Telecommunications corporations, don’t we all love them? They provide us the means to connect to anyone we want, anywhere we want, anytime we want. In return they only charge you an arm and leg’s worth of your hard-earned cash each month. But forewarned is forearmed, so I made sure not to fall for their ‘lucrative’ pricing plans and bundle ‘value’ bonanza when I entered the store earlier today to order a broadband connection for my new apartment.
Check out the five steps I used to get the most value out of my money without the telecom company slapping on anything I didn’t want in the first place.
1. Write down the service you desire in great detail
Before you start looking at and plans and prices it’s a good idea to think about the kind of service you actually want. Be sure to be as detailed as possible. If you watch a lot of Netflix on a 4K UHDTV you probably want a high-speed connection over 25mbps.
In my new apartment, for example, I want a broadband connection with a decent speed and unlimited data usage – yes, we still have a data cap on most lower tier plans in Belgium. More specifically, I aim for 30mbps download speed and a 500GB fair use policy, nothing more, nothing less.
2. Educate yourself
Always educate youself before heading into a store to have a bunch of salesmen slap you across the face with brochures and so-called deals, Look up every active telco in your area and visit their websites to see which services they have to offer. If possible, write down the best value offer you were able to find out on your own. There’s a high chance you are spot on since no one but you knows how much a specific service is worth to you.
I found that the state-owned operator Belgacom offers the best value to me with its Internet Everywhere Maxi connection: 30mbps (or up to 50mbps if my connection allows it) and unlimited data usage. However, that would set me back €46.20 every month, a lot more than I had hoped for.
3. Think outside the box
When you can’t find the service you want within an acceptable price range, it’s time to lower your requirements or think outside the box. Because lowering your requirements is not always an option, make sure to compare the lower tier plans with the most expensive plan and see how exactly they differ. Find out how they function and use that to your advantage.
I quickly found out that my two other options at Belgacom were cheaper because they had a slower upload speed and a data cap of 100GB and 150GB , something I didn’t want (see step 1). Next I asked myself what would happen if I went over the data cap of the cheaper plans. Apparently you can buy additional data when you go over the 100GB or 150GB limit. Guess how much Belgacom charges for an additional unlimited volume pack? €7.50 per month!
A smart customer would take the 2mpbs upload speed hit, something he didn’t care about anyway, and switch from the €46.20 Maxi plan to the €25.50 Start plan plus an additional €7.50 volume pack for a total of only €33, saving €13.20 every single month!
4. Don’t let salespeople sway you with bundled services or temporary offers
Now that you know which price plan you need you can head to the telecom operator’s store, either online or offline, an informed customer. The biggest nightmare of any salesperson looking to make a killing is definitely a well-informed customer, but that won’t stop him from trying to sway you to buy more than you need. Unless the store clerk can prove on paper that you are saving money by buying extra services in a bundle or otherwise, don’t bite. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
The friendly Belgacom employee helping me today spent over ten minutes looking for bundled products and deals only to start over again and again because I kept asking “will it cost me less than €33 a month?” Ultimately he gave up, acknowledging my superior negotiation skills – the customer is always king!
5. Evaluate your pricing plan regularly
When you finally enjoy the connectivity you want at an affordable price, don’t forget to re-evaluate your plan regularly. Technology changes quickly and so does pricing, especially in telecommunications where economies of scale are a major business force.
If you apply these five steps you are guaranteed to leave the telecom store a happy camper. As always, educating yourself is a big part of sensible money management. Sure it might take some of your time, but for €13 every single month I am more than willing to sit down for an hour and do the necessary research.
And you want to know the best part? I will be sharing my broadband connection and bill with a roommate, so I’m actually only €16.5 out of pocket every month.
Just started reading your blog. Belgian myself, 24 and just started working I’m looking for some advice on finances and FI/RE as a possible goal.
Telecom companies are hard sellers but they do anything to keep you as a customer.
Your blog was reminding me of my experience with telecom:
When I was studying in Ghent I rented a little room in a building of 8 rooms. As I studied IT and we needed to look out for our own internet connection I toke initiative and asked everyone who was willing to share. At first we were with 4 rooms/7 persons. I divided the price by 7 on the biggest pack of Telenet and everybody was happy (especially me because the router was going to be installed in my room and had cable so faster internet). After a month an other room was occupied by 2 persons and they wanted to join the internet. Charged the same amount and hustled my way in some extra cash. Nobody cared because they all get the money from there parents. All good you would think? Not exactly as Telenet f*cked up the planning on installation and we needed to wait a whole 2 months. I’m an avid online gamer and not pleased to say the least. After several phone calls I managed to get 4 months for free.
I already collected all the money so I made a note with the details of the problem, laying out the compensation and asked for them to mail me the bank details to give back some of the money.
Only half of the people asked there money back and I had a fun college party!
Thanks for the blog and letting me get all nostalgiac haha.