Save on monthly bills

Save on monthly bills

I’m definitely not the world’s best negotiator, but I have found a simple process you can use to save money on cable TV, high-speed Internet, telephone and other services. It’s not that difficult or time-consuming, but it does require you to (politely) negotiate with a company representative. If this seems uncomfortable to you, then you might want to even more seriously consider doing this, because you’ll be embracing a self-growth opportunity as well.

Given the opportunity to take more money from you for the same products or services, most companies (being at the end of the day profit-driven instead of caring about your well being) will gladly take your money. So, if you feel so inclined, it’s up to you to take some action and convince them to give you a better deal. Here’s how I’ve successfully saved hundreds of dollars on everyday stuff.

Step 1. Before you start, have what business folks like to call a “BATNA”. Spoken and sung like the Batman original television series theme song, it’s pronounced “Na Na Na Na Na Na.. Bat-Na!”. (Hmmmm). Like all respectable business concepts, it’s an acronym. In this case, “Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement”. The idea is that before you enter into any negotiation, you have to know for sure what you’d do if you can’t reach agreement with the other person. If you don’t know what you’d do without whatever it is you’re trying to get the other person to agree to, you’re not in a good negotiating position. If the other person realizes this (and again, if they are more interested in winning the game of capitalism that your well-being and a fair arrangement), you’re going to get walloped.

Now, for most of the negotiating I’m referring to, your BATNA may be just to keep paying the price you’re already paying. After all, switching cable TV and telephone service providers can be a pain. But your service provider doesn’t have to know that.

On the other hand, you might actually want to use this opportunity to seriously consider another provider. Especially if you’re not happy with the service they’re providing.

In either case, go to a competitor’s website, and look at their best deal for new subscribers. If you’ve got cable TV, consider satellite TV providers (DISH and DIRECTV in theUnited States). If you’ve got traditional telephone service, consider getting telephone service from your cable TV provider. If your mobile phone contract period has expired, check out a competitive service (Verizon, AT&T).

Step 2. Armed with your BATNA (or at least a pretend BATNA), call the customer service number on your latest bill. Only do this during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, even if their customer service phone lines are open at other times (for reasons I’ll explain in a bit). Be polite, but tell them you’d like to cancel your service, and that you’re moving to a competitive service. They’ll most likely transfer you to a “Customer Recovery” department, which are specially trained representatives who try to change your mind. This is why you only call during regular business hours – sometimes this department isn’t open as liberally as the standard customer service department.

Tell the representative that their competitor is offering a better price for the service, and as a result, you’re switching. State this as a fact. Most companies will at this point offer the same pricing, if not better pricing, as the competitor. These companies keep close watch on what their competitors are offering, and usually keep a similar deal in store for just such an emergency. (Acquiring new customers costs them money – marketing, advertising, etc. – so it’s more profitable for them to simply keep an existing customer).

If they don’t offer something similar, you may want to ask them point blank if they can match the pricing. If they offer something better, but still not as good as the competitor, remind them that you’re already getting a lower price from their competitor, and see if they come up with something better. Never get angry or upset. First, it’s not going to help you get a better deal, and second, it’s not good for your well-being, or the person on the other end of the phone line.

Before agreeing, make sure to ask if there’s any fees or charges for whatever changes they’re making to your service. If there are, ask that they be waived. (After all, it’s not your fault that they aren’t giving you a competitive price). Make sure you clearly understand what the price adjustment will be, and if there’s any difference in what you’re getting before you end the call.

Step 3. Check your next bill for the lower price, and enjoy your savings! Some price adjustments you get will only be for a limited time, such as one year, to match offers they make to new customers. If this is the case, simply call them back when your prices goes up, and repeat the above process.

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