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One of the smartest moves I made at the beginning of this year was actually a telephone call- to my internet service provider to be exact. In a little over 30 minutes – including the “on hold” time – I walked away with over $400/ year in savings. Not bad for less than the time it takes to finish my breakfast. That’s an extra vacation right there, or one added fancy dinner each month every month. The phone call left me giddy, with a sense of accomplishment many times the monetary value. And that’s on top of the money I’m saving!
A little about me- I’m the type of person that would rather die than haggle at the flea market, or raise a stink if something appears amiss on a bill. But one thing I’m learning this year is, if you want something in life, you need to ask for it. Be it a promotion, a bump in your salary, a date with this girl you’ve been crushing for months now, or just some relief from high household bills. You need to ask in order to get those things.
Types of Household Bills to Target
When it comes to household bills, there’s absolutely no risk in speaking up, and everything go gain. That’s something I learned even as an amateur negotiator with my internet company. In general the following types of recurring bills are always ripe for a little push back:
- Cable, Cell phone, and Internet Bills
- Landlines fees
- Satellite TV and Radio Subscriptions
- Home security and Alarm Services
- Gym Memberships
- Newspaper Subscriptions
The competition for the above services are fierce, with the actual cost to service each customer minimal. This means companies are willing to offer deep discounts to retain you, as they will still be making a profit at the end of the day.
How to Negotiate with These Companies
I can only tell you what worked for me in getting that $400/year savings from my ISP, which seems to be in line with what “experts” in the field recommend as well. These are the exact steps:
- To start out with, always be courteous and polite. You don’t want to be labelled as disruptive at any point.
- Tell the rep you’ve been a loyal customer for xxx months or years, but that you wish to cancel your service because it’s no longer affordable for you.
- At this point the reps are always trained to go into “Don’t You Dare Let That Customer Slip Away!” mode. They may often transfer you to their retention department. That’s when the negotiating starts.
- Be clear again on the reason you’re looking to cancel- because you can no longer afford the rates you’re being charged. This prevents the rep from trying to entice you with extra features instead.
- Don’t settle for the first offer. The reps are trained to throw a well researched incentive out there in hopes you’ll bite and call it a day. For example, with my ISP, they immediately offered me a $10/mon discount for 6 months. I held my ground and told me that wouldn’t make much of an impact on my tight budget unfortunately. I politely asked if there was more they could do.
- Cite their competitors’ better rates and promotions to let them know indirectly you’re ready to walk away if needed.
- Push for a more permanent discount- a decent discount for 18 months is better than a hefty discount for only 6 months. Do the Math. Again mention your great standing with the company (always pay your bills on time, been with them for xxx months or years already).
- Ask for that one “extra” thing. Once you’ve gotten the deal you’re happy with, push just a little more, as momentum is now on your side, and the rep is eager to close the deal and log you as another successful customer retained. Ask for 1 hour more talk time on your cell phone plan, or a speed bump on your internet. More often than not the rep will happily comply, again just to close the case.
- Finally, thank your rep for willing to work with you, and be sure to jot down the rep’s name and case number in case the next bill doesn’t reflect the discount you were promised.
The deals service providers are willing to cut are rarely permanent, which is why it’s so important to keep a calendar on when the special rate expires, so you can do the tango all over again.
For me, following the above steps netted me over $400 in savings this year from my internet service provider. Was it worth the sweaty palms and jitters beforehand? You better believe it!
Can I Outsource the Negotiating?
If the mere suggestion of wrangling on the phone mortifies you (my aunt definitely belongs to that group), or you work a stable 9 to 5 job and just don’t have time to deal with these companies yourself (remember, you’ll most likely be put on hold for a while), there is fortunately another option. There are now companies that will negotiate on your behalf the most common types of recurring household bills. These people are professionals, so they know exactly what to say to get the best deal possible for you. And best of all, they are all paid simply a percentage of your savings- no discount, no fee to you. The two most popular and reputable bill negotiating companies are:
BillShark works with all households in 50 States across the US, and says they have a 85% success rate on negotiating the following types of household bills:
- Wireless Phone
- Internet Access
- Satellite and Cable TV
- Home security/Alarm Services
- Satellite Radio
It only takes a few minutes to upload a copy of your bill to their web site. After that, they basically take it from there, calling and negotiating on your behalf to squeeze out the highest possible savings for you. If they’re successful. the company takes 40% of the net savings; otherwise, you pay nothing.
Billcutterz works very similarity to BillShark, though they take 50% of the savings (instead of 40%) if successful. They work on a larger variety of household bills, however:
- Cell Phone
- Cable & Satellite TV
- Landline Telephone
- Bundles (Cable / Phone / Internet)
- Alarm & Security
- Satellite Radio
- Electricity (in Texas only)
- And much more.
The only bills they can’t help you with apparently are regulated utilities, credit cards or medical bills. All bills must be in good standing.
The entire process is very straightforward- upload your bill(s), answer a few questions online, and either authorize them to call using your name, or add them as a authorized user to your service provider’s account. You’ll usually hear back within 48 hours if they were successful or not.
Take Action Today
My biggest regret in all of this is not calling up my ISP sooner. It’s a sin how much money I’ve basically flushed down the toilet just because I couldn’t muster the courage to make a simple phone call. If I had known about the two bill negotiating sites above sooner, I probably would have just used them instead. Either way, the point is, act today and get a handle on your recurring bills now. Never will a few minutes of your time yield so much.
What’s your experience negotiating with your service providers? Have you used BillShark or BillCutterz instead to do your bidding? Please comment below to tell me!
More Money Saving Resources:
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- FREE Medicare Plus Card- Save up to $75 on healthcare services not covered by Medicare