It’s amazing what you can get if you just ask for it. It’s just as amazing how many people hesitate to ask for what they want or need. After my cable company’s last notice of a rate increase, I called their Customer Service number and, after much button-pushing, actually found a human being to speak to. I explained that the increase pushed their service out of my comfort level and wanted to discuss what line items I could eliminate to lower my bill. Unable to satisfy my wants vs. needs, and possibly fearing I might cancel my subscription and defect to satellite service, she offered to give me a $15 a month credit for 3 months to give me time to decide what to keep and what to dump. Not quite the equivalent of having all six lottery numbers, but it worked. We both felt like we had at least won the battle, if not the war. (I immediately shared this story with friends who use the same cable provider; it worked for them, too!)
Armed with this little bit of incentive, I tried the same thing with my telephone company (yes, I still have a land line), resulting in a better bundle with unlimited long distance on my fax line. Rubbing my palms together with anticipation, my cell phone provider became my next quarry. No actual savings were harvested, but for the same money, I negotiated more minutes and additional features by switching to a newer package. I was liking this!
These companies don’t advertise they’ll do these things for you. You have to ask for it. But if you liberally sprinkle your request with “Please” and “Thank You”, and phrases like “I need your help”, you’re going to leave the bargaining table at least temporarily satisfied.
It doesn’t end just yet…Feeling empowered by my successes, I went to bat for a client who could no longer sustain their full-page contract in a pretty, but pricey magazine. They had asked about canceling the contract, but their sales rep was trying to hold their feet to the fire, no doubt in the interest of job security. Surprise! To salvage the relationship, and realizing that less revenue was significantly better than zero, we remedied the situation with a compromise to reduce the size of the ad while fulfilling the remainder of the agreement. It didn’t have to be an all-or-nothing resolution; everybody won. The client was able to maintain visibility within a tighter budget. The sales rep understood the forward equity in keeping an account that will no doubt grow back to its former size as the economy improves. I looked like a hero.
Try it. And I’d love to hear about your little victories.