Dear Liz: My cable and cell companies decided this month to hike their fees on me. Do I have any recourse? It’s not like I’m getting more service for their fees (that I know of) or am automatically getting a raise.
Answer: Cable and cell companies have competitors. Start by calling one of the satellite television providers and asking what specials it offers new subscribers. Then call your cable company and let it know you’re thinking of switching. Whatever the first offer is, hold off and see whether you can get a better deal. If not, switch or consider a life without pay television. Many popular shows are available free on the Internet, while others can be purchased as downloads. If you don’t watch much TV (and you’ve got lots of better things you should be doing, right?), you can save a lot of money.
Cell service can be a little trickier, particularly if you’re in the midst of a long-term contract. Consider using BillShrink or Validas (at http://www.myvalidas.com) to see whether you can get a better deal from your current carrier. If you’re not using all your minutes, text and data, your carrier typically will let you step down to a cheaper plan without extending your contract (check to make sure, of course).
If you’re not under contract, the world’s your oyster. Those two sites can help you search among the carriers to find the best fit for the way you use the phone. Or you could consider switching to a prepaid plan with no contract.