The world is in a debt crisis. Governments are bailing out the banks. But, there is no one to bail us out. So we have to cut our debts. And as I found out this week, it is possible to cut many of your blogging, office and home bills by up to 55% with as much as a phone call.
I even got a new iPhone!
In this post I am going to show you what I did this week to cut many of my home [office] bills with just a few hours work.
After that, I’d like to see as many comments as you can muster with all your debt and expense reduction tips and tactics.
They all have to be legitimate and totally legal.
If you know someone in a tricky financial situation please forward this post to them. I’d like to accumulate as much expense-reduction knowledge as possible for anyone out there who is struggling.
Why am I writing about this?
I work from home and so constantly get knocks on the door from different electricity providers trying to sell me cheaper deals. After changing providers for the third time I realized that there was something interesting going on here – almost like a silent bidding war between the different companies.
If you work for yourself you’ll know how much I hate paying bills. Electricity, blog hosting, gas, water, phone and internet rental… it all just hurts. Sure, I use it to generate a nice income and a good lifestyle but the problem is that, for a lot of them, I was paying more than I needed to.
A financial disclaimer
I am writing this post just as information. I am most definitely not a financial adviser and you might not be able to reduce your bills at all. I am simply showing you what worked for me in the hope that you might be able to do something similar for your situation.
How to cut your bills
So, as mentioned, I had changed electricity providers a bunch of times. As I was sitting on my porch with the sales guy, signing my life away, I asked him how much money I was making him in commission by giving him my electricity account. He told me it was around $50.
“You’re making me than me from this deal,” I joked.
“Actually, sir, just ring up your old company and tell them you are changing and that if they can offer you a better deal you might consider staying,” he replied.
Very interesting Kumar. Very interesting indeed.
So, I got on the phone to my electricity provider and told them that I had just been given a better deal and was going to change. Instantly I was transferred to a customer care officer who proceeded to cut my rate and offer a monthly discount of 8% if I considered staying.
Funnily enough there was no time on hold. Turns out they actually do want your business.
What next Tyrant?
Call my naive, maybe you have already thought about this, but this caused me to realize that most service providers have room to move with the rates they charge you. Its not a fixed price.
And after cutting my electricity bill I decided it was time to put my years of holidaying in India to the test and start haggling with the others. Here were some of the results:
- Electricity bill
Reduced energy rate and an 8% discount on each bill.
- Internet Service Provider
Cut bill from $59 a month to $29 a month with similar perks
- Mobile Phone
I got a new iPhone, all of my text messages for free and a reduction in my call rates. This was a good one! UPDATE: Chris Garrett just mentioned on Twitter that you should make sure you actually need a new iPhone first!
The thing you have to realize is that all of these companies have this all planned out. Its not like you are doing something new; they offer incentives to people all the time because they work in a very competitive environment and really want your business.
I imagine they have a screen in front of them that reads something like this:
Stage 1: Client voices a concern
Solution: Apologize and help them rectify issue
Stage 2: Client threatens to leave
Solution: Offer them a small discount and tell them its because they have a good, loyal history
Stage 3: Client still not happy
Solution: Give them an iPhone and/or reduction text messages depending on grievance
All I did was ring up these companies and say that I was thinking about leaving because I had found some better deals. And it was true. I was not lying. With just a few minutes prodding around I found that there were much better deals out there.
Tips for getting better results
I don’t advocate lying to get better deals; I don’t really think that is ethical. But there are some things you can do to increase your chances of success.
- Have a point of concern
Don’t ring up and demand a discount unless you have a reason. For me, the phone company was giving me terrible coverage and the electricity company was too expensive not to change.
- Be polite
Always use your manners and don’t have an entitled attitude. The guy on the phone doesn’t care either way, he’ll be more likely to give you a discount if he likes you.
- Remind them of your history
Giving something first is a good idea. Remind them that you have been a loyal customer for X period of time and always paid your bills by the due date.
