Recently I was visiting my parents and my dad asked me to check out their bundled bill for television, home phone and Internet. Their 12-month promotion had just expired and the price increased. I had recently convinced my dad to subscribe to my blog, so I think he wanted to test my personal finance skills and asked me to see if I could lower it for them. Challenge accepted.
I called the company, entered in various items of information that the phone robot requested (zip code, account number, etc.), danced around to the hold music for a bit and eventually connected to a live person. She asked me for the information I had already punched into the phone (zip code, account number, etc.) and I politely complied.
She hmmed and hawed for a bit, examining the bill and eventually told me the promotional period was over for my parents and that was why the price increased. She apologized, but said there was nothing she could do to help me.
I thanked her profusely and asked her to transfer me and she agreed. I entered in various pieces of information again at the behest of the phone robot, skipped to the beat of the hold music and eventually connected to another lady. She asked me for the information I had already punched into the phone twice now and given to the previous representative as well. I politely complied. I explained that the current bill was too high and I wanted to know what would happen if I canceled. She piddled around with her keyboard and eventually offered me a $6 discount on the home phone portion of the bill. Success!
I thanked her profusely and asked her to transfer me to someone for the other bundled items and she agreed. I entered in various pieces of information for the phone robot for the third time, twerked to the music and eventually connected to a third live person. I explained that I was unhappy with the current state of my bill and hoped she could lower it for me. She asked me for the information I had already punched into the phone now three times and given to the previous two representatives as well. I politely complied without complaint and heard her clacking on the keyboard. She pitched a few packages with fewer channels that were slightly cheaper, but as my dad watches CNN for all of his waking hours, none of the alternative deals enticed him.
I thanked her profusely and asked to speak to their termination department. She responded by offering to lower the bill with the current package another $15/month for another year. Success!
48 minutes on the phone, 20 minutes of that exercising to hold music, 10 minutes of that repeating the same information and I saved my parents $252 for the year. Not too shabby. I mean, it’s hardly palatial, but it’s most certainly not shabby.
- Nobody cares about your money more than you do. If you don’t ask, they won’t give it to you. They have no incentive to give you something you don’t ask for.
- Know that quite often companies would rather lower your bill than lose you as a customer.
- Be friendly and patient! Tell them to take their time. Thank them profusely for any help they give you (even if they can’t lower your bill).
- Remember, there are human beings on the other end of that line; people who can help you or people who can tell you to go pound sand. Be nice! They may work for an evil corporation, but that doesn’t necessarily make them evil.
- Don’t take an initial no as the final answer. Ask to be transferred.
- The companies make the process annoying to weed out the weak links. If you get tired of entering in the exact same information and hang up, you’re the weak link. If you grow weary of the hold music and hang up, you’re the weak link. If you accept defeat prematurely, you’re the weak link. You don’t want to be the weak link, do you?
- This doesn’t just apply to cable/Internet/phone. You can try this to get your interest rates lowered on your credit cards and I’m sure other bills in your life. I can’t think of any other examples, but I’m sure you can.
- It doesn’t hurt to ask. In life, there is almost always room to negotiate.
Okay, so all my grand talk of dancing and skipping and twerking happily to the hold music above were all lies. I cannot dance (yet) to save my life. In all honesty, I grumbled throughout the entire experience, complaining to my mom that I HATED doing stuff like this and muttering under my breath (more than once) that this was why I didn’t have cable and who the heck has a landline anymore and why didn’t they ask one of my sisters to handle this annoying task for them and could she get me some chocolate?
Yes, it sucks. It’s a pain. It’s annoying. It’s so freaking stupid. If you can get over those objections and power through to do it anyway, you can save yourself some money.