Review & Save

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I have most of our regular expenses set up so that receiving and paying them requires the minimum amount of input from me.  This means that we receive as much as possible via email and many of the payments are direct debit.

One downside of this ‘set and forget’ arrangement is that it is easy to lose track of exactly what you are paying for.  It is important to regularly review plans and contracts and make sure that they are still meeting your needs.  Telecommunications is one area where plans are constantly evolving and being upgraded, however, if you do not ask you will be left on your existing plan.  It will still be as good as when you originally chose it but may be lagging behind newer options.

Yesterday I looked at our home broadband, mobile broadband, home phone and 1 mobile phone.  Both our home and mobile broadband are with one provider while the telephones are with another.  Our telephone provider had contacted me several times about bundling our broadband as well, however, I did not capitulate to the sales pitch and decided to research it all on my own terms.

Firstly, I contacted our internet provider and although the plan I had was the best available for us I discovered that they could upgrade us to a faster speed (about 6 times faster) at no extra cost.  Naturally, I agreed to that suggestion.  I also confirmed that I could maintain the mobile broadband even if I happened to choose to change my home broadband.

Next, was some research about the bundled products from our telephone provider via their website.  I discovered what a good deal I had with my existing provider as I had more download and greater speed at the same price as their bundled offering.

My other concern was that our most recent telephone bill showed that we had exceeded the data allowance on our ‘smartphone’ so had incurred some additional costs.  I rang the company and discovered that the $29 capped plan advertised on their website is superior to the one we have had for about 15 months.  The call and data caps are $300 and 400Mb per month whereas we are paying the same price for an ‘old’ plan which includes $150 of calls and 200Mb of data – exactly half of the service for the same price!

I am in the process of finding out how much time we have left on our contract and what the penalty would be for breaking it because I think it is likely that the penalty will be less than the risk of exceeding our data cap again for a month.  If that is the case I will accept the penalty and upgrade the the newer plan.

It definitely pays to spend some time reviewing your regular expenses and seeing whether you have the best arrangement for your circumstances or simply if the current plan offers value for money.

Do you check what you are paying for from time to time?

Exciting Electricity News

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We have finally received our refund from Origin Energy for the electricity we fed into the grid from the first 6 months of our solar panels.  This has taken 8 weeks from when our meter was read, so I am not happy with the tardiness of Origin but I am happy with the result.

Just over $600 for 6 months!  This is in addition to $0 electricity bills.  I am sure that we will be able to improve on that, especially since we had a very wet and cloudy summer .

The last few weeks of clear, cloudless days have been perfect for generating power so the next account may be even better.  This is what the sky looks like on these endless, clear, winter days.

We are saving money and making a positive contribution to the environment so I am really pleased.

I plan to make a complaint to the Energy Ombudsman regarding the time taken to receive the refund and the convoluted process.  I rang Origin to find out why I had not received my account 3 weeks after the meter was read and I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer to that question.  This is in direct contrast to receiving the bill within 3 working days for all of the years that we paid electricity bills.

If I want my refund more than once per year I have to specifically request it.  I cannot have the payment credited directly to an account.  I cannot make a standing request for any credit to be paid each quarter.  I have to ring up each time and spend 30 – 45 minutes on hold before I even get to speak to someone.  You would think that they would welcome the opportunity to streamline the process and reduce call volumes, wouln’t you?   After all that, it took 4 weeks for my request to be actioned, processed and sent.

I guess Origin have enjoyed the free use of my money in the interim.  It is a pity that they are not willing for me to take 8 weeks to organise payment of bills when I owe them money.

What are your experiences with electricity and other utility providers?