Pricey Bills You Can Lower by Just Calling
Date: September 13, 2016
When it comes to paying bills, many consumers simply pay the rates required by service providers and other merchants with an “it is what it is” mentality. Less than half of them even bother to attempt a little negotiating, according to Consumer Reports, but those who do are often successful because it costs businesses much more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one.
Your Wireless Provider
Wireless phone providers are notorious for offering one rate to new customers to lure them in, while charging long-standing customers a premium. Make some calls to determine how much other providers will charge you as a new customer if you switch to one of their plans. Then call your current provider and tell the representative that you’re switching to the company who provides the lowest rate. According to Consumer Reports, people who have done this have saved themselves $100 or more when their existing carriers match competitors' prices instead of losing a customer.
Internet providers often offer promotional rates for a period of time to bring in new customers, and then raise rates sky-high when the intro period ends. Just as you did with your cellphone bill, do some research to find out what other providers are currently charging as promotional rates. Call in advance of your rate increase and tell the representative you want to cancel your account and accept the promotional rate offered by another company. They may be willing to price-match.
Most consumers don’t think of medical bills as being negotiable, but physicians and health care facilities are selling services just like everyone else. Reach out to them if you find yourself facing a stack of bills for deductibles, copays or services otherwise not covered by your insurance. Health care providers typically allow you to pay large, unexpected bills over time, but they’d rather have their money now. Call your provider to ask if they will slash your bill a bit in exchange for immediate payment if you have the cash. MSN Money suggests you might save as much as 50 percent by using this approach.
You can also dispute your bill if it seems exorbitant or unfair. Sources like Healthcare Blue Book will tell you what most providers in your area are charging for similar medical procedures or treatments. You can always ask a provider to accept the going rate, although this usually works best if you can offer immediate payment.
Other Tips to Lower Your Bills
Insurance companies often offer breaks for "bundling" policies, such as auto and homeowners. Call yours to find out if they offers this option.
It can be difficult to talk to a live representative in this age of automated telephone systems. Listen to the menu options, and select the one that tells the system you want to cancel your service. This should quickly divert you to someone who may talk you out of leaving by offering a lower rate.
And remember to be polite. Representatives are less likely to want to help you if you’re argumentative or challenging. Just politely say, “You know, I can get this service for $30 less with your competitor so I’d like to close my account, please.” Then see what happens.