How to Negotiate Your Internet Bill
There are many reasons why you may be looking for ways to negotiate your internet bill. Perhaps you’ve been with your provider for quite some time and the price has increased to a point you’re no longer comfortable with. Maybe you’ve discovered that your current provider is offering better prices to new customers than existing ones. Or maybe you’re coming to the end of your contract and want to get ahead of any price hikes before they happen.
No matter the reason, getting properly prepared before attempting to negotiate your internet bill is key. Not sure where to start? We can help! We’ve gathered some tips and tricks to make the negotiating process a smooth and hopefully successful one.
Steps to take before negotiating your bill
Know your “why”
It’s no secret that, in general, internet service providers (ISPs) have notoriously low customer satisfaction ratings compared to other industries. So, being very clear about the reason(s) why you want to negotiate your bill will help you push through what might be long wait times on hold, getting bounced around to different departments, and the overall uncomfortable process that negotiating a bill can create.
Be clear about your reason(s) so that you can stand your ground.
Prepare the facts about your account history
Before you begin negotiating, make sure you know the facts about your account history with the provider. Have you been with them for 10 months or more? Are you near or at the end of your contract? Have you made all of your payments on time?
If the details are in your favor, you can use them as leverage during the negotiation process. If, on the other hand, you’ve only been with the company a few months, have many months to go on your contract, or have had some late payments in the past, be aware that the ISP may use these details to justify not budging on price.
The more positive points you can gather in your favor, the better.
Research your provider’s contract and/or introductory terms
While it wasn’t long ago that most ISPs required at least a 12-month contract, many big-name companies such as AT&T, Cox, CenturyLink, Frontier, and Google Fiber now offer month-to-month services with no contract required.
If your ISP did not require a contract when you signed up for the service, then paying early cancellation fees should you decide to cancel is one less thing to worry about during the negotiation process. And this also gives you a little more leverage for negotiating costs now versus at or near the end of a contract.
But also be aware that many no-contract ISPs offer “introductory” rates which may only last 12 months before you see price increases. Also note that if you are trying to get ahead of the price hike, they may ask you to sign a contract to keep your price from rising.
Before you make the call, be sure you’re clear about what you are, and are not, comfortable with. Are you okay with signing a contract to avoid a price hike or to bring the price down? And if you aren’t, make sure you have a contingency plan should you decide to move forward with cancelling.
Know the competitors (or lack thereof) in your area
A 2021 Washington Post article about the soaring cost of internet bills pointed out that more than 200 million people live in areas with access to only one or two internet providers. Do ISPs use lack of competition to their advantage? Or course they do!
For this reason, do some research in your market to find out which ISPs are available, as well as their package options. If there is competition, you’ll have more leverage and can also decide which ISP you are going to switch to should your internet bill negotiations not go as you hoped.
If there is no competition for your current ISP, your next step will be to find out what kind of deals your ISP is currently offering to new customers.
Find out what your ISP is offering to new customers
Are new customers getting a better deal than you are as an existing customer? If they are, you have some leverage. You are well within your rights to request that you be given the same price as new customers.
Not sure what deals new customers may be getting? Try calling your ISP’s new customer line to find out what they have to offer. If the deal turns out to be something better than your current package, you can ask them to apply those prices to your current account.
Decide if cancellation is truly an option
Before you pick up the phone, make sure you know if you are truly ready to cancel or not. If you live in an area with little or no competition, canceling might not be a great option. You certainly don’t want negotiations to come to the point of cancellation and then have nowhere to go.
If you decide ahead of time how much you are willing to push, you’ll be better prepared to hold your ground without accidentally getting yourself into a no-more-internet situation.
Remember, your ISP doesn’t want to lose your business
Whether there is competition in your area or not, your ISP does not want to lose your business. A recent study found that it costs ISPs an average of $315 per new subscriber acquisition. This means that depending on your monthly bill amount, it may take your ISP several months to a year to simply break even on their customer acquisition costs.
It costs an ISP less to hang on to current customers than to go get new ones, so your business is important to the company’s bottom line.
But also remember that the customer service representative you’re speaking with may not care about the company’s bottom line.
Be patient and polite
Is negotiating a bill fun? Most people would agree that the answer is, absolutely not. Is working a customer service job where you’re talking to frustrated customers who are either trying to negotiate or cancel their account all-day fun? Also, no.
Though negotiating your internet bill may be uncomfortable and even frustrating, it’s likely the person on the other end of the conversation isn’t having the time of their life, either. If you can remain patient and polite throughout the process – you have a much better chance of achieving your goal.
Simple phrases such as “please” and “thank you” are scientifically proven to make a difference in your overall experience with a customer service representative. So don’t forget your manners.
What to say during negotiation
After you’ve done your research and gathered all of the information needed to have a polite conversation with your ISP’s customer service department, the next step is to make the call. But what should you say?
If you’re in a market with multiple ISPs and are comfortable with canceling if your current provider can’t or won’t help you lower your bill, you might want to start with:
“Hello, I’ve noticed many of your competitors in my area are offering lower-cost internet packages. I’d like to speak with you about options for lowering my current bill, please.”
- Be prepared with facts like your tenure as a client, your payment history, and the options and prices that competitors in the area are offering.
- At this point, the customer service representative may or may not have the authority to make you offers. If they do not have the authority to lower your bill, ask to speak with a supervisor.
If you don’t make any headway, say you’d like to cancel. It’s okay if you’re bluffing – remember, your ISP doesn’t want to lose you as a customer so making this statement gives you a bit more leverage.
Once you’ve politely but firmly stated your intention to cancel, you’ll most likely be forwarded to a customer service representative whose job is to prevent you from canceling. They often have several different offers they can make – but they also have the discretion to determine what they will or will not offer you. This is another reason why being polite and patient will serve you well.
Hold your ground and ask for what you want politely and firmly.
If you’re in a market with only one ISP and canceling isn’t an option, you might start with:
“Hello – I’ve been a customer for (x) months and noticed new customers are getting better pricing than I am. I’d like to talk about having new customer discounts applied to my current account.”
- If you’re in this situation, you’ll have a lot less leverage than if you live in a competitive market, so make sure you come to the negotiating table with as many leverage points as possible like being a long-time customer, paying your bills on time, etc.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What information should I have prepared before I try to negotiate my internet bill?
- Have a clear understanding of your negotiation goal.
- Know your current monthly bill amount, what it started at and/or what you’d like to get it down to.
- Know how long you’ve been a customer and your payment history.
- Be aware of any contract requirements.
- Know who the competitors are in the area and what they offer new clients (if applicable).
- If there are no other competitors in the market, find out what your ISP is currently offering to new customers so you can ask them to match.
What should I do and not do when trying to negotiate my internet bill?
- Be prepared with your negotiation points and be prepared to respond to theirs.
- Be stern, but don’t be rude.
- Be polite, even if the person on the other end of the conversation isn’t giving you the same courtesy.
- Be patient with the process.
- Don’t be afraid to be persistent.
- Don’t be afraid to say you’re prepared to cancel.
Should I hire a company to do the negotiating for me?
Yes, it’s true. Some people loathe negotiating their bills so much that a whole crop of companies have materialized that will offer to do the negotiating for you. But is it worth it? Maybe. The answer depends on what is most important to you.
Bill negotiating companies will gladly step in on your behalf to do the work for you – but it comes at a cost. They’ll expect you to pay them a percentage of your savings which varies but is often between 25-50% of the savings. If you’re someone who truly hates the idea of negotiating and are okay with sharing some of the savings, this might be a great option for you.
But if you feel prepared and capable of doing the talking, save yourself some money and do the negotiating yourself.
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