Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Make the Right “BIG” Decisions – Renegotiate Rates (pt. 3 of 5)

By Olivia Sandham

Last week, we covered how to get started making “BIG” decisions by automating payments. This week, let’s discuss our next financial “BIG” decision that can be made with little effort and sacrifice, but can also have “BIG” results.

R E N E G O T I A T E   R A T E S

More often than we may be aware, we are charged with paying many one-time fees or paying an on-going monthly or annual rate for a service. However, with a little time, patience, and a dash of gumption, you might be able to lower or completely waive fees, or you may be able to negotiate lower rates. Here is a list of some of the fees or rates you may be able to negotiate:
  • Banking fees – Maintenance fees, transaction fees, processing fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees
  • Credit card fees – Annual fees, balance transfer fees, cash advance fees, over-the-limit fees, late fees
  • Credit card interest rates
  • Vehicle – Insurance rates, maintenance/service fees
  • Home – Rent/Mortgage rates, cleaning services, construction/renovation services
  • Cable/Phone/Internet services
Benefits:
  • Getting fees lowered or waived will add up in the long run.
  • Getting recurring rates lowered will save you money so you can invest or spend it elsewhere.
  • Looking into fees and rates requires paying a little attention to your accounts, statements, and bills, which can be beneficial if there are more fees or higher rates than you were previously aware.
  • Addressing fees and looking into rate changes also compels you to research what competing banks or companies are offering. No matter the outcome of the negotiation, you can make an educated decision if you want to stick with your bank or company or if a competitor might be a better fit.
  • Feeling like a "winner".  Sometimes, the smallest successes can bring that little bit of extra joy to your day, and who doesn't want a little of that?
Effort: Negotiating and saving money could happen all the time if we paid enough attention to know when the opportunity arises. For example, if you have ever talked to your server at a restaurant about poorly cooked or seasoned food, and they accommodated you somehow (remade the food, brought you a new dish, took the dish off your bill), making other negotiations is not much different.
  1. First, be prepared with the information you will need for the negotiation.
    • Know what you want changed or waived.
    • Review your account terms and have your account information handy.
    • Have a few leverage points, such as how long you have been a good customer, in what ways you have been a good customer (always paid on time, never missed a payment, always paid more than the minimum, never had xxx fees before, brought friends and family to the company), and very importantly, know what competing banks or companies are offering relevant to the item you want to discuss.
  2. Second, contact the right person to talk to about the negotiation. Usually, it’s as simple as contacting a customer service representative. Make sure to write down the date and time you called, and the name of the representative who helps you.
  3. Next, when speaking with the representative, be polite and friendly but direct. Keep your conversation simple and ask your questions clearly and straightforward. Use the following conversation tactics as examples:
    • “I see that I was charged an xxx fee, and I would like to have that waived” or “I am curious if I am eligible for a lower rate than what I am currently paying”.
    • If the rep says no, don’t give up! This is only the start of the conversation.
    • Use one of your leverage points and ask again, “I haven’t been charged any xxx fees in the xxx years that I have been a loyal customer,” or “I have paid my monthly rate on time for the xxx years that I have been a loyal customer,” and finish with the question “So, is there anything that you can do for me?” Continue using leverage points in this manner while staying calm and straightforward, always focusing on asking if there is something THEY can do for YOU.
    • Save the last bit of leverage information you have on competing companies for your final attempt, if the conversation even gets that far. “I am still wondering if there is anything you can do for me, because xxx company doesn’t charge for that type of fee at all” or “xxx company only charges xxx rate for that service.”
    • Throughout the conversation, try not to show any signs of anger or frustration. Negotiating is about being persistent while portraying confidence and knowledge, and as good as you may or may not be at it, sometimes they will simply have to tell you “no” in the end. Then at least, you can make an educated decision of whether this is the right bank or company for you.
  4. If you get the fee or rate lowered or waived, the final bit of effort is to check your online account in a few days and look on your next statement to make sure the fees were waived or the rates have been changed.
Tune in next week, where we will finish up our financial and lifestyle “BIG” decisions that can have “BIG” results with little time and effort!

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