BOSTON (CBS) – Paying household bills each month can be painful and many people might be paying more than they should.
Once a year, Chantay Bridges does her own version of a telethon. She calls every service provider she uses, including those for her cell phone, cable, insurance, and credit cards. She wants to make sure she is getting the best deal possible.
“I remind them of our credit scores. I remind them of our loyalty,” she said.
Some financial advisers even suggest calling a couple of times a year.
University of Hartford business professor Mitchell Weiss says companies don’t want to lose good customers. “It costs money to get them,” he explained. “It costs money to keep them. Why would you want to turn that over to a competitor?”
Roblee Hoffman, a personal finance administrator from Lexington, estimates a family can save $200-$1,200 a year renegotiating existing service contracts.
The first step is to review all monthly bills and then place calls to each of those companies.
Experts say a phone call is the most effective means of negotiating.
When you make that call, have 2-3 months’ worth of bills handy so you are precise about what you pay.
Don’t be afraid to remind companies who you are, said Hoffman. “Be a great customer. A great customer is one who has been with a company for a fair number of years and pays their bills on or before the due date and pays the full balance. “
It can be frustrating to call those 800 numbers and get the right person, or any person, on the line. But getting angry isn’t helpful. The best tact is to stay professional.
Hoffman added, “The only time to get confrontational or say to a company that you’re going to go to another service is when you’ve prepared it ahead of time and done your research to know there are other services available at greater cost savings.”
Chantay follows these rules and says it pays off. “It’s worth your time, and it’s worth your money.”