Daily Dupaco

Monday, December 10, 2012

Everything's negotiable

My family's introductory cable rate recently came to a screeching halt.

With the expiration of the promotional period, our monthly bill jumped an additional $50. Ouch.

I begrudgingly wrote out a check. But then I did something else: I picked up the phone and called our cable provider.

I told the customer service representative that I wanted to find a way to get our bill closer to what it was before, even if it meant cutting some of our services.

She went to work, asking me questions about which services were important and which ones we could do without. After awhile, she quoted me a new price that came within $2 of our introductory rate. With her price, we could keep all of our services (TV, Internet and phone) while also adding a free movie package for a year, doubling our Internet speed and adding a high-definition cable box. No contract was required. I took the deal.

Feeling empowered, I started looking at our other monthly bills that had slowly started climbing.

Next call: The cell phone provider. I told the customer service representative that I'd like to continue being a loyal customer, but that I needed to reduce our bill in order to do so. Within a few minutes, she quoted me a non-advertised loyalty plan that would lower our bill by $10 each month, with no contract required. Again, I accepted.

I make calls like this at least a couple of times each year, depending on which so-called fixed expenses have increased more than I'd prefer. The savings might not seem like much at the time, but they add up. And considering that two-thirds of all households live paycheck to paycheck, according to the American Payroll Association, every little bit that families can save helps.

The Home & Family Finance Resource Center offers some other ways that speaking up can reward your time:

  • Ask for a discount at your doctor's or dentist's office, especially if you are a private patient.
  • See if a retailer offers discounts for cash. Some merchants will show they appreciate not having to pay for a credit card transaction by passing that benefit on to you.
  • Make a haggle play. For a low-risk opener, all you need to say is, "I was hoping for a better price."  
  • Seize the rate. Today's low interest rates might help you qualify for a home loan, even a car loan, refinance. Talk to a credit union lender about your opportunities.

Remember, you don't get what you don't ask for. Good luck!


By Emily Kittle

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