I’ve told you before about how service providers will often punish your loyalty. They’ll push prices up and see who bolts or complains. If you do neither, they figure you are happy.
It’s a form of price discrimination – the practice of selling the same product at different prices to different buyers, in order to maximize sales and profits. That sounds like a negative thing, but, if you hustle, it’s actually to your advantage. You can essentially free ride off of other higher-paying customers who are too clueless (or wealthy) to bother.
What to Do and When to Do It
My trigger to spring into action is a big price hike. I received an email from GEICO that our Travelers home insurance annual premium would jump from $1,733 to $2,005 on June 14 – an increase of 15.7%.
That might not be a shocker in CA or FL, where premiums are gargantuan and increasing rapidly. Homeowners in FL pay private insurers about $6,000 a year, compared to a national average of $1,700. Income-tax-free FL is not the haven you think it is.
You should know that texting or emailing or snapchatting won’t work. I’m talking to you Gen Z. (My two young adult kids would rather have a toe amputated than talk to someone on the phone.) I used to have some success using web chats, but they have increasingly become glorified search tools powered by AI.
So I call GEICO:
Me: We just got hit with a huge premium increase. We can’t afford that.
GEICO: Let’s see what we can do…we’re going to have to shop it around.
Me: I’m here all day.
After an hour of back and forth, he sent me a new policy – similar coverage, same provider (Travelers), and a new premium of $1,514 – more than $200 less than we paid the previous year and almost $500 less than the renewal rate. Not bad for an hour’s work.
If you’re curious, following is our coverage. The deductible is $2,500.
- Dwelling: $431,000
- Other Structures: $25,000
- Personal Property: $107,750
- Loss of Use: $86,200
- Personal Liability Each Occurrence: $300,000
We also have a separate $1M umbrella policy. You can read about that here.
Same for Xfinity
You might remember when Covid hit and we placed an emergency call to Xfinity. With four people home hogging bandwidth, DSL wasn’t cutting it anymore.
Since June 2021, we’ve been paying Comcast $49.99 a month for 300 Mbps. Then just recently, it jumped to $69.99.
I called them with the usual: What gives? What can you do for us?
Ten minutes later, we had a new 2-year contract for $45 per month for 400 Mbps.
Same for Baltimore Sun
Yes, I still read a newspaper.
I’ve heard of people getting their Sun for super cheap by threatening to cancel their subscription. It’s tempting, but I feel like the Sun’s days are numbered, and I don’t want to be wielding a shovel in the cemetery.
But I have my limits. So I called this week and they reduced our monthly subscription from $101.43 to $88.50.
We went on a lovely walking vacation to England in June. The trip was rescheduled from Covid times. Miraculously, all four of us were able to set aside the time.
Transportation was one of our largest costs, but we were able to save two ways there:
- By reserving an Airbnb with washer and dryer, we were able to pack light and shun checked bags – saving $55 per bag each way on Aer Lingus, or $440 (4 of us x 2 flights)
- By sharing a car via Turo (the Airbnb of car rentals), we saved $456.19 over 19 days, compared to what Orbitz quoted us
Suffering (& Saving) Valiantly
We didn’t switch on our central A/C at home until July 6. Even then, we keep the thermostat at a balmy 79 degrees – just low enough to take the humidity out of the air. Our most recent monthly BGE bill (gas & electric) was just $100.13.
When Pippa was studying abroad in Thailand (pictured perspiring in Phuket), we facetimed and she related, “The American students like to complain about how hot it is; I prefer to sit here and suffer valiantly.”
I feel that sometimes too.
The Apostle Paul says, confoundingly, that we should delight in our suffering. Romans 5:3-5:
…We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Suffering -> Endurance -> Character -> Hope.
Dollar savings are good; eternal deposits are even better.