How can I negotiate lower cell-phone, data, and internet bills?
February 7, 2014 7:13 AM   Subscribe

So budget has been a bit tight these days and I realized I'm losing a-lot of money into cell phone and internet bills. I have the nagging suspicion that I'm paying more than others. Do people know any tactics to use to bring down internet and cell-phone rates? I've tried threatening to quit before, with some success, but I think they have that on record now and it seems to work less well.

For details, I have FIDO:
For unlimited incoming calls, evenings and weekends on two phones, one with 500 megs of data and one with 6 gigs of data: 126$ (tax included)

For Bell Internet:
73$ a month - 125 gigs of data and 15 mbps download speed.

I live in a large Canadian city.
posted by cacofonie to Work & Money (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You want this Red Flag Deals thread about Fido retention plans.
posted by Jairus at 7:17 AM on February 7, 2014

Find a cheaper provider. Phone your current provider and say "hey, I want to change providers, Other Provider is offering [better deal]". They'll put you through to the "cancellations" (read: retentions) dept, who may match or beat the deal, or at least give you some incentive to stay. If not, actually go ahead with the switch.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:32 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

The first thing I'd do is take a hard look at actual usage. Do you need unlimited incoming/nights/weekends? Do you need 6 gigs of data or can you switch some of that usage to wifi? Finding a plan that fit tighter to my actual usage saved me quite a bit of money, and I don't have to worry about expiring one-time retention deals.
posted by muddgirl at 7:47 AM on February 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Get internet from a company like Tek Savvy, or Start. They lease dsl (Bell), and Cable (Rogers, Cogeco) lines from the incumbent carriers. There is an upfront cost to buy a modem, but the monthly charges are just over half of what the large companies charge. The customer service is fantastic as well.
posted by Harpocrates at 8:50 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the responses!

I certainly have considered switching to Tek Savvy or Start, but I was worried about customer service issues, the same way reception is supposed to be crappier on koodoo and the budget cell phone companies, but I'll look into it!
posted by cacofonie at 9:06 AM on February 7, 2014

Koodo are actually rather excellent. No reception problems here in Toronto's east side, and you can change your plan frequently without penalty. I'm also a TekSavvy user (and been for long enough that my customer number is low enough to cause CSRs to double-take) and their tech support is great.

A 6GB data plan's going to be a bit ouchy in Canada no matter who you're with.
posted by scruss at 9:43 AM on February 7, 2014

Like muddgirl says, keep very careful track of your usage, both voice and data, on your cell phone. How much you actually use, not how much you think you use. How much of that usage is necessary? How much of it is "nice to have" but expendable? Can that data be replaced with wi-fi usage, or waiting until you have access to a computer?

Once you have those numbers, and it may take a month or two (or three) to get them, consider other options. Have you looked into prepaid services? I just got a smartphone (thanks to the question here), and am paying under $10 a month on Airvoice. Not sure what prepaid carriers are available in Canada, but Google should help out there.
posted by lharmon at 9:57 AM on February 7, 2014

Do some research on Ting. I'm planning to switch over later this year. It runs on Sprint's network.
posted by michellenoel at 10:57 AM on February 7, 2014

Check with your employer. Mine has a deal with ATT ( in the US) for 27% off. Also check with CAA if you are a member.
posted by Gungho at 12:37 PM on February 7, 2014

You need to find a provider that is not one of the Big Three or one of their subsidiaries (like Fido).

In Toronto, Wind offers service just as good as Fido, and their $30/month plan includes unlimited Ontario calling (in or out), unlimited texts and unlimited data. That would be $60 compared to the $126 you are paying now.

My SO and I have Internet from Acanac for about $35-40/month; you can get similar rates from Tek Savvy. I have a great many tech savvy and heavy bandwidth user friends who have been perfectly happy with the speed and data limits (or lack thereof). We currently have no limits on our Acanac, and we watch hours of streaming video (eg Netflix) with perfect service.
posted by jb at 1:24 PM on February 7, 2014

Seconding Wind. I'm answering this from one of their phones right now. The unlimited data is fantastic, but if you travel a lot know that their coverage can be spotty.
posted by valoius at 4:17 PM on February 7, 2014

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