Saving

Goodbye Bell, Hello Teksavvy

May 16, 2011

91 comments

We’ve been Bell Canada Internet customers for a very long time. In the past, I’ve considered leaving Bell but whenever I grumbled about high prices, Bell almost always offered a discount on the regular rate. The catch is the discounts are offered for a limited time (six months or one year) and when the deal expires, you have to remember to call Bell to get a discount yet again and be prepared to haggle over whether you want to sign a contract. One reason I continued to stick with Bell is sheer inertia: we received reliable service and we heavily depend on the Internet to telework regularly and I didn’t want to undergo the hassle of finding out that a smaller provider’s service was less than reliable.

But when Canadian Money Forum members said they were very happy with Teksavvy’s Internet service, I decided to take the plunge. The regular rate (prices up-to-date as of Jan. 2014) on Bell’s 5 Mbps Internet service with monthly bandwidth capped at a measly 20 GB works out to $51.87 (including HST). If you net out the bundle savings of $5 that Bell provides to customers with multiple services, Bell’s High-Speed Internet service works out $48.53 per month.

Teksavvy’s Internet prices are much lower — $30.49 per month for 6 Mbps and bandwidth of 75 GB. No limited time deals, contracts or bundled savings. You do have to purchase a DSL modem that Teksavvy sells for $75 plus shipping but you can pick it up at local computer stores for around $60. Also, Teksavvy charges an Activation Fee of $50, so you’ll be paying around $120 in start-up costs and realize savings of $18 per month thereafter.

Teksavvy is cheaper not only in the one product tier that we were interested but across the spectrum as you can see from the table below (all prices current as of Jan. 2014 and exclude taxes). We are comparing Bell’s regular bundle rate (which assumes you have some other Bell service) not the introductory 3-month rate with Teksavvy’s regular rate. It should be noted that Bell’s bandwidth is significantly lower than Teksavvy’s, so the following comparison is not quite apples-to-apples.

Product Tier (Down/Up) Bell Canada Teksavvy Difference
Internet 5/1 $42.95 $26.99 $15.96
Internet 15/10 $52.95 $34.99 $17.96
Internet 25/10 $60.95 $39.99 $20.96
Internet 50/10 $85.95 $54.99 $30.96

 

We’ve had Teksavvy for more than 2 years now and I have only one complaint — if you should need a service call, you are likely to encounter delays as I noted in this follow-up post. Internet is reliable and download speed is close to advertised numbers. We have download services like Netflix Canada and watch TV shows on our tablet or on our Smart TV and do not come close to exceeding 75GB/month. And now that Bell has increased the monthly rate on home phone service by $2 — basic home phone service costs $24.27 at Teksavvy compared to $30.72 at Bell — I’ll be soon severing all ties Bell, hopefully, forever.

Update (Sept. 27, 2013): More than two years later, we are still very happy with Teksavvy DSL Internet. The post has been updated with Teksavvy’s pricing and bandwidth cap changes. Originally, Teksavvy charged $31.95 per month for 5 Mbps and bandwidth of 300GB for the lowest tier service. Note though that if you have a problem that requires a technician to visit your home, you may encounter some problems at Teksavvy.

Update (Jan. 29, 2014): We are still happy with Teksavvy — it is reliable for us and remains much cheaper than Bell Canada. I’ve updated the post with the latest pricing information.

Saving Big by Flying out of US Airports

February 15, 2011

40 comments

A friend who lives here in Ottawa recently reported that she saved big on a recent vacation to Miami by flying out of Syracuse. The plane ticket on jetBlue from Syracuse to Miami for my friend and two of her family members cost her $650. The best prices she could find for flying out of Ottawa during the same period was $650 per person. Now, Syracuse is a three-hour drive from Ottawa and even accounting for parking at Syracuse ($70), gas and other incidentals, my friend figures she saved a total of more than $1,000 on her trip.

Of course, there are some risks involved. If the weather is bad, driving from Ottawa to Syracuse could turn out to be tricky. You may have to put up with unpredictable border-crossing times. Also, it is easier to deal with flight delays and cancellations when flying out of or back to Ottawa directly. And if you have a young family, you’d likely do anything to avoid driving three hours with the young ones in tow.

And it’s not just my friend. A number of Canadians have wised up to how much they can save by driving across the border. Vancouver residents are flying to U.S. destinations out of Bellingham, Winnipeggers out of Grand Forks, Torontonians out of Buffalo and Montrealers out of Burlington, Vermont or Plattsburgh, N.Y. A recent CBC news report said that an estimated 2.5 million Canadians cross the border and fly out of an U.S. airport. Canadian airports are blaming high rents charged by the Federal Government for the problem.

Hubert: A new online savings bank

November 16, 2010

48 comments

There is yet another entrant in the already crowded online savings accounts marketplace. A tiny Manitoba-based credit union has started offering online savings accounts, term deposits, TFSA savings account and TFSA term deposits under the Hubert brand through the website happysavings.ca. The savings account offers an interest rate of 2.25 percent and the 2- to 5-year term deposits yield an average of 3.075 percent. Though the interest rate on the savings account is one of the highest available, it is largely negated by a $2.50 service charge per withdrawal from the savings account. Just like competing online accounts offered by credit unions, Hubert accounts are not CDIC-insured and deposit insurance is provided by the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation. New customers are required to purchase a $5 member share.

Hubert joins two other online savings accounts currently offered by credit unions: Outlook Financial and Achieva Financial. Outlook Financial offers a 2.0 percent interest on a savings account and 2- to 5-year GICs that provide an average yield of 3.11 percent. RRSP, RRIF and TFSA accounts are also available from Outlook Financial but watch out for the fees. One free withdrawal can be made from a savings account every month but each subsequent debit transaction is charged a fee of $1. A fee of $50 is charged for RRSP / TFSA transfers to another institution.

Achieva Financial currently offers a 2.0 percent interest on a savings account and 2- to 5-year GICs are yielding an average of 3.09 percent. RRSP, RRIF and TFSA accounts are available but again watch out for those fees. The first debit transaction is free but each subsequent debit is charged a fee of $1. Online bill payments from the account are charged a fee of $0.50.

Online savings accounts from credit unions do seem to offer a smidgen more interest on savings accounts and GICs than most of their competitors. But, other online products such as those from ING Direct and Ally make up the difference by providing a CDIC guarantee and not charging any fees. Also note that you can park cash in your brokerage accounts in high interest savings accounts that can be purchased like mutual funds.