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How I Saved $360 in One Phone Call

Image courtesy of Deman at Flickr

I know you've heard this one before–calling your car insurance, homeowner's insurance, satellite company, etc. can save you BIG instead of worrying about coupons and pennies here and there. But do you ever do it? Probably not. Why is that? Are you afraid to ask for a discount? Does it feel like a confrontation? You don't like negotiation? Or is it just unpleasant to be on hold for that long?

For me, the simple task of making a phone call turns to disaster every time. I've had to lock myself in the bathroom with the kids pounding on the door. The worst is the many companies who now have voice-recognition running; do they not know that it's IMPOSSIBLE to call them with children in the background? I finally got serious about making a phone call, and here's what happened: I got a $30/month discount on my phone/DVR/internet package which will save me $360 over the course of the year.

You can do this.

Mark your calendar for two weeks before the end of your car insurance period, renter's or homeowner's insurance, phone or internet contract, and cable/satellite service. Get a copy of your latest bill and make that call. If you're unsure what to say, start with this:

I see that my contract is up this month, and I'm calling to find out what discounts I am eligible for.

If you don't get an offer right away, try this:

What else can I do to reduce my bill?

Keep in mind–you may need to agree to a 6- or 12-month contract to lock in a discounted rate, so be sure you understand the terms before agreeing.

If that still doesn't work, you may have to say:
I'm sorry to hear that there isn't a way to reduce my monthly bill. I will be calling ___ and ___ to see how they compare.

Often that results in an offer, but you may have to actually call the other companies and get a quote. I have done this for years with my auto insurer to great effect. I call two other companies for a quote, and if one is lower than my current rate, I tell my current insurer and ask them to match it. They have, for 12 years now. Be sure to mention your history with the company. For example, when I make that call to my car insurer, they often say, “Thank you for being with us for 12 years,” beating me to the punch, but I say, “I've been incredibly happy with your service and rates all this time.” And it's true. When I called the phone/DVR/internet company, I said, “I've only been with you a year but I'm extremely happy with the service and I'd like to stick with you.” Even though my history with them is short, I'm a current customer and it benefits them to keep me around.

I spent 10 minutes on the phone and I saved $360 for 2010. Even I was amazed I wasn't on hold for longer, but even if it had, it would have been worth it.

You can do this. Get a post-it and jot down my phrases above, then give it a try. Who are you going to call?

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