As mentioned, I am not a financial adviser and all of this was just stuff that worked for me. I never lied to any of companies that I dealt with, I just informed them that I was thinking of taking my business elsewhere because I was unsatisfied with an aspect of their service.
Have you done anything like this?
I would really like to know if you have been able to cut your bills or debts or expenses by doing anything similar. Please leave me a comment and let me know. And as mentioned, if you know anyone struggling financially please forward this post on to them as it might help them catch a small break.
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I got up upgrade of my plan from 20gb to 200gb for my internet and was paying the same amount.
All you have to do is ask / speak up.
Nice one Ralph!
Our cable company pissed my husband off so bad about 10 years ago he refused to deal with them anymore and we jumped to satellite. He had to have his MSG & NY Rangers which left us paying a bundled phone and internet price with the phone provider and a separate satellite. He refused to go back until this year, since I am unemployed. He swallowed his pride after the cable sales guy came knocking on our door for the 10th time and we got a “welcome back” rate of all 3 tv, internet and phone services for the same price as our previous phone and internet price. Basically, tv for free. But in reality, you get what you pay for…slower internet, pixelated tv, and when the cable goes down (Thank you Hurricane Irene) so does your phone and internet. Once I get a job, we’re finding a new deal with the old satellite co. (maybe) Loyalty, schmoyalty… I’m going for cost savings AND quality next time.
How does cable work in the States? Does everyone have it?
Very important to mention here that there is a massive difference between getting a saving, and sacrificing for lower quality service.
Apart from blogging, I work part time for an insurance company, and to be honest, we lose a ton of customers to Budget Direct (you may have seen their ads?) as they charge very little compared to us. That said, we gain more customers from them than we lose to them, as they charge so little, that they simply do not pay out come claim time.
At the end of the day, if you do call your providers and want a discount or something, here’s the two most important things to remember, and this is from me being one of those people who can get you a discount:
#1. Don’t portray that you have a sense of entitlement to a discount, even if you are loyal. Someone who is nice to me on the phone is someone that I want to help, and this works across the board. Most people who work on phone based customer service receive death threats and abuse every 3rd call. If you are nice, you will be treated extremely well.
#2. If you are physically not able to get a discount, be open to the fact that we may be able to offer a cheaper rate if you sacrifice something from your account. Eg, lower data limits, etc.
And remember… at the end of the day, going to a companies biggest competitor can often be more punishment to the customer than the company itself, even if the customer does get a cheaper rate.
Yeah good points Ryan. You want to make sure you have the right mix of features, price and service.
I mentioned the points about not being entitled in my post – I think you are totally right.
What do you reckon is the best Aussie health insurance?
My #1 piece of advice on saving money is to always shop around. As you experienced, Blog Tyrant, there’s usually another provider who’s willing to give you a better deal (at least in a free-market economy). Similar to what you said, the biggest leverage you have in a negotiation is the willingness to walk away.
When I was shopping for a laptop, I saw one I liked at Best Buy, an electronics store chain in the U.S. The problem was that the laptop was more powerful than I needed, it had 6GB of RAM. Since I’m not a hard-core gamer, that would have been wasteful. At nearly $800, it was expensive too. I asked the sales clerk if they had a model of this computer with less RAM, and he said no. When he walked away, I went onto Best Buy’s website and saw I COULD get the same computer–with 4GB of RAM–for $650. I’m typing this comment on a laptop I saved $150 on 🙂
I’ve read tons of personal finance books, and my favorite is “The Cheapskate Next Door” by Jeff Yeager. What makes that book special was that the author actually traveled around America, budget-style, and interviewed cheapskates across the whole country. Fascinating range of characters, from anti-establishment scavengers who get stuff from dumpsters to a career woman who dresses like a fashion model without running up credit card bills. I loved the story of a lady who bought a nice house for free because it was slated for demolition. You can get the standard savings tips like “Don’t buy coffee at Starbucks every day” from any personal finance book. But the colorful personalities in “Cheapskate” made it memorable.
