The Wisdom Of Stupid Questions

We don't like to ask too many questions even when we are buying a service. Maybe we were asked too many by our parents or teachers, no matter. It's now our job as consumers to find out what we are agreeing to. Turns out, most of us give away our power too readily. Why? Because we don't take the time to ask the details of our service because we are too busy and the plans are too complicated. We don't want to look stupid ourselves. Remember: the devil is in the details. That means we'd better learn what they are. Because we are in fact signing a contract that has a good chance of shortchanging us unawares.

But when we ask, we can find out that our service companies are conning us into extended plans at additional fees. It is only then outrageous that we are taken in by their profit-only plan. We are entitled to pay for an honorable service at an honorable fee. But that's not what's happening. Big companies are now more aggressively up-selling their schemes. It sounds like we're getting more service with more protection. But the joke is that we might not need more or any protection.

The only way to not be taken advantage of is to learn what their offers really are and then debate them. So, we must ask them to reveal their strategies, so we, the customer, do not become suckers. P.T. Barnum had a line about that.

Today, I tried for a second time to cut my own television cable service fee. I didn't want the sports channel at all but I did want to be able to record three programs at the same time since everything good airs on Sundays at 10 pm. The second time, I asked the most basic questions that I had not asked before. Turns out, I am now able to have the sports channel and its additional cost removed, though I couldn't make it retroactive. When they offered a monthly protection plan, this time I asked what they were protecting. A free service call? Really? Didn't I have that already? Being protected always sounds good, but I found that it was already covered for free in my original plan. Had I not asked, I'd be paying $7.95 a month for what I already had.

The following are some stupid questions that might save you headaches, let alone your hard-earned money when you deal with service providers:

Q. How can I customize my plan without paying for additional services that I don't need?

Q. How much will that cost me. For how long? What are some other plans?

Q. What does that exactly mean?

Q. Is this plan renewed automatically?

Q. What does this protection really cover? Am I not already covered?

Q. You offer a new service, but how does this specifically differ from the service I already have?

Q. Because I use only a part of this plan, how can you lower the cost for me?

Q. You have quoted several plans, but I don't understand the difference between them. Please explain them slowly to me.

Q. How do these changes affect my service over all?

Q. I hear that other companies offer a similar plan for less. How can I get a discount?

Q. What is my agreement with you so far? What does my contract already cover me for?

Keep a record of your conversation and agreements. Go over them again before you hang up. Note the phone number, date and person you talked to, even if they are in another country and give you a fake name. Your notes are the only recourse that you will have to insure that you are getting as much as what you are paying for. Also, check with your smart friends to compare plans and prices. And, call the service provider again; you'll get another agent with another offer and response. Customer Service has changed its meaning to Seller. Your only defense against the profiteers is to be prepared with information that you have to demand! Along with Barnum, the Boy Scouts have a good motto you might be singing before signing.

Make your luck happen!