Is Verizon FIOS Pricing Misleading?

Verizon is offering a fantastic deal on high-speed Internet connections. But the firm is leaving existing FIOS customers out in the cold. Totally.

We’ve had FIOS service at the Frugal, Wealthy and Wise House since 2012. Currently we are paying $74.99 per month for a 50 Mbs network connection and a phone line – no TV package, of course. (But $74.99 does morph into $87.59 after the extraneous fees are piled on.)

Last week, I encountered this offer (above) on Verizon’s website: a phone line plus a so-called Gigabibit connection for the same price I am currently paying: $74.99 a month.

Folks, this is a network connection 20 times faster than my current connection for the SAME price.

Now I can understand that Verizon is running promotions to attract new subscribers. If they were offering, say, 75 Mbs for 74.99 per month to new customers, I could deal with it. But we are talking about a difference of 20 times the network speed. Here’s what that looks like on a graph:

Intrigued (and miffed), I took action. I did what any Frugal and Wise individual would do. I called Verizon for a better deal. But it was all for naught.

I communicated with three customer service agents that day (one by messaging, two by phone). All three thanked me for being a ‘long-time Verizon customer’.  Yeah. Right. And they certainly would be glad to set me up with a Gigabit connection for… a mere: $124.99 per month plus taxes and fees. That’s 67% more than a new customer would pay. Is this because I am such a loyal, long-time customer???

Is Verizon purposely pulling a Bait and Switch?

I’m no a legal expert. But this I do know. Verizon is continually sending out mass mailings and newspaper stuffers heralding their great FIOS deals. These promotional materials reach both FIOS and non-FIOS households alike.

The Final Straw: Stonewalled by Ms. Johnson

The last customer agent I spoke to was Ms. Johnson. (I don’t know which of the many Ms. Johnsons at Version she is; she refused to provide her first name.) Presumably, Ms. Johnson had the authority to make pricing concessions. No such luck. She completely stonewalled me. I inqured about getting a smaller network speed increase for the same monthly fee. Would not do. I mentioned that I had a blog on personal finance, that my experience with Verizon would be posted and that I would also be contacting the CEO of Verizon as well as registering complaints with numerous state and federal regulatory commissions. Ms. Johnson absolutely refused to do anything. But she did assure me that I was a ‘valued Verizon customer’. So, Ms. Johnson, I am being true to my word.

Why is Verizon so intent on alienating its existing FIOS customer base?

Taking such a hard, uncompromising stand with current FIOS customers can’t be good for business. And telling current customers that they are valued is pure bunk.

At this point I see no option but to take this cause directly Frugal, Wealthy and Wise readers, Verizon senior management and the appropriate regulatory agencies.

A Call to Action
  1. If you are not a FIOS customer but have FIOS available to you, go for it! The FIOS Gigabit plans are great deals!
  2. If you are an existing FIOS customer left out in the cold, press Verizon for a better deal. Call 877-359-7871 and mention that you are interested in a gigabit internet package. Insist on speaking to someone who has the authority to provide you a better deal. The more folks doing this, the better. If you are successful, post here!  We would love to leverage and replicate your success.

This is not a one-off rant. I believe that existing FIOS customers deserve a bit of accommodation. Future postings will be document next steps taken with Verizon.

I’ll be in touch real soon. Paul

© 2017 Paul J Reimold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE Do-It-Yourself Auto Maintenance

Photo credit: Infinite Jeff via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Dear Readers,

In the original post, I was remiss by not mentioning another inexpensive, easy, yet essential maintenance task: changing your wiper blades.

Think about it. How many times have you been caught driving in a rain or snowstorm and…. the wipers are terrible. You can barely see out the windshield!

Plan on changing wiper blades at least twice a year; one of those times should be in the Fall, after the intense summer sun but before inclement winter weather. Mark it on you calendars.

A pair of wiper blades will cost $20 – $40 depending upon size and type. Bosch, Rain-X, Anco and Michelin brands get good ratings – you might also want to check a recent Consumer Reports review at the library. Don’t forget the rear wiper blade on your van or SUV. Granted they are not as critical and usually last a bit longer.

Blades are sold in 1′ increments. Google the blade size for your make and model. Alternatively, AutoZone, Pep Boys and Amazon have searches by year, make and model. Note the the driver side and passenger side blades may be different lengths.

Installation is usually straightforward. If you are unsure, find a YouTube video for your particular car. So there you have it. Do your car and yourself a favor by regularly replacing your wiper blades.

fotor.com

Cheers, Paul

© 2017 Paul J Reimold

Do-It-Yourself Auto Maintenance

Photo credit: Infinite Jeff via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Modern automobiles do not require significant maintenance. Meanwhile, the days of the ‘shade tree mechanic’ are over, as fewer maintenance or repair tasks can still be performed by individual owners. Nonetheless opportunities still abound to save on auto maintenance.

