Save Money – How To Talk To Customer Service

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It doesn’t take magic fairy dust to get customer service reps to give you a “good deal.”  A lot of times all you have to do is practice the lost art of being nice!

STOP overpaying for monthly services.  STOP overpaying at the store.  LOWER YOUR BILLS with a simple phone call.  GET SALE PRICES even when items are not on sale.

Most people overpay for just about everything these days – but usually lower bills and discounted prices are just a matter of employing a few simple, old fashioned tips!

Sound too good to be true?  It’s not… A lot of times all you have to do is ask!

Proven Tips to Help Save You Money…

While some CSR’s (Customer Service Reps) are trained to try and dissuade you from your dream of reduced expenses, others wouldn’t mind giving you a break at all… as long as you treated them right!  Here are a few tried and true pointers that I use every nearly every day.  Enjoy!

  1. You HAVE to ask – If you do not ask for a discount… no one is going to give it to you.  Quit waiting for money to fall from the sky and go make something happen!  This tip is the one that saves me the most money.  I use it everywhere I go.  Later on in the article I’ll share one of my bigger wins from using this priceless advice.
  2. ALWAYS maintain an excellent spirit when dealing with the CSR – The old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is quite true.  Simply consider how you would want to be addressed then give the CSR the same respect and courtesy.  After all… they probably catch flack all day so if talking to you is a pleasure for them, they are likely to do whatever they can for you.
  3. Maintain separation between the CSR and the company itself – This is an awesome tactic that is CRUCIAL to your success in lowering costs.  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’re talking to.  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.”
  4. Get the CSR to empathize with your situation – Now that you have created that separation between them and the company… you can easily place them in your situation.  Say something like, “What would you do if you were me?” Or simply, “How would you feel if you were in my shoes?”  Or, “you know what I mean right… you’re trying to make a living just like me right?”
  5. 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&Ts prices, otherwise Im going to have cancel and go with AT&T.  I mean, what would you do if you were in my shoes?
  6. 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 canceling the service altogether.
  7. 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!!
Employing these tips has saved me thousands of dollars over the course of the last few years!

Don’t Limit These Stratagem to Phone Calls…

One of my “biggest wins” experienced from these strategies happened earlier this year when I was installing my back yard paver patio.

  • We went to our local home improvement store (Menards) to purchase our supplies
  • We sized out our patio using their friendly computer system (I got the CSR to help me so I could “buddy up” with him)
  • We picked out all the patio stones and peripherals we needed for installation
  • We went to the desk to have the CSR price out our goods
  • After he gave me the price I said, “Hey man… since I’m spending so much here (it was around $1,800) do you think I could get some sort of discount?”  Almost without hesitation he replied, “Sure.  Let me go ask my supervisor what we can do for you.”  He came back and offered to give me the last sale price on every item I was purchasing. When it was all said and done we saved over $300 just like that!

What are you waiting for?

Go try this out and let us know what happened in the comments below.

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DFA is passionately dedicated to helping people break the bondage of debt and work toward financial freedom using biblical principles.

Photo credit to Kennedy Garrett

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1 Peter

We used some of these same tactics when talking to our CSR at our car rental agency – when they tried overcharge us because of a computer system error. You are right, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. If you’re nice to the agent and/or their supervisor – they’re much more willing to go out of their way to help you than if you’re angry and accusatory. Great post!

2 Josh Smith

Awesome advice. I’ve been using some of these to save money forever, but this is one of the best compendiums of CSR Tips I’ve seen! Number 3 is my favorite.

My go to line for CSR’s at consumer electronic companies has been,

“Listen I’m sorry if I sound upset. I’m not mad at you, I’m just soo tired of telling everyone I know or meet at BestBuy not to buy a [Insert Brand Here] because they don’t stand behind their product. Don’t get me wrong it’s an awesome [insert device name here] but if anything goes wrong you better have the patience of saint.”

That little line gets me transferred to a supervisor more often than not.

One word of advice on service price matching, especially if you’re in an area with little competition, if mentioning specific offers gets you no-where call back and just say competitors and offers in the mail etc. This removes the CSR’s ability to downplay the other services and forces them to negotiate on price or on services then can comp you.

