Don’t Wait for a Discount — Ask for One

This post is short and sweet and to the point.

Folks, I cannot stress how important it is to check all of your accounts for possible savings at least once a year. This includes your bank accounts, your credit accounts, your utility accounts, and more. Basically, you should review every account that involves a financial relationship at least yearly.

It's easy to do this. Just call the customer service number and ask if there are any better deals than the one you currently have. You may have better results if you do a bit of research (on the web or in person) before you call, but it's not strictly necessary. Taking one hour out of your year to do this can yield huge savings.

What prompted me to write this? Well, my mother just got a new laptop computer with a wireless card. When I offered to set it up for her, I asked what she was paying for internet service. For dial-up internet and phone service, she was paying $79 a month. This seemed high to me. (I'm willing to be that she's had the same plan since signing up for internet service over a decade ago.)

“Do me a favor,” I said. “Call the phone company and ask what it would cost to get DSL.”

“I don't understand,” my mom said after she did some research. “They say that I can get voice mail, DSL, and phone service for $60 a month, but that's less than I'm paying now.”

That's right: For $19 less per month than she's paying now, my mother can get a faster internet connection and voice mail. That's a savings of nearly $230 a year — and improved service — simply by asking. (Plus, they provided a wireless router for free!) But the phone company had no incentive to tell her this. They simply waited until she called to ask.

Remember: Nobody cares more about your money than you do. If you don't take steps to improve your financial situation, nobody else is going to do so either. In most cases, wealth isn't about luck. Wealth is about taking charge of your money, telling others what you want instead of letting them tell you what you're going to get. And it's about taking care of the little stuff, like how much you're paying for DSL and phone service.

So, go out there and call the phone company and the cable company and your bank. Find out if there are any better deals waiting for you. Don't wait for a discount — ask for one.

More about...Uncategorized

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

71
Leave a Reply

avatar
newest oldest most voted
Dink
Dink

“Free” is too much for dial-up. The library has high-speed internet. In the same vein, I know that Comcast yields pretty easily to asking for a better deal. They usually have three month specials for package deals before the rate jumps up. Before your rate increases to whatever they consider standard, call them up and let them know you’re thinking about canceling cable, but want to keep internet, phone, whatever… though you’re interested to hear if they have any more specials you can take advantage of. They always have something going on and if you get a representative in a… Read more »

Thornproof
Thornproof

Totally agree! Not just for utilities and credit, but at the store, it never hurts to ask for a discount … and you may be surprised how often you get one.

Justin@weeklymealideas

Great point, JD. We just had to ask for discounts on my parent’s cable bundle. It was going up about $50 a month after the promotions expired. We still ended up paying more per month than previously, but we did manage to reduce the blow to an additional $15 a month rather than $50. Actually, we may end up saving money by dropping the cable company’s VoIP service (which adds $10+ in fees and taxes to the advertised price) and switching to another service like Vonage.

Brian C.
Brian C.

It is odd to note that the better service is sometimes cheaper, or not that much more. I just called AT&T yesterday since my wife and I weren’t using all of our minutes and we had accumulated 5,000 rollover minutes. The customer service rep told us we could drop down from the 1,400 minute a month plan to the 700 minute a month plan for $20, but we’d lose all of our rollover minutes when we changed. We each use about 750 minutes a month. So it’s really costing me only $20 more a month to get double the plan?… Read more »

KC
KC

Insurance (car, home, etc) is another thing that doesn’t have to go up. In fact I’ve always wondered why my car insurance goes up when the value of my car goes down every year and my record of safety goes up (assuming no accidents, tickets). So when they go up I call my insurance agent and have her check for a better rate. With 2 cars that can make quite a nice difference.

Dawn
Dawn

My husband does this all the time, and it always surprises me when it works. It isn’t always easy though. I have very little patience with customer service, and I often tell my husband just to give up and forget about it, which he never does. He’ll just keep asking and asking until they give in and give us the better deal/discount.

