Think your bills are set in stone? Think again. You can even negotiate the interest rate on your credit card, for cripe’s sake. How could your powers of persuasion lower your household expenses?
Always, always ask if there’s any way you could pay less for a given service. That doesn’t mean asking, “so, can I pay less?” with no justification. It does mean knowing what the competition is offering, taking advantage of promotions, deciding what you think the product’s value is to you, and asking what your options might be in terms of reducing your monthly payment.
Ask more than one representative
On the phone with someone who’s totally uninterested in your bargaining skills? Call back. You might have to spend a lot of time on the phone, or you may have to call multiple times, but if you get someone who is willing to work with you, it will be worth the effort.
Do your research about home utility costs
Also known as: pit different companies against one another. How much are other companies charging for a similar service? Although it can be hard to compare—cable companies, for example, offer slightly different packages—you should have some idea of the going rate. If another company offers less, mention it, and express your willingness to choose the cheaper option for your home. If another company offers a similar rate, ask if you can get a better deal as an incentive to stay on with your current provider.
Use promotions—when they’re available and when they aren’t
Keep track of a company’s promotions. Many savvy bargainers will only sign up for cable or cell service through a promotion. But the savings don’t necessarily have to end when the promotion does; call and ask if it can be extended. Make it clear that if your savings continue, so will your business, but if they expire you may look elsewhere. My brother, for example, has had HBO for years and literally never paid their normal rate.
Think short-term to save long term for your apartment
If you’re in a financial bind, you can probably get special short-term deals. You might not owe less over time, but your credit card company/car insurance/cell phone provider might let you pay less for a month or two until you’re back on your feet. If you cannot pay the full amount, you should definitely call and notify them, and ask what’s the least you can pay to keep the service on. This should keep you from getting a credit ding from overdue bills.
Ask for customer retention
Still not getting the reaction you want? Ask for a representative from the company’s customer retention department. Their whole job is to keep you as a customer!
Need greater negotiating skills? Slate’s Negotiation Academy comes highly recommended.
If you have any other suggestions let the world know on the MyNewPlace Facebook Page!