Friday, June 8, 2012

Frugal Fridays - Negotiate!

Every year our cable bill increases, and every year we call the cable company asking for a lower rate.  You know what ... it always works!  With all the competition nowadays, our cable company is willing to renew our "one year agreement" every year.   They've hesitated in the past, but when we indicated that we'd have to close our account due to the increased rates ... they start dealing.  Several years ago we went from a bill of about $150 a month to $89 a month ... that's a pretty big savings!   This monthly fee includes not only cable television, but high-speed internet too.  We did have to eliminate the premium channels and our telephone line, but we have cell phones so we don't need the home phone.

Speaking of cells phones, there is a lot of competition in this area!  Even if you don't want to switch companies, you can call your service provider every now and then to inquire if you're eligible for any discounts or upgrades.  

Another area of negotiation that most people don't think about ... medical services!  If you don't have insurance and/or are having financial difficulties, you may be able to lower your bill.  When I was pregnant with my daughter 21 years ago I knew where I wanted to have my baby.  However, I had just been laid off and had lost my health insurance seven months into my pregnancy.  I spoke with the hospital about a month before my due date and got a quote on how much the fee would be if we paid cash and there were no complications.  The quote was a lot less than if I had private insurance.  

Also, I've found that most doctors aren't comfortable talking about their fees ... use that to your advantage!  I don't practice this often since I have health insurance and I'm lucky to be healthy, but I have tried this a couple of times over the years and I've always had positive results.  If you're dealing with a hospital you can try speaking with the "patient liaison".  This person's job is to keep the patients happy, handle complaints, etc.  Get to know him or her if you're having financial difficulties!

Over the years, the laws may have changed on a physician's ability to charge less for a "private pay" patient, so I'm not sure how this would work nowadays.  But if you have a good relationship with your doctor or dentist you might want to give it a try.  Unfortunately, I haven't had much luck negotiating a lower dental bill!  I don't have dental insurance but I do have a dental "discount" program.  It helps a little bit, but not as much as we'd like.  In fact, I just paid off the root canal I had last year and as I'm typing this I'm dealing with two toothaches!  I have an appointment next week and fear that I'll have yet another large bill.  Sometimes I think I should just pull all my teeth out and have some nice and pretty dentures!  

Unfortunately, we also haven't been able to negotiate our ever-increasing health insurance premiums!  However, every year when it's time to renew and the price goes up (always), I shop around.  It's a pain because this usually means changing companies, but I stick with the same agent and it allows us to keep health insurance instead of dropping it altogether.  At one time, our health insurance was up to over $600 per month!  We shopped around and raised the deductible, which got us under $300 per month.  It's time to start shopping again, because we just got a renewal notice with a $100 per month increase!

I have heard that you may be able to negotiate your credit card interest as well.  However, I've also heard that you've got to be careful in your negotiations because if you tell them that you're having financial difficulties and therefore need a lower rate ... it might backfire!  You may get the lower rate (or not), but you may also have your credit limit lowered or even frozen because you've given them reason to believe you're a high risk for default.  For this reason, I haven't tried this.

What have you had success with in negotiating a lower price?  We'd love to hear about it!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

*For those that missed the other posts of this series, check them out below:


Jimmy - The Skipper said...

I feel your pain concerning the dentist and your teeth. I lived in the Philippines for a long time where they do not add fluoride to the water. The past two years I have spent a small fortune on fixing my teeth so that I do not have problems at sea. I went with implants rather than dentures and I am now the owner of 6 shiny, gold molars! I joke about using them as tender if I ever find myself broke and destitute!

Cathy said...

Oh thanks for the tip! I forget that negotiating is an option everywhere. The worst they can say is no, right?? Great post! said...

I thought we were the only one! Every 6 months Comcast increases our bill and we get a bad surprise when it comes. Then Mike has to call and threaten to terminate the contract, and they agree to leave it the same for 6 more months. What a stupid game! We only have internet service through them, so I can't imagine if I paid for cable TV as well.

Ken n Cheryl said...

Jimmy, with the price of gold your mouth may be a good way to "carry" your investment .. LOL! I'm getting a tooth pulled tomorrow, but dental implants are out of my budget right now. Luckily the tooth is in the back of my mouth! =)

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