The concept of bill negotiation is quite simple, you take all of your monthly bills and expenses, call the corresponding company for each bill and try to negotiate the monthly payments down. Have you ever tried this? I have, but I hadn’t really thought about it in a long time, until two things came up recently that jogged my memory. First, I met my dad last week for both his birthday and fathers day. For some reason or another we started having a conversation about our cable bills, real interesting. huh? We came to find out that I am paying $145 a month and he is paying $190 a month, we both have the same speed internet and regular cable, no frills or movie channels. I do more HD boxes than he does, but that’s it. I’m probably overpaying for the services I have, but I know he is definitely overpaying for his. My dad lives in an area where he can choose from 4 different cable providers, my area only has 1 option..so not much I can do there. I told him to call the cable company and threaten to leave if they didn’t lower it down to the their best promotional pricing. He has the best bargaining chip there is, he can actually carry through on a threat and switch to one of the other companies. One of them in a particular will let you enter into a two year agreement at $100 a month for the same services. My dad could, and should, be saving $90 each and every month…that is $720 a year, and a lot can be done with that chunk of change.
The other incident that jogged my memory was an article I read recently on Lifehacker about a company called BillCutterz. While I’ve long been familiar with negotiating to get my bills lowered I wasn’t aware that a company was actually making money off this concept. It’s actually quite genius, you send BillCutterz your monthly bills and they start the negotiation process right away, after a few days they contact you with any savings they can dig up. The catch is that they get to keep 50% of whatever they save you over a 1 year period, any continuous or additional savings after those initial 12 months if yours to keep. I did some research on this company and found several reputable sites with articles from people who have tried their services and experienced moderate to significant savings. I mean we are talking about a task that takes probably 5 – 10 minutes of your time, so any savings at all are probably worth it. I did see that a major complaint revolved around the fact that people can negotiate their own bills down so it’s a waste to pay someone else to do it. My thoughts are people can cut their own grass, clean their own homes, walk their dogs, watch their children, etc etc etc….yet there are tons of service professionals in each of these areas despite the ability for one to do-it-themselves. My suggestion is that for those of you who feel comfortable negotiating your own bills you should probably do so, and then after that you send your bills to BillCutterz anyways. It can’t hurt to see if they get deals you are unable to, they do have the power to negotiate on behalf of a large base of customers. This company doesn’t get paid unless you save money.
If you decide to go it alone, at least the first time around, then there are a series of bills you need to take a more serious look at. As I stated above, call and internet is expensive and you are most likely overpaying for it. Just like the government did with credit card billing a couple years ago they need to step in and do with cable company bills! My cable provider has made my monthly bill so confusing it’s nearly impossible to determine how I can lower it. They wrap in a ton of miscellaneous fees that nobody outside the industry is familiar with, so how can you bargain that down. Regardless, if the have talked to you into a home phone as part of the plan then at least make sure you use it. No matter what they say that phone is costing you more, and without it you could be paying significant less. If you are fortunate to live in an area with more than one option then make sure you use it to your advantage. Studies have shown that cable providers stand to lose a significant customer base over the next several years due to all the internet options becoming available.
You are probably paying too much for your cell phone bill as well! This was another area my dad was definitely overpaying, I forgot by how much, but they didn’t even have unlimited calling or a text plan, and it was still right around $100 a month. I pay $70 a month with way more options and coverage. Many people don’t realize that their employer, credit union, or perhaps insurance carrier has discounts available for cell phone carriers. I currently receive 19% off my bill each month just for being employed at my company, can’t beat that. Also, plans are changing all the time, especially allowed data usage amounts. Companies like T-Mobile are hitting market share quite hard, and are aggressively wooing customers away with unlimited calling and data usage plans that are priced more than fairly. Give the cell phone company a call, it can’t hurt, and odds are they have some new plan that is better priced than your old one.
There are a ton of other bills that can be negotiated down like your utilities, which can include gas, water, electric, alarm service, and even trash removal. Also, know those annoying people from Sirius XM radio…they call about 1,000 times a week, well a company like BillCutterz would be a good service for chopping their fees down, cause they are the worst hassle of them all. Even your gym membership can be bargained with. Anyways, I think I’m going to give BillCutterz a shot since I have already chopped my bills down to about as low as I can imagine them, but with all the hype on this company I am curious to see if they can even more. I will report back to you all with my findings.
Have you had success negotiating your bills down? Any services I forgot to mention? Have you tried BillCutterz or a similar service?