5 Minutes to Lower Monthly Bills – DFA Tip of the Week – 3/30/2009

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There are many ways to reduce costs in our everyday lives, so to help do just that each Monday I will post a money saving “Tip of the Week”.

“And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” Luke 19:17

This week’s tip involves…saving money on monthly bills by simply calling & asking for a price reduction!

How much it saved me…

I started with Comcast and DirecTV whom I have for Internet & television providers respectively.  The reason I use both companies is a little complicated.  Originally I had Comcast for both Internet and television, but was not happy with being changed an arm & a leg for service, so I decided to switch to DirecTV.  Since DTV did not provide Internet service and because DSL is not offered in my new subdivision, I had to keep using Comcast for Internet.  Regarding television, I skeptically entered into a 2 year contract with DirecTV because I didn’t really have a lot of other options.

Now over a year after all my shifting around of services I was paying $63.95/month to Comcast for Internet along with $75/month to DirecTV for television – and so there went my other arm & my other leg.  Being armless & legless was making it quite difficult to get around so I finally decided to get off my lazy butt (pun intended), and make the calls to demand better prices!!  I did just that and ended up getting my Comcast bill reduced to $37.99/month and my DTV bill down to $55 creating an additional $46/month for me to put into my savings!

Now I’m just going to buy an HDTV digital antenna and get TV for free!

Use these tips when calling…

The CSR’s (Customer Service Reps) are trained to try to dissuade you from your dream of reduced expenses so I will now give you a few pointers in dealing with them:

  1. Maintain an excellent spirit when dealing with the CSR – The old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is quite true.  Just think of how you would like to be addressed then give the CSR the same respect and courtesy.
  2. Maintain separation between the CSR and the company itself – This is quite a successful tactic that I have not ever heard anyone else mention.  Basically you want to create a distinction between the CSR and the company they work for.  This allows you to voice your displeasure with the company, while not attributing any of the displeasure to the person you are dealing with on the phone.  For example instead of saying, “You are charging me too much for Internet“, say something like…”I am just really unhappy with how much Comcast is charging me for service, especially with all the other options out there.
  3. Get the CSR to empathize with your situation – Now that you have created that separation between the CSR and the company they work for, you are better able to place them in your situation.  Say to them, “What would you do if you were me?” Or simply, “How would you feel if you were in my shoes?
  4. Use the company’s competitor’s prices and services against them – If you use Comcast for Internet, talk about the low prices AT&T is offering on residential DSL service with similar speeds.  Say to them, “I will stay with Comcast if they can match AT&T’s prices, otherwise I’m going to have cancel and go with AT&T.  I mean, what would you do if you were in my shoes?
  5. Be willing to discontinue the service – Ultimately if you are not truly willing to leave your current provider, you will be less authoritative and they will be less likely to oblige you.  Make sure before making this decision you discuss it with your wife and/or family.  Be sure to explain the alternatives, and also key on possible benefits of cancelling the service altogether.
  6. Be confident and persistent – Just as you are much more likely to listen to someone who delivers a confident and meaningful argument, so the CSR will be too.  Before you call, make a plan of action.  Write down the reasons why you need the price reduced along with price quotes from several other providers.  If you are prepared and resolved, the CSR will have a hard time denying your request…it worked for me!!

I saved $46/month doing this…how much did you save by employing these tips? Make sure to let us know by leaving a comment below.

Have you already successfully gotten your prices reduced by calling?  Let us know about that too.

Click here to see all our past DFA Tips of the Week.

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1 Adam

Thanks for these tips.

I also use DirecTV and have consistently kept my bills down. They give me 6 or 12 months at a time…my rate goes up, and I call and tell them we are willing to leave, unless they lower it again. So far, it has worked.

This article reminded me that I need to do it again!

2 Scott

Here’s an additional idea. I canceled DTV / Dish completely, and since I live in a cable-free area I get all my TV on an antenna for free! Saves me bundles of cash each month. Since there is less on (not that the 150 channels of satellite had anything on anyway) my family is reading more books, talking more, taking more walks, playing outside together, etc.

I challenge you to try 3 months without massive quantities of TV. If you are like my family, you will realize you don’t really miss it.

