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How to Negotiate Bills

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Talk your way into a smaller bill. Negotiating for a better deal is a lot easier than you may think.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 30 minutes or less

Here's How:

  1. Identify bills that may be negotiable. Any bill that started with an introductory rate is a good bet, as is any bill that has gone up recently. This includes phone (both landline and cell), Internet, cable/satellite, as well as newspaper and magazine subscriptions that are up for renewal.

  2. Review what you're paying and what you're getting for the money. Are you paying for services that you aren't using? Is there a plan that you could switch to that better meets your needs? If so, downgrading your services may be all it takes to grab the savings that you're after.

  3. Shop around. Look at competitor's websites and mailers to see how much they charge for similar services. If you find a better deal, read the fine print to see if it's an introductory offer or if there are any additional fees or catches involved.

  4. Make your call. Now that you have a good understanding of what you're paying for and how much competitor's charge for similar services, it's time to call customer service and ask for a better deal. Briefly explain why you'd like a better rate – it's more than you can afford; your bill has gone up recently; you've received a better offer from a competitor; your intro rate has expired; they're currently offering new customers a better deal than you're getting, etc. Then, ask what they can do to help you.

  5. Be persistent. If they tell you there's nothing they can do for you, just switch angles, and ask them what they would suggest you do to get your bill down. If you still don't make any headway, thank them, and ask to speak to a supervisor, who will have the authority to do more for you. Still no luck? If you're willing to switch companies to get a better deal, tell them so. This will usually get you transferred to the retention (or cancellation) department, where they'll make one last effort to keep you as a customer (and that usually means they'll try to woo you with a deal).

  6. Walk, if you have to. Asking for a better deal usually yields good results, but if you don't get anywhere, make good on your threat to switch companies. Sometimes you just have to go where the deal is.

Tips:

  1. Remain polite throughout your negotiations. You'll get a lot further with customer service reps, if you do.
  2. Renegotiate as needed. If they agree to give you a better deal for six months or a year, call back after the offer expires, and ask them to work with you again.
  3. Have big medical bills? Here's how to negotiate better payment terms on those.

What You Need:

  • A recent copy of your bills
  • A bit of time
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