You’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to contact your service providers every year or so and negotiate your rates. It’s good advice, but how many of us actually do it? I try to stay on top of it, but it’s a chore that I often procrastinate about.
A couple of months ago the rates for my TV and internet jumped up because an existing promo rate expired. I know, I know…I should have called months ago. Bad personal finance blogger! I also still pay for TV so you might as well take away my PF card right now. The bf and I have talked about cutting cable, but it’s not right for us. We watch a lot of sports. And as of right now, there isn’t a good replacement option for that. Good streaming services are expensive, and the cheaper ones I’ve found have been poor quality. If anyone has a good alternative, I’m open!
Last week I made the call to our service provider to see what they were willing to offer me. I thought it would be worthwhile to share my experience to motivate you to pick up the phone and start haggling for better deals.
Research the Competition
Here in Edmonton we really only have two options for cable and internet providers. That doesn’t leave much room for competition, but the two companies have been working hard poaching each other’s customers.
The very first thing I did was check out the other companies website and see what current promotions they had for new customers. The most effective way to get a deal is to threaten to take your money elsewhere. But to make that effective, you have to be willing to make the switch. Changing TV/internet providers isn’t a big deal, so I’ve done that in the past to get a better rate.
Once I had an idea of what deal I would get if I moved I also looked to see what new customers coming to my current provider would get. Both options were really similar but way better than what I was paying.
Now you what deals are available you have a starting point for your negotiations.
The Loyalty Department
You want to get through to the loyalty or retention department. These people can offer better deals as it’s their goal to keep you as a customer. On the automated system for my provider, there was an option for ‘Discontinuing Service’, and that was the one I chose.
I do recommend calling. Live chat and email are great (and my preferred method of communication), but it’s easier to negotiate on the phone. The live chat people also tend not to have the ability to offer the same deals you’ll get through the loyalty department.
Once you get through to someone, you don’t want to be a jerk. No one does favours for jerks. Even if you’ve been sitting on hold for what feels like forever, be pleasant and get straight to the point. Negotiating rates is common enough these days that they expect it, so ask what promotions are available for existing clients and skip the sob story.
Tell Them What You Want
This is where your research comes in handy. Let them know you spoke with their competitor and were offered ‘X’ deal and are hoping they can match it. Sometimes this isn’t always just about price. You might be looking for improved services like faster internet or premium channels.
Be prepared to do some math so have a calculator handy. Most new customer rates include promo periods so you’ll need to know the promo rate and length, and then the regular rate and how long the total contract term is. It can often be a better deal if you take a slightly higher rate for the whole term instead of a promo rate that only lasts a few months. That’s the offer I just got, and the total savings were significantly more.
For example, paying $70 for six months and then $140 for the next eighteen months is a grand total of $2,940. But $90 for the full twenty-four months comes in at a substantially lower $2,160. Having a set rate for your entire contract also means you can avoid that mid-contract price negotiation.
The regular rate I was paying for mid-level internet and basic cable (plus a sports pack) was $145/month. The mid-level internet package didn’t have a ton of data, and our provider does charge extra if you go over. We’ve only done that once but have had to watch usage sometimes. We also bought 4k TV when our old one died and haven’t been able to take advantage of that because we didn’t have a 4k box.
I was able to get an upgrade to the highest internet package with pretty much unlimited data, a free upgrade and install of a 4k box and we’d keep the premium sports pack but at no extra cost. That and our monthly bill went down to $95 for the full two-year term. One thing I didn’t mention was I was still under contract. Our existing term didn’t end until December of this year, but I was still able to get a great deal.
That’s $1,200 in savings over the next two years. Not to bad for a half hour phone call. Imagine having a job that paid that much!
So, make the phone call no matter how much you dread it. Reducing your recurring expenses like cable, internet, cell phone, home and auto insurance, power, etc. can have a significant impact on your monthly budget (and help justify your Starbucks habit).
Do you have any additional tips for negotiating the best possible rate on your recurring bills? I’d love to hear them!
This post was proofread by Grammarly.