PF Weekly Grab a brew #41: Can you survive without a cell phone for just one night?

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Disconnect For A Day And Live A Little

Should you have a plan b just in case your cell phone provider goes down?

Yes, we should have “disconnect for a day” as a national holiday in Canada where everyone puts technology away and just lives a little like we used to back in the 80′s and early 90′s.

Only problem is you don’t get paid for it like you might a holiday from work, you just do it.

Think about life back then if you were around (showing my age here) and what you did, how you lived it and how life has changed from then to now. Don’t you ever wish you could just go back to the simple life?

I know you may say we have to get on with the times and I agree but I also believe that sometimes we miss the small things that are pushing the envelope today like the cell phone.

We had no need for them back then like we do today, so why the big change and dependency?

Last week on Grab a Brew #40 I brought up the topic about whether or not we are dependent on the internet and how some people rely so heavily on it just to get by day by day.

Then the week prior grab a brew #39 I talked about ditching the home phone and replacing it with a cell phone because that is what most people do these days.

 

Rogers is down captain

 

If you own a cell phone and are with anyone other than Rogers than just the other day you are full aware that Rogers wireless went down. It went down hard across the country as it was plastered all over social media and the news.

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid such a ‘catastrophe’ to some because it’s every other comment that fills your news feed or twitter page and it trends and spreads like wild-fire.

Rogers CEO and president, Nadir Mohamed apologized to the sea of Rogers customers according to Yahoo saying that they worked as quick as possible to restore service to their customers. The website apparently crashed shortly after. He explained that it was unacceptable and that they were investigating. I’m sure they are.

Apparently the service was restored before midnight but for us it made no difference as my wife has a normal cell phone used for emergencies (honestly if it were me I could do without the cell) whereas for others it’s their life-line.

I can understand why people would be angry but we also have to understand that things happen in life and nothing and no one is perfect.

Gosh, if only we lived in a world where nothing happened what would life be like? Some people may see the outage as no big deal and others went haywire over not having access to their most prized possession, the cell phone.

Many tweeters according to the Yahoo article even went hell for leather sharing their anger at some guy on Twitter who uses @rogers as his Twitter handle yet had nothing to do with Rogers lol.

I could only imagine what it was like on his end of social media. I bet just for a moment in time he felt like a star, I mean they all do something to piss someone off so I hope he soaked it all up.

This just goes to show us the power of the internet and the power that a cell phone provider gives to its customers yet when taken away can seem as if the customer has lost his/her blanket like Linus van Pelt, Charlies best friend from the popular Charlie Brown series.

 

Grab a brew

 

People were freaking out and I was thinking oh well, I guess we will just have to wait until they are up and running.

I had said to my best friend whom I was talking with as it all went down that so many people were complaining via social media and how I thought they were making a huge deal out this. That’s when he set me straight.

I think that we become dependent on technology and the internet has proven that for me so I’m doing my  best to stay away from adding to my technology bundle.

I have owned a cell in my life because I replaced my home phone with my cell phone back in the UK but you can’t get me to pay the outrageous prices they charge to own a cell phone in Canada, at least not yet.

I already have to call once a year to Rogers so I can negotiate a better price on our services which I don’t mind but at the same time I shake my head wondering why we have to do this.

I was single at the time and didn’t need to pay for a home phone and a cell phone so I opted for the cell like many people do today.

I had laughed about the moaning and groaning all over my social media and sure enough my wife’s cell was dead, and I mean dead. She had no text nor could anyone call or receive any incoming calls.

We made it through the night safely and without crisis not having a working cell phone although it didn’t really phase us at all.

There was a technical glitch and they were fixing it, oh well. One comment I read on the Yahoo article said that for that moment in time the roads were safer having fewer people on their cell phones while driving.

While that may be true I should hope that it doesn’t take a wireless provider to go down for us to realize that it’s just not safe to drive and text. We should all have a minute to live.

Nothing is more important than life, nothing.

 

It’s in our head

 

Sometimes I believe we condition ourselves to think we need something when we do not.

Boy that chocolate bar looks so good, I sure could use one, so we eat it. The same goes with anything else in life. If we believe in something strongly we can make it come true, even if it is just eating a chocolate bar.

Alternatively the more we do or use something the more we become dependent on it and when it’s taken away it’s like something died or it’s the end of the world unless you have a back-up plan.

