For years, I had a phone bill that cost me almost $100/month, without any extras or add-ons. It was incredibly expensive for the privilege of being able to talk on the phone, but I accepted it because I thought that everybody had a high phone bill. I live in Canada, after all, and we are known for our insane cell phone rates.
However, one evening I went out with some friends and we began to discuss our cell phones over dinner. One of my friends was paying about half of what I was paying, for the same service (with the same company). I asked many questions to try to get to the bottom of why I was spending so much when others were, and it turned out that my friend wasn’t on a special plan or receiving any special discounts; she was just serious about negotiating her bills.
I decided that I didn’t want to throw away $50 per month just because I failed to negotiate my cell phone bill, so I got to work and phoned my provider. It turned out to be a very successful venture, and I decided to do the same for all of my bills. Here is what I learned in negotiating my bills.
Nobody wants to do favors or bend over backward for people who are rude to them. It’s very important to be polite when calling to negotiate a bill.
I worked in retail for a few years in high school and in the first couple of years of college, and I learned very quickly that honey catches more flies than vinegar.
If you are polite, the customer service representative on the other line will be much more willing to help you. If you can’t lower your bill by being polite, then you won’t be able to do it by being demanding and rude, either, so hang up and try again in a day when you know you’ll get another customer service representative.
Try to Negotiate Via Email
There was a study that came out that reported that written negotiations are usually more successful for the person wanting a better price than verbal negotiations.
If possible, negotiate your bill over email.
This may be possible only for smaller companies, such as your gym, but it’s worth a try.
Don’t Try Too Often
The general rule of thumb is that you should try to reduce your bill only once per year. Most companies have databases that show the history of your account, and phoning the customer retention line every month will not serve you well.
If you try once per year, you can usually be quite successful.
Do Your Research
If you want to lower your bill by 50%, and there are no other providers that offer savings of 50% of your current bill, it’s not going to happen.
Be realistic and do your research. What are the company’s competitors offering? You can even use introductory rates for the purpose of your negotiation. Ensure that what you are asking is comparable to the offer of another company. Bring that to the table when trying to negotiate your bill. If it’s within 20% of what you are paying, most companies would rather retain you as a customer and lose 20% than give you up to another company.
Make sure than when you phone your provider, you come prepared with some comparisons.
If You Don’t Get it the First Time, Hang Up and Try Again
I phoned my gym one time to negotiate my monthly rate and the person I was initially connected with wasn’t budging on the amount of my bill.
I politely thanked him and hung up, and called again the next day at a different time of day to ensure that I didn’t get the same person. The person who I was talking to the next day helped me cut the cost of my monthly gym membership by 10%.
Sometimes, the representative on the other line isn’t willing to negotiate, so try again later.
Be Open Minded
You probably won’t get the exact results that you wanted, but be open minded to compromises. One time, I contacted my internet provider to negotiate my bill but I was already at the lowest rung (which I knew, because that’s what I’d negotiated last time).
They couldn’t offer me a lower price, but they increased my speed and took me off wired internet for no extra monthly charge.
If the company is willing to give you a better service but can’t offer you a discount, that’s better than nothing, especially if you can’t get the service for much cheaper with another company.
Have you ever negotiated a bill? If so, were you successful?