How to Lower Your Monthly Bills: The Power of Negotiation

Can you lower your monthly bills?
Can you lower your monthly bills? | Source

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

Remember when getting mail was a fun experience you looked forward to? The daily pile of letters held the promise of glossy catalogs for browsing, interesting magazines for reading, greeting cards that amused, and personally hand-written letters that brought you closer to someone.

Nowadays, unfortunately, all those delights have moved to web pages and email. Receiving mail has become a dreaded experience because all that arrives are monthly bills, with amounts that continually go up.

Method

You don’t have to suffer this anxiety any more. Through a simple technique involving your phone, you can lower some of your monthly bills. This example uses cable bills, but I’ve successfully used it with some credit card statements, membership fees, and bank charges. It hasn’t worked with electric, water or gas bills. And don’t get me started on health insurance, since I want to maintain my editorial composure.

  1. Start gathering offers of lower charges about a week to a month before you receive the bill you want to negotiate. In my case of cable, I kept offers from satellite services, other cable companies and fiber-optic providers. I even filed an offer from my current cable company for new subscribers.
  2. Plan to call your provider at the end of the month, or at the end of the week. Company agents often have quotas to fill at that time, and are more willing to extend deals to meet their goals. Just be aware that these are also busy times for many companies. So you may have to suffer a long hold time unless you....
  3. Call first thing in the morning, preferably right when the company’s phone lines open. This minimizes your wait, and catches company reps when they are still at their freshest and most amenable.
  4. Connect with the sales department rather than customer service. The former receives financial incentives for making or keeping their sales with you. The latter simply wants to get you off the line as quickly as possible, since their incentive is to clear as many customer calls as possible.
  5. Have a piece of paper and pen to write information down, starting with the date and time, and the names of anyone you talk to.
  6. Ask the sales agent you get connected to if he can negotiate cable bills. If he cannot, then ask to be connected to someone who can do that. Be pleasant and polite to everybody, as if you’re talking to your best friend. People like to accommodate nice customers, and avoid nasty ones.
  7. Praise the service you’re trying to negotiate, saying how much you like it, how good the customer service is and how much you want to stay with the company. But the high monthly payments are making it impossible for you to do that. If you have a real life reason for the difficulty, such as a job loss or sudden medical expenses, relate those reasons.

    Talk about how the company or other service providers have lower fees, and mention the offers you’ve gathered in the mail. Say that you’d rather remain with your current provider than to jump ship to the unknown, simply because the other one is cheaper.
  8. Ask the agent if there’s anything he can do, because you really want to stay with them. If he continues to say no, thank the agent for his time and ask to talk to a manager.
  9. Repeat your story to the manager, again bringing in why you’re having difficulty and how much you want to stay with the company. If she says “no,” thank her for her efforts and ask how you go about canceling your subscription. Also ask how much time you have to do that before you’re charged for the next month. She may relent at this point and give you a discount.

Source

Results

Frankly, this is only about as far as I’ve had to go to get dollars knocked off my bill, typically for a year. And when the year is up, I go through the same process.

However, if none of this works, there is till one thing you can try.

Write to the president of the company and explain the situation, and how you want to stay with the company. (You can find contact information on your bill or the company website.) Relate how you’ve negotiated with the sales agents, who did a good job, but that you understand how their hands are tied. This is where you can use the notes you’ve taken, because it’s helpful to be specific with dates and times.

Be concise and confine your letter to one page. You’ll be writing someone who has to go through many letters in a day. State clearly that you would like a discount and how much you would like, but always ask for more than you expect to receive. Don’t forget to hand-sign your request. Add a hand-written PS, reiterating your request. Recipients typically read the PS part of a letter first.

Let me know via the comments how this process works for you, or if you have any additional suggestions.

More by this Author


Comments 33 comments

northernwriter profile image

northernwriter 5 years ago

Man, I wouldn't want to try to telemarket to you - I'd lose my shirt!

Kidding aside, the article does raise a really good point - why do companies feel that once you sign up with them, they can jack your rates back up and they only offer the best rates to new customers?


alocsin profile image

alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Lol, thanks northernwriter. It's worked enough times that I keep doing it. But sometimes it doesn't work.

But your question is exactly my attitude. I think companies should do everything they can to keep current customers, because it costs a lot more to try and get new ones. It's a philosophy I used when I ran my own company.


Joe Bricky profile image

Joe Bricky 5 years ago from Modesto CA

I just negotiated down the ATT bill for one of my IT clients. One thing you can do is ask for the "Customer Retention" department. Most big communication companies have these. They have the power to offer you deals. Good article.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Joe, does "Customer Retention" work for individuals or just business customers?