For me, I’d rather tackle a few big expenses rather than a lot of small ones. Housing, transportation, big electronics, and airfare are things I will research exhaustively. I won’t waste time figuring out which supermarket sells Coke the cheapest. Cutting your rent and taking public transport will save you more money than clipping coupons.
Talking about costs, I’m still amazed at how cheap it is to get started online. All you need to get set up is domain registration and web hosting. The monthly costs of those are less than one drink in a bar. And of course WordPress is free. It’s really empowering at how much is available nowadays if you’re willing to get a little more tech-savvy.
Yeah the web is still amazingly good.
Good point about not sweating the smaller stuff!
This was a great post because it’s something I’ve also done with some success specifically with my cable tv, Internet and home phone provider all of who happen to be from the same company. After seeing a deal from a competitor several years ago, I called my current supplier and after (legitimately) threatening to leave, got put through to their loyalty group where I got discounts on all three product plus one-time credits of $100 on each product too. Since the discounts were given for 12 months, I had to call up again the next year and play the same game to get the credits renewed because let’s face it, they make it into a game. So if you’re willing to spend a bit of time on the phone you can definitely save money.
I haven’t actually thought about contacting my electricity company but will gather some ammunition (i.e. competitive prices) and give it a try. Thanks!
Good luck. Hope it helps.
Great post and sound advice Tyrant. This tactic will work for just about any service provider. Many know exactly what it costs them to get a customer, so if what you are asking for is less than that, there is a good chance you will get it. If you have a home loan or credit card, give this a go with your bank. It’s surprising what sort of reductions you can get!
Interesting. Don’t have either of those things but its good to know the banks negotiate too.
I took your advice and reduced my data plan since I wasn’t using my internet service that much on my phone.
Also my wife was getting charged for internet service on her phone that neither of us were aware of since March. So my phone bill went from $130 to $80, a $50 savings.
Now I’ll try my cable/internet bill and see how much I can get that dropped.
Wow, good drop in bills there!
I’ve saved a lot of money… usually it takes some really bad service before I get motivated to find the deals.
I was with an internet provider, who also have cable tv. They were throttling any downloads, and because I don’t have cable I download a lot. (Cutting cable out was the first savings $600 per year minimum) Then they decided to charge $50 per month more for excessive downloading. I paid for about a 6 months then they raised it $25 per month more. (Internet bill of $150 per month) This was not the fastest either, of course they kept offering me faster internet for more money except I would never get it because they throttle downloads. Plus their throttling was screwing up my VOIP phone (Save $300 per year over regular landline phone) Finally I changed providers to teksavvy, I have the fastest internet you can get for $60 per month, no throttling, and VOIP works now.
Also a few months back I changed from my VOIP fax to digital fax and saved 7$ per month.
Recently we got an antenna that goes on the roof to get the kids shows with no downloading.
See it’s not just about the money, it’s about the service and possibly a better technology. Teksavvy for instance is a joy to deal with compared to the old one. Honestly some of these companies are so bad I’d pay more to get rid of them.
Yeah I totally agree with you Rachelle. Service matters.
Hope you don’t mind, I edited out the name of the bad service provider – just a bit paranoid about social media lawsuits that seem to be happening these days.
I don’t mind lord knows i’m paying a lawyer myself these days, and I may have to cut a few more services to afford it…
Yeah it’s rough.
I had a lawyer draft something for me recently. Got quoted $1300 – $1600 and billed for almost $4k.
I’m not sure what they call them in other counties, but in the U.S., most service providers like this have a Retention Department.
Oftentimes, you can just ask to be transferred to them straight away if you’re considering a switch to another service, and avoid much of the haggling.
They are the department that has the most authority to discount and provide incentives to keep your monthly business.
Hmm… Nothing much can be done in my country, Malaysia.
Electricity, we have only one semi-government body who provide electricity at actually cheap price. We even been given subsidy from government. So my monthly electric bills if converts in USD is around $20.