3 Matt Jabs

Yep… it’s all about preparation. They are prepared to take our money, so we’ve got to be MORE prepared to save it!

4 Debtress

Great advice here. My mother was the master of dealing with CSRs. She saved loads on all sorts of stuff when we were growing up.

I think most people are comfortable at restaurants speaking to the waitstaff or a manager about service. If you order a turkey sandwich and they bring out tuna you’ll send it back, right? The same applies in other areas of business. You don’t have to get lousy service. If you’re not satisfied – negotiate!

5 Matt Jabs

Oh man… my buddies mom was the master at dealing with CSR’s to get her way! Thanks for mentioning that, it brought up some funny memories of watching her work her magic.

6 mewithoutdebt

Great tips on dealing with CSR. I really believe the most important thing is to maintain separation between company and CSR when complaining about the company.

7 Matt Jabs

You’re right. I have found that point to be a KEY. If we think about it, the CSR probably don’t want us to get a bad deal – they know what it’s like out there.

8 Kelly Whalen

Great advice!

When these tips don’t work with customer service at a big corporation (think credit cards, your mortgage company) see if you can find the executive offices info online for that particular brand. We had success doing that when a CSR and supervisor couldn’t help with a CC rate increase.

I also have used twitter with success. Companies are becoming more aware of social media, so if you need help and can’t get it online or don’t have 6 hours to wait on the phone try twitter.

9 Matt Jabs

I was hoping someone would bring this up – Bravo Kelly. A few weeks ago I used Twitter to combat Vonage’s terrible phone support system. After a few tweets I reclaimed $80 of the $140 they were trying to stick me with.

10 Paul @ FiscalGeek

I have found that quickly losing your temper and hanging up on them has not served me well in the past. (Yeah I’m talking to you Wells Fargo). Occassionaly I’ve had to employ the Honey Bat methodology. Great post Matt!

11 Matt Jabs

Believe me – these tips were born from many previously spoiled opportunities! 🙂

Heh, Wells Fargo – don’t get me started! *Patience Matt… patience…*

12 Carmen

Definitely, CSRs are simply human beings too. Human beings with not so fun jobs. Being treated kindly and with respect goes a long way.

13 Matt Jabs

You hit it the nail on the head Carmen. It is ALWAYS beneficial for us to stop and think before we speak – and to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Chances are they hate their jobs and have been dealing with jerks all day. A kind disposition will get you MUCH farther than you can imagine!

14 Jason @ Redeeming Riches

So True! You won’t get anything unless you ask right? It’s amazing how much money is left on the table for not simply asking for things.

15 Matt Jabs

It’s so awesome to get a solid deal from a large company. I giggle like a school girl every time I do it! 🙂

16 Matt SF

Good advice… I once used a similar tactic to get 3 months (1/month) of free pizza from Papa Johns.

Never send me a pepperoni pizza without the pepperoni and expect me *not* to call back in a fit of (near) rage!

17 Matt Jabs

Ha ha! Seriously? That’s awesome. My buddies & I used to get free whopper combos all the time, cuz they never heeded our “no onion” requests.

18 Financial Samurai

Matt – There’s one thing that works for me at least 70% of the time, and that’s to tell the customer service agent that you will fill out a miraculous service feedback firm on them. And then, ask to speak to his/her manager to say how wonderful a job they did for you.

You’re right. Being nice is the best strategy of all!

19 Matt Jabs

That is a really good idea.

20 kenyantykoon

i have always had a problem dealing with these customer service people. Maybe if i try this different approach you are suggesting then things will look up for me

21 Fred

Make sure that you are talking to the right person too. If the CSR isn’t authorized to give you your money back, make sure you are talking to the person (manager) that can.
If I am to that point will will ask the question of “you can’t or you won’t give me my money back?” Then I’ll ask for the next person up the ladder.


22 Matt Jabs

Don’t forget to separate the CSR from the company… that is key. If you say, “you can’t or you won’t” then you’re making it personal. Separate them and get them on your side. Nonetheless, it is important to make sure you’re talking to someone who can help you, otherwise you’re wasting your time.

Good stuff Fred!

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