  • First and foremost, become familiar with your car’s maintenance schedule
    Photo credit: wistechcolleges via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

    This is usually found in the back of the owner’s manual. Don’t have an owner’s manual? You should be able to get a maintenance schedule for your make and model online. Even if you have a mechanic do everything on your car, you still need to be familiar with the maintenance schedule.

  • Cabin filter – modern cars have a cabin filter for the ventilation system. It is typically behind the glove box. Trust me. It does get dirty! Here’s a photo of one from our Subaru: So…. the Subaru dealer charges $60 to change it. A replacement filter from Walmart or AutoZone costs $15 – $25. It takes 15 minutes to change it: 5 minutes to watch the YouTube video on how to change it and 10 minutes to actually do the swap-out. Savings: $35 -$45! P.S. vacuum out the leaves and debris before inserting the new filter.
  • Air filter – generally quick and easy to change but it can be a bit messy in the engine compartment. Be careful not to scrape your knuckles. If you can’t figure out how to do it, watch a YouTube video.
  • Oil changes – oil changes are often a loss leader for auto shops (be on guard if the shop recommends a bunch of other repairs while you’re in for an oil change).
    Photo credit: swainboat via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

    The opportunity to save money by doing it yourself is not as significant. But maybe you want to bond with your car. Be warned: it can be messy; it’s often difficult to access the filler plug or oil filter without a lift. And it’s absolutely essential that you recycle the used oil, not pour it down the drain or gutter.

  • Other repairs – we once owned a 1994 Infiniti J-30 (list price new: $37,000). We bought it for $8500 when it was 9 years old and kept it for 11 years.) A power window motor went out. I bought a used motor assembly on Ebay for $40 and it took an hour or so to replace. I’m sure a dealer would have charged at least $500 for the repair!
  • YouTube is Your Shop Manual – not sure how to do something on your car? There’s probably a YouTube video out there that will show you the way! Even if you decide to take the car to the shop, it’s still worthwhile to have an idea of what gets done.
  • Subaru Window – building on the point above, the driver’s window on our Subaru lost its automatic function and wasn’t working properly. A YouTube video pointed out that it simply needed to be reset rather requiring repair. It was a 30 second fix.

A car is a major expenditure for most households. Yet, if a modern car that is well maintained, it should last 150,000 – 200,000 miles – or more. Keep yours in good condition and save a bit of money along the way by doing the simple tasks yourself.

Photo credit: ATOMIC Hot Links via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Cheers, Paul

© 2017 Paul J Reimold

Photo credit: ATOMIC Hot Links via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

12 Ways to Go Co-op and Save Money

Logo: People’s Food Co-Op La Crosse WI www.pfc.coop
Mention the word ‘co-op’ and readers of a certain age will recall hippies in a college town selling granola.
Photo credit: Carol Browne via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

But cooperative efforts are still relevant today. And they can save you considerable money and time.

Here are twelve ideas for co-op efforts you can organize with neighbors and friends; they can benefit all parties involved!

  1. Baby Sitting – alternate date nights with another family who has children of similar ages. With the going rate for a babysitter at $10 per hour, a date night might cost $30 or more just for the babysitting. By alternating baby-sitting duties once a month, two families would each save $360 per year!

    Photo credit: JohnLafornara via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
  2. Pet Sitting – use the same strategy as co-op baby sitting. Boarding fees can range from $20 – $50 a day, or higher. (This arrangement would be contingent on all the pooches or kitties getting along.)
  3. Tools – Form a tool co-op; borrow and lend tools with neighbors and friends. Frequently an expensive tool is purchased for a project and then gathers dust for years. I’m guilty; I once bought a mitre saw for a project. The saw then sat in the garage for 10 years until I sold it on CraigsList. But do exercise consideration when borrowing: return the tool promptly in good condition. Lend as well as borrow. When returning a tool, give the lender a $10 -$25 gift card to Lowe’s or Home Depot. That’s still far cheaper than renting.
  4. Rent tools together – a variation on #3. Join with neighbors when renting a specialty tool (say, a tiller, log splitter or lawn aerator) Typically, a full-day rental is not that much more than a half-day rental.
  5. Gardening – community gardens yield a bounty of benefits: a source of fresh produce, savings on groceries, a great experience for kids, bringing a neighborhood together and reducing crime.
  6. Gourmet Supper Club – rather than dining out at high end restaurants, form a gourmet club that rotates hosting. It’s an opportunity to practice and showcase your culinary skills.
  7. Clothing Exchange – particularly worthwhile for infant and children’s clothing.
  8. Toy Exchange – we all get excited about new toys (or at least toys that are new to us).
  9. Books, Magazines, Videos – share magazine subscriptions, books, DVDs and CDs
  10. Education – home schoolers are known for co-op organizations that teach art, music, drama and science. Swapping books and other educational materials is another option. Do you have a particular skill or expertise? Share it by teaching and mentoring others.
  11. Car Pooling – save on auto expenses – whether commuting, shuttling kids or running errands.
  12. Banking – Credit Unions are a type of co-op; they are owned by their depositors – review my posting on Credit Unions: Credit Unions are Divine. They Can Show Your Finances a Better Way.

