Few things are as stressful as not having enough money to pay your bills. Sometimes it feels like the only way to get out of the hole is to earn more. But that’s not always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you need a little help in the form of lower bills.
With some savvy negotiating skills and the help of some automated services, you can lower your bills and free up more income for other things.
Where to Start
You may think you don’t qualify for a lower price, or that you’re stuck with a fixed price. That may not be the case.
Some types of bills you have the power to negotiate include:
- Credit cards
- Cell phone
To start the process, you can prep by taking a hard look at the price you currently pay for services. Check your statements and take note of every charge you see. You may have signed up for a recurring feature you don’t use, or a charge may be inaccurate.
Next, you’ll want to do some research on competitive pricing. This can take some time but going into a negotiation armed with the facts can help improve the process.
Finally, set a goal price for your bill. Are you looking to keep your cell phone bill under $100 a month? Let your negotiation guide you in that direction.
The Art of Negotiating Bills with Customer Service
For some, having a conversation with the Customer Service Representative is the hardest part. What should you say, and how do you stand your ground?
Writer Tyler Tervooren partnered with Portland radio station KATU to try an experiment that would answer: how hard is it for an average person to negotiate prices down from big companies? The result of that experiment demonstrated five principles you can use to lower your monthly bills:
- Speak in a friendly-assertive voice, no matter what happens.
- Ask for more than you want, then slowly back down.
- Only negotiate with someone who has the power to do so.
- Always have a backup solution.
- Know when to stop.
To start the conversation, be sure to lead with open-ended questions. Rather than asking, “Is it possible for me to lower my monthly bill?” you can ask, “What can you do to help me lower my monthly bill?”
Remember that your business is valuable. Companies recognize that keeping customers is more profitable than finding new customers, so they have systems in place designed to keep you. If you’re having trouble getting what you want over the phone, ask your representative to cancel your service. This will often elevate your call to someone who may have the ability to negotiate.
What if I can’t lower my bill?
In some circumstances, you may be unable to lower your monthly bill. For instance, you may be on the most cost-efficient pay-as-you-go mobile plan already, and there may be little or no wiggle room for a lower bill. In that case, you can try negotiating for more benefits. You may ask for more gigabytes of data or additional lines on your account while staying at your current price.
Use an Automated Bill Negotiation Service
Negotiations can be challenging to handle on your own. The phone calls, the conversations, not to mention tracking down all your statements and finding the appropriate customer service contact. That’s where automated bill negotiation services come in. These companies offer programs that handle negotiations on your behalf, so you can enjoy paying lower bills without the effort.
Some automated bill negotiation services to consider include:
Billfixers: Two brothers run this Nashville, TN company. Their team of real people make calls to bill providers for you, using their persuasive skills. When they lower bills, they split the savings down the middle with you.
Trim: The Trim app is designed to help you lower your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions, and even grow your savings – automatically. When you sign up, you’ll connect your bank account, and Trim will track your expenses, spot savings opportunities, and lower your bills. No extra work required from you.
Billshark: Send your bills to Billshark and their team will negotiate on your behalf. They charge a fee of 40% of your total savings over 24 months, with a reported 85% success rate.
When you aren’t in a position to earn more, you may be able to save more money by negotiating lower bills. Remember that you have the right to know exactly what you are paying – and you never get what you don’t ask for.