6 Sneaky Insider Secrets That Will Slash Your Monthly Bills
Recently, we noticed that many customers are in the dark when it comes to understanding how their monthly services work. Not knowing this can drastically affect your monthly rates, sucking up lots of your money over time.
So what can you do besides going through tons of websites and fine print?
Get advice from the insiders, of course! I sat down with Karen, one of our expert Bill Advisors and a former insurance professional, to get the scoop. Her advice will help you understand why and how you’re paying way too much, in addition to savings tips you can use on certain monthly bills.
1. General Bill Negotiation Mistakes
BillAdvisor: What are some common mistakes you notice people making when they call companies and try to lower their current monthly rates? Any advice you have for them?
“Some of the obstacles many customers face in negotiating [monthly bills] on their own is that they’re not aware if they’re grandfathered with a company they’re receiving service from. Basically, they don’t have the knowledge on how to ask for new promos or ask for what is available to [them] as being a loyal customer for x amount of years. So, that’s one way they can achieve getting to where they want to be in lowering that price.
“The next thing is that most customers are not aware of how fast a company changes their promos. So when they’re not aware of that, they’re not keeping up with the price changes… One subscription can be repackaged into a new subscription which is the same but it’s called a different name and it has a different price point. They’re not aware of that as well.”
“Number three is that customers are not aware that there is always a department called a retention department… So they don’t know who to go to, they go to the average salesperson and that salesperson is just geared to selling whatever product is placed in front of them. They don’t have it in their power to negotiate with a customer and lower that price, they can’t override [it].
“Also, with providers, they tend to want to always… I wouldn’t really say badmouth the other provider, but customers feel like if they get that upsell then that’s the best that they have. They don’t know how to combat the up-sell and we do – specialists- because we have knowledge beforehand when we get on a phone call. So those are things that we use to our advantage.”
Keep any interesting mailed or emailed deals you receive from your servicers. It helps us help you slash your bill!
B: What are some of the issues you’ve observed when people are overpaying or shopping for new insurance?
“I am coming from insurance working here! So, insurance is very tricky because states in which you have only one carrier or maybe a mom-and-pop [company], insurance usually tends to be the same price across the board in those states that you don’t have a lot of options.
“Now, in areas where you have a lot of options, it varies from very expensive to very low. There are some companies that are actually really low and [this allows] us to advise the customer better. For example, Geico – hardly anyone can beat Geico. Geico is one that stands out. They’re a monopoly in the market right now and they service a lot of customers so they are able to extend cheaper coverages. Insurance is very kind of fluid because some people may have an insurance which is from a larger company versus mom-and-pop companies. [With] mom-and-pop companies, there’s pretty much a larger price point on insurance coverages. Bigger companies are cheaper.
“As far as mom-and-pop insurance companies are concerned, they have a lot of overhead, they have a lot of office expenses that tends to be more than the average huge companies that are out there. So their policies are mainly padded with additional expenses that they try to push in order to meet that sales quota. That’s why mom and pop insurance is never always the best route to go.”
Stick with established, bigger companies. You’ll get better deals because they don’t have to worry about a personal franchise or overhead. They’re more concerned with customer service, and can actually offer better rates and more diverse policy types.
3. Energy Bills
B: Tell me about the obstacles you often see consumers have with their energy services.
“Electric is not a market that is able to service everyone out there because it depends on your state regulations. For example in Texas we have Power to Choose. In Florida we cannot do that. A lot of customers come to us with co-ops for different states. You cannot negotiate or even switch co-ops because [they’re] like shared electricity.
“In an open market, there are choices. But first, when you look at electricity, zip codes will tell a lot because it would say whether or not it’s a small town if it’s like a co-op situation, a one-servicer situation, or if it’s an only servicer situation. According to state laws, in areas like those you cannot introduce a second or third provider. It’s the only one so you’re stuck with it. Home phone and internet can operate that way, too.”
Stay up-to-date on your state and local energy news. Things can change and sometimes areas which currently have limited options will open up to new providers.
4. Internet Bills
B: Speaking about internet – what would you say to someone who is shopping for a new internet service, or something that requires a bit more technical knowledge? As a Bill Advisor, what are the problems you see when these people are paying too much?
“First, they’re not aware of what they have. Second, they’re not aware of what they really need to meet their needs.
“For example, a customer may only use 2 megabytes of internet, and they’re paying for like, 60. So they’re not aware that, ‘if I wasn’t paying for 60, I could be paying for 2 and pay way less.’ They’re not service-educated – meaning they don’t know what service will fit their needs – so we have to go in and do probing. We do an assessment to find out what service plan will fit their needs.”
One surefire way to save is to buy your own modem. This is usually at minimum $10 extra per month which really adds up after a year – especially since most people keep the same Internet Service Provider for much longer. Modems cost as little as $50 (just make sure to first ask your provider for compatibility information)!
B: What about when it comes to saving money on television?
“What I do know is that a lot of times with the HD boxes you can actually design your own package without having to pay for a box and a modem. For example, many television service providers have older HD models that are still streaming simple HD videos but they’re not like all the upgraded boxes, so they’re throwing those out there for free.”
Your job, age, and other group identifiers can really help you save. These offers are common for those belonging to national organizations, working for third-party vendors of larger businesses, AARP members, airline employees, or civic positions like teachers, police officers and military members.
B: What about cell phone service? I know that is the most popular expense members ask you to handle.
“Cell phone service can be really tricky. But basically, if it’s a family then it’s easier to negotiate because most families will have a plan for a longer period of time and they tend to not go back and visit that plan. They tend to keep their plans, which are – most of the time – older plans. A lot of families are not even on unlimited plans, that’s what I’ve found. If they are educated about revisiting their plan every so often, then they’ll know they’re [paying too much].
“Single users can find savings, especially if it’s a bundle [because bundles] are advantages.”
If you’re a single user, take offers to bundle your wireless service with any other services from the same provider. Expert Bill Advisors like Karen can still negotiate and advocate for you to receive other available deals when they speak with your provider!
Whether or not you’re a BillAdvisor member, you’ve probably tried to negotiate your bills on your own before.
Maybe you had some success, but chances are you could have much, much more for all kinds of monthly bills you’re overpaying. Do you recognize the major mistakes you’re making while trying to negotiate bills on your own and how to improve them?