If you rely on your credit card for everything and then you lose your job how will you pay for your credit card bill every month?

You need a plan b if you rely on something so heavily that it affects your emotions or daily living plans.

Life never used to be as complicated as it is today with technology surrounding us.

Are we becoming a lazy world because of it?

 

The good old days

 

My best friend says to me that not everyone has a home phone anymore so they rely on their cell phone.

If a cell phone provider goes down customers who are reliant may not have a means to finish their work or use of a cell while on the road even though that’s the way it’s been done before the invention of the cell or GPS.

Unless of course your vehicle was sporting a CB radio then you could radio for help.

We drove, used a map and if we broke down we pulled over and if needed we asked someone for help. It was that simple but life is much more complicated with the birth of technology but convenient at the same time.

While on Facebook one of my other friends posted a status update stating she was glad she was not using Rogers as a cell phone provider and she hopes no one needs to call 911 because they won’t be able to.

Then again? How would they call for help if the home phone line went down? You can never win but things happen in life that we can’t control.

 

No one is perfect

 

If it’s not Rogers it will be the next company and then the next until we run out of providers to jump to because we believe they have some sort of magical power and will never go down. Please.

As I get older now I realize that we just need to stop sweating the small things and learn to live a little. We put the control of our lives in the hands of others and wonder why we get grey hair before our time.

On a good note for Rogers pre-paid cell phone customers Rogers will credit their monthly bill for the day but to be honest we really don’t care about it, but that’s just us. Things happen.

For others, it may be a huge deal but that’s something you need to decide how you will work around if this happens again. Don’t let a cell phone control your life.

So, yes we do rely on cell phones more than we likely had ever imagined and our world is in the midst of a continuous technology blast that will change the way we all view and live out our future.

Do you rely heavily on your cell phone?

 

Weekly reads

 

Every week I share a few of the best personal finance blog posts that I read over the past week with all of you

 

Top recipe

pumpkin spice cappuccino muffins

Every day Food Bloggers from around the world pass by my other love the Free Recipe Depot Facebook page to share a daily recipe which I share with my fans. I hope you enjoy these Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino Muffins from the blog Hun What’s For Dinner?

Well, that’s a wrap for this Friday’s grab a brew, Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.

 

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Do You Really Need Cell Phone Insurance?

Samsung cell phone

Cell phone insurance is a waste of money right, who needs it? Just two months ago I was so excited to have my new cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy SIII, it was an awesome  phone. First thing I did when I got home was logged into Amazon and looked for a hard case to protect the phone. I was trying to save money out-of-pocket by using my gift-cards from Swagbucks.

You with think with modern cell phone technology that they would figure something out so cell phones were protected from the average clumsy person dropping them. Even worse a child getting their hands on a cell to play pass the puck or toast the cell phone for breakfast.

I guess I’m just dreaming of the indestructible cell phone but we all know that will never happen, nothing seems to last like the good old days. It’s more about short life span and getting the customer to fork out more cash because they get so used to having technology at their fingertips.

That just seems too easy though because accessories make up another chunk of profits for these organizations as if the ridiculous high costs of cell phones weren’t already a lucrative enough business for them.

Well there was my second mistake (first mistake is coming up), a hard case sounds great right? I’m not sure what I was thinking as I should have bought a rubber one that might absorb some shock if dropped. You can probably figure out where I’m going with this….

Bye Bye Cell Phone

I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket to take a picture at work then put it in my coat pocket so I could continue working. I turned around and my phone flew out of my pocket right onto the nice solid floor in Wal-Mart. Nothing like a new dropped cell phone smashed to bits staring right back at you.

The second I looked down I wanted to cry. I broke my screen on my phone, oh great, sigh. I started to think out loud as I was still in a state of shock,“I broke my cell phone, now what do I do”? It’s that moment where everything just comes to a screeching hault in your life. I know it sounds off the hook but my cell phone carries more weight than just a phone for work and pleasure for me.

At least with a dropped cell in water I would have had a bit of hope of some sort of recovery, but I had blown this one out of the water.

My practically brand new cell phone was laying on the floor with every colour of the rainbow across the screen. I don’t even have a picture to show you because my phone was my camera! Now I can’t even see colour, it’s just a solid black screen with no life to it at all.