3 DebtFREEk!

From 2000-2002 I went completely without a television in my home and I can attest to what Scott has written.

During those years, I read more than ever, was involved in more activities than ever, and had better & more fulfilling relationships than ever before.

I guess that begs the question…why don’t I just cancel altogether?

One thing to keep in mind is the fact that I would have to pay $140 to cancel DirecTV at this point in time. That is around 3 months worth of service. I’m thinking about reducing my plan to their lowest option, which is about $30/month. That way I wouldn’t be completely throwing away the money, respectively speaking.

4 Mom

I like Scott’s idea. Last year my husband, who is a TV junkie, and I separated for several months. During that time, I discontinued the TV cable service to my home mostly in order to save money. I found that I had time to do more creative and active things than sit on my duff and passively watch a TV show. I tried to maintain that when my husband and I got back together, but he was so lost without his TV that I took pity on him and signed a two year bundle contract that includes two premium channels for no extra charge, much to my regret now. He is very non-productive at home because he continues to succumb to the temptation to be mesmerized by the TV!

5 debt reduction

Thank you very much for taking the time to post this interesting piece. Right now I have Directv and Cox is my cable provider. My biggest thing is Major League Baseball. We have 6 children and som are Dodger fans, some are D-Backs fans, and I a Red Sox fan. This way we get in at least two games a day. Thanks for the tip!

6 Dustin

I’ve been meaning to do this. Thanks for the spurring. I spent 3 minutes and 45 seconds on the phone with Comcast and now I’ll be saving $46 per month for a year on my high speed internet and cable TV bill!

7 tara

One indirect cost of less tv is your kids won’t constantly be begging for the latest obnoxious toy! And plenty of primetime shows are available online for free on hulu.com or the network websites.

I called DirecTV just today to cancel service. I’m getting furloughed (a mandatory pay cut) at work and am slashing all these luxuries, and I explained that to the CSR. Turns out I have 3 months left in my contract but they immediately offered to lower my rate by $16.00 per month. I asked what their cheapest plan was, and it was $24.99 per month, so I wound up switching to that and cutting my bill by more than half. And in 3 months I still plan to cancel it. We’ve gone tv-free before and it ain’t so bad. We can still rent dvds and stream lots of shows.

8 phoenix carpet cleaners

Yup, it is possible to save money if we only are willing to compromise a little on our luxuries that we love to spend money on.

9 A.J.

All I did was call Direct TV, and asked them when my contract ends and what it would cost for me to pay out of the contract. Just asking that simple question prompted them to offer me $40 off a month. Quick simple and painless.

10 Bryant Campbell

i got my direct tv lowered by $5. not much but better than nothing. that was before seeing this article. i plan on calling them back and trying to get it lowered more by using some of these techniques. if not i’ve got several offerrs from competitors with much lower prices!!!

11 Matt Jabs

Congrats Bryant, like you said – $5 is better than $0. Did you save any more after calling them back?

12 Evolution of Wealth

You make a great point in the post. So many people just let there bills come and then pay them without question. It can be a great way to save money if you take the 5-10 minutes to make the phone call. I would argue you could even save more money by bundling your services. Comcast in my area has HD digital cable with high speed internet for $80 per month for 12 months. If I wanted free longdistance I pay $100 per month but we use cell phones so I don’t need that. Also for all you Comcast customers out there you can ask for the retention department and bypass the customer service reps all together.

13 ibigministry

Hi Matt,
Just wanted to say thanks for the tips. Your advice helped me save $10 and my husband had tried before unsuccessfully. So for the next six months we are able to save $10 and get a premium movie channel. Keep up the great work, helping us save a dollar at a time!

14 Aaron

In the matter of about 20 min I was able to knock $18/mo off my Comcast cable internet bill and $20/mo off my DTV bill. The Comcast was easy and I even did it via their online chat option. It took me speaking with three different people at DTV, the last being the cancellation department, before they finally budged. They gave me $10/mo off my service for 12 months and free HD access for 12 mos. I would say that I used a combination of the vinegar and honey approaches with DTV. Not bad for 20 minutes of my time.

15 Matt Jabs

Way to go Aaron… feels good doesn’t it!

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