MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - To slash your bills by nearly $3,500 a year like BillFixers.com did for East Memphis homemaker Laura Lowe on WMC Action News 5, you have to be a gutsy negotiator. It also helps to know a few of the secrets of Bill Fixers founders Ben and Julian Kurland!
* THE LONGER YOU'RE A CUSTOMER, THE MORE LIKELY YOU'RE OVERPAYING. The Kurlands said the longer you have an account with a creditor, the more likely you're overpaying on the rate or on unnecessary fees or services. "For example, we find that half of the people who have insurance or protection plans on their accounts don't even know what those do," Ben Kurland said. "Go over your bills line by line. If there's something you don't understand, call and ask about it. It may be worth cutting it off the bill."
* EVERY ADD-ON IS A NEGOTIABLE CHARGE. For example, premium channels for cable or satellite TV like HBO or Showtime. "Those are almost always negotiable," said Kurland. "So if you're paying $15 or $20 a month for a premium channel, you can normally get that free for a year just by asking."
* USE ANNUAL RATE AS LEVERAGE. Consider offering to pay an annual rate if it will save you more money over 12 months. "Sometimes, they will actually give you a better price by year," Julian Kurland said.
* LATE FEES ARE TYPICALLY DROPPED. Ben Kurland said, "If you got a late fee -- even if you've gotten late fees before -- if you call and ask them to remove them, they'll almost always credit them back."
* BE FRIENDLY. You'll get better results if you build that customer service rep up rather than bully her down.
* CALL DURING BUSINESS HOURS, NOT AFTER HOURS OR ON WEEKENDS. "For most people when they call to negotiate their bill, they're calling after work.They're calling on the weekends, and that's when everybody else is calling. If you call between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a weekday, you'll get through to somebody immediately."
* DON'T GIVE UP. "A lot of people, they'll call once, they don't get the deal they wanted, and they assume that that's it," said Ben. "What we do is we have a number that we have in mind, and we just keep at it until we get that number. And you'll find that if you speak to a different representative, or if you speak to a different department, everybody's got different codes that they are able to enter or promotions they are able to use, and at the end of the day, as long as you are able to persevere, you'll get some savings!"