Wednesday, November 16, 2011

{Money Smarts: Saving} Making the Call

It all started out so well.

At the beginning of the month I updated my calendar with all my bill due-dates. We put everything on our credit cards (for points + airline miles) and pay them off every month to skip out on finance charges. Anyway, my calendar said two of those big bills were coming up on the same day, so I transfered $1000 from our savings account to our checking and set up my bill pay for each card. Easy peasy.

Except that two days ago we got an email notification that we'd over-drafted our checking account by $900+.


After a moment of panic, then embarrassment, I hopped online and verified my fears: I had transfered $1000 the wrong direction, from the near-empty checking account to the savings account. Ugh. Oh, and p.s. how about a $20 fee.

Making the Call

Okay, all insurance ads aside, a few minutes on the phone really can save you a bundle of money. Since I'd been a moron and had a (moronic but) legitimate reason for this horrendous overdraft, I called my credit card company and explained. I'll spare you the full dialogue, but suffice it to say I used the words "embarrassed" and "bonehead," both to describe yours truly. I apologized and asked if there was any way they could knock off the overdraft fee. A few keystrokes later Denise (my service rep--I always call people by name, it evokes good rapport!) said yes.

A few minutes on the phone and I saved $20.

Make Some More Calls

The hubs and I are big proponents of phone calls (or face-to-face contact) to save cash. We've gotten lower rates on our cell phones and internet, a free DVR for my parents, and even stopped our rent from rising by hundreds, just by talking to someone about how much we wanted to pay.

If you've never done it, here's how to do it...

Be Nice

Always, always be nice. Call your service provider, and lead in with a compliment about what you like about their service. If you've been with them for a while, let them know you're loyal by sharing how long you've used their service. Let them know you'd like to stick with them, but you're concerned about the cost.

I also like to use the person's name whenever possible, so they know I'm listening to them.

Make a Comparison

Shop around! See if the provider is offering good deals to new customers, or if their competitor is advertising a great price. Offer this info to your phone rep, and see if they will match or beat the offer for you, the wonderful, loyal customer.

"Is There Anything You Can Do for Me?"

This phrase is key. I explain my situation (we're poor), make my comparisons (your competitor is having a sale!), and then ask if there is anything they can do.

Take it to a Manager

If they can't help you, kindly ask if they think their manager might be able to assist you. Keep being nice.

Be Willing to Walk Away

If you're just not willing to pay, and they're not willing to budge on price, tell them you'd like to cancel. They will most likely send you to their Customer Retention department, where you may finally get the price you've been looking for. If not, be willing to move on to someone new. I'd say 9 times out of 10, I get a better price. The tenth time I move on and find a service that's a better fit.


Still not sure how to do it? Here's about what the free-DVR conversation went like.

Me: Hi. My parents have had satellite with you for 10 years. I noticed you're offering free DVR to your new customers. My parents would love a DVR.
Rep: Great. They can get two DVRs for $38.99 per month.
Me: Well, they really don't want to pay anything.
Rep: Oh, I'm sorry. $38.99 is actually a really great price for two.
Me: Yeah, but they really don't want to pay anything. They're really happy with your service, and I don't want to have to switch them over to another company, but it seems like if your new customers get free DVR there might be some way my parents could get that, too. So is there anything you can do for me?
Rep: Let me check a few things. (hold music) I see a promotion that would give them the DVRs free for a year.
Me: Great! What would happen after a year.
Rep: Then they would have to pay the regular fee.
Me: They really don't want to pay a fee. Is there any way we could keep this service for free?
Rep: Sure. Call us back when the promotion runs out and we'll try to find you a new one.
Me: Great, lets do that then.

They sent someone out the next day to install the DVRs. Free. :)


Paul and Madeline said...

If it makes you feel better, I did something similar with transferring money a couple years ago. . .that feeling is the worst! I still remember it, haha. Glad it all worked out for you!


A. Bailey said...

I did the EXACT same thing with the transferring of the money thing with almost he same amount of money. Once. When I was single. And I have NEVER done it again. It was a mess and now I quadruple check before I make any payments and/or transfer money. You're not alone!