We’ve spent the last four years perfecting bill negotiation, saving our customers millions of dollars on their monthly bills. Over the years, we’ve been happy to give people our tips and tricks but for the first time we’ve combined all our knowledge and experience into a complete guide on how to negotiate and lower your own bills!
I can’t promise you that it’ll be easy, but if you follow our three step guide below, you’ll be able to save money every month without having to cancel or downgrade your services!
Want easy? Hire us to negotiate for you! Just click “The Easy Way” to have an expert negotiator at BillFixers take care of your bills for you.
Do Your Research
You may want to use a larger desk than we did in this photo – it’s hard to balance a notepad on your leg and your handwriting really suffers from it.
I know you’re ready to get into the action, but before you embark on this negotiation, you’re going to want to arm yourself for the coming battle (metaphorically). You’ll need a few key pieces of information:
First, your current price.
If you don’t know what you’re paying now, you’re going to have a hard time figuring out whether or not the new price they give you is actually an improvement!
Second, what you used to pay.
This is useful for getting the ball rolling during the negotiation. Sure small price increases are a fact of life, but you’re probably not dealing with small price increases. In our experience, prices go up at least 30% after promotional periods run out, sometimes they’ll go up 100% or more!
Third, what competitors in the area are charging for what you have now.
To be honest, your provider doesn’t care about you. They care about your money. And the best way to make them listen to you is to make them think your money is going to go to a competitor in the area. Find out the best price your competitor offers for what you have now and they might be able to price match it.
With these three pieces of information, you’re going to be well prepared for your phone calls.
Where we like to research:
Cell Phones: We scour the main companies’ websites for pricing information.
Cable and Internet: We use BroadbandNow to research prices.
Utilities: ChooseEnergy for Electric and Gas comparisons.
BILLFIXERS TIP: LOOK FOR ‘EXTRAS’ YOU CAN CUT
Are you paying for a “Wire Protection Plan”? Do you even know what a Wire Protection Plan is?
In our experience, people pay hundreds of dollars every year for “extras” like this that they don’t actually want or use. But at some point in the past, they were told it was an important thing to have and have been paying for it ever since without really thinking about it. Make sure this isn’t happening to you!
Go through your bill line by line – make sure you (1) know what each item is and what it’s for (2) still want the it and (3) can’t get it cheaper elsewhere.
Make the Call
You’re armed with your research. It’s time to go into battle. You’re going to want to call the provider you want to negotiate with and speak with their retention department.
BILLFIXERS TIP: CALL DURING REGULAR 9-5 BUSINESS HOURS
Lots of cable companies are open 24/7, so why does it matter when you call?
From 9-5, more people are busy at work, which means less are on the phone calling their providers. What does that mean for you, the savvy 9-5 caller? It means shorter hold times, with less stressed customer service representatives. Since the rep you’re speaking with is the key to a lower price, the happier they are, the happier you will be. This combines directly with our last tip further down, which is to be friendly.
The retention department has one job: changing the minds of customers that are cancelling the provider’s service. So if a company senses that you’re interested in leaving, they’ll likely have you talk to retention, who are armed with the tools to stop you from cancelling. And the most important tool that a retention agent has in their toolbox is a discount.
So how do you reach this department? When you call your provider, you’re likely going to end up traversing through a robo-menu to get to the department you want. To get to the retention department, go through the robo-menu as though you’re cancelling your service. It may take some time but you’ll get there. When you do, just ask the representative to make sure you’re in the right spot.
BILLFIXERS TIP: MAKE SURE TO SPEAK TO THE RIGHT PERSON
You’re already speaking with retention, aren’t they supposed to be helpful? Yes, of course! But not all representatives are created equal. Some representatives are more knowledgeable, some are in better moods and more pleasant to talk to, some are more up to date on the offers available for your account.
On the other hand, some representatives will be rude, stonewall you, actively fight you at every turn, or just not know what they’re doing very well. These are the representatives to avoid.
It can be hard to quickly figure out if the person you’re speaking with is helpful or not, but some things are more obvious. If they’re rude, obviously in a bad mood, or extraordinarily slow (putting you on hold constantly), get off the phone.
Just find an excuse to get off the phone and call back until you reach someone good. Don’t just hang up – you might get a note on your account about it and future representatives won’t want to help you as much. It might also trigger their system to automatically call you back multiple times later to follow up, which you probably don’t want.
Once you’re on the phone with the right person. What do you say?
Always start by saying you want to cancel. Always. Say the problem is price, maybe some service problems, and you’ve gotten some better prices from other providers (or you just want to cancel entirely.) This allows the retention agent to give you their full range of discounts to keep you as a customer.
They won’t necessarily make you their best offer first. Sometimes it’s best to push back a bit and see if they’ve got anything better for you.
For instance, on a cable bill, they might offer you a free premium channel. Sounds good, right? You’re getting something for nothing. But it’s not lowering your bill! (Of course, if you’re currently paying for a premium channel this can be significant savings). Hold firm, ask them if there is anything they can do to reduce the price of your current services.
An additional thing to be careful of – upselling.
Every representative you talk to nowadays is going to try to upsell you. That means get you to add more services, more channels, more phone lines, you name it. If they’re trying to get you to add “more”, they’re upselling.
Don’t fall for it.
They’ll be very convincing – after all, they’ve spent lots of time and energy to come up with the best approaches to sell you on the upsell! And they’ll be persistent. (The retention department employees often get bonuses if they’re able to successfully convince someone who was going to quit to upgrade their services instead.)
One common trick is to reduce the price of your bill while adding new services. On the surface, this sounds like a win-win! Why wouldn’t you want more for less? Here’s why: in a few months to a year, when the special pricing for that new bundle wears off, you’ll be paying even more than you used to! Additionally, sometimes the new services come with additional fees that aren’t included in the “lower” sticker price that they quote you.
This stage goes on the longest. You’ll have to make your own determination when they’ve made the ‘best’ offer possible. If you’re happy with the offer, and it saves you money, that’s a win in our book. Don’t forget to remove those ‘extras’ you identified earlier!
BILLFIXERS TIP: BE FRIENDLY
The last tip for negotiating your cable bill is the most simple: be friendly! There’s a famous adage that is very applicable: you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
The customer service representatives that you’re going to be speaking with has dealt with vinegar all day. Upset customers have probably yelled at, cursed at, insulted and blamed the representative for every problem, and that rep has to handle every situation coolly and professionally.
You’re going to be the honey. Put yourself in the shoes of the representative. Who are you going to want to help more? The angry, yelling person or the cheerful, patient person asking how your day is going and what you’re up to for the weekend?
Be the honey. Representatives will fall over themselves to help you, to make sure that your problem is solved.
You may be frustrated with your bill, you may be angry that your cable company has been overcharging you, and you’re certainly not the only one. The person you’ll be speaking with is not responsible for that.
After you’ve negotiated your bill, double check your bill for the next several months to make sure everything is how you expected it. You might be surprised by exactly how often a discount you were told you were getting is applied incorrectly or, worse, isn’t applied at all.
This tip is the most time consuming, but if you don’t check up on your bill, you’re likely going to lose out on some of the discounts that your provider already agreed to! You’ve already put in the work to get a good deal, now be sure to follow up!
BILLFIXERS TIP: DON’T FORGET TO DOUBLE CHECK YOUR RESULTS
After you’ve negotiated your bill, double check your bill for the next several months to make sure everything is how you expected it. You might be surprised by exactly how often a