, and they will try to weasel out of everything that they can. I battled them long and hard about getting a network extender for our home, and no matter how much I complained.. It went nowhere..

    We tried the Santa picture this year too btw… aaaand it didn’t go so well. My 2 year old daughter is now afraid of all things Santa.
    jefferson @See Debt Run recently posted..Letting Go: How to Sell Kids ClothingMy Profile

  11. Our cell phone does this to us all the time. Sometimes it takes multiple calls to actually fix the problem even when the first person says it is fixed. So check you bill next month!

  12. SO funny about the chimney!! I just love when companies take the high road and do what’s best for the customer. I ordered some clothes for Christmas from a company recently. All went well in my mind, but a few weeks after I got the order, they sent me a $20 gift card, apologizing that the delivery of the clothes took so long. Umm, huh? Oh well. Since it’s a store I don’t usually shop at, I sold it for $16 and made some quick cash. :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..How to Save Money on Dairy ProductsMy Profile

  13. My wife recently sent a letter to a national restaurant chain sharing some legitimate concerns about the quality of food she had been receiving on our last few visits there. This past week we received an apology letter in the mail along with a $40 gift card. This is an example of a company that gets it and as a result has a chance to retain our business.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted..The Value of Repetition – As Witnessed Through My DaughterMy Profile

  14. Thanks for sharing! :) And that really surprises me that the Verizon CS agent was so quick to….how do I say it? Be a human. It seems that you always have to fight those people.

    I had an interesting Santa experience yesterday. Apparently Santa comes to the bank branch I work at every year. And I didn’t know this until the end of the day because I wasn’t over there, but one of my female co-workers was the one playing Santa…and I really hope those kids didn’t notice because their parents are going to have LOTS of explaining to do…
    Ben @ The Wealth Gospel recently posted..5 Lessons from Classic Christmas MoviesMy Profile

    • I hate it when Santa doesn’t look legit. There’s a Santa that stands in a strip nearby and holds up a “WE BUY YOUR GOLD” sign all day. It makes me mad. I’m just waiting for my oldest to say, “mommy, why does Santa buy gold?” Fortunately, she cannot read yet!

  15. Score – a $60 phone call!
    Nick @ Step Away from the Mall recently posted..Do you teach your kids about money?My Profile

  16. Glad that they ended up crediting that back to you. Verizon drives me nuts with their charge for every blasted time you change something. I’m so looking forward to leaving them next year! The chimney line from your daughter was really cute, I can totally see our daughter saying the same exact thing. Thanks for the mention Holly, really appreciate it!
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Should I Get a Tattoo?My Profile

  17. Thats why I find rebates to sometimes be a bigger hassle than they’re worth. There is always some small detail they want to get you on. Glad you followed up!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted..Are Free Movies Worth It?My Profile

  18. Awesome that you got the rebate without any hassle!

    It’s cute that your daughter said she’d leave the door unlocked. When we moved to Japan we lived in an apartment building so my sister and I were both distressed about the Santa situation. My Grandma bought us a “Santa Key” that you left outside for Santa to be able to come in. It was a big, gold, ornate key that would never have fit in our door — but that’s the magic of Christmas!
    Broke Millennial recently posted..Frugal Find Friday: Broadway Rush TicketsMy Profile

  19. Wow – what can’t all customer service calls go so well? I’m always mentally geared to do battle, so when they are easy and I’m almost confused. :) That’s so cute your oldest had to tell Santa that you moved and no longer had a chimney. Have a great weekend!
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted..Blog Roundup: Week of December 16, 2013My Profile

  20. Well done, Holly. Just asking (or complaining) really does give you a good chance of success. Got to swing the bat to get a hit!
    Done by Forty recently posted..Use Value and Exchange ValueMy Profile

  21. Wow, and you didn’t even have to get nasty with the Verizon lady for her to make the changes. That’s a surprise in itself. We clearly have moved to a world where companies will try to screw you at every turn, either through complete incompetency or outright greed. Gotta stay vigilant. Pain in the ass but you have to do it! Thanks for the link love!
    Kyle | Rather-Be-Shopping.com recently posted..4 Secret Retail Tricks Exposed (and How to Avoid Them!)My Profile

  22. I had an entire 3 part series all about billing mistakes, and how we CONSTANTLY have to fight to keep our money and keep these damn companies honest! IT KILLS ME a little inside every time I pick up the phone to tell someone how to do their job. UGH.

    Oh, and thanks for the link love, homie. Word.
    Jacob recently posted..How To Be A Frugal FriendMy Profile

  23. Good for you for calling Verizon and getting your bill fixed. Many/most financial bloggers would probably do that, but many “regular” folks just don’t bother and end up paying a lot extra due to billing mistakes.
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer recently posted..Our Nearly New Furnace Had a HiccupMy Profile

  24. While I would much rather companies give you the right charges on the front end, it’s nice when they correct it with no questions asked. I always wonder though, how many people out there are too scared to ask, and the mega corp ends up making bank? That’s what irritates me about it.
    FI Pilgrim recently posted..Side Job To Self Employment – Could This Work?My Profile

  25. I’m a big fan of complaining to save money. :) I’ll even write companies when something isn’t quite right about their product and it usually ends with me getting free products or refunds.
    Kasey @ Debt Perception recently posted..Wishful WednesdayMy Profile

  26. I absolutely love it when dealing with customer service is so pleasant. The other day I asked for a credit on an Amazon purchase because the price had dropped and I had placed the order only 2 days before. They said no problem, and it took maybe three minutes of my time.
    E.M. recently posted..Being Grateful: Tenth EditionMy Profile

  27. Just goes to show that there is no need for anyone to be apprehensive when it comes to speaking up in such situations. Companies don’t want to lose business, and customers often have more leeway that they realize. Good job.
    Tie the Money Knot recently posted..100 Ways to Make Extra Money on the SideMy Profile

  28. You go Holly, as they say the squeaky wheel gets the grease! Verizon is banking on all of those other account holders with (lower financial IQ’s) who just take the monthly increase in the rear end and don’t say a thing. Kudos to you for standing up and saving yourself 60 bones a month!
    Jim recently posted..Donation Season | How To Properly Vet A CharityMy Profile

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