So now what?

Importance Of My Cell Phone

I had just switched  from Telus and obtained this cell phone by negotiating a 3 year contract with Rogers Wireless.  I am very uncomfortable being outside of my home without my cell phone. The reason behind this is not that I have some sort of unusual connection to my cell phone, far from the justification.

The reason is that I have a 4 yr old child with an illness who is just finishing his first year of school and has suffered from a seizure disorder since the age of 6 months.

With my job I work on the road and travel to multiple stores around Ontario which I really do enjoy. When I have my cell phone on me I can relax knowing that I can be reached at any given time in case I’m needed. I was working across the road from where I bought the cell phone and where the dropping incident occurred so I went over to see if they could help me out all.

The Bad News

As you can see from the picture above that my cell phone looks fine, the glass didn’t break, which would have been about $100 to fix my phone but that was not my only problem. I was told that the LCD under the glass was completely destroyed and that I was looking at $400 to have it repaired. Boy, did that make me feel better, not.

I nearly had a heart attack, the value of the cell phone is $600. After some in-store credits and the contract I had managed to walk out the first time without spending a dime on my phone.

The phone cost $149.00 on a three-year contract but the in-store credits, some of which ended half hour after I walked through the door, covered that entire $149.00. That left me responsible for $450.00 over the course of three years.

My first mistake….a big mistake

Insurance, What Insurance?

The associate then asked me if I had purchased cell phone insurance? Insurance? What cell phone insurance? She looked at my account and  of course no insurance is anywhere to be found. I do not remember being offered cell phone insurance, although she insisted that they offer it to every customer.

It’s possible I said no but I’m a little clumsy at times and I know this, I can’t imagine I would have said no! The $7.99 a month insurance would have replaced my phone, even if it was physical damage, with a $50.00 deductible. Sounds great now!! Lot of good that will do me.

I didn’t know what to do at this point as I really needed a cell phone at all times. I could put down a $50.00 deposit for a loaner phone and send my phone away for repair or walk out and have to buy a brand new cell phone. I explained why I needed a phone and that I did not have $50.00 at the time.

She suggested that I take some time to think about it and offered me a loaner phone for free for a week, on my word that I would return it.  I was very grateful for her being willing to help me out and that is what great customer service is all about.

That long week

Feeling Out Of Touch

Being a single working mom of two kids one of which has seizures my phone was not only a necessity but it became a very big convenience in my life. I get a lot of email communication for my job and I do not get too many opportunities throughout the day to get on my computer. My social media appearance and email activity had diminished in that long week and I even worried Mr. CBB because I wasn’t around!!

I felt very out of touch with the world, and unable to efficiently organize my work week without my cell phone. The importance of cell phones in our lives seemed so apparent to me at this time. I was missing emails that required a quick response and just fell behind as some days I can get 8-10 work related emails.

I had to make a decision and fast even if it meant breaking my budget and going into my emergency savings account; after all that is what I saved the money for, an emergency.

The Loaner Phone

So now I have a very basic phone that does not allow me to get access to my email, a very slow online browser and I think the original version of mobile Facebook! I certainly lost the convenience of my smartphone that week but I was thankful to be able to make and receive calls.

I called around to a few local repair shops to see if I could find a better deal to have my cell phone fixed. No luck there. There was no way that I could put $400 back into fixing that cell phone. I just could not afford that. I had to decide if I was going to look on Kijiji or Ebay to try and find a cheaper cell phone or pay full price for a brand new cell phone.

My New Cell Phone

I eventually decided to pay full price for a brand new cell phone.

Why did I decide to buy another brand new cell phone?

First of all, I am tired of spending money on cell phones! I opted a few years ago not to have a home phone as I was paying for something that I rarely used, so I rely solely on my cell phone.

Now that I know about the $7.99 monthly insurance fee that would replace my phone for a $50 deductible, I wanted to be able to have that  peace of mind option, this time….. instead of getting stuck in this situation again.  If I were to buy a used phone from Kijiji or Ebay there is no option for the insurance or warranty coverage.

Should I Buy Cell Phone Insurance?

For some people cell phone insurance may seem like a waste of money but for someone who is as clumsy as me and who really needs her cell it’s worth every penny. You might also want to check with your homeowners or auto insurance to see if your policy covers theft, loss or damage to your cell phone before committing to cell phone insurance.