Rachel
Rachel

@Brian #4: I called and downgraded my cell phone plan with AT&T about a year ago because I had 5,000 rollover minutes, too–but I tried a different tactic. When I called them, I said the economy is bad and I was trying to pinch pennies so I wanted to know if there were any deals they were offering to long-time customers (I have been a customer for about five years). They said there were no additional deals but suggested a downgrade. I said that sounded like one option, but I was concerned about going over my minutes as that was… Read more »

Kris
Kris

Very good suggestion. I call my cable company every 6 months and get at least 20 dollars knocked off my bill. (My bill that has been increased because my latest promotion expired.) I think senior citizens may get taken advantage of the most because many have probably just paid their bills for years and years without giving it a second thought. On a slightly different note, always always scour the internet for a promo code when buying something online. Even the most unlikeliest sites can have promo codes. Like my webhosting service had a promo code, I never expected that.

Lyndsi
Lyndsi

Your absolutely correct! I got fed up with companies taking advantage of my grandma so I portioned the state and became legal fiduciary. She is 87 and considered “disabled” as she is has hearing difficulties and wears hearing aids. The electric/gas company gave her a late fee on both, as they said they “couldn’t find her payments. She couldn’t hear well. So the employee asked her if she called the bank to see if the check cleared. She thought they said send another check from your bank account and agreed. Mind you she is religious paying her bills on time.… Read more »

mapster
mapster

Just two weeks ago I called to lower my cable/internet/phone bill. I ended up getting about 50 more channels on the t.v. for a savings of about $25 a month.

Jessica @ Life as I See It
Jessica @ Life as I See It

This makes me so happy.
My parents just upgraded from dial up too!! 🙂

JB
JB

My dad was in the same dialup boat until about 2006. The bigger issue there was that it was the same plan that he’d had since we first got online (i.e., about half my life)…it was OK when I was at college, but when I came home, I always went over the few hours our plan allowed and we were charged exorbitant fees. I kept telling Dad that there were all-you-can-eat dialup options for less than he was paying, but he kept insisting “it’s the same plan we’ve always had!” He’d also refused to get a CD-ROM drive until he… Read more »

Jackie
Jackie

I bet she’ll be even more amazed by the new lightning-fast speeds! You’re right, it pays to check around. What had been your experience with things like car insurance? We found out recently that we could get a slightly better rate elsewhere, but I’m concerned about the customer service we might receive at the other company.

M
M

Recently when I bought an IPod for my mom, the online price was about $20 less than the instore price. I mentioned it to the salesperson and they matched the price. Lesson learned to check online pricing even if you are going to buy in store.

Lyndsi
Lyndsi

?????? Good for you, incredible how prices can vary between instore and online and Vice versa. If a company/store has a price match policy, I make it a point to learn them!

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski

Every time I read this sort of advice I think about the guy on the other side of the fence, because this advice in particular isn’t the sort that can be a win-win situation for all parties involved. If every year you try to re-negotiate your contracts at lower rates, you can’t be too upset if every year your employer tries to cut your pay rate — if you do it, why wouldn’t they? Or if you’re self-employed, you can’t be too surprised if all your customers constantly ask you to work for less than your asking prices. I do… Read more »

Lyndsi
Lyndsi

I am a small business owner. Both commerce & e-commerce. Yet It doesn’t hurt to offer a discount to keep costumers coming back with great service and a small discount/or freebie. I own an antiques and collectibles store. Now it’s not my fault that a person that works for a large or small company/corporation and get their pay potentially “cut” that is on them for not standing up to their bosses! I would never cut my employee’s pay, that just cruel and unusual. As for haggling? That’s why I am in the position I am in life as a single… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole

Tyler K.– Employers do cut pay rates every year. That’s what happens when you get a raise that’s lower than inflation. They can’t make actual pay cuts (outside of severe recessions) or workers will leave and hiring a new worker is expensive. Pay cuts also cause low morale for people who are working in the company and they’d much rather have low morale for people who have been laid off and more productivity from the people who weren’t laid off. With things like cellphone plans, improved technology makes costs lower, but there’s no reason to pass on those cost savings… Read more »

Ris
Ris

Great post. This past weekend I was shoe shopping and found the perfect sandals. I wear a 6, the floor sample size, and the sample was the only pair they had left in my size. I calmly asked for the manager, explained the situation, and asked for a discount since one of the shoes had been sitting out on the floor, being tried on by who knows how many people. She smiled, said yes, and gave me HALF OFF THE ORIGINAL PRICE. I like the sandals even more now!

