I spent about an hour yesterday calling all of the companies that I write checks to monthly to see what I could do to lower my payments due to my unemployment. I began every call with the same sentence — “I’ve recently lost my job and am calling to see if I can lower the cost of this service before I have to start cutting back on my services.”
Here are the results:
- AT&T – (Cell phone) They wouldn’t charge me less for my current plan and it didn’t make sense to scale back my plan as it’s already pretty minimal.
- Clackamas Garbage Co. – They didn’t answer the phone and asked me to leave a voicemail. I opted not to at this time.
- Clackamas River Water – The representative I spoke with stated that they were unable to reduce rates.
- Comcast (internet) – Comcast didn’t offer to reduce my rate but they did suggest that I scale back my service to a lower speed, which I did. This saves me about $20/mo.
- DirecTV – DirecTV knocked $10 off my bill for 12 months without having to scale back my service.
- Farmers Insurance – I was unable to reach my insurance agent (phone) because the local office was closed due to inclement weather. Snow was falling at the time. My email bounced back as well.
- Homestreet Bank (mortgage) – This is a real catch 22. I cannot adjust the interest rate on my mortgage due to type of loan that I have. I also cannot adjust loan until I’ve missed 3 consecutive payments. I cannot refinance the house without a job. I would also have to payout the amount in escrow to before I could modify the loan. I could make half payments but any shortage or missed payment would negatively impact my credit score.
- NW Natural – The gas company is unable to reduce my rates. They referred me to 3 Energy Assistance Programs.
- PGE – The power company were also unable to reduce my rates but I could let payments slip and pay it off in the future should things get dire. I just needed to let them know that I was doing this intentionally.
- Water Environment Services – I might be able to cut sewage rate in half should I qualify. Some info on a program is being mailed to me that I’ll need to fill out and mail back in.
I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised that I wasn’t able to lower my monthly costs by much. The real thing that surprised me was that only one person stated that they were sorry that I had lost my job. I spent some time working in a call center and while I’m certainly aware that you can become numb to the grinding nature of the job, it’s not difficult to say something brief and supportive. The lady at DirecTV was the only one to state that she was sorry I had lost my job and at the end of the call, she circled back around and wished me good luck in my job search.