If you’ve been with your carrier for a while, and your account is in good standing, there’s a good chance you’re paying too much for service each month…
There are better deals to be had... but you have to know who to talk to.
And it’s not your local store or the customer service department.
You need to speak to someone in Customer Retention.
In this guide, we’ll cover who these people are, how to reach them and exactly what to say to unlock the secret deals you won’t find anywhere else…
We'll also take a look at popular bill negotiation services and outline how they might help if negotiations fail -- or you don't want to deal with the hassle.
Let’s dive in!
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2020
Negotiating Savings Yourself
Getting the best rates on your phone service is all about knowing who to talk to and what to say.
But before we can get to those steps and recommendations, there’s some preparing you must do.
It's in your carrier's best interest to keep you as a customer, but they still want to make as much money as possible.
By understanding what you need in a plan and the options available from other service providers, you can shift the power to your side during negotiations and present a compelling argument for lowering what you're paying every month.
Get Ready to Take Notes
This process might take a few calls...
To succeed, you’ll need some information.
So grab a notepad, fire up a spreadsheet, or break out Evernote so you can keep everything organized as you go.
Take A Good Look at Your Bill
Log in to your account or dust off those envelopes and take a look at your monthly bill.
Note your usage, what you’re paying and anything you might not need.
You can also see if there are any features missing you might want.
Don’t use most of what you pay for in your plan? You might find some serious savings by following our Guide to Reducing Your Mobile Phone Bill.
If your plan fits your usage already, then keep reading to uncover added savings...
Research Competing Offers
With your usage and needs covered, take a look at competing carriers. See if they offer any promotions at a better rate than your current plan.
Our plan comparison tool makes it easy to compare your options without juggling 20 tabs or digging through endless pricing pages.
Note how much you can save with your carrier’s competitors…
Some might even give you credit on your bill or send you a prepaid card with a sign-on bonus.
We’ll use this information in our negotiations later.
Just remember, big carriers might not match what a smaller carrier, regional carrier or prepaid carrier can offer.
Getting Past the Gatekeepers
Getting the most savings on your bill means going beyond customizing it to fit your needs…
It also means getting past the first line of support at your carrier. Past the gatekeepers.
While customer service agents (and even their supervisors) might help with minor things, they’re not authorized to hand out the best deals.
They’re just filtering out the basic issues and trying to make people happy as quickly as possible.
Remember: be polite but firm...
...The agent on the other end of the phone is a person too.
Getting angry, being rude or treating them poorly won’t help you—in fact, it might give them a reason to hang up. Then you’re stuck starting over.
Start by asking if they can help with your bill…
Something along the lines of:
“Hi [Agent Name]! I’ve been with [Carrier Name] for X years. While I’m happy with my service, my monthly bill is just too high for my budget. Is there any way we can lower it?”
They’ll probably place you on hold…
Get used to this, you will be listening to a lot of slow jazz and soft rock hits…
The agent will come back and say one of two things:
“I’m sorry… you’re already getting our best rates and your plan fits your usage. Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“We can save you a little money by [X], [Y] or [Z]. Does this sound good to you?”
REMEMBER: No matter what this agent offers, the answer is always NO.
Why? As good as the deal might appear, any retention or loyalty deal is likely better!
This is where you jump in and get your ticket to customer retention.
Say something like:
“I appreciate your help [Agent Name]. This is a good start, but still not quite where I need my plan to be. Is there someone I can speak to about cancelling my service? I hate to go, but if you can’t help, I’ll need to switch providers.”
They’ll likely place you on hold again and transfer you...
The Main Event: Negotiating with the Retention Department
Agents in the retention department have one job: try to keep you on as a customer.
Sure... businesses have to balance profits with what their customers want...
But it’s always cheaper to keep a customer with a discount than to find a new one altogether.
This means that retention agents hold the keys to the best deals on offer.
Again, remember to be polite but firm.
You’ll start with recapping your discussion with the previous agent,
“Hi [New Agent Name]! I was just speaking with [Old Agent Name] about lowering my monthly bill. I’ve been with [Carrier Name] for [X] years and I really want to stay with you. But the cost is just too much for me…”
Then sprinkle in the information we gathered earlier…
“[Other carrier] is offering [Plan Details] for [X] per month. I can’t ignore a deal that good. Any way you can match it?”
If you get a “yes” then this is your chance to pounce and get the better deal.
But there’s a good chance that you’ll get put on hold while they look at options…
… then they’ll come back with something in the middle…
“I’m sorry, but we don’t offer a plan like that at this time. What we do have is [Plan Details]. Would that work for you?”
Again, decline and repeat the offer from another carrier…
You might find that they come back with a better offer.
If they don’t, it’s time to ask them to leave notes on your account and end the call.
You might need to repeat this process a few times before you get an agent ready to help you.
If they do make an attractive offer, don’t get too excited and say yes just yet!
There’s still one more step to the negotiations…
Documenting Your New Deal
Before you agree to anything there’s some information you’ll want to get first…
It will give you leverage if this good deal is too good to be true or something changes on your bill that you didn’t
Ask the retention agent for the following:
Their name and/or employee number
A direct number to reach them (or at least a direct line to the retention department)
An identifier code, name or other way to refer to this deal if you should need to call back or visit a retail location
The exact terms of the plan and the costs associated
The date and time of the call
If they’re willing to email you this information in writing, that’s best.
But write it down incase the email never shows up.
With your proof of the deal in place, agree to the deal and think of how to use that extra money you’re saving each month!
