As you plan out your budget, you’ll notice that there are fixed expenses (like rent and internet) and reoccurring costs (like groceries and clothing). But wait, are all of your fixed costs really as fixed as you think?
Service fees are up for negotiation
You can’t exactly negotiate your way down on your rent or mortgage, but you do have some leeway with other fees like internet and cell phone and cable. Let’s take internet as an example.
When I first signed up for Internet the cost was $75 a month for the first year. The representative on the phone told me I could call back at the end of that time and re-negotiate the cost. Time went by and my internet bill began to creep up. First to $85 a month, then, after a couple of years, to $115 a month.
By then the unheeded advice of the representative’s was long forgotten. Then one day I got a call from someone at the cable company offering me a way to reduce my bill. I could reduce my bill through a program he was offering, but then I would have ended up with other services (and costs) I didn’t want, so I declined.
However, his call did have a silver lining. He reminded me of the advice from the previous representative. Through relentless advertising I knew that NEW internet customers were being offered the same package as I was getting two years previously for an introductory cost of $75. I called the cable company to talk about my monthly payment. At first, I was told that $75 was only for new customers and so I thanked the person I was speaking to and said I was going to look into options with another provider. That got me transferred to a person in charge of the ‘loyalty department’. I’m back to $75 a month for the first year. Once again, I was told to call in to renegotiate the cost once my year is up. This time I won’t forget!
I have another example. I had signed up for internet access to the newspaper for the introductory cost of $13 a month. At the end of that time the cost went up to $30. I called the newspaper to cancel the subscription. I was put through to a customer service rep who offered me a lower cost (but still not my original cost). I declined and was put through to a customer retention representative. By the time that call was finished, I was back to $13 a month.
The take away from this is most service providers have a retention department. People whose job is to convince you not to cancel your subscription or move to the competition. The key is to do your homework and know when to negotiate. Find out what the lowest cost they offer is, and know the lowest price the competition is offering. Don’t be afraid of hearing ‘no’ and keep asking until you get to that cost. Be aware there is a chance you will have to switch to the competition. If you’re not truly prepared to do that, just tell your servicer you need some time to think it over and will call back.
I didn’t sign a contract for either the internet or the newspaper. Do your best to avoid signing a contract. That way you keep your negotiation options open.
Services where you can negotiate costs and upgrades include cell phone, internet and cable. Companies often offer the best deals to new customers, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t access those deals too. Play the loyalty card and keep your service costs as low as possible!
Negotiating your service fees is a fantastic way to lower your monthly expenses. Head over to our blog post '4 Super Simple Ways to Save Money' to learn about more ways to save each month.