It’s an all too common story. After taking time to compare services and rates before signing an annual contract, the anniversary arrives and that affordable cable programming or cell phone service suddenly becomes much more expensive. It may be due to the fact that your contract was for a promotional rate that expired or simply that the company’s rates increased across the board. If you’re struggling to get out of debt or to stick to a tight budget, a rate increase is cause for concern and something that needs to be addressed.
Technology reigns supreme in today’s society. Most of us can’t imagine eliminating cable or cell phone service, so reducing other monthly expenses may be necessary. But there are some things you can do to bring monthly service charges back in line, and even if you can afford to pay the higher rate, it’s good to know your options.
Downgrading or Eliminating Unused Services
Start by examining what you’re paying for and what can be eliminated. Every unused service is a waste of money. Do you need that extra band-width? Probably not, unless you watch streamed videos. What about unlimited text messaging? Could you go without that extra cable box on the television in the guest bedroom? By eliminating the services you could do without, a rate increase will be less of a burden.
Negotiating with Service Providers
While many people will just suck it up and accept the new higher payment, savvy consumers won’t. If there’s more than one service provider in your area, consider making a switch. However, if you like the services of your current provider there are strategies that can minimize a rate increase. You may still see a rate hike, but by negotiating you may end up paying less than initially proposed.
There are two ways to tackle a negotiation – the nice approach or the angry one. The old saying that ‘you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’ is a good example of which one to choose. By being kind in your approach, you’ll be demonstrating a positive attitude that reflects a sense of fairness and you’re likely to get a better response.
- Be personable and interested in the service rep on the other end of the line. Ask how his day is going or about the weather before getting into the details of your issue, and begin that conversation with how much you have enjoyed their services. Then ask how they may help you with the rate increase.
- Be prepared before you call. Do the math. Know the introductory rate that new customers are being offered and be ready to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework by having competitor rates at your finger tips, as well.
- Don’t be shy about your particular circumstance. If the increase will present a hardship, say so. Express disappointment if a promotional rate is not available. Agents often have more opportunities to help than they first admit to. He may offer to check again, if he feels you’re sincere.
- Remind him about your loyalty to their company, your satisfaction with them up to this point and your wish to continue using their services.
- Don’t threaten to cancel unless you are ready to accept that outcome. While most companies hate losing customers to their competitors, it’s a negative tactic that doesn’t seem to work too well these days.
No matter how the negotiations end, be polite and thank the agent for his or her efforts on your behalf and wish them a good day. Beware of language gymnastics or bait and switch offers. Be firm about what you can afford and don’t compromise to be ‘rewarded’ with a few extra movie channels or more minutes.