Joe Bricky profile image

Joe Bricky 5 years ago from Modesto CA

Both, actually. When I was managing 100 cell phone accounts, of course, I had a lot more clout. But, like you were saying about doing the process every time an account goes out of contract... that's when an individual customer has power. I'm pretty sure both residential and business customers have a "customer retention" department they can go to for all of the bigger providers. Again... good job on the article.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Thanks Joe for the info and the compliment.


frugalfamily profile image

frugalfamily 5 years ago from Houston, TX

I'm glad to have discovered you and your hubs! These are great tips, I have used them myself for credit cards and the power bill. Insurance is regulated, but somehow my agent always finds a new discount for me every year!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

Great tips on negotiating! Lots of people won't even try to negotiate with phone service providers or credit card companies because they assume they have no leverage, which isn't true at all. Doing this can save us lots of money. Plus, it doesn't hurt to try even if we fail to convince them.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 5 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Great money saving advice ... we all get a little settled with out providers, but it does them good to get a challenge now 'n' again ;-)

Voted up and useful


tarajeyaram profile image

tarajeyaram 4 years ago from Wonderland

I am so glad that I read your tips. I am going to try some of these myself. Great hub. I have voted up and useful.


sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

Alocsin, this is great advice. Like you, I am trying to negotiate with my cable company. We just do not have enough competition in our area and the rates are sky high. I am going to link this to my hub, "Who's to Blame for America's Financial Downfall," because it is also a list of tips to living within our means and how to do that. :-)

Great hub!! Up and useful!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Thanks s holland10. Let me know how that negotiation goes. Feel free to put a link "Who's to Blame for America's Financial Downfall" in these comments, so my visitors can simply click on it to visit that rather intriguing title.


sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

Thanks, Alocsin! If you would like to add it, go to edit, add the link capsule, add the link, then save it. You can add other links related to personal finances, too. Again, you wrote a great hub!! :-)


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Done.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Great advice Alocsin,

I worked in customer service for a long time and what you say is true. We have to try and avoid discounts or waving charges, but when it comes to losing a customer, there is normally some negotiation possible.

Will SOCIALLY SHARE this, as sure everyone here could do with some cheaper bills.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

I've tried this before, though no where nearly as organized as you present here. Great tips and great hub! Voted up; thanks for SHARING. :)


cebutouristspot profile image

cebutouristspot 4 years ago from Cebu

With the current economic slump I believe people would try anything to save money. Get tips with the power of negotiation. Thanks for sharing.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Good Hub. I have tried this before and it does work, The keys are to be pleasant, prepared, and persistent. You covered all three. Very good advice.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with this.


carieg 4 years ago

Completely agree with this. You will be surprised how much they will knock off your bill to retain you as a customer.

great advice.


RetailRich profile image

RetailRich 4 years ago

Very good. I know this approach works at least some of the time because I've used it. At the phone company it's always better to start with the department that handles cancellations and installations. They will put you through to customer retention right away.


onthegrind profile image

onthegrind 4 years ago from Florida, United States

My wife tried this recently with our cable company. She eventually spoke to the retention department. We were able to get our bill reduced a good amount and were happy with what they offered. Good useful hub.


dslrtips profile image

dslrtips 4 years ago from Evergreen Manison

That's something new to me from where im coming from. But i strongly agree negotiation is very important in all fields.


DietForDiabetics profile image

DietForDiabetics 4 years ago

Good hub. Very useful tips. Thank you for this info. This help me very much


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Thanks all for responding, especially with your experiences to prove that this works.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

This is great information and I completely agree. I have been able to negotiate my internet connection, get late fees waived on credit cards, reduce my daughter's cell phone bill and gotten rid of the monthly fee on her checking account.

Threatening to quit does work, as I often wonder if they may be willing to let me go for a few dollars. Just asking about the procedure to quit sounds like a great plan.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Millionaire Tips. If they do allow you to quit, you can always sign up with someone else, which is the beauty of this technique.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Great advice offered here through your experiences on how to handle this situation. Certainly worth a try! Up and useful votes and will tweet and share with my followers.


Jessi10 profile image

Jessi10 4 years ago from Lancaster, CA

I liked this Hub! You make many great points! I've tried some of these tips, and surely enough, my bills went from being in the 100's to simple double digits again!

Thank you for writing this! Its educational.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA Author

That's great new Jessi10. Anywhere you can save money is always good.


Pinkchic18 profile image

Pinkchic18 4 years ago from Minnesota

Awesome advice! You give so many good tips here. I once read the book, "You don't need a lawyer" which gave numerous letter examples to send to different types of businesses to reach different goals. Very helpful!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Aurelio, these are really helpful tips to negotiate with almost any kind of service making some differences in approach vis-a-vis the service.. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is really helpful for all of us during this hard economic time. Very helpful!

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