Moving Tips: How to get a better price on existing services

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on December 11, 2007 · 5 comments

We’re in the process of moving. I called Time Warner to move my internet service to my new address, but when they answered, I told them I want to cancel the internet service instead. I don’t want to cancel (though I truley was considering it), so why did I do this? To get connected to the customer “retention” department.

Why the retention department? Because they are the ones who are authorized to negotiate a better deal that the one I currently receive. If I simply move the service, they will keep charging me the same rate. But by telling them I need to cancel and that I’m thinking about switching to AT&T DSL, that results in my being transferred to the “retention” department, though they don’t say that.

Once the retention person has me on the line, it’s their job to talk me out of switching to DSL. It’s my job to play hard to get. End result, they talked me into staying and dropped my monthly bill from $44.95 to $34.95 for the next 12 months, at which time it will go back up. But I’ll take the $120, and I enjoyed dealing with the better trained, more knowledgeable customer service rep (they don’t put newbies in the retention department).

This works the same way with your cell phone provider. If you’ve completed your 1 or 2 year term and have no intention of switching providers any time soon, call in and tell them you need to cancel. You’ll be sent over to a retention specialist whose job it is to talk you out of canceling. In doing so, if you hold out long enough during the conversation, they will eventually offer you a pretty sweet deal, with a better plan and a free new phone. Several years ago, I had the monthly fee for my Pitney Bowes postal machine cut by more than 50% by making one of these calls.

These businesses know that it is far cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Wireless companies spend more than $600 per new customer acquired. If they can spend less than that to keep you, it makes good business sense.

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