SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Bills are starting to pile up for people who have lost jobs or income because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there's an easy way to lower your bills.
Many people are saving money every month through bill negotiation.
"Everybody's looking to cut back in any fashion they can," says Barry Gross, the CEO of BillCutterz.com, a company that will negotiate your monthly bills for you.
Gross says his company has received an "avalanche" of new customers in the last two months, with an increase in business of about 35%.
"Now is the perfect time to negotiate," says Ben Kurland of Bill Fixers, another negotiation company. "Almost all of the companies are being flexible."
While companies like BillCutterz.com and Bill Fixers say their services can help you save more, and save you the time and hassle of dozens of phone calls, Gross and Kurland say you can try to do it yourself.
They say to start with bills for things that aren't essential or are part of your discretionary spending. The top bills they try to negotiate are:
- Cell Phone
- Cable/Satellite TV
- Internet Service
- Landline Phone Service
- Home Security/Alarm Systems
- Satellite Radio
Gross says you have to be the one to initiate the phone call and ask for a deal. After that, he says to let the company do the talking.
"If you don't call, you're not going to get a discount," Gross says. "And if you don't ask, you're not going to get it. Don't be bashful, just be polite. And listen."
Gross and Kurland say their companies usually get 4-5 times as much of a discount as people do on their own. They explain it's because they have all the research done on what promotions companies offer, competitors' pricing, and what other customers pay. In exchange for their service, they take a percentage of your savings during the first year.
They also know a few tricks that have worked in the past.
"When I call, I always tell them I want to cancel," says Gross. "That gets me to the cancellation department instead of the customer service department. They can offer much deeper discounts."
Gross' top negotiating tips are:
- Don't talk to Customer Service
- Threaten to cancel your service or switch providers first
- Ask open-ended questions, not yes/no questions
- Be polite
- Don't accept the first offer
"Always ask for more," says Gross. "Ask for more by saying, 'What else can you do to help me lower my monthly bill?' And then you're quiet again."
If you can't get a lower bill, Kurland says there are other things you can ask for to save money. He says companies often waive one-time fees like overdraft or late fees. They may even offer a one-time "loyalty discount."
Credit card companies will lower interest rates if you're a customer in good standing.
But he warns not to accept freebies or service increases, such as extra data on a cell phone plan or additional channels on cable/satellite. Kurland says often come with an increase in price after a few months.
"Remember," says Kurland, "you're there to get your bill lowered, not get more service."