Do your homework, make sure you are protected, if it’s worth it to you. If not, well then I guess you might have to suck up the costs like I have to.

I am now stuck with $450.00 of the cost of this broken, useless phone over the course of my 3 year contract and just spent over $200 on a new cell phone! A lot more than I would have had to pay if had just had that darn cell phone insurance!If this ever happens again, when someone asks me if I have the cell phone insurance I will very proudly say ‘You bet I do!’.

Do you have cell phone insurance? Why or Why not? Have you ever been in the same position I’m in?

Post Contribution By: Katrina is regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production. Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and working in a sales and marketing position, Katrina runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.

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 Have you ever broke your phone while in a contract and not had insurance?

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Haggling the Best Deal with your Communications Company

Do you call your cable company annually to negotiate a better deal? If not, read this post to learn how you can save yourself and your family money each year with a simple call. Haggling with your communications company may seem like a pain in the back side but with high competition for services it’s worth the time it takes to talk to a customer retention agent.

Every year I shake my head when I do the yearly round-up of our expenditures with Rogers Cable. I must admit that I have lowered these costs over the years but am looking to downsize them. Sure I have some of the best Rogers retention plans going but sometimes they make it difficult to want to continue being a long time client of theirs.

The cancellation department also handles the retention phone calls for customers who have promotions coming to an end. Essentially all they are is a customer service representative with retention strategies to try and keep you as a customer. They are the people who can boost your savings depending on your needs and how well a customer you are.

Rogers client retention may not seem like a big deal when you are 1 customer but if everyone decided to move to another company that could put a dent in their earnings. Rogers is one of the leading communication companies in Canada with continued revenue growth up 3% according to their 2012 Quarterly report located on their website with adjusted operating profit up 7% and earnings per share up a whopping 33%.

2013 Rogers Retention Plan 

It’s that time of year where I make the annual call to our communications company as our Rogers promotions are coming due.  I like to update this post with what we were offered or what they call the best “rich offer” they can give us for all of you to compare your deals.

Our end of promotion total bill for the 2012-2013 year was $149.71. Our new bill will be $153.55 which is a bit more but last years promotions were far better than what they are offering today. I’m still not sure what we will do with this promotional deal they offered us. Below is what Rogers offered us for the 2013-2014 year of promotions.

Rogers Wireless Cell Phone Retentions Deal

  • Cell Phone $31.12 includes 200 Weekday and Unlimited Weeknight and Weekend
  • 100 Any time Canadian Long Distance Minutes
  • 6 pm Early Evening Calling
  • Call Fwd, Call Transfer, Call Answer, Call Display Bundle
  • Bundle Discount
  • Total $31.12 (this is apparently the cheapest cell phone plan with Rogers)

Rogers VIP Cable Retention Deal

  • VIP Digital Cable
  • 1 FREE PVR (Personal Video Recorder)
  • HDTV Channel Pack
  • Bundle Discount 20%
  • Total $66.55

Rogers Home Phone Retentions Deal

  • Change from Classic Plan which is no longer available to the Favourites Plus Plan $19.99 month plus tax for 2 year promotion not a contract. It will cost $45.00 a month when the promo is done (I’m sure this will change as prices always go up)
  • 500 North American Long Distance Minutes (it will cost $5.00 extra when the promo is done)
  • Loss of Rogers to Rogers switching from Classic to Favourites
  • Total $22.95

Rogers Internet Retentions Deal

  • Rogers High Speed Lite
  • Bundle Discount 30%
  • Modem Charge $4.00
  • Total $32.93
Previous Rogers Retention Deals

Here is one true example back in 2010 we were paying just under $200 a month for 4 services or $2400.00 per year. In 2012 I received the same 4 services plus more for $159.68 or $1916.16 per year by calling retentions.

In 5 years at the 2012 rate we could have put $9580.80 down on the principal of our home. In 20 years that’s a whopping $38,323.20 although we know this cost will increase over the years. It really puts it into perspective when you see the average numbers over the long-term.

