How to Negotiate a Better Deal on Your Bills

Looking for ways to slash your bills? Haggling could be the answer. Here are some tips to negotiate like a pro.

While bills may be a fact of adult life, it doesn’t mean you should be paying more than you have to for all your regular expenses. One way to potentially cut costs is to negotiate a better deal with your current provider. Even small savings on each of your bills can add up to hundreds of dollars over a year.

So, it’s worth making the calls to ask. With that in mind, here are our tips to help you haggle like a pro.

How to negotiate a better deal on your bills

1. Make a list of all your regular bills

Before you even think about picking up the phone you should identify all your regular bills. You may already have these itemised in your budget, or you could go through your bank account or credit card statements to make a list.

Here are some of the expenses to consider:

It’s a good idea to make notes about important details relating to each of the bills. For example, for your home insurance policy write down the premium, the excess and the sum insured. For your internet plan, make a note of the monthly cost, the upload/download speeds and the data included in your plan. This information will all come in handy in the next steps.

It’s also worth noting that the negotiation process can be time-consuming, so don’t expect to get through all of these at once. You might want to focus on a different bill each week, fortnight or even each month. For any bills that you pay annually, the best time to haggle is probably when they are due for renewal.

Related article: How to Write a Budget

2. Do your research

It’s essential to do your homework. Shop around to get a better understanding of what deals are out there and how much you could potentially save. Just make sure you are comparing like with like. For example, if your mobile phone includes 10GB of data each month, comparing it to one with just 3GB isn’t going to give you a true idea of how they stack up against each other.

As well as looking at competitor deals, do some research on what your current provider is offering new customers. It might be an upfront discount, a cheaper rate, cashback or other perks.

You can use all this research as the basis for your negotiation.

Related article: Three Reasons Your Money is Disappearing

3. Decide what you’re willing to accept

Now that you have a better idea of what’s available in the market, take the time to think about what you’d be happy to accept and what would be a deal breaker. For example, if your provider comes within $50 of the best offer you have found, will that be good enough for you to stay?

4. Be prepared

It’s important to have all the relevant information at your fingertips when you make that call. This includes:

  • The price or rate of any better deals you’ve found and who is offering them
  • Details about what your existing provider is giving new customers
  • Information on your relationship with your current provider including how long you’ve been a customer, a list of any other services you have with them and whether you’ve had any issues

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5. Make the call

The time to make the call is here. You’ve done all your research, you have all the important information and so the only thing left to do is haggle. Here are some pointers.

Speak to the right person

In most cases, the customer service member who answers the call is unlikely to be able to give you a better price. You can always try and if the answer is no, you can tell them you want to cancel. Chances are you’ll be transferred to another department that can negotiate with you.

Your other option is to ask straight away if they have a customer retention team they can put you through to.

Be calm and polite

Keep this saying at the back of your mind while you’re on the phone: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. The person on the other end is more likely to want to try to help you if you’re calm and polite than if you’re angry and rude. That doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover. Stand your ground and be firm about what you’re after.

Related article: How to Save $5000 in Three Months

Use these talking points

Knowing the right thing to say can be the hardest part of haggling. In her book, A Real Girl’s Guide to Money, Canstar Ambassador and Money Expert at InvestSMART, Effie Zahos included some phrases that could prove helpful. These are her suggestions:

  • I’ve been shopping around and have found better deals from other providers. I’d like to talk to someone about what you may be able to offer me
  • I’ve been checking how my mortgage rate/insurance premium/internet bill compares with what you’re offering new customers, and I’m disappointed that my rate/premium/bill is so much higher
  • What can you do for me?
  • I saw that you are offering new customers X. How can I take advantage of this offer?
  • I’ve been a loyal customer for X years. What’s the best you can do?
  • I have two mobile services/insurance policies with you – can you give me a better rate?
  • If I brought other products to you, would you be able to give me a bigger discount?

Be prepared to walk away

If you have no luck, then you need to be prepared to walk away – or at least pretend to. Ms Zahos suggests you use phrases such as:

  • I’d like the rate you’re offering new customers, otherwise, I’m happy to take my business elsewhere
  • I have been a loyal customer for X years and although I’d prefer to keep my business with you I can’t pass up the deal X is offering
  • Unfortunately, if you can’t match the deal X is offering I will have to cancel my cover

You don’t have to follow through if you don’t want to. You can say, “Thank you, let me think about it and I’ll call back if I decide to take my business elsewhere.”

The bottom line is that there’s no harm in asking for a better deal. The worst that can happen is that the answer will be no, in which case it’s up to you to decide whether you’ll stay or go.

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About the reviewer of this page

This report was reviewed by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.

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