A while ago I blogged about negotiating to save money and recently I had the opportunity to put those skills to the test. When my DirecTV charge appeared on a recent credit card statement at $30 higher than usual, I knew it was time to unleash my well-honed customer service navigation skills.
Since my original DirecTV billing was based on a promotional rate--and the promotional period was over--I knew it wouldn't be a piece of cake to get my bill reduced. Especially since I wasn't planning to switch to another service, which would give me additional leverage. But, by employing a few tried and true tactics, I was able to get my bill reduced by about $25 per month.
Here's how I did it:
- Patience - Many of us have neither the time nor the patience to play the game necessary to score savings on bills since it requires wading through phone trees, dealing with interminable hold times and repeating the same account info at each step of the customer service process. But if you can set aside a bit of time, it can truly be worth it. I suggest using a phone with a speaker feature to avoid "ear cramps" and multi-tasking--whether it's responding to emails, catching up on Facebook or even painting your toenails.
- Politeness - While most customer service reps didn't pursue their careers because they had a burning desire from the age of five to deal with enraged customers, the vast majority are very much invested in making sure there's a positive outcome when you call. Whatever your issues with the company you're dealing with, don't take it out on the poor CS rep. Treat them with respect and they're more likely to want to please you.
- Persevere - By this I mean "escalate," but escalate doesn't begin with a "P." When I called DirecTV, I got a nice CS Rep who was able to knock $10 off my monthly charges--but that wasn't good enough for me. Rather than argue with her--which would only reduce my chances of getting what I wanted--I acknowledged that she'd done the best she could do and could I please speak to a supervisor. Fact: Many low-level customer service representatives don't have the authority to go beyond a minor concession. For a real deal, you need to speak with someone higher up in the chain of command. I was perfectly pleasant, patient and polite throughout this process--mainly because I was completely confident I'd get what I wanted. And I was right: The CS supervisor did a bit more fiddling and managed to knock another $15 off my monthly bill.
So by employing patience, politeness and perseverance I managed to reduce my monthly bill by about $25 which is a whopping $300 over the course of a year. Of course within six months or so I'll have to renegotiate all over again--but that's OK. I've got a nice shade of toenail polish picked out just in case...
Stella Louise is the editor of the Savings.com Blog & Save personal finance blog and in her free time she enjoys working out, watching TV and fantasizing about pummeling the @#$%& behind the voice of the Verizon phone tree.
If you'd like to decide if you should negotiate or just switch to another provider, you might like this comparison of DirecTV versus Dish.