This is a guide for renegotiating your Internet, TV, and phone bill and getting the best price on new service.
There is nothing more unreliable than our broadband bills. We can look at them every month and find a fee we've never seen before or yet another increase in the overall amount.
Our Internet providers pretty much have free reign when it comes to pricing their services. In many parts of the world, costs for Internet services have steadily dropped with their greater use, access and improved tech. Yet for some reason costs for services in New York are almost double what customers are paying in the United Kingdom.
What we can take solace in is that service providers want our business. It's too easy to go somewhere else, even if you have some kind of convoluted contract. If you're unhappy with your bill, you can certainly adjust your bundle or cut services, but you may be able to negotiate lower subscription rates. Providers will be resistant, but persistence and preparation could work in your favor. In order to get his done, be on your best behavior, being absurdly polite to any and all company representatives.
Here are the major steps you need to take for these negotiations:
Evaluate Your Standing
Having a clear understanding of your reputation with the company will be critical to how the service provider treats you. Look at:
Your payment history. Companies are more likely to accommodate a customer with a stellar on-time payment history than someone with a history of delinquency.
How far along are you in your contract. If you are near its end, you're in a better position to leave and, thus, in a better position to negotiate. Negotiations will be edgier if your contract has time on it. Even breaking it a few months early means a substantial fee. But that won't be a problem if your contract ends in a few weeks.
Record your payments so that you have them in front of you when you call your provider. You will be able to quote numbers and reveal info without waiting for the rep to do the research. Note when you've taken advantage of promotions such as sign-up bonuses and if there have been price hikes.1 List issues that resulted from provider errors, including incorrect charges and loss of service you may not have been compensated for.
Examine Your Options
What you want the provider to consider is if they cannot negotiate with you, you will take your business elsewhere. Regardless of their wealth and size, no smart company wants to lose a good customer. Before contacting your current provider, see what your opportunities are elsewhere. Look at plans, costs, customer reviews. Depending on where you live, this might be an issue.2
Carefully review competitor services.
Find out which services your nearby family, friends or neighbors are using and how much they're paying for them, and use sites like Wirefly to compare providers in your area.
Get in touch with the competition. All of them. It will take time, but you are going to find each rep polite and accommodating, especially after they find out you are considering switching. Smart companies want your business and will entice you with the best deals available.
Knowing the exact details of your options doesn't have to be a challenge. Enter your zip code into Wirefly's broadband provider comparison tool and compile all the information you need.
Not every area has multiple options.1 If you are among the fortunate who has at least two, you are in a good position to negotiate. But having only one doesn't mean you're trapped. Be personal and patient with members of the sales team with your current provider. Your demeanor and customer history could still get you a decent settlement.
With your contract expiring, request that any current promotion offers for new customers be applied to your renewal. As a good customer, you deserve as much. Be persistent. Unfortunately, the more limited your options, the more leverage your provider has. In the end, they may only offer you a new, less costly bundle or cuts to existing services.
Are You Ready?
Before you approach your service provider, let's make sure you have what you need.
Current monthly bill and amount
Bill amount when you started service
Bill increase amounts and (hopefully) reasons for them
Length of time you've been a loyal customer
Service and customer service issues you have encountered
Any discounts, bonuses and incentives being offered by your current provider
Competing plans in the area and any discounts, bonuses and incentives being offered
Time To Get To Work
Before you make that call, remember: persistent and politeness. It may not be easy with automated messages that can hold you up, disconnections, being transferred between departments, language barriers and other little annoyances that can crop up.
Be aware, though the provider is unlikely to tell you this, any rep that hears you're ready to cancel your service is probably going to route you to a retention rep. That person's job is to keep you on board while minimizing the benefits you get for doing so. As stated, the provider does not want to lose your business. Ten lost customers means the bottom line loses $12,000 or more, depending on what those customers are paying. The company will lean toward changing your services, but could be convinced to keep you under current packaging with a slight cut in billing.
Retention reps have a playbook of what they can and cannot do. They will snail crawl through options from the bottom up, insisting each reveal to be the best deal you're going to get and only offer the best if it becomes obvious you intend to switch providers.
They will have a script and you should have yours. To start: "I've been a customer for [AMOUNT] years and I've stayed in good standing, paying my bills on time. My contract is up soon and I am looking at my options. I would like to continue my relationship with [PROVIDER NAME], but only if you can give me a good reason to stay."
As the conversation progresses, continue to remind them of your good standing, how you would like to stay and, that while a relatively satisfied customer, how the provider has disappointed you in the past. Still, never forget to stress you're still very interested in remaining a customer. The rep will work through their script, probably first offering to cut services to save you money. Politely inform them you like your package fine. It's only the cost that's pushing you to leave. Ask about benefits being offered new customers (you should already know them) and, without naming names, about services and incentives the competition is offering, and query why you can't have something similar with this provider.
The last resort on the rep's list will be giving you any kind of price cut. If they offer you something you can live with, feel free to resign on the spot. If you are not getting what you think is the best deal, thank them for their time and ask if you can be transferred to a manager. You will have to start the whole process again, but if you get what you need, it will be worth it.
If by chance they stick to their guns, you do not have to give up or cancel just yet. Depending on your fortitude and hope, you can thank the current respondents for their time and call back. Record the name of the reps you spoke with so that you do not have a needless conversation with someone that's already proven they can't help you. If you called first thing in the morning, make your second call later in the afternoon on another day. The idea is to get different reps as outcomes in these situations can often be driven by whom you are dealing with. Different reps could have different deals and even different levels of power and knowledge. One person might be able to provide you with a livable deal that another rep swore wasn't possible.
If you are happy with your provider, it's certainly worth a few attempts to negotiate a better deal. But at the end of the day, if they cannot give you a better deal, you have to be ready to cancel and move on, especially if a competitor has a similar package that will save you money.
Do not cancel at the end of a conversation with a rep that's not helping you. Make a call specifically to cancel services. The provider will more than likely try one more time to stop you. You will probably have to go through the entire rigmarole one last time, but whose to say you won't be successful at that point.
Throughout all interactions, stay firm, respectful, patient and thankful for the services the company has provided. Not only will they give you same, you could end up with a smaller bill, even if it's just for a short period of time.
1 On average, contracts that promise frozen fees for a period of time are only referring to specific charges. Other aspects of the service can still go up in price.
2 39 million consumers are limited to a single service provider covering their area.
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