Following Up On Your New Deal
Hopefully, the agent is good on their word and you’ll see a much friendlier total when the next bill arrives…
If not, it’s time to break out your notes and get in touch with your service provider. You can either call in to customer care and ask to speak with a supervisor or head to your local retail location.
As with before, be sure to remain calm and respectful. Outline the information you collected from the retention agent and ask for a resolution.
With the evidence to back up your claim, you should have no problem getting things set right.
Use a Third-Party Negotiator
Spending an hour or two on the phone haggling over prices isn’t probably doesn't sound very appealing...
It takes time and isn’t exactly fun.
So what can you do if the thought of calling up your carrier and haggling your way to victory sounds too stressful?
Yep, that’s right. There’s a whole market emerging around services designed to save you money on your monthly bills.
Before we outline the options, we want to get one thing out of the way first...
These services don’t do anything you can’t do yourself.
That said, what these services offer is convenience.
Many will also monitor your bill for a period of time to ensure that you don’t miss additional savings opportunities and that service providers follow through on their promises.
Popular options include:
|Company||How It Works||What You Pay||More Info|
|Sign up for a free consultation and they'll gather information about your current bills.||
If they cannot find you savings, you don't pay anything
If they do, you'll pay a portion of the total savings as a service fee. Exact totals will depend on the amount saved and complexity of your billing situation.
If you're a business, there are a few more options:
|Company||How It Works||What You Pay||More Info|
|You provide the information about your accounts and required features and they'll set to work optimizing your plans, auditing your bills and finding savings opportunities.||
Costs are not mentioned on their site. However, they offer a consultation to discuss details and outline expenses.
|PBC Communications Inc takes a look at your current accounts and bills, as well as past bills, to understand your needs. It then audits bills and looks for opportunities to save you money.||Costs are not mentioned on their site. However, they offer a consultation to discuss details and outline expenses.||PBC Communications, Inc|
|CMC and Co looks for opportunities in your existing bills to save you money. Services include bill audits, negotiation and price comparisons.||Costs are not mentioned on their site. However, they offer a consultation to discuss details and outline expenses.||CMC and Co|
Be sure to confirm details with a service provider before agreeing to anything.
As fees and terms differ between providers, check out all of your options to ensure the best deal.
How These Services Work
The steps differ slightly between providers, but the general steps look something like this:
Create an account and submit your information
In most cases, this is done using an online form. Before you enter any sensitive information, be sure the site is using HTTPS. If you can avoid sending sensitive information over email, we’d recommend it. With the state of security these days, you can never be too safe. Some companies also do a consultation call. This is probably the simplest method if you don’t mind spending 5 minutes on the phone to start things off.
Authorize the service to speak on your behalf
Most phone service providers will require you to confirm that you want the negotiators to speak on your behalf. While it’s a bit of a pain to conference call in, most companies handle this for you and the process only takes a few seconds. And, again, security is good.
This is the longest part of the entire process. Most services only require a day or two. Though if they don’t have any luck at first, they might keep checking back for you. Be sure to check with the service to see their time frames and recommendations.
Take the Deal (or Don’t)
Once the negotiating service finds savings, they’ll get in touch with you to confirm whether the deal sounds good to you. If it does, you’ll agree and they’ll set the changes in motion. Don’t like the deal? Tell the negotiators and most will keep looking and let you know if they find a better option later.
Pay the Negotiation Service
In most cases, there’s no fee unless they find savings. If they do, rates run between 25% and 50% of the total you’d save over 1 to 2 years. Some services allow you to pay the fee each month as your new, lower bills roll in. Others request a lump sum payment after changes are finalized on your account.
For example, let’s pretend you signed up and they saved you $50 a month on your bill.
They might request a monthly payment of $16 for the next 12 months in exchange for the service provided.
After a year, you’ll see your full savings.
Alternatively, they might give you the option to pay $200 at once -- roughly equivalent to the sum of the monthly payments.
You’ll see your full savings upfront, but it’ll take 4 months to break even on what you spent on the service.
That’s all there is to it!
You stay in control the entire time without the heated discussions, waiting on hold and the stressful back and forth.
Are Bill Negotiation Services Worth the Cost?
These services have in-depth knowledge of the current market, competitor deals, common promotional deals.
They also know exactly who to talk to and where most carriers draw the line on savings.
This knowledge (and the convenience of not having to call yourself) is what you’re paying for.
If you don’t mind researching competing offers, waiting on hold and being stern with customer service agents, you might save more by negotiating with your phone service provider yourself. Mainly because you’re not paying a middleman to do the negotiating.
However, for the average person, unless you are willing to dedicate a significant chunk of time to researching options and possibly deal with multiple rounds of negotiations, there’s a good chance a service would save you more.
Moreso, for many people, the ability to provide a bit of information to a negotiator and let them handle the rest is well worth the cost.
This is particularly true if you have multiple accounts or services you’d like negotiated.
The services we listed above don’t charge anything unless you save, making them a fairly risk-free way to check your options.
Even if they find savings, you’ll never pay more than a portion of your savings. So there’s really no way to lose.
Not sure if you’re getting the best savings?
Once you’ve received a price from a negotiator, call your carrier and follow our steps to see if you can do better.
If you can, call the negotiator and deny the deal. If you can’t, then you can accept the deal knowing that your bill is optimized to the fullest.
Just remember to check specific requirements before agreeing to anything.
This will help you establish a timeline of what to expect and that you won’t be surprised when your next bill rolls in.
P.S. If you still can’t find a deal you like speaking with retention, but find a good deal with another carrier, it might be time to switch. Our Guides on Getting Out of Your Mobile Contract and Early Termination Fees can show you what to expect and highlight tips and tricks for minimizing the costs of switching.
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