MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tucked away in the austere basement of what used to be a Nashville church--beside a table brimming with cream cheese danishes and Red Bull--Cori Haber is working her charm.
Haber's sweet-talking a Comcast customer service rep. By the time she hangs up the phone, Haber will have scored a savings of more than $1,000 over the next 12 months on an East Memphis client's cable bill.
Haber is an account specialist for BillFixers.com. Launched in 2014 by brothers Ben and Julian Kurland, its crack-staff of 15 negotiators make the calls we all dread: the seemingly endless waits on hold, the minimum wage smart aleck on the other end, the quid pro quo with a so-called 'supervisor.' The Kurlands said their Bill Fixers know how to work every angle with your creditors to lower your cable, lawn care, wireless--virtually any monthly or annual service bill.
"We find that we are able to negotiate down 95 percent of bills," said Ben Kurland, a former free-lance graphic designer. "Everybody's overpaying."
Laura Lowe's overpaying like everybody else. She's the East Memphis homemaker with that cable bill that Haber haggled. Lowe is buried in bills: nearly $1,500 a year in lawn care, nearly $300 a month in cable, and--with a family of five smart phones--more than $330 a month in wireless costs. One time, their monthly wireless bill was $625.
"I feel like the costs are going higher, and I don't even know what I'm paying for anymore," Lowe said. "We've spent hours on calls, trying to work out new plans, and we get to where we feel like we're just getting sucked in, and we're not actually getting the best deal."
"The prices aren't set to be fair. They're set to make as much money as they possibly can," Kurland said. "So what we're trying to do is get the prices down to a reasonable level just by asking. You just sign up, send us a bill and we get started."
At our request, the Bill Fixers got started on Lowe's bills. Within a week, they managed to pull off these negotiations:
* LAWN CARE. Negotiated down from $1,497.60 a year to $960 a year.12-month savings of $537.60.
* AT&T WIRELESS (5 MOBILE PHONES). Negotiated down from an average $338.78 a month for a 30GB plan to an average $283.97 a month on a 40GB plan, plus a $390 credit for overages and a $191.76 reimbursement for unnecessary insurance on each phone.12-month projected savings of $1,047.72.
* COMCAST CABLE (PRIMARY RESIDENCE). Negotiated down from $258.70 a month to $199.84, plus a $118.65 credit for an extra DVR the family did not use for a year.12-month projected savings of $1,004.97.
* COMCAST CABLE (SECONDARY RESIDENCE). Negotiated down from $165.88 a month to $130.93 a month, plus one time credits of $239.79. 12-month projected savings of $659.19.
* COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Negotiated down from $27.16 a month to $21.81 a month for six months.6-month projected savings of $32.10.
* SIRIUS XM SATELLITE RADIO. Negotiated down from $17.07 a month to $8.44 a month.12-month projected savings of $103.26.
Total projected savings for the Lowe family over the next 12 months: $3,384.81.
"Wow! That's crazy!" exclaimed Lowe. "That's so impressive!"
"Once we've negotiated down a rate, we'll double-check everything, run any questions by you, and then we just split the savings for the first year 50-50," Kurland said. "So half goes to you, half goes to us, and then after the first year, it goes 100 percent to you. So no matter what, you come out ahead."
Lowe has decided to maintain an account with BillFixers.com to see how aggressive her specialist Cori can be, how many more of her bills can be clobbered, and how far her savings can go.
"If people don't call these guys, I mean, it's free money!" she said.