Negotiating a new telecom package need not be painful. Take it from a former carrier employee, it’s actually quite easy.
Globe and Mail reporter Rob Carrick recently wrote a piece called Why I hate renegotiating my telecom package in which he went over a lot of reasons why people don’t like calling their carriers and getting better pricing.
He’s right that it shouldn’t have to be this difficult, but the sad reality is that this is unlikely to change in the future.
Having worked in the industry, including for a short period of time with a major carrier’s “renewal team,” aka retentions, I feel that I can share some tips on how to get this done without the pain.
So let’s start
- Do your homework
Pay attention to the direct mail pieces that you get from the competition. The best time to negotiate for residential services is in mid-August to mid-September. Why? Back to school season means that they are all vying to lure university students with the best pricing. Wireless service can generally be negotiated at any time, but you have the most leverage at the end of your contract.
- Leave emotions at the door.
No matter how passionate you may feel about your telco’s customer service, don’t get emotional with the call centre rep. Whatever may have happened, they are personally not responsible for it. So treat the whole thing as a business transaction and really think of it like talking to your banker.
- Say the magic word.
Cancel, cancel, and did I say cancel? As soon as you get the first rep, dispassionately say you want to cancel, they are usually required to offer you some token amount but politely say no. It’s no secret that the first line of call centre reps are not going to be able to offer you a sweet heart deal, but they will only transfer you to retentions if you explicitly say you’re going to cancel. Don’t beat around the bush, just say the word.
- Don’t accept the first offer.
Let them make the first move, take a note of it, and tell them you’re going to call back. Make them recite the offer back to you and get their employee number to make sure that you’re in agreement.
- Call back and ask for better.
You may have been given a great offer, but try to ask for more. Stress the loyalty factor and the fact that (at least for residential services) they don’t have to send an installer. You may be maxed out, but chances are you can nibble a little more.
But why do all of this? Here’s why:
That monthly savings that seems like only a few dollars, is actually considerably more when you add it all up over time. And this is after tax dollars no less.
Considering that the whole process is going to typically take you about half an hour, you’re basically earning >$1000 per hour in tax free income.
At the risk of sounding like this is shameless self-promotion, the process is a little more complex for businesses and it is best to contact a telecom consultant to negotiate this for you. Often there are significant areas that business miss savings opportunities because they focus simply on reducing the monthly charges. There is usually a lot more involved to fully optimize costs. Like accounting, business telecom expense management is more of an art than a science.
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