Charli
Charli

You go girl! Thank you for sharing I never thought of that, if they only have my size in the sample pair! Or if there is an imperfection I can “live with” on an item. I will ask for a discount.

C
C

@Tyler – I really enjoyed haggling when I was last in Mexico. The locals respect you for it, since you aren’t some sucker tourist. Remember that no one will accept your negotiated price if they aren’t gaining something from it. It is just a matter of how much money you are willing to leave on the table for them to scoop up.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth

@Tyler (#14)
I agree with Nicole. Your employer does negotiate with you constantly, asking you to work more, withholding a pay raise, cutting benefits. (Or, sometimes, giving you more of these things.) That’s why I advocate negotiating your salary and benefits at every opportunity, too.

I like traveling to places where haggling is expected. And in a country like the U.S. where it’s not the norm, those who are willing to bargain get better prices. And that’s what this site is all about! 🙂

Wayne K
Wayne K

Good post and reminder. If you do not evaluate your bills periodically you are leaving money on the table. @Tyler – I follow your line of reasoning but I see “asking for discounts” as ensuring you are in line with the current market prices. As in the post, or my experiences with cell phones home/auto insurance, cable, etc…if you do not ask you oftern get left behind on an old plan or rate structure that is not to your advantage. I look at the process as asking for a discount and/or evaluating other options to ensure the best overall value.… Read more »

Dee
Dee

@ Brian C. #4

I, too, called AT&T to lower my rate plan and had 4,000 rollover minutes they said I would lose. I argued that I had paid for those minutes so there was no reason I should lose them.

The woman then said I could keep 1,000 and I said that still wasn’t good enough, since I had paid for all of the minutes. She spoke with a supervisor and then said I could keep all 4,000.

So just ask.

Jake
Jake

We did that when we upgrade to HD service. Verizon wanted to charge $40/month more and we talked them down to $10/month and got a bump in internet speed to boot. All we had to do was keep saying ‘No.’

Glh
Glh

I work in retail and though I work on commision, I’m always glad to help a client out with available deals. Unless the client is rude and demanding. Please ask your sales person nicely. We’d like help you, but not when you’re rude to us. And remember we may be paid less for cutting you a deal, so say thanks. Customer service can be trying on the other side, too.

Suba
Suba

Yes. Always ask if you are eligible for any kind of discount. A lot of phone companies have employer discount. Even if you don’t work for one of those companies, look for other ways. For example, T-mobile gives a discount for all AAA members, 12% off the normal bill. That is a good chunk for not changing anything in your plan. And as @KC(#5) mentioned, insurance is another one that pays very well for shopping around. I just called my insurance company to change our address. Turned out adding renter’s insurance for $19 a month will give a $250 bundle… Read more »

William
William

Thanks for reminding me to do this again JD. (I need to add a recurring calendar event…)

My wife called AT&T and was able to switch us to another plan for our Wireless phone service that will save us $25 a month on our unlimited text messaging and provide unlimited data for all five phones on our plans.

Should save us about $200 a year.

Deborah M
Deborah M

It seems it pays to keep customer service agents engaged in conversation, too. Although I wasn’t negotiating a discount for car/house insurance at the time, I called our insurer last year to get explanations of some of the changes on our policy…asked alot of questions, and the rep was very patient. In the end, as we were closing the conversation, he added “and just for being such a good client, we’re going to reduce your premium by $x”. It worked out to about 7%. I’m obviously a nincompoop and should have asked for a discount before signing off. Does anyone… Read more »

Stephan
Stephan

def a true statement that noone cares more about your money than you. Keep this in mind, every business you deal with wants to make as much money as possible. On the other hand, i cant believe some of these companies. To sell your grandmother phone and internet for more than the other package is not illegal, but definitely immoral.
Preferred Financial Services

Branden
Branden

Rachel had a good point. That $20 a month may not seem like a big deal, but the $240 a year is significant.

My wife and I called each of our service providers late last year and asked for discounts on the services. Most knocked anywhere from $3 – $5 off the exact same service we already had, just because we asked. I think the grand total came to about $30, or $360 per month.

Nick
Nick

Dink, you are right, Comcast does yield pretty easily. I called up and mentioned that I was thinking of changing internet providers due to the price going up and they immediately gave me a reduction with no contract.

