the thought of haggling over your monthly bills make you
break out in a cold sweat? You’re not alone. A 2013
Consumer Reports survey found that less than half of
consumers had tried negotiating a better deal on
everyday goods and services in the past three years. But
if you can get over your fear of negotiating, you’ll
see the payoff in your pocketbook — especially when it
comes to bills that you pay regularly or even
McNeely, a money-saving expert and founder of the His
& Her Money blog, said she frequently negotiates
with service providers to get a better rate. She’s
successful nine out of 10 times. "I don’t have a
problem with calling and asking for a discount because
they budget for this stuff," she said. "If you
don’t use it, someone else will."
out how to negotiate bills down to a more affordable
pricey medical procedure can be a big blow to your
budget, especially if your insurance policy has a high
deductible or your insurer denies your claim. But you
shouldn’t assume that you’re on the hook for the
full amount you’re being asked to pay. "If you
know what the going rate for a procedure is, you can
always negotiate," said Adria Gross, CEO of MedWise
Insurance Advocacy, which helps people navigate the
medical claims system.
can use free online source HealthCareBluebbok.com to
look up the reasonable amount you should expect to pay
for a medical procedure, test or service in your area.
Or, visit FairHealthConsumer.org, and use the consumer
cost look-up tool to get cost estimates of medical and
dental services in your area. This information can help
you determine whether you’re being charged more than
the estimated cost, giving you a starting point for
to pay with cash — rather than credit — is another
good way to get a discount of at least 10 percent to 50
percent, Gross said. She recently got a medical bill for
a client reduced by 75 percent by using this strategy.
said that by taking the time to understand what her
insurance plan will and will not pay for has helped her
dispute charges and avoid overpaying for medical care.
"You have to know your rights and what is
covered," she said.
PHONE SERVICE BILL
McNeely signs up for wireless phone service, she never
expects to pay the price advertised by a provider. She
researches what other wireless providers are offering,
then uses that information to negotiate a lower price
with the provider she wants. "A lot of times, they
have flexibility to offer you a better package because
they know you can go to their rivals," McNeely
sure you research at least three competitors’ prices
and have their websites open when you make your call so
you can quickly reference their rates, she said.
According to the Consumer Reports survey, half of the
consumers who negotiated their cellphone plans saved
$100 or more.
OR SATELLITE TV BILL
likely got a special promotional rate when you signed up
for cable or satellite TV service. But after that
promotional period is up after a year or so, the cable
company is banking on you not noticing that your rate
has jumped, McNeely said. That doesn’t mean you’re
locked into paying a bigger bill, however.
the cable company, and let it know that you’re
considering switching providers or dropping your service
if it won’t lower your rate. Also, cite a competitor’s
offer. With more and more people cutting the cord and
opting for online and pay-as-you-go services, cable
companies "want to keep your business, and they’ll
do whatever it takes," McNeely said. She typically
gets her cable provider to lower her rate back to within
$5 to $10 of the introductory rate and throw in a
freebie, such as a premium channel.
schedules a calendar reminder on her smartphone to alert
her one month before her rate is due to increase so she
can call the cable company and start negotiating. To
avoid getting stuck on hold, she always presses the key
during the menu options that corresponds to the
"change or cancel your service" option.
"They won’t leave you on hold because they don’t
want to lose you," she said.
also negotiates a discount whenever there are problems
with her service, such as an outage. She recently got
$25 knocked off her bill when she lodged a complaint.