I’m sure these twelve ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. What co-op ideas would you like to share?  Cheers, Paul

© 2017 Paul J Reimold

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Photo credit: incanus via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

 

Photo credit: Pedro de Montjuic via Foter.com / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos via Foter.com / CC BY
Photo credit: Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos via Foter.com / CC BY

Proverb of the Day #97

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.   Second Corinthians 9:6

Photo credit: KOREphotos via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Friends, this concludes the Proverb of the Day series of postings. I hope it has been a source of insight over the last several months.  I will compile the entire list of the Proverbs of the Day in a future posting.

Cheers, Paul

PS If you missed the original posting on Proverbs, you can find it here.

© 2017 Paul J Reimold

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

It make a whole lot of sense. And limiting what we send to the landfill saves money!

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This Saturday April 22nd is Earth Day – the 48th celebration since 1970. I don’t consider myself a tree hugger but, I am greatly distressed by how much stuff we as Americans throw out every year. Believe it not, we discard 1600 pounds of trash per person per year!

The Frugal and Wise would do well to chant the mantra: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”

Reduce

  • Limit your purchases – buy only what you need or will use. Avoid impulse buys. For major purchases, wait a day or two before buying. Sleep on it.
  • Return purchased items that are not needed or used – how often do we buy things that never get used? Return them and get a refund! Be aware that some retailers place time limits on accepting returns.
  • However, when you are in the midst of a home project, it may make sense to overbuy materials, rather than make countless trips to the hardware or home improvement store. But be sure to keep receipts and return the unused materials when your project is completed.
  • Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions that rarely get read
  • Avoid spoiled food – ponder this statistic: 40% of all food in in the US goes to waste! That’s around 240 pounds per person annually. Don’t overbuy foodstuffs that end up rotting in the ‘fridge. Many items can be frozen if they are not to be consumed right away. And serve smaller portions!
  • Get a Doggie Bag when eating out – restaurant portions tend to be huge. Eat what you want and get the rest packed to go. You’ll have something to look forward to for lunch the next day.

Reuse

  • Plastic bags from stores – reused them as trash can liners. Depending upon their size, plastic trash bags cost 5 – 20 cents each, or more. The plastic bags from the grocery store, department store or Bed, Bath and Beyond are free! (And what else would you do with them?)
  • Take-out and doggie bag containers from restaurants – many to-go restaurant containers are quite substantial. The container that held your Hot’n Sour soup could well be pressed into service storing leftovers.
  • Used Paper from the Office – bring home one-sided printouts and reports from the office. Print on the other side at home. A ream (500 sheets) of 8 ½ x 11 paper retails for around $7.50 or 1 ½ cents per sheet. Just be sure you don’t bring home anything of a confidential nature. And that you know how to load the paper in your home printer (generally, printed side up)
  • Turn food scraps into pet treats – our dog loves: broccoli stems, carrot tops, asparagus stalks and sweet potato skins. We’ve stopped buying him doggie treats from the pet store.
  • Make cleaning rags out of worn-out T-shirts – why buy packets of cleaning or dusting rags?

Recycle

  • Sell unneeded items on Ebay or Craigslist – this would be for items valuable enough to warrant spending the time and effort to sell. For Ebay, be aware of the fees for listing, payment processing and shipping.
  • Donate – put together a collection of clothing and household goods for Goodwill, the Salvation Army or Purple Heart. Declutter and get a tax deduction!
  • “Rescue” trash picks and donate – see something perfectly fine out at the curb but you don’t need it? Rescue it and put it into your Goodwill collection to up your tax deduction.
  • Compost grass clippings and leaves – don’t throw them out. Both are great sources of nitrogen to fertilize your lawn. They can be finely chopped with a mulching lawn mower or composted. Why throw away perfectly good (and all-natural) fertilizer?
  • Same for coffee grounds and egg shells – coffee grounds are a source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. They can enhance composting (This assumes that you brew coffee at home rather than buying a four-dollar latte on the way to work.) Egg shells are a source of calcium needed for flower and vegetable gardens.
  • Appliances and electronics – Best Buy and Staples accept a variety of electronic items for free recycling and Best Buy recycles appliances as well. Best Buy will also recycle unwanted TV’s and computer monitors for $25. Check with your electric utility about deals to recycle your old refrigerator. PECO in the Philadelphia area will haul away your old freezer or ‘fridge for free and pay you $50!
  • Recycle hazardous materials and motor oil – never throw out hazardous chemicals. Many communities offer collections stations. Some filling stations or garages will accept used motor oil.
  • Put stuff out at the curb – got stuff not good enough to sell or donate but too good to throw out? Put it out at the curb for ‘recycling’ by fellow trash pickers.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful for reducing expenses, consumption and clutter. Please share your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling.  Cheers, Paul

Photo credit: Michel Filion via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

© 2017 Paul J Reimold