There are always price hikes with Rogers (most companies for that matter) for one reason or another so always keep in mind that your promotional price likely will go up over the course of the year. There is nothing they can do about it so you have to suck it up or leave which might mean you break a contract although their service agreement states:

If a change to a Month-Month Service of a Term Service entails an increase in your obligations or a decrease in your our obligations and if you do not accept such a change, you may terminate the affected Services without a Cancellation Fee by sending us a notice to that effect no later than 30 days after the amendment takes place.

So make sure you read the service agreement which you will find at the bottom of the Rogers Home page. It pays to stay informed because you can’t turn around and say you didn’t know if they offer it to you. If you are late paying your Rogers bill they will charge you a 2% late fee per month calculated and compounded monthly on an account that is not paid to the tune of 26.82% according to their service agreement.

Do we really need all those services?

Ask yourself the above question and if the answer is no cut out some of the services. We are looking at chopping some of the features we pay for this year such as a bundle pack on our cell phone.  We might cancel the VIP cable for Basic cable and find internet services elsewhere.

Before We Call Our Cable Retention Department

The first thing we do is sit down with our budget spreadsheet and look at our yearly total for our communications bills. Take the time to add yearly costs of your Cell Phone (s), Cable, Internet and Home Phone so you have the exact numbers. You can’t haggle a deal if you don’t know what you previously were spending. If you are a new customer you might have more ammunition for better start up deals so don’t be afraid to ask, they do want your business after all. 

If you have just completed this task I bet you are surprised to see costs in the thousands if not more per year for these services. In 2011 we spent $2030.09 for our Rogers services for the year. The next year in 2012 we paid$1807.25 to bundle our services with Rogers for the year through the retention department promotion pricing. That was a difference of $222.84 for the year which is better than nothing and for some a month of groceries in their grocery budget. So, we have home phone, cell phone, internet and cable with Rogers.

Your communication costs are all variable spending habits, meaning we really don’t need them at all. They are a luxury but one that shouldn’t break the budget in order to have them.

How To Negotiate 

If you want to learn how to negotiate with Rogers or whoever your communications provider is remember it’s a business. As a client you want to be professional and at least be prepared to make the phone call to haggle with them. Below is how I go about tackling my annual call to our communications company.

  • Write out your year to date totals for your communications bill and review your current bill for pricing.
  • Know when your service contracts are due and write this information down so you can prepare your negotiations ahead of time. ( I like to call the retention department one month or more before our promotions expire)
  • Keep junk mail from other cable and phone companies as you may need this information.
  • Search the internet for companies in your area that offer the services you need.
  • Call or Email these companies to get quotes on comparable items that you receive from your provider.
  • Tell them that your contract is coming to an end with your current provider and you are looking for the best deals.
  • Bundling your services with one provider may end in a better price but not always, research is best.
  • When you have all this information in front you then you are ready to do the next step, haggle with your current provider.
  • Typically there is a customer service number you can call to discuss your services. I like to call and ask for the Retention Department when calling Rogers or you can ask the cancellation department for retentions as they are the same people from what I was told from an agent today. 1-888-Rogers (7643)-1
  • When I reach the retentions associate I tell them I am potentially considering cancelling my services because I have found a better deal unless they are willing to negotiate with me. I am being honest as this will be my intention if they cannot match or beat a competitive quote that I have. It’s not a means of blackmail it’s just the way business goes just how they tell us there will be an increase in price for our services. Don’t just call and act like you are owed something, be considerate.
  • Be polite to the retentions agent on the phone, use their name just like they use yours as you are not aiming to cause a confrontation as they are simply doing their job.
  • Let them know what quote you received from a competitor comparing apples to apples(meaning for the exact same services) and for how much and ask them if they can meet or beat it.
  • If they say no you can either continue to negotiate, cancel your services or call back another day until you get the answer you want.

Almost 99% of the time these retention agents have given me better promotions than advertised or others have received. If you have been a long-standing customer with an excellent account use this to your advantage. Tell them how dedicated to the company you have been and wish to continue being although I’m pretty sure it’s obvious as they can see your account history. There’s nothing wrong with reiterating your commitment to their organization.

I also follow Red Flag Deals (RFD) “Hot Deals for Rogers Customers” at redflagdeals retention thread but I would also like our fans to post their internet, cable, home phone and cell phone deals here in our comment section so others can follow CBB Communication Retention Deals here!

Arm yourself with the best defence, in the end its your money, so spend it wisely.

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