You have the right to negotiate your internet bill if you have the patience to spend 10 minutes (this is not an exact science) of your day on the phone. Who knew?!
Nature of the challenge: Mental
Was the outcome worth the effort: Yes
Level of difficulty: Easy (after the initial hurdle of doing it)
- Easy to get
- No charger
- Left handed use only
- Supports only Apple products
- Low storage
moved back to the United States a couple years ago after many years living abroad. I hadn’t had to set up my internet or utilities, register my car, or decide on a cell phone carrier in over a decade. So imagine my joy when I was forced down this road once again, this time as an adult (as opposed to a student) with liability and a kid in tow. Timidly, I started to research all the things I needed for this U.S. version of #adulting. I could write a dissertation about my findings (and my opinions) about our system, but (for the sake of this story’s length and your time) I’m going to focus on the shock I felt when I realized my internet bill was negotiable.
I had just left Senegal where any time you wanted fresh vegetables, you engaged in a beautiful dance of banter and barter at the local market. Negotiating is something I knew well. I just didn’t know I could do it over the phone with an operator. I imagined a call center with a kind but robotic person sitting in what I imagined was a massive concrete building, insulated from my demands by multiple layers of bureaucracy.
I had ask for the best deal available when I set up my internet, so had received what they dubbed an “exclusive” new customer deal (yeah, right). I was so happy to have internet that I didn’t bother to imbibe the fine print. If I had, I wouldn’t have been surprised when a year later my bill bumped itself up by $20 more per month. This is when I learned about the art of negotiating utilities.
A part of me was scared to call. Mainly because my roll-over-and-play-dead side was saying, “they practically have a monopoly, you need the internet, what are they going to do about it? Why waste your precious time calling and getting the runaround?” However, my practical side was saying, “this isn’t fair, it’s ridiculously overpriced, you should say something.” The practical side clearly won, because $20 x 12 months =$240, and let’s be honest, I really wanted to go to the Bahamas for my kid’s spring break, and that was basically the cost of a hotel room on Bimini for four days. #lifegoals
When I called, the operator said he was sorry, and that my exclusive deal was only for a year. The finality in his voice left me feeling dejected and on the verge of admitting defeat. But then my practical instinct again reminded me that there were other internet companies around, eager for my business. I then said so much. This basic observation picked the lock; the operator didn’t want to be the one to lose a customer. “Oh no, Ms. Papworth, hold on a moment. Let me see what’s available in your area.” And sure enough, after a quick little search, voila! My old deal reappeared.
So I was happy. I protected a little bit of my money every year that would otherwise disappear from my pocket. And then I went to Bimini, snorkeled over the “rocks of Atlantis”, rented a golf cart and drove on the wrong side of the road while searching for the best seafood BBQ I’ve ever had….just sayin’. This year: Rome is calling….
I overcame my fear of calling the first time and then gritted my teeth and made the effort to do it again the second year. #repetition #resilience
Now, this has become my annual dance. They bump up my bill after 12 months, and I call to see “what they can do for me.” By the second time it was a game– within 10 minutes I had an extra $5 off the normal discount. In the interest of saving myself time, I did ask if they could just make my special rate indefinite because ‘I do this every year’ (a bold move on my part), but that was above this woman’s paygrade.
I felt so empowered, self-reliant, and resilient! I finally cracked the system. They are banking on people’s fear (flashback to my rollover-and-play-dead self), and natural aversion to entering the automated “customer service” phone tree maze of death. Extrapolate that over hundreds of thousands of customers, and you have a very sweet business model. With a little mental shift, it’s important to remember that we are customers living in a capitalistic system where profit is king. Capitalism is built off of competition and certain rules of engagement, therefore–you guessed it–you have access to a market full of deals. With a little bit of grit and fearlessness, I learned there is no harm in asking. The worst they can do is say no, and then it’s my choice if I buy the product or not.
My new I-actually-understand-how-things-work mentality has seriously benefitted from making that silly call. Now, in other aspects of #adulting I am more inclined to ask for a better deal, be more honest about how I liked my food at a restaurant, or return things I wouldn’t have bothered to in the past because all of a sudden I realized, it’s all just a game.