Phone, landline phone is a free call to any other landline phone. It comes with the internet package. Also the only 1 landline internet & phone provider here. Semi-gov. It’s quite expensive, $50 for the speed of 4Mbps.
Mobile phone, we mostly use pre-paid plan here and it’s cheap, so no complaints for this.
Water, also the only 1 provider. From as low as $5 per month.
My main concern is the internet connection since I make money using the internet. Haha
Wow, Malaysia sounds awesome!
Same here in Latvia. Water, Gas, Heating, Electricity… each has one supplier available only.
In my neighborhood also there is also only one internet provider (with sustainable quality), as most of companies are gathering only where density of population is higher.
I’ve switched my satellite TV provider some years ago and mobile phone company, which is still calling me now and then to invite me back. So this post above is useless for most of people in Latvia. However, still may benefit if know where to use it.
Wow. I’m impressed.
Very useful article thank you!
You can indeed get a better deal with service providers like you explained. You have to keep an eye on it though unfortunately.
After some negotiating I got a super saver deal on my electricity bills (saving £20 every month) which was awesome but as it turned out the company (EDF- Energy) sneakily changed their terms and conditions and moved their customers onto a different tarif after 3 months, making the bills go up to an excruciating amount.
Infuriating to say the least, particularly because you feel so cheated. I phoned them up again and was able to secure a semi-reasonable deal but it’s still much more expensive than the saver deal and they have lost my customer loyalty forever.
Well done for getting those great deals and the i-phone. Let me know if you get offered another one, I could do with one 😉
It is SO annoying how they are allowed to change the rates that you signed up for. You can’t do that with any other type of contract.
I’m coming to this discussion from another perspective. We’ve got a big family, so our grocery bill is one of the big items in our budget. I’ve slashed our grocery bill down to under $100/week for a family of 6, simply by careful planning and making more things from scratch (which is probably a lot healthier for us than eating out or fixing “meal in a box” all the time!). It’s important to me not to lose the little luxuries in life – good coffee, a good beer after the kids go to bed, and really good food.
The big savings for us has come from roasting our own coffee and brewing beer at home. I spend about $5/lb of green coffee compared to $10-$15/lb for beans at the grocery store. We spend about $30 for an ingredient kit that yields 5 gallons, or about 40 bottles compared to $10-$15 for a 6-pack – sorry, we just don’t drink Budweiser. Learning to do these things takes some research and some practice, and there is an up-front equipment cost, but we’ve found that for some things we get better quality from what we make ourselves, and it’s less expensive too.
Planning is the other key – with 4 kids, we run around. A lot. On some nights we don’t be home from after-school activities until 8pm. I can spend around $10 on ingredients to throw into the crock pot and have dinner ready at 8pm, or I can spend closer to $50 at a restaurant, and we’re not eating any sooner.
$5 here, $10 there, $30 somewhere else adds up really fast.
Tricia that is a really good point. You made me feel guilty for being less attentive at the store!
I’m on it!
I think your advice is great. What’s most interesting to me here is that we ought to be looking around to see the real value we should be getting for what we do or pay.
What happened to me was that I had my job and I was underpaid. Once I realized that my work was worth more than I was earning, I got a job interview at another place where they offered a much fairer amount for my services. Then, back at my original job, I explained I had another job offer and they were happy to negotiate and gave me an even better offer.
I guess, in the end, it’s just a matter of standing your ground and knowing what you really deserve.
Yeah, standing your ground can be really important.
Very interesting Kumar. Very interesting indeed.
What’s that supposed to mean? Are you making fun of Indians.
I know that there are several Indians working as power company salesmen in Australia. But calling all Indians as Kumar (no doubt based on the Harold and Kumar movie) seems racist.
I thought you were above this sort of cheap laughs.
No the guys name was Kumar. I’m not making fun of anyone.
I travel to India every year for a holiday, some of my best friends are Indian.
Why did you delete my comment?