Save yourself from a bundle of headaches

Guest blogger Leanne Salyzyn is an insolvency counselor, licensed restructuring professional and trustee in bankruptcy. Post a comment or contact her on Twitter with your personal-finance questions.
Did you ever do something in the spur of the moment only to regret it quickly afterwards? Welcome to the day I decided to simplify my life.
Like many, I have long thought of cancelling my home phone and cable in an attempt to save money. I have three TVs in my house and yet all my family members watch programs on their laptops. The only people to call my landline are telemarketers and everyone in the family has cell phones. So instead of just thinking about it, this time when I got my $250 monthly bill I called my provider and cancelled the phone and got basic cable and Internet. I felt liberated and rich! I chopped my bill in half. I texted my family to share my news. No one cared about the home phone number (which, by the way, I had for 18 years) but there was an uproar about losing the sports channels since “hockey season is starting.” Good point. I didn’t consider that. Another call to the provider and for a few more dollars I reinstated those channels. Still a savings in my mind.
I returned the DVR for a simple receiver and I was done. That meant no HD channels and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy The Walking Dead on Sunday nights with my family anymore, but I guess we could live with that. I was more focused on enjoying the savings.
Fast forward to 4 a.m. and my home security system starts beeping. I’m thinking maybe the battery is low, unless what if it needs a landline? Unfortunately, I was right. I was told I could have the system without a landline but I would need a communicator installed (approximately $250) and there would also be a monthly fee of $29. Forget that. Instead, I called my service provider and asked for a basic landline. When I asked if I could have my old phone number back, I was told it’s too late. They gave me a new number that wouldn’t be effective for a few days. I started to think about all the people I would have to call to give this new number. My kids’ school, my doctor, my bank, etc. Why had we never considered before who had this number? I made another call to the security company to let them know the new phone number. After a couple of days, the phone was still not active. Another call to the provider and they had to send a technician to my home to change the hardware outside and hook-up the new line.
The installer was great and he told me I better call the provider back because it looked like instead of bundling the services, I had several separate items that would cost much more than I was paying originally. I called and explained my week-long tale of woe to the agent (accepting it was my own wrongdoing that caused the situation). We laughed about it and then she did exactly what I had hoped would happen: we went back in time. She gave me back my old phone number. She asked if I would like to have the exact same services I had before all the changes but for half the cost. Are you kidding? Yes!
So what lesson did I learn from this bundle of headaches? Before you do something crazy like I did, do your research. Call the providers and ask what they can do for you. Don’t assume they will do nothing. Compare options and prices. I plan to make one more call to my provider to save on my security system costs, as they also provide this service and bundling could be cheaper. I learned a lot from this experience, although time equals money and the six days of phone calls, visits to the retail location and my frustration would never make up for the potential long-term savings.
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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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