Friday, May 5, 2017

On Business Mentoring and Controlling Your Costs. Louis Shalako.


Louis Shalako

Last month I got a bit of a shock when I opened up the bill for Cogeco telephone and internet,which was for about $178.00. The basic internet package should run about $48.95/month and the basic landline phone runs about $34.99 plus taxes, for a monthly total of about $77.00 rounded off assuming one doesn’t go over the limit on bandwidth.

And therein lies the rub. I go over the limit regularly. I’ve seen bills in the last few months of $150.00, $128.00, $113.00, and clearly I needed to do something about that.

The other thing is the phone itself. When I work, I’m very often alone at the shop, which is pretty small. It's a small operation and virtually everyone but me has a mobile phone. There’s no real big need for a dedicated phone, let alone a computer and the internet. I also travel back and forth, and my car is fourteen years old with about 271,000 kilometres on the odometer.

So I had to think it through, do the research into various plans, and come up with some kind of a clear course of action.

This is the where the business mentoring comes in. Shirley, who also employs me part-time, has been a bit of a mentor for me over the years, and she is fantastic on the phone.

She had previously mentioned a $100.00 credit, shared or split, if she referred someone to Sears Connect.

She told me about a plan at $22.00/month, which piqued my interest.

I looked over the site, the phones and the plans, and decided to move forward. I literally drove to her house in Camlachie, Ontario, where I explained the problem, the goal, and what I wanted to do.*

The fact is, I could have done some of what I wanted at home, on my own, but a little bit of moral support doesn’t hurt. I needed her information to get that credit, or she needed my information to get that credit and get me signed up, right? One way or the other, it’s better to be in the same room.

Our first call was to Sears, where I gave up all kinds of information and permission to do a credit check. What I am getting, in 3-5 business days, is the Galaxy J1 phone, with a simple talk and text plan at $25.00 a month—with a bit of tax on there, I may save five or six bucks a month over the landline phone and now I am mobile with what appears to be a pretty nice looking phone. If I ever need to use a lot of data, I can always upgrade.

This is better than my original plan of buying an unlocked phone from Amazon (a charge on my credit card), and then trying to find a good plan, or even just putting the ten, twenty and thirty-buck phone cards on it. When you run out of time on the pre-paid cards, it’s never a good time, and of course you need some kind of phone or device to top up the account. If you don’t use the minutes, you lose the minutes and that’s not very appealing. The plan I signed up for is good for 300 minutes in daytime (ten minutes a day isn’t much) and unlimited talk and text at night and on weekends. So that seems like a pretty good bit of business there, and of course we split that $100.00 credit for a bit of bonus savings. (You’ll note on the website, it says 100 minutes. I will definitely be reading the materials that come with the phone, as well as my first few bills very carefully.)

The phone is not exactly free. It's valued at about $150.00, but I don't have to put out cash up front.


We took a bit of a break and I explained the problem with the Cogeco phone and internet bill. 

It’s pretty simple: if I had signed up for unlimited internet last month, there’s just no way my bill could ever go over that package price, which I seem to recall is eighty or ninety bucks a month.

So what we’re looking for here is to sign up, more accurately, to upgrade—and also get some kind of a credit for that whopping bill from last month.

We dialed the number, and it took ten minutes to get an agent as the lines were busy.

This is where a little patience pays off.

So we got the guy on the phone, and I basically just explained what I wanted. I asked him to sign me up for unlimited and could you please back-date that to Apr. 1?


He explained that they can’t do that. What they can do, is to offer a credit of fifty percent of the previous month’s overage. That worked out to about forty-five dollars.

When I started, I had already paid last month’s bill. We have nothing to lose here, but possibly something to be gained—this is the key attitude in this kind of phone work. And we at least got something.

This credit will theoretically be applied to next month’s bill. Again, this seems like a pretty good bit of business. Then the guy quickly checked out my usage going back two or three months.

“Unlimited is overkill,” he told me. “No, what I’m thinking, is that this other plan would be better for you.”

The other plan, with a pretty good allowance of bandwidth, is only about $66.00/month.

Now, if I had a half a brain, I would have done all this long ago—this all goes back to when I first got my new computer, but then it’s fast. The one that blew up, a crummy old Pentium II from a previous epoch, was so slow that I was never going to go over the limit. It’s all too easy with the new machine, combined with a little winter boredom and a big binge on Bond films from Dailymotion and some stuff from Youtube.

(For a quick laugh, check out my MrShalako1 channel.)

In the previous two years, I’d say I had maybe three or four months when I didn’t go over the limit. That adds up to a ton of money, and if I had more time, honestly, I’d be talking to the government about capping overage charges to whatever the price of unlimited is for any given service provider.

As Shirley explained it to me, it’s not exactly the same as bringing in money to the business.

It is preventing money from flowing out of a business (or your private life) thoughtlessly, without rhyme or reason and with no real benefit.

According to Shirley, she’s happy enough if she spends a half an hour on the phone and gets a savings or credit for forty bucks, right? That works out to eighty bucks an hour, and quite frankly, she’s worth double that.

Thanks for the help, incidentally. Enjoy the fifty bucks you saved on your own phone bill. It’s about the only payment you’re going to get and you did earn it after all. Anyways, when I get the new phone up and running, I'll call Cogeco and drop the landline phone. I can do that on my own.


*I also kept track of mileage for this business trip, and if you think about it, we got a pretty good story out of it as well. It is kind of satirical, to the slightly-paranoid mind.

Thank you for reading.

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