I can’t remember if I shared this on my blog, but I was recently a member of a really cool Leadership Academy program. During the course of the program, I was able to take full-day classes with professors from my school’s MBA program. One of my favorites was a class on negotiations—the professor was engaging and the information she gave us could be used in our everyday lives. I walked away from that class with the phrase “basically everything is negotiable” floating around in my head.
Credit Image: Photo Monkey on Flickr
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to test that idea out for myself.
I made a list of our monthly contract expenses. Here are our top four:
- Tivo DVR subscription
- Vehicle insurance—4 vehicles
- Cable, internet and phone plan
- Cellphone plan—3 phones
I called up the main Tivo customer service line and I asked to please speak to a customer retention specialist. Once I got someone on the line, this is exactly what I said:
“I LOVE Tivo! Love, love, LOVE Tivo. However, my cable company is offering a much better rate if I switch to their DVR. I’ve been a Tivo customer for a long time though, so I wanted to see if you could give me a better offer so that I can stay with you.”
I said that and then I just waited.
The very nice representative looked up my account and said that she could definitely find me a better rate. She threw a few numbers out at me and I said (VERY NICELY) that I was looking for something a bit lower, please. Once she came up with what I thought was her best offer, I waited for a few seconds and asked her (once again … very nicely) if that was the best offer she could do. She paused and then gave me an extra month for free.
I wasn’t mean or bitchy. I didn’t threaten them that I would take my business away and go to the competition. I made myself her teammate by telling her how much I already loved her service and I’d be really sad if I couldn’t keep it. She WANTED to help me. And she did. That one call—which probably took less than 15 minutes of my time—saved me $10.04 each month. Now, $10 a month doesn’t SOUND like much … but think about the fact that it will end up saving me $120.48 each year (+ a free month)!
After my success with Tivo, I decided to give our insurance company a call. We’ve had our four vehicles insured with them for the last few years and I was really happy with their service. I didn’t WANT to go to another insurance company, but I wanted to make sure I was getting the best rate … so I decided to tell them exactly that.
Once again, I asked for the representative’s help. I said that I’d love to stay with their company, however I thought it would be a good idea to shop around to ensure that I’m getting the best rate. Before I proceeded, though, I wanted to check with them to make sure my plan was as competitive as possible. Within about 20 minutes, we reviewed my entire plan over the phone and cut some totally insignificant "fat" from the bill. She updated my policy and emailed me the new forms by the end of the day and our new policy saves us $15.96 each month ($191.52 each year).
Cable, internet & phone plan
Our cable carrier was a bit trickier, because I had to wait until my contract expired in order to negotiate with them. However, they bill a month in advance, so my February bill was WAY higher than my contracted January bill. I waited until the day after my contract was up and called them with my now familiar request to help me stay with them.
Not only did they offer me a much less expensive plan that contained EXACTLY the same service, but they allowed me to backdate it a month and refunded me the difference. This call saved me $50.50 each month, which is $606.00 annually.
Cellphone plan—3 phones
I figured I’d be out of luck when I went to call our cellphone company, because we added my brother on to our plan less than six months ago. In the past, that was the perfect excuse for them to say we were locked into a contract for 10 billion years and would have to wait until then to renew our contract at a different rate.
Well, apparently the times are changing, because I didn’t even have to call them. I used their instant chat feature on their website to have someone look at my plan and suggest ways for me to save some money. As luck would have it, they had just started a new data special a few days earlier that saved us $113.30 a month ($1,359.60 a year)!
It sounds easy, right? Well, it was!
I’m totally kicking myself on not making these calls earlier. I spent less than an hour total on the phone (or computer) and saved $189.80 off of our monthly bills.
That is almost $200 that we can add in to our current truck payment to get that thing paid off sooner. OR, if I stuck that savings in a special account … that would be $2,277.60 that we could use for a vacation to somewhere beachy!
I guess it doesn’t really matter WHAT we do with the money we are saving, it’s just nice to NOT be throwing it away when I’m getting the exact same services for less.
I always thought it took a lot of time and effort to do something like this.
In reality, all I did was ASK!
You know what? These customer service people are just people like you and me doing their job. If you speak nicely and treat them with respect, they WANT to help you. They have the POWER to help you. Use your magic words—say "please" and "thank you." Use your talking-to-grandma voice and ask them if that is the best offer they have for you.
It doesn’t hurt, I swear!
I want you to know that you can do this, too. Pick one of your monthly bills and call the company to see if they can give you a better deal. Commit less than 10 minutes to do this … that’s doable, right? Then, stop back by and leave me a comment below and tell me how it went for you. I would love it if someone can top my $2,277.60 savings!
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