Most providers don’t have a problem charging a lower price, they just want to keep the customer. You are not paying for a physical product, just a service. The infrastructure is already built with all the sunk costs included. As long as they don’t lose you, they’re happy.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski

I’m surprised people actually enjoy haggling while traveling, I’ve always found it to one of the worst parts of the whole experience. Every single interaction starts with a 3-minute argument. It’s exhausting and frustrating arguing driver after driver down from 200 rupees to 50 for the same rickshaw ride every day for three weeks, and it’s just as annoying when they all insist that the legally-required meter for fares is broken (because it enforces a flat rate). Most everyone I’ve met who’s had this experienced hasn’t enjoyed it, but then I guess I probably *should* have expected differently from GRS… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole

Tyler– That’s actually not true. The average person CAN’T rely on salary and benefits changing in their favor over the lifetime. You’re getting NOMINAL wages mixed up with REAL wages. My real wage went down last year despite a pay raise. My health insurance costs also went up by more than the university’s payment of my health insurance costs. Employers generally don’t cut nominal wages– many people think they’re getting a raise when they’re actually getting a paycut. That’s why we need a little inflation to keep the wheels of the economy greased… it makes workers productive and happy even… Read more »

Debbie M
Debbie M

I hate negotiating, but I’ve managed to do it twice this week. Once I was at a used book store and wanted a book that had no price tag. I asked the cashier to tell me the price and he clearly just made one up on the spot ($6). I didn’t want to pay that much, so I decided to go back to the book buying department and at least tell them the book had no price and see if they could figure out a price for me. They told me $4, which I said was too much. Then they… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski

@Nicole: I’m not getting nominal and real wages mixed up. In a conversation about negotiation, the effects of inflation are immaterial. Sure, if there’s inflation and your pay rate stays the same, you make effectively less, but at the same time, your non-renegoitiated phone contract also costs effectively less. I’m ignoring inflation because you can’t negotiate or haggle with it, not because I think it doesn’t exist. Besides, in the current economy you could argue that inflation has been negative recently — look how much more house you can buy for the same amount of money than a few years… Read more »

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

I get $25 a month off our cable bill just because I asked for a break. This works.

Nicole
Nicole

I have a lot of work to do this morning so I’m just going to say that I hope the Econ PhD from Stanford who actually does Macro chimes in this time like he did on the last debate about inflation. I would love to spend more time discussing the importance of inflation and other labor market bargaining aspects but it will have to wait for another day.

Shel
Shel

So true- I recently shaved money off my phone bill just by checking; the rate for my plan had lowered substantially from when I first opened the account, but without asking they just billed me the same.

chacha1
chacha1

I hate haggling. And I confess I’m just disinclined to spend any time calling up service providers to ask for discounts – not least because calls of that nature often have to be done during business hours when, hello, I’m at work. I don’t even call my broker from the office! Or – in my opinion, worse – you end up on the phone for over an hour while you ask to speak to the next higher-up person. Ugh. If we ever feel like renegotiating rates, I turn the job over to self-employed and self-scheduling DH. He likes doing the… Read more »

elisabeth
elisabeth

Recently one of our credit cards’ expiration date changed and so we got a somewhat cranky call from our DSL provider about updating it. I was surprised, then, that when I called with the new expiration date and asked about a lower rate I got one. But, a lot of times I don’t ask for a discount: if I think that a price is fair and I’m willing to pay it, especially when I’m dealing with a local, non-chain vendor. Cable companies on the other hand, should be more highly regulated in my opinion — we should all be protected… Read more »

Lars
Lars

Tyler, As for inflation being negative this year, that’s what my boss told me when I didn’t get a raise. But a negative CPI doesn’t change the fact that my rent and tolls went up too. Rent by 4%, tolls by 50%. Just like I can’t use increased rents to prove that inflation was positive last year, it doesn’t mean that you can use decreased housing prices to prove that inflation was negative either. And no, I’m not living more comfortably this year for the same price than I was last year. Imperfect as it is, that’s why they have… Read more »

