Generally speaking, I pretty much detest talking on the phone. But if a 15-minute phone call could net the kind of financial reward Matt writes about, I could manage a change of heart.


Dear Mary: I don’t have cable TV in my house but I do have Internet. I’m one year into a two-year contract (which is fine with me since I’m happy with the service) and noticed this month’s bill went up $20 since I’m no longer in my first year promo period. I called the company and told them I was looking to cancel because “I found a better rate.” I must have said the magic words because the rep forwarded me to the retention team.

After speaking with the retention team member I was able to negotiate my Internet bill at the original monthly promo rate for the next two years (I did have to agree to extend my contract for two years from that day, which really is fine with me). And they also gave me a $75 credit spread over the next three billing cycles.

So all in all, that 15-minute phone call saved me $25 over the next three months plus $20 a month over the next two years, for a total savings of $555 over the two year contract period!

I am pretty proud of myself. It just feels good to take control of my expenses as opposed to feeling like a pawn on my service-providers’ chess board.

Now I’m thinking about ways I might be able to use this tactic to rein in other expenses. Matt

Dear Matt: You are officially the EC Hero of the Day. This is wonderful. You did so many things right, let me count the ways:

1. You were fully aware of where you are in your contract, what your promo rate was and how that rate has risen now that you’re into the second year. (Do you have any idea how many people don’t have a clue about these details of their cable and or Internet service contracts? Many!)

2. You knew in advance what you would say to the customer service rep. You had a script and you followed it, i.e., “I found a better rate.” Additional useful scripts include, “What can you do for me?” or “I’m asking for some help here!”

3. You moved into negotiation mode once you reached the decision makers on the retention team. These are the people who are paid to keep customers. If they can’t get customers like you to do that, their jobs are in jeopardy. You are a valuable commodity to your Internet service provider.

4. Once you had your monthly rate rolled back and nailed down, you didn’t say good-bye. You asked for just a bit more and that resulted in a $75 credit.

5. With your new two-year deal nailed down and your phone call completed, you went one last step farther—you calculated your true return on time worked. Fifteen minutes to cut your future expenses by $555, that’s one heck of a pay rate!

Good job, Matt!

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