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Consumer
Bundling can save you a bundle
NEW YORK (2/13/08)--Don’t toss that telecommunications offer in the trash too quickly. You could save some loot by bundling services (MarketWatch Feb. 5). Bundling means you’ll receive Internet, TV (cable or satellite), and phone service from the same company--generally at a lower cost than you’d pay for individual services from different companies--and all on one bill. To find if bundling might be for you, pay attention to these points:
* Real rate. Know what you’ll be paying when the promotional period ends. To get the best deal, you may have to commit to a year or two of service (ChicagoTribune.com Jan. 27). Or, bundle promotions might come with extras such as additional TV channels at no cost. But when the promotion ends you could be billed for these services if you don’t cancel the extras on your own. * What you’re paying for extras. Your first month’s bill might be quite high. In addition to monthly fees and taxes, look for start-up costs and charges for remotes or cable boxes. If you selected premium channels, you’ll be billed for those as well. * Same phone number. Most companies will let you keep your old number unless you’re moving or trying to maintain a nonlocal number. If there’s a charge for switching numbers, ask the phone company to waive it--most will do this to hook a new customer. * Service limitations. If you make too many calls you might be charged for the extras. Or, your Internet upload and download speeds might be affected if your computing habits typically exceed the company’s bandwidth limits.
Though bundling might save money for most, it’s not for everyone. If you’re happy with the services you’re already getting, you might not want to risk sacrificing quality or service. Maybe you don’t want all your eggs in one basket. Maybe you don’t need all three services or you don’t use some or all of the services often. And if you use a cell phone for most calls, you might not need a landline at all.
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