Shara
Shara

@Tyler I’ve got your back! 😉 Inflation adjusted wages go up because a worker’s value goes up. Otherwise people entering the market would make the same as the people doing the same job who already have experience. I also agree that constant haggling is exhausting. I also think that often people who haggle make themselves annoying. I remember a couple weeks ago a guest poster asking if he should go back and ask for an even better deal on his trike. I said at the time that if you want an ongoing relationship with a company that isn’t the way… Read more »

Stella
Stella

I wrote about this very same topic a while ago. People would be surprised at how many things are negotiable (Heck, my Dad’s been known to haggle with the sales associate at Macy’s to get a discount on a pair of pants!). The best time to score a deal with your current cable, phone or other service provider is when your contract is coming up for renewal. And if you don’t like what they’re offering, tell them to cancel your account. Then you get passed over to the “retention department” and will be amazed at how much they’re willing to… Read more »

Wayne K
Wayne K

@elisabeth – It is true that some of these negotiable items are luxuries. But I’ve had good luck with insurance and credit cards.

For those that dislike haggling or believe it to be annoying – It’s personal opinion and your choice but, to me, that is like buying a new car at the sticker price.

Kathy
Kathy

Great post. I ask for whatever I can, within reason. All they can say is sorry, no. And at least you have tried. And ladies, you can ask for samples at many of the stores you go to. It’s a great perk.

Sam
Sam

I called Comcast the other day and saved $180 over the next 12 months by asking for a discount. If you’re paying full-price for Comcast you need to call them right away. Here is what you need to do: 1) Talk to Comcast customer service and complain about your bill (ie. “I’m paying too much and this is just too expensive for cable/internet.”) 2) Next, ask for a discount and when the customer service person says they can’t do anything tell them you want to cancel your service and have them transfer you to the account retention/cancellation department. 3) Explain… Read more »

Peggy
Peggy

Every two months, our phone company sends us a letter saying “Call now for your free account review!” I’m sure that they are trying to upsell us to pricier services, rather than actually save us money.

Sam
Sam

Yesterday I called a friend after work. He said he’d just been at Best Buy and bought a car alarm. But he didn’t just buy a car alarm, he bought the top-of-the-line Viper alarm with keyless entry, remote ignition, and the whole nine yards. I asked if he’d gotten a discount and he said “No.” I told him I’d be right there and to stay put. Having worked at Best Buy I knew that car audio and car alarms have A LOT of profit margin so my friend should have asked for a discount. When I got to Best Buy… Read more »

Sam
Sam

Having worked in retail stores for several years I’ve heard MANY people ask for a discount. Sometimes I gave people a discount and sometimes I didn’t. Fact is, most people don’t know how to ask for a discount and most people aren’t very nice about it. Anytime you ask for a discount BE NICE. You don’t deserve a discount. Any discount you get is being done as a favor to you by the employee or manager you are working with. They are under NO obligation to discount. BUT if you are polite, ask nicely and offer a compelling argument, they… Read more »

Samantha
Samantha

Has anyone ever had their bluff called when they say, “fine, just cancel the service”?

AT&T internet is terrible here but it’s the only game in town. I pay $40 and intro rate is $25 (not even OFFERED at the time I started my account 8 months ago!). But I’m hesitant to bluff my way through cancelling, because 1) they know this is my only option for internet service and 2) I would hate to explain to my roommates that we don’t have internet anymore.

KarenJ
KarenJ

This came at just the right time for me. I recently learned that my “promotional rate” of $150 a month for the Comcast Triple Play is expiring and I was planning on calling to find out if I can do better. Anticipating that my bill will be higher next month, I absolutely refuse to pay a dime more than what I’m paying now, and I’m ready to put my money where my mouth is! Recently went into Sprint and found out there was a plan that saved us $100 a month. It’s definitely worth it to take a few minutes… Read more »

Budgie
Budgie

This includes insurance premiums, too. Currently getting quotes for a homeowners/auto insurance bundle after having my premiums raised for the second year in a row.

TR
TR

@Sam

Spoken like a true salesman: “You don’t deserve a discount. Any discount you get is being done as a favor to you by the employee or manager you are working with. They are under NO obligation to discount.”

You don’t deserve my business. I’m doing you a favor by choosing to buy from you. If you don’t give me a fair price, you lose my business – now and in the future. I’m under NO obligation to buy from you.

shares