Dear Mary: I don't have cable TV in my house, but I do have internet. I'm one year into a two-year contract, and I noticed this month's bill went up $20 since I'm no longer in the first-year promo period. I called the company and told the representative I was looking to cancel because I found a better rate. I must have said the magic words because the rep forwarded me to the retention team.
I was able to negotiate my internet bill down to the original monthly promo rate for the next two years (I did have to agree to extend my contract for two years from that day, which is fine with me because I'm happy with the service). They also gave me a $75 credit spread over the next three billing cycles.
All in all, that 15-minute phone call saved me $25 over the next three months plus $20 a month over the next two years, for a total savings of $555 over the two-year contract period!
I am pretty proud of myself. It just feels good to take control as opposed to feeling like a pawn on my service provider's chessboard. Now I'm thinking about ways I might be able to use this tactic to rein in other expenses. — Matt
Dear Matt: You are officially the EC hero of the day. This is wonderful. You did so many things right. Let me count the ways.
1. You were fully aware of where you are in your contract, what your promo rate was and how that rate rose once you got into the second year. Do you have any idea how many people don't have a clue about these details with regard to their cable and/or internet service contracts? Many!
2. You knew in advance what you would say to the customer service rep. You had a script, and you followed it. Additional useful scripts include "What can you do for me?" and "I'm asking for some help here!"
3. You moved into negotiation mode once you were put in contact with the decision-makers — the retention team. These are the people who are paid to keep customers. If they can't get customers like you to stay, their jobs are in jeopardy. You are a valuable commodity for your internet service provider.
4. Once you had your monthly rate rolled back and nailed down, you didn't say good bye. You asked for just a bit more, and that resulted in a $75 credit.
5. With you new two-year deal nailed down and your phone call complete, you went one step further, calculating the true return on your time spent. Fifteen minutes to cut your future expenses by $555 — that's one heck of a pay rate!
Good job, Matt!
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.