Giammalvo Files
Mark Giammalvo

Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability diagnostics at his family business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service, Inc. in New Bedford, MA.   

Mark, who has been with the business for over 20 years, is an ASE  Master Technician and Parts Specialist. He also holds the ASE L1 certification, and has an associates degree in business management.
Mark is also a writer for Motor Age Magazine and is the past secretary of the Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals, (AASP).

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Overpaying for Phone Service?

(Printed in the Journal of The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, AASP) 

It all began with a glance at the phone bill and it was a sobering experience. Three hundred dollars for local calls, four hundred dollars for long distance.  Sounded like seven hundred bucks a month to me.

Even in a small family business you don't always get to look at all of the bills, all of the time. In our case, the office staff is responsible for the incoming bills. As long as there is no big discrepancy, they get paid without question. We all get those telemarketing calls to switch phone service but who really has the time to compare all the plans? Most business owners make a mental note to look into the different rate packages but, in the end, never get around to it.  

At our shop we have four business lines. For years now Verizon has handled our local calls and AT&T billed us for the long distance service. Earlier this month we decided to pull out one monthly statement from each carrier. A review of one month of service revealed that we were paying about 300.00 for the Verizon bill, (including the yellow pages ad), and 400.00 for our AT&T long distance. Most of our long distance calls are to our vendors in New York and New Jersey. Our statements revealed that we were paying approximately 0.89 cents per minute for long distance calls in these states. To me that seemed high...or was it? Time to find out.

A call to both Verizon and AT&T proved confusing yet interesting. Both companies spoke the same mantra. Both stated that we were on an older plan and that they could save us substantial expense by giving one of them all our phone service. Verizon had a plan for about 58.00 per month, per line, which included all our local and long distance calls plus a few extra features. AT&T had a lower price of about 50.00 per month, per line, for all the local and long distance calls plus some extra features. Both companies could reduce the cost of the monthly billing by 10% if we agreed to a one year contract.

When asking for the deal in writing, the Verizon representative stated there was no written agreement to fax which seemed odd. AT&T faxed all the details over in writing when requested.

Each company offered high speed DSL service for an additional 45.00 to 55.00 per month. This was something we were considering since our dial-up service seems to be getting slower and slower with all the new heavy Internet bandwidth technology.

The bottom line is that switching to either company was going to save us several hundred dollars per month.

After researching all of this I even decided to look into what money I might save on my home phone bill. Currently Verizon is my local, long distance, DSL and wireless provider. I called their residential customer service office and spoke with a very helpful representative.

After reviewing my account, the representative suggested that I change my local/long distance package to one that costs 3.00 less per month. With this cheaper package I would loose features that I don't use anyway like 3 Party Calling, *69 and Call Forwarding. I would get to keep the items that I use most which are Caller ID and Call Waiting. In addition, I asked them what the latest pricing was on the DSL service that I also have.  The representative stated that I had the 29.95 a month plan which gives me the ability to get a 1.5 Mbps download speed. The representative also stated that my phone line was currently not capable of the 1.5 Mbps speed and that I was actually on a lesser, 768 Kbps speed. She stated that she could adjust my DSL rate down to 14.95 per month and that I would see no loss in speed. I was tempted to ask for the 15.00 per month difference that I have been paying for the last 2 years but I figured I better not upset the apple cart.

In the end, I should see a savings of about 18.00 per month and all it took was one phone call.

Remember that these are huge companies making huge profits. Take the time to call them on the carpet and question the pricing plans that they have you enrolled in. You can bet they are not going to call you when a less expensive plan becomes available. As they say in the retail market: "What ever the traffic will bear".

Go ahead and make the call. You never know how much you might be losing each and every month.  

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