Negotiating may be viewed as a dying art in America, but guess what? It still works. From department store purchases to insurance rates to automotive care, you might be surprised how often the answer to “Can you give me a deal?” is “Yes!”. Big ticket purchases like cars and homes – where negotiating is still commonplace – may be the most typical times to haggle, but recurring expenses like cable and phone plans are often overlooked opportunities for sizable savings. With a quick phone call and the right words to your service providers, you could easily cut 10 percent, 20 percent or more off those expenses. Here are five simple tips to help you renegotiate your bills.
Plan Your Pitch
Know what you’re going to say before you pick up the phone to speak with your service provider’s representative. The best start to any negotiation is to research the rates offered by your current provider to new customers as well as the rates from competitors (even if they’re not directly available to you). This gives you a baseline to ask your provider to match or beat. However, it’s usually better to ask for more than you expect to get so you can let the rep push back a little and not feel like they’re being steamrolled. Framing your request as a need (e.g. meeting a budget) rather than a want is also a good way to keep your rep focused on helping you rather than trying to change your mind.
Talk to the Right Person
Don’t waste your time negotiating with someone who doesn’t have the power to help. When you make contact, always ask first if the person you’re talking to can get you what you want. If they can’t, ask to speak with someone who does. If you’re not getting anywhere, threatening to cancel your service (when applicable) if often a good way to get results. Retention departments typically have more power to make deals and are often incentivized to keep customers happy enough to stay. If you still can’t reach someone who can help, you can always call back later to try a different rep or try other avenues of communication such as email, a web-based chat form or an in-person visit to the business.
This one needs little explanation. It’s always easier to get something you want from someone who’s inclined to like you. No matter what turn your conversation takes, stay firm but cordial to give yourself the best chance of success.
Know When to Settle or to Give Up
Not all negotiations are fated to succeed. Sometimes bills really can’t be lowered as much as you want (or at all), or it may not be possible to find a rep who’s willing to budge. In those cases, there’s one last step before giving up: asking what else they can offer you. Even if you can’t get the rate cut you want, your provider may be able to upgrade your service or offer you a better product without additional charge. If you truly can’t get anything, throw in the towel and move on.
Repeat as Necessary
Few negotiations are forever when it comes to bills. Whenever you get a concession, find out how long it will last, and set a reminder for yourself to reach out and renegotiate again before it expires.