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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - If you have just gotten your bills in the mail and you are cringing at how much it is going to cost you to pay them, there are five phone calls you can make that can save you money. The power of negotiation and just asking for a lower price goes a long way.
Tara Ledford said it gets tough shelling out the money to pay all of her bills at once. She made one of the most important phone calls in the book is to her cable and phone company to keep from having to pay a late fee.
Ledford admits, "Surprisingly enough he said they could extend my due date by 12 days but the 31st would be the thirteenth day so he gave me the option to call back on the 28th and speak to the financial services and explain to them the situation and they would work with me."
Kathy Graham, the President of the Better Business Bureau in the Grand Strand said you could end up putting more money in your pocket if you try to negotiate with companies for lower rates.
All you have to do is pick up the phone.
Graham explains, "You never know until you ask so it's always good to make that try. The worst they could say is tell you no." Graham said another phone call that could save you money is to your credit card company.
Graham adds, "If you find yourself paying very high interest rates for instance on a credit card or your cell phone bill is a little high it does not hurt to pick up the phone and contact these people."
But before you get started, make sure you are prepared.
Graham went on to explain, "You don't want to be aggressive. Assertive yes, aggressive no. And what we would recommend is that you sit down and write out what you are going to say so you can stay focused and on track so you can keep your mood as level as possible."
CCU Marketing professor Mark Mitchell says most businesses are willing to listen to their customers and negotiate. Mitchell says when you are asking for a lower price you need to speak with a manager.
"We don't always give the initial contact person the ultimate authority. We may hold that back for special cases and keep people who quite honestly that's what they do well," Mitchell declares.
Mitchell said you could also call your insurance provider to negotiate a lower rate. When you do make the call, use key phrases.
Mitchell coaches, "I'd like to cancel or I'm considering options or I'm looking elsewhere and that will trigger that to the contact person I'm going to transfer this call or this case to a higher authority and that higher authority has more options to them."
Mitchell goes on to explain it is also important to mention your loyalty to the company and how long you have been a customer. "Call them and say look I've been a loyal customer…I've made all my payments is there any way we could get my interest rate back down."
If you are not successful, do not take the first "no" as your final answer.
Graham said it really comes down to being open and polite with the company so they will give you a better rate.
"If you are honest and you say I'm in a position where I might not be able to pay you at all then they might be more willing to negotiate with you," Graham states.
Representatives of companies like HTC said they do listen to customers' concerns and try to work with them on getting the best deal.
Nicole Hyman states, "These days people are looking to save money. So when we have a customer call in we look at their account and see what kind of plans are in place already, see what products and services they have with us and see if there is a bundle or a plan that would fit them better."
Graham said generally companies are more likely to strike a deal to keep your business.
"Business is rough for everybody out there so I would think that the majority of your businesses are going to work with you to keep you as a happy customer," Hyman continues.
There are two more phone calls that could save you big bucks.
Try asking for a rental car or hotel upgrade for free. Company owners said they do make these kinds of arrangements for people based on availability and when people ask for them.