Here’s a simple math challenge. Take your average monthly phone bill, average monthly TV bill and average monthly Internet bill and add them together. Then multiply by 12. That’s probably represents most of your media/communication costs and that number can easily exceed $2000.
There are lots of ways you can reduce this cost by changing services or technology, but what if you like the service you have, or want to improve it? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could keep your current services (or add new ones) while at the same time saving money?
You probably can
Cable, phone and satellite services all rely on the fact that most people don’t pay much attention to their bills once they’ve set up their service. And when people sign up for promotional service agreements, most continue the service at the higher price once the promotion expires. But these companies also know it is much more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one. And they know that today’s customers have options. Where once you had a choice between poor quality broadcast TV or cable, today you can choose between high quality digital broadcast TV, cable, satellite and IP (Internet based) TV services. Phone service, once the province of Ma Bell, can now be obtained via cable or a multitude of VOIP (Voice over Internet) services, not to mention cell phones.
You might wonder why all this competition doesn’t seem to result in lower prices. Actually it does – you just have to ask for it.
Sure, you can bounce from service to service – taking advantage of new-customer promotions every year or two. But service changes can be annoying – sometimes involving installation, configuration, service calls, and other delays. Instead, if you’re happy with your service, just give your current provider a call and ask them what they can do for you.
In many cases you’ll find that today’s service plans are less expensive and have more features than the legacy plan you’re currently using – and that you can switch to them for no cost without any negotiation at all. Services that have one or two year contracts may let you into a lower cost plan just for extending your contract. Sometimes companies will just give you the latest new-customer discount or bundle if you ask for it. If you hint you’re considering switching to someone else, they might offer additional discounts or rebates as well in order to keep you happy.
You don’t have to be a tough negotiator to get a good deal. On the contrary, the nicer you are the more the agent will likely go out of their way to help you – after all, your savings are not coming out of their pocket. Here are some phrases to try:
- Am I currently getting the best deal you can offer me?
- Are there any bundled deals that can save me money? (Especially useful if you are using 2 or more services from the same company).
- I’m seeing offers (describe offer) from a competitor. I do like your service, but it’s hard for me to resist the savings. Is there anything you can do to be more competitive?
How well does this work? I spent 45 minutes on the line this morning with my phone/TV/Internet provider, added a whole bunch of features to the phone line and got an offer to reduce my annual cost by $282 plus corresponding taxes. I actually reduced my cost even further through another feature change – but that is a topic for another article.