I stopped answering my home phone three months ago. The reason for being a non-landline phone answering homeowner was simple — no one ever called for me. The bored, unfamiliar voices on the other end always asked for the same nonexistent people:
Caller: Hello, is Mrs. Taylor there?
Me: Um, that’s my mother?
Caller: Can I speak with K. Taylor, please?
Me: Unpossible! ‘K’ is not a real person first name. Well, unless you’re ‘Agent K’ from Men in Black. But then his first name is ‘Agent’, and he’s still not really a real person. Stupid neuralyzer.
Caller: Is the head of household available?
Me: Cripes, everyone in my household has a head.
Whenever I did pick up the receiver to brave the noise, the caller always seemed to want the same darn thing — to scam-sell me something. The “scam” could range from convincing me I’d won a wicked cruise (Yeah, scam), needed a dire repair to my Windows computer (Another scam. I have a MacBook Pro), or to inform me my credit card balance was in trouble (Total scam. I’ve never carried a balance).
If the caller wasn’t a staticky scammer calling from overseas, chances are I’d be greeted with dead silence followed by the dreaded robocaller click. The worst of my robocalls were received during the recent provincial general election in British Columbia. Of course I voted, but for the month leading up to the election I had to deal with robotic politicians pitching their recorded platforms morning, noon, and night. Tedious. Horrible.
On the eve before the eve the election I got mad. And then I got squawky.
How much was I paying for these telemarketers and polito robocallers to reach out and dial me? I checked my Telus phone bill for the numbers. For around $25 per month — that’s $300 a year — I wasn’t phoning home, faxing important documents, or surfing the Information Superhighway with a 56.6 baud modem. Nope. These were my days of old, and today I was paying good money for people to bug me at home on my dime.
Since buying a fancy unlocked iPhone most of my friends either text or call me on my cell, and only two people now ring my landline.
Not unlike the National Security Agency (NSA), I was curious about the phone conversations of others, so I posted this landline question on my Squawkfox Facebook page. The response was huge.
Given the passion both for and against the humble home phone line, I decided to get real to this expense and do the math.
Cut the landline: How much money can you save?
Could I save money by cancelling my landline and communicating with just my mobile? Other telephone talkers have done it, so maybe the money-saving math could work for me too.
I wanted to create a handy dandy tool like the Compare Cell Phone Plans Spreadsheet for you guys, but ’cause everyone’s landline plans, long distance needs, bundle thingers, and cell phone plans vary drastically, it’s silly complicated to create a single tool to reliably calculate an individual’s ringin’ costs. So instead, here are some simple steps to get the easy math done:
How to compare your landline and cell phone costs:
Step 1: Get your landline phone bill. Write down your monthly cost. How many minutes are you telephone talkin’ per month?
Step 2: Get your cell phone bill. How are you being billed? If you talk more, will it cost more to cut your landline minutes? At what point and by how much do your mobile voice minutes become a deal, or deal breaker? Maybe you already have unlimited local calling? Or perhaps you pay a flat rate by the minute? Read the fine print! Can you text more and talk less?
Step 3: Get crunching. How much would your monthly cell phone bill increase if you added the minutes from the landline to it? This is the tricky part, because cell phone billing may become complicated, especially if you’re committed to a contract.
Step 4: Get the difference. If the increase in your monthly cell phone bill is less than what you’re paying for the landline, you would save some cash by cutting your home phone.
My landline savings, explained:
Step 1: My landline costs $25 per month, including all local calls. I use my home phone for about 30 minutes each month.
Step 2: My cell costs a base amount of $15 each month, plus airtime. Airtime minutes are bought in blocks of 500 for $25, which totals $0.05 per minute. These minutes never expire.
Step 3: If I use my cell for 30 more minutes each month, my mobile cost would increase by 30 x $0.05 = $1.50 per month.
Step 4: By cancelling the landline and opting for mobile only:
- Landline costs: decrease $25 per month
- Cell phone costs: increase $1.50 per month
- Total Telephone Savings: $23.50 per month or $282 per year
Bottom Line: Cutting the landline and switching to my mobile plan to communicate saves me a total of $282 per year. These savings don’t include the sanity-saving measure of stopping telemarketers and robocallers from tapping my time.
4 Reasons to stay on hold.
Not everyone should cancel their home phones just to save a few bucks. Here’s why:
1. Emergency Use: A landline may be more reliable in cases of medical emergency when 911 service is a must! The danger of dialing 911 on a cell phone or via a VoIP system (Skype, etc.) is your call may be routed and dispatched to the wrong location thanks to incorrectly transmitted GPS or nonexistent VoIP location data.
In 2008 a baby died in Calgary because the ambulance was dispatched to the family’s former address in Mississauga after an emergency 911 call was placed via VoIP. Sure, in 2012 the CRTC cracked down on VoIP service providers to ensure they complied with federal rules for 911 services, but if someone in your family has a medical condition where a life-saving 911 call is a possible scenario, you may want to think twice about cutting your landline loose.
2. Reliability: Maybe you live in an area with spotty cell coverage, or perhaps your landline is a backup for when your mobile battery dies. Some talkers argue that sound quality is better on a landline, and in case of power outages a landline often keeps you connected to the outside world, even in the dark.
Then again, if your rural road washes out and your neighbour’s excavator hits the buried landline in an attempt to repair the wreckage, your cell phone will be far more reliable. Yes, this really happened to me. No, I could not drive my Smart Car over that mess. Yes, I was trapped. 🙂
3. Yer old skool: Sending faxes via a fax machine or using a modem to access the internet means you need a dang landline. Sorry, peops. Maybe it’s time to upgrade?
4. Cost: Got a sweet bundled telecommunications deal where your landline is more of a perk than a breakout cost? Yeah, you know who you are, and you all tend to have cable packages. Can I convince you to cut your cable too? — here are 10 Legal Alternatives to Costly Cable.
Cutting the landline and going fully mobile isn’t possible for many people due to cost and coverage. I was going to compile a long list of alternatives, but the folks on the Squawkfox Facebook page nicely listed these ever-changing options already! Plus, these smart people reviewed these options with experience to boot! So join them over here on Facebook and get in on the brainy money-saving action.
So where am I going with this?
Deciding whether to cancel your home phone comes down to accessibility, safety, and money.
But after calculating my savings by going mobile while considering safety factors and alternatives, I decided to tell Telus to cut my landline. It took under 10 minutes to cut the service. Sure, I have to give 30 days notice before my billing cycle ends, but that’s OK. In the end I’ll save some cash and have one less bill to pay.
The real bonus is not having to deal with telemarketers and robots disturbing my kid’s nap time ever again. You can’t put a price on sleep, seriously.
Your Turn: Do you still have a phone landline? Tell me why you cut the cord and how you communicate without a home phone.