How to Save Money on Your Bills: Just Ask

If there’s one thing I’ve started to notice over the years with bills–particularly bills for non-essential services like internet or cable–it’s that those bills are more “suggestions” than they are “rules.” Case in point: my local internet company is offering a deal for new customers who are willing to lock in a rate for four years. I’ve been with this company for at least that long, so I decided to check in with them to see if I could take advantage of the offer.

The answer? No. I wasn’t a new customer, so I didn’t qualify.

However, they also noted I’d been a loyal customer, and so they made a counter offer: if I would lock in my rate for a year, they’d knock $12 off the monthly charge for two years. They didn’t have to ask me twice. This was the equivalent of me calling someone up and asking for money, and they said, “Sure.”

The same thing was true back when I was ditching Dish. When I called them up to cancel my service, it was amazing the deals they were suddenly willing to offer me. “What if we gave you free premium channels for three months, cut your bill in half for six months, and increased the channels you have access to?” I still said no–free is lower than any counter offer they could give me–but the fact remains that they were very ready to bend over backward to keep me as a customer.

Why is this? I think it’s because non-essential service providers realize that you make a choice to stick with them. You could cancel them or go elsewhere quite easily, so they’re highly motivated to keep you. Plus, they depend on the fact that we’re all creatures of habit. We get in a nice routine and stick with that routine until something jars us out of it. So if they can just get us used to paying that monthly fee every month, then we’ll continue doing for quite some time.

So consider this your yearly reminder: call up your service providers. Email them if that’s too big of a pain. See if they’d be willing to knock some money off your bill. The worst thing they can do is turn you down, and then you’re only out the few minutes it took to write an email. But in my case, that five minutes saved me $288 over the space of two years.

Thanks. I’ll take it.

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