It’s bad enough to pay through the nose every month for things like cable, cellphone service and gym memberships. Even worse? The sneaking suspicion that you could probably negotiate a better deal if you only you had the time, knew who to talk to and had the right words to say.
According to a recent survey by the Leichtman Research Group, average monthly spending on pay-TV is now nearing $100 monthly, up nearly 40 percent since 2010. Until recently, you had only two ways to save: reduce services (including cutting the cable entirely) or hop on the phone and negotiate a better deal.
These days you’ve got a third option: Bring on a hired gun to do the tough talking for you.
Companies like BillCutterz and BillFixers will call any number of service providers and see if they can get you a better deal. If they can’t, it costs you nothing. If they can, they earn half the savings they achieve in the first year.
Companies they’ll work with include:
- Pay TV
- Gym memberships
- Pest control
- Security services
- Satellite radio
- Trash service
In short, they’ll deal with just about any company you write checks to monthly.
Does it work?
In the video above I interview Fred Frost, a highly satisfied BillCutterz customer. He’s the perfect prospect. Fred owns five vacation rental homes, each of which has a maxed-out Comcast cable package. Since joining BillCutterz in 2014, he says his total cable savings have exceeded $4,000, split equally between him and the company. Not a bad deal for either party.
He also had them take a look at a few other bills, but he said the savings they were able to achieve weren’t enough to bother with.
As you know if you’ve ever tried to get a better deal on cable, the savings you negotiate typically arise from special promotional offers that span months or years. When that offer expires, however, if you don’t call the company back and negotiate another one, your bill will once again increase. Fred explained that a key advantage to BillCutterz was that they keep track of expiring offers and automatically call Comcast at the right time to keep his savings intact.
The reporter joins the story
In most stories I report, I let the subjects tell the story. But since I’m also paying Comcast a hefty monthly fee — including a recent $30 monthly increase just to maintain my existing data plan – I thought I’d try BillCutterz for myself.
I contacted BillCutterz as a regular customer. The process was fairly straightforward. After registering on their site and uploading a recent Comcast bill, I got an email from my personal negotiator, Tony. Here’s the entire email:
Thank you for your interest in saving money with BillCutterz. To help make your negotiations go quicker, please answer the following questions so we can get the best savings for you, or you can schedule an appointment for a new account consultation and we’ll give you a call at your convenience.
Our promise to you is if we don’t save you any money, then there is no charge to you. If we do save you money, we split the savings with you for the first 12 months. This means you get 50% of the savings, and we get 50% of the savings. So if we save you $20 per month for 12 months, you get $10 and we get $10 each month. If we save you money for longer than one year, we only split the savings with you for the first 12 months and everything else is all yours.
1. Do you have any questions about BillCutterz promise/fee?
2. For security purposes please provide the last 4 digits of your social security number. (This will only be used to verify your accounts with service providers.)
3. About how long have you been with each of your providers?
4. Please provide any security codes or PINs associated with your accounts that we may need when speaking with your service providers (not website login passwords).
5. Would you agree to a contract or a contract extension with your providers to save money?
6. Are you satisfied with your current services with your providers? If not please explain.
7. Is there any additional information about your accounts or bills that you think would be helpful with your negotiation?
If you have any other questions, I’m happy to help. You can reply to this email or give me a call at (855) 395-SAVE.
After answering these questions, the next step was to notify Comcast that Tony was authorized to act in my behalf. This we did in a very brief three-way call with Comcast. Tony called me and conferenced in Comcast, I told them Tony was authorized, and I was off the phone in less than five minutes.
Then I sat back and awaited my results. Since my Comcast bill is about $260 monthly, my expectations were high. There had to be fat to cut somewhere.
Can’t win ’em all
A few days later, Tony called me back to give me the bad news. The only savings Comcast offered was $10 monthly, and that was only available if I agreed to sign a new two-year contract.
Since I’m hoping that a better alternative to Comcast will appear in my neighborhood within two years (Where are you, Google Fiber?), I wasn’t about to sign a two-year extension for those paltry savings.
Tony did say, however, that he’d like to try again in a couple of months. He knows that calling companies like Comcast can often yield different results depending on who answers the phone and when you call.
Bottom line: Should you bite?
While services like BillCutterz and BillFixers are relatively new, the concept of hiring someone as an advocate isn’t. Attorneys, accountants, credit counselors: The world is full of people who are trained to tilt the negotiating odds in your favor.
If you’re ever on trial in a criminal proceeding, my advice to pay as much as you possibly can for a superb advocate. But when it comes to negotiating your bills? On that the jury is out.
While I didn’t ask Tony for his qualifications as a negotiator, my assumption is that, other than experience, he’s probably no better qualified to secure a positive Comcast outcome than you or I. Six years ago, I negotiated aComcast discount on-camera in 13 minutes.
The most effective way to get a discount on anything, from your cable company to your yard service, is to find a better deal elsewhere, then use that as leverage to get a better deal from your existing provider. It’s not rocket science.
But if you’re not going to do that, then you should do this. It only takes a few minutes and I have to admit: It does feel cool to have a hired gun in your corner.