I made $400 in just a few minutes the other day. Actually, I didn’t earn that money, I saved it. But as Benjamin Franklin said, a penny saved is a penny earned. And $400 saved is 40,000 pennies earned. Definitely worth a few minutes of my time. Here’s how I did it, and how you can do it, too.
My telephone company offers new customers a much better price than I was paying for my phone and Internet service. Although the deal was for new customers, I called them to ask if I could get the lower price on my existing service. The first person I spoke with said the offer was for new customers only, but he transferred me to someone in customer retention who immediately switched me to the new plan. No muss, no fuss, just saving money.
I have to admit that I was a little surprised. I expected some resistance from them, maybe a counteroffer of something not quite as good or something generally less than what I called for. This seemed almost too easy. Now I have exactly the same phone and Internet service I had before, but I am paying about $35 a month less than before the phone call. That means that over the course of a year I will save more than $400. Sweet. And this is not a short-term deal—the price is guaranteed “forever.”
Why not try this yourself for your business and personal accounts? You can get better deals than you have now, often just by asking, on:
- Cell phone and data plans
- Cable or dish programming
- Merchant account
- Credit cards
The easy way to learn how much you can save is to call your current provider and ask for a better deal. It helps to have a competing offer for them to match or beat, such as an ad from another cell phone company or an offer from another credit card company. Or even an offer your current provider makes to new customers. Quoting them an offer from another provider, though, tells them that you know you have other options if they don’t work with you on the price.
You may find competing offers by doing an online search or in advertisements, including offers you get in the mail. You might also try comparison websites, but be aware that you may not be getting complete information from a commercial comparison site if they have a vested interest in steering you to a particular company.
Be willing to switch if your current provider can’t or won’t bring their price down, but know the costs of switching. There may be no cost at all (for example, it cost us nothing to change electricity providers when I found a better deal and it only took a phone call) or there may be costs for installation or equipment. If you have to pay something, calculate how long it will take to recover those costs through your savings. For example, if you have to pay $100 for new equipment and you save $25 a month, you break even in four months. (Also try asking the new provider to reduce or waive charges. They might, and the worst thing that can happen is they say no. It never hurts to ask.)
Sometimes the cost is time and aggravation. Changing banks, for example, may not cost anything in dollars, but it will take time to open new accounts, close the old ones, set up online banking again, change any automatic payments you have set up, etc. Some companies treat new customers much better than their existing customers, though, so a bit of expense or aggravation can be worth it. And a company that really wants your business may do whatever they can to make it easy for you to move to them.
Here is how you can possibly save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by investing just a few hours:
First, get your most recent statements from each provider and/or access your account information online so you can see your current plans and how much you are paying. Gather your information about alternatives and available deals.
Do you have a contract? Although you can always ask, they are less likely to modify your terms if you are in the middle of a contract period. If you have a contract there may be a fee if you cancel. Even then, it may be worth it, but include the fees in your savings calculation.
What would be a deal breaker for you? Is there a service you absolutely must have? Make sure you will get what you want and need with a new provider.
Call your current provider and see what they will do for you. Be nice. Ask them politely what their best offer is. Don’t threaten or yell. If they won’t give you a better deal, ask if there is someone else who can help you. Take it up the food chain to a supervisor or customer retention department. Ask questions such as, “What can you do for me on this?” and “What is your best deal?”
Of course, another way to save is by eliminating services you do not need. Many people are choosing to cancel their landline phone service and rely only on cell phones. Lots of folks use Internet programming and services such as Netflix in place of cable TV.
Taking the time to make just a few phone calls can add thousands of dollars to your bottom line.