The importance of an annual invoice review
Growing up in Japan, I helped out in my parents' sewing machine sales and repair shop when not in school. My wife also grew up helping her parents' farming supply store in the Philippines. One common denominator of our childhood, we both saw our parents work hard to keep customer “loyalty.” Those customers must’ve also expected something back for their loyalty as everyone knows it’s a two-way street.
Last week I helped a soon-to-be-alumni from our seventh Discover Digital Literacy! class, a 16-week program offered for free by our nonprofit to seniors 60 years and older, get internet service at her home. After all was said and done in under 30 minutes, we walked out with an installation date and a contract-free internet service of $45 per month which was $25 cheaper than what I was paying per month.
I wasn’t surprised that she got a better monthly rate for the same service from the same company. This reminded me of the importance to perform an invoice review every 12 months. Why? As technology continues to evolve, market prices for the monthly rates may also come down.
If you are a first-time subscriber, whether in the fine print or explained outright at the time of getting service, that price may very well be an introductory price good for 12 months. To set your expectations for the second year pricing and avoid surprises, I recommend you ask to clarify with the internet service provider (ISP) if it is a limited-time rate and, if so, what the regular price is.
Subscribing to internet service is akin to getting another public utility service line (gas, electric or water) coming into your home. The purpose of internet service is to get you on the internet, aka the cloud. Since all ISP offerings do just that, i.e. connect you to the internet, price becomes an important differentiator. This assumes an apples-to-apples comparison of your internet connection speed, advertised as “megabits per second” (or “Mbps” for short), and pricing.
Although you may be able to shop around for your energy (gas and electric) supplier with the help of the resources available at the Public Utilities Commision of Ohio website, at the moment you have to do your own research on price comparisons of ISPs in your area.
Whether you are a first-time subscriber or just doing your 12 month invoice review, as an educated consumer one tip here is to get a free email address from services like Google’s Gmail.com, Microsoft’s Outlook.com, Yahoo.com, or AOL.com and use it as your primary email address instead of using the ISP-supplied email address for communication.
Why? Moving between internet service providers will be less of a hassle if you don’t have to tell your family, friends and organizations you do business with that your email address is changing when you jump ship due to better price offering.
Strategist and technologist with almost 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.
As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.