While unfortunately there’s no way to get out of paying your bills, there are tactics you can employ to get those bills down as low as possible so you’re paying service providers like phone, cell and cable companies the bare minimum while still retaining all the services and perks you currently enjoy.
It may sound like a cliché, but, “don’t take no for an answer” is probably the number one tip in almost every case. You, as the client, really do have the upper hand because it’s more cost effective for a company to give in and cut you a break than it is for them to hunt down and recruit a new client. Companies that already have very low, fixed rates are unlikely to give you a deal, but most others will if you press them.
We’re programmed to believe that the rate we’re given is the best or only rate there is, and we just automatically pay it month after month. But the truth is if you handle it correctly, you can almost always strike a better deal.
According to How-to-Geek1, these are tried and true methods for getting better rates:
- Know the competition. You need leverage, so do some research to find out what competitors are offering. Write down the terms of your agreement (what features you have, how much data you use, etc.) and what you’re paying for the service you get, then head to competitors’ websites to find out what you would be paying if you had a contract with them instead. You can even call competitors to find out about current deals and offers. Having this information allows you to point out exactly how much extra you’re paying to be a customer of your current provider, and to suggest that you’d like them to be more competitive if they hope to keep you as a customer.
- Be prepared to walk. Ultimately, your willingness to keep saying “no” – and to mean it – until you’re given the deal you want will give you the best outcome. Tell yourself that you will leave if they don’t give you what you want, and you’ll put yourself in the, “what do I have to lose?” frame of mind, which is perfect for negotiating.
- Be polite. The customer service rep isn’t your enemy. In fact, they can be your strongest ally. Remember that customer service reps spend the day talking to irate customers, so if you position yourself as someone who is simply asking them to help you out of a jam, you may have better results. Make it clear that you aren’t upset with them or the company or service it provides, but that you just really need to get your bill down because your budget is really tight, or your spouse is hounding you to get the deal they saw another company offering. The rep may enjoy problem solving with someone who isn’t angry for a change.
- Talk to the right rep. You want to talk to someone in customer retention, so ask for that department when you call. If you’re questioned about why you need to speak with someone in that department, say you’re calling to cancel your service because it’s too expensive and they should immediately direct you to retention. If the company doesn’t have a retention department, ask to speak to a supervisor who will have more authority than the rep you’re currently speaking to.
- Know what you want to achieve. Have a number in mind, and don’t accept the first offer unless it happens to be exactly what you want (which is unlikely to happen). This is the point when it’s critical to know what competitors offer because you can continue to point out how much more you’re paying than you would be if you moved over to the competition. It’s also at this point that you may have to say, “thanks, but no thanks.” If you’re firm enough, odds are they will continue to come back with better deals until you’re happy – or until you really do walk away.
- Don’t sign a contract. Contracts lock you into a rate you can’t negotiate your way out of until the term is over, and they often also come with a bunch of stuff you don’t want. What you do want is a better rate right now, and you won’t sign any sort of contract to get it. End of story.
- Remember to confirm and set a reminder to renegotiate. Once you get the deal you want, remember to check your bill the next time it comes in to ensure that you were actually given everything you asked for at the new rate you negotiated. It’s also wise to set a reminder to renegotiate again in the future. You may have been given a lower rate for a short term, so once that period is over you’ll have to start from scratch again. But at least you enjoyed a period of much lower rates in the interim!
416407B CAN/US (08/18)