Soccer Ball

It’s Amazing What You Can Get If You’re Willing to Ask

There are two general ways that we all spend money. There’s the stuff we buy infrequently, like cars and TVs. And then there’s the stuff we pay for every month, like the water bill and the cable bill. 

I have a passionate dislike of monthly bills and I try to avoid or minimize them as much as possible. Of course, there’s no avoiding some of them. Most of us need electricity and water. But then there are the discretionary ones. Magazine subscriptions (no thanks), the cable bill, and in our case, alarm monitoring. 

Most such service providers try to lure customers in with a temporary low rate. They figure once they have us, lethargy will set in, especially if we opt for auto-pay. We’ll just keep paying, even when the cost goes up. And we’ll even accept regular price hikes.

But I’ve found that many such service providers will work with you if you politely push back. That’s exactly what happened when I called about a recent ADT alarm monitoring rate increase.

The price was only going up by about $4 per month. A Whopping $48 per year. At least that’s how they must hope we’ll view such increases. It’s such a small amount. Why bother to complain? But it amounted to a 10% rate hike, which, in that context, seemed like a lot.

So I gave them a call and it was amazingly easy to get them to keep our price as it had been. The keys to success are: 1) Be willing to make a request, and 2) Be super polite. 

It’s been my experience that many people are hesitant to take that first step. It feels uncomfortable to make requests of people. Maybe it even feels rude.

But I think being willing to negotiate and question rate hikes is an important part of good stewardship. And besides, it’s amazing what you can get if you’re willing to ask. I say that phrase often enough that our kids usually finish the sentence if I get it started.

Here’s how my call went with ADT. 

ADT: “ADT customer service, this is Jennifer. How can I help?

Me: “Hi, Jennifer, my name is Matt Bell, I’m a customer and have a question about a recent rate increase that I was notified about. Would you mind pulling up my account?”

Jennifer: “Sure, just one minute. Okay, I have it. How can I help?”

Me: “As you can probably see, we’ve been customers for a long time—over 15 years. So I just wanted to see if there’s something you can do for me on this rate increase. 

Jennifer: “Let me look into it. Would you mind holding?” 

Me: “No problem.”

Jennifer: “Okay, I was able to remove the rate increase, so your bill will remain as it has been.”

Me: “That’s fantastic. Thank you very much.”

That was it. Nothing magical at all. Took all of 10 minutes. Saving $4 per month may not seem like a big deal, but if all of our bills went up by 10% every year, that would soon become a very big deal. 

Here’s another recent example of making a request in an effort to save money. One of our sons bought a soccer ball from Dick’s Sporting Goods a while back. After using it a lot for about six weeks, it developed a slow leak. Since it had been so long since he bought it and we no longer had the receipt, I thought there was less than a 50% chance that they would exchange it.

I actually felt hesitant about making this request but decided to give it a try anyway. In fact, I think my son said something like, “Remember, Dad, it’s amazing what you can get if you’re willing to ask.” Had me there!

I chose a time of day when I thought the store would be somewhat slow—around 2:30 on a weekday afternoon. Holding the well-used, dirty ball, I approached the cashier with a smile on my face and said, “I have a crazy question. We bought this ball here a while back and don’t have the receipt anymore. But it has a slow leak and I was wondering if there’s anything you can do for me.”

Since we’re members of their ScoreCard frequent shopper program, she was able to verify that we had bought the ball at that store. 

She called the manager over and I basically said the same thing over again. I was very polite, very friendly, and he ended up letting me exchange it for a new ball.  

I walked out thinking, it’s amazing what you can get if you’re willing to ask.

Have you made any similar requests recently? If so, please share the details. Or, if you’re hesitant to ask for deals or discounts, why?


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