Think Green - But Read Your Bill! - August 26, 2008

Companies that send you bills are 'Thinking Green and leaving it on the screen' and many are charging extra for a paper bill in the mail each month (unless required to send you one by law, like the power industry). This is the practice going to save money and trees, and electronically delivery your monthly bills. I think it is a great practice, but read your bill. I did, and I caught Vodafone out with their hand in my piggy bank taking too much money from me each month. They were baffled, they were a little embarrassed, I on the other hand - got my cash back.

Call it instinct, but this afternoon something did not feel right with my monthly phone bill. It was too much and I wanted to chat to some one about it.

Vodafone's main call centre is located in Australia and the person at the end of the phone could understand me and vice versa, and once I had handed over my personal details we got down to the nitty gritty. I never phone a customer service office and tell them what I do for a job. I like to know the service that 'Jo Normal Person' receives should they be in my situation. Phantom shopping is a big part of my research, so when I call I am completely normal and ask direct questions to see how quickly I can get my problem sorted.

It turned out to be worth the ten minutes of my life I invested. I learnt after asking a couple of key questions about the breakdown of my bill, that for the last seventeen months I had been paying the monthly rental fee for a satellite phone service on top of my call cap and blackberry subscription.

This was the big surprise "A Satellite Phone service?", I asked. "Yes, you have been paying $10 a month since you turned on your Blackberry seventeen months ago for G-Star".

"I know what a Satellite Phone looks like, and the piece of rubbish I use is far from that", I said. The call center operator could see I had not made any calls on this satellite service so they very quickly put me on hold to check a few details.

As it turned out Vodafone had made a mistake when I signed up with my Blackberry many months ago and have now credited my bill with $170! I had never seen it because I don't get the bill in the mail, so I never looked to see where my money was going. I am looking now.

Read your bill - I bet you will save cash by spending 5 minutes a month going through it and checking off the individual areas. I saved $170 off my next bill, which for me is a big chunk of cash. I was going to ask for interest, but I thought that may have been a little cheeky.

It's human to make a mistake, how quickly you find a solution for the customer is shows up whether you deserve to keep a customers business.