You feel that you are being overcharged for your cable or cell phone services, yet have trouble pinpointing exactly why. Providers are offering a dizzying variety of package deals that may or may not be the best package for your services, depending on your usage patterns and the fine print buried in the agreements. Other subscription services like home alarm systems and satellite radio may be set on autopay and completely escape your scrutiny until the bill is paid.
Who has time to negotiate a better deal? You may not have the time, but help may be available if you are willing to share your negotiated savings. BillFixers and similar companies were created to negotiate a better deal for you on your behalf and split the savings with you.
BillFixers not only negotiates for you, they seek all forms of promotional and special rates, loyalty discounts, and available credits. The end result is that they usually save you money for the standard rate of 50% of the first year's savings. BillFixers claims to locate some savings 95% of the time.
When you sign up with BillFixers, you are authorizing the company to "act as an agent on your behalf." You have the further option to add BillFixers as additional authorized users to your account. Otherwise, BillFixers will pose as you when they call the billing entity — a legal but ethically murky tactic.
At this point, BillFixers is not set up to deal with the most maddening and bureaucratic of payments —medical bills and insurance bills/claims. Anyone who has attempted to decipher medical/insurance paperwork would happily open up their wallet to have someone negotiate savings on their behalf. Other bills that are not yet in BillFixers' repertoire include mortgage/rent, credit card and debt services, automobile payments, and legal fees.
Note that BillFixers is negotiating future savings, not past due bills. There are other online tools to get help with those issues.
BillFixers is like many other services — they are charging you to do something that you could do yourself if you chose to. Granted, you may not have the time, expertise, temperament, or communication skills to do the job properly, but BillFixers and their brethren in the field are not doing anything novel. These services live off convenience and the skills learned by repeated negotiation.
If you would prefer negotiating by yourself, here are few of the patterns that any negotiator, including BillFixers, is likely to use.
- Threaten Cancellation – This is the threshold to get a provider's attention. Most have retention services staffs that are able to offer deals. Once you pass that initial threshold, the real negotiation can begin.
- Be Polite – Customer service people frequently take abuse. Be polite and do not be in a hurry. Those two steps will gain valuable negotiating points.
- Research Alternatives – Simply saying, "I want a better deal" will get a poorer response than "Company X offers this deal that is better than yours."
- Beware Commitments – Many deals come with a longer commitment term. Avoid longer commitments and contracts whenever possible.
- Document Details and Confirm – After a successful negotiation, call back and verify the terms. Things may not be entered correctly into the system (or be adjusted after the fact).
If you find negotiating your own bill payments distasteful or too time consuming, bill-negotiating companies may be for you. These companies will serve a useful niche until the day comes when you can trust that companies are always offering you their best deal… which should happen by the First of Never.
If you want to settle outstanding debts for less than what you owe, join MoneyTips and try our Debt Optimizer tool.