You know that feeling you got when you found out that Santa Claus wasn’t a real person, that Prince Charming isn’t house broke and the first time you looked in the mirror after you insisted you wanted Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyle? Yeah, that feeling. Yesterday that feeling swamped me as I realized I had settled for being an invisible consumer.
When I bought my first car I used the Insurance Company that my parents used, so when I bought my home I just added it and bundled my insurance. Some thing when I purchased my first cell phone. I do have some great excuses; I was young, naive and trusting. Now I’m slightly older, I’ve learned sometimes the Big Bad Wolf wins and the only person I trust outside of my friends and family is my pedicurist, that woman knows how to keep a secret!
But now I have to seriously focus on reducing my budget, so I made some comparison calls and did some internet research. I’m going to have to ground myself, WOW was I irresponsible with my finances. And although I expect that most of you are way ahead of me here, I’m still going to share what I learned.
First, you need to understand your insurance. Ask questions, find out what each section covers. Turns out I was way over-insured for the age of my vehicle, plus I was carrying some things that my AAA roadside covered. Same thing for my Homeowner’s, I trusted that my agent understood my needs without asking questions, I just agreed with what he thought I needed. (I know, don’t say it!) Once I understood how insurance works and what I needed I started calling around. My Insurance got moved so fast, I’ll be gone before my old agent reads my crocodile tear filled “Dear John” e-mail.
This one is even worse. The way I choose my cell phone provider was because I passed their store everyday to and from work. Hey at least I had some kind of plan! I went in, signed up, received my shiny new cell phone and texted happily ever after. Every time they offered me a cooler phone I took it! Every time they explained the benefits or a need to upgrade my plan, I agreed. I’ve been with the same service without ever checking other providers for 10+ years.
I have consulted my friends and compared my service with theirs and I have that creepy duped feeling again. The worst part is I have allowed myself to become an invisible consumer. I just happily paid my bills month after month, I went along with what the company told me I needed from WiFi strength to cell coverage. I was a loyal, paid on time, and didn’t demand anything from them, so they let me continue to skip through the big bad customer forest with my tutu wearing mice and singing bluebirds.
I don’t blame them……much. It was my responsibility to find out what plan or insurance coverage was best for me, but I didn’t. I gave my control to someone else and became invisible to them shortly after that. While I still might be invisible to my new companies, I’ve learned that my loyalty belongs to my finances and not to a company because I will value it more than they will. Plus I’m $1,300 a year richer, so I’m ok with them not seeing me anymore! What have you learned by service comparison shopping?