How to Ask for a Discount

January 22, 2013

Let me start off by saying that there is a time and a place to ask for a discount. And what you’re asking for has to be reasonable. That being said, A LOT of people leave money on the table and walk away thinking that they got a good deal, and learning how to ask for a discount will save you hundreds, if not thousands.

Having worked in customer service when I was younger, I had people ask for a discount all the time, as a result, I’ve gotten used to walking in retail stores and asking to see if they are discounting anything. You’d be surprised at how often the people at the cash register will mark down something if you ask. It doesn’t work every time, but it works often enough that its worth the effort.

Instead of talking about general practices, I thought I might show how I deal with my telecommunications company.

Some background: I’ve been with this company since 2002, I have every service that they offer, and most of my services are high end. I don’t call to get credits for every little outage, and I have my bills setup on pre-authorized so I always pay on time.

Now these facts would put me in a different category than most clients. For 1, I spend close to $400 a month with them, so when I call and ask for things, they normally comply. That, however, should not stop you from asking for discounts. I haven’t paid full price in years.

How to ask for a discount

The trick is rather easy, and you can do it if you follow the steps below.

1) Do an audit of your services. Look at what you’re using monthly, what services are you paying for that you don’t need/want, and what you would rather have. Have this handy when you call.

2) Do your research. This means that you need to call or go online to find other service providers. You need to be quite aware of what promotions are running and how much you could save, so that you know what you’re doing when you ask for a discount.

3) Know when your contracts are ending. This is key and will help you if you need leverage.

4) Know exactly what you want. This is key because sometimes people get confused and get sold things that they don’t need. Remember, you’re asking for a discount, not a mansion. Be firm, but realistic.

4) Call the main customer service number of your provider and tell them politely that you’re shopping around for cheaper prices. Now at this point most customer service reps will try to sell you on the features and benefits of what you have, or attempt to up-sell you.

5) Tell the customer service rep that you’re looking to cancel as you think you have found cheaper prices elsewhere, and ask for a discount for your monthly services.

6) Get transfered to customer relations or loyalty team.

7) Tell them the prices that you’ve found, a list of services you need, and ask them what they can do for you. DON’T LIE. If you something for $30, and you’re paying $35, tell them the truth. Most companies have resources where they know what the lowest price their competitor is offering.

8) Don’t accept the first offer that you’re given. More often than not, reps are measured by the amount of clients they “save” thus they have mutli-tier back pocket discounts.  When they offer you something that’s close to what you want, but not quite there, tell them that.

9) Be reasonable. Asking to pay $20 for a $100 plan isn’t going to happen, but paying somewhere between $50-$60 is a possibility. You’re have to know the difference between how to ask for a discount/ lower monthly service, or something for free. I can’t stress this enough.

10) Be ok with being in a commitment. Chances are that if a company is going to give you 30-40% off your services they want you to stick around. Just make sure that the discount and the term are for the same length of time.

Key points: The discounts that you get are normally dependant on what you spend per month. A company would rather have you pay a little less then lose your entire account.  Loyalty also gets really far with most companies. Again, the key being that you don’t harass them every other day. Companies keep track of EVERY SINGLE INTERACTION, and if they see that you called in for a $2 credit, the chances of you getting a bigger discount diminishes rather quickly.

Know that companies worry about churn, and usually go out of their way to retain customers. But that doesn’t mean that they want to hold on to the bad apples. Each time you contact the company it costs them anywhere between $10-$23+ depending on the nature of your inquiry and how specialized the person that you spoke to was. If you’re paying $25 a month and call 4 times a month….well you do the math. There was a story a few years back where AT&T let go of 1000 high risk/churn customers.

AND FINALLY, remember to be nice, and polite. You’d be surprised at how far that goes. I’ve had people give me things that I know they were not authorized because we got along.

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  • Lance@MoneyLife&More January 22, 2013 at 9:50 am

    I think I might harass my cable company a bit too much and should lay off a bit. However, when they have me on hold for two hours to report an outage of all services I think I deserve more than a $5 credit… hopefully I have a good year with them and don’t have to call too often.

    • Marissa January 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      Chances are the cable company already knows that your services are out. Most of the agents are stressed out during that time, but if you note down that time and date and follow up the day after, you’ll get a better response.

  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup January 22, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I do this with my internet provider. They are always trying to get me to get more services, like cable, and I politely tell them no. I have called and just get them to push me to retentions, because that is where the discounts are. They can usually lower my bill for the year by 30% with just a few conversations. I do this every year in order to keep my bill competitive with other providers.

    • Marissa January 22, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      I think they expect customers to call do in and do that.

  • Ravi @Technology Blog January 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I Generally do not like to Bargain for Small amounts but sometimes Its necessary Because of too high rates, also vendors Purposefully increase the Prices so that they can get money from non-bargainers. thank you

  • John S @ Frugal Rules January 22, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Good post Marissa! Working in customer service myself years ago, it’s amazing how far a little politeness will take someone. I think the being ok with commitment is a key thing to keep in mind. We dealt with this last year with our satellite provider and we got some great value out of it.

    • Marissa January 22, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      Agreed! Chances that I am not going to go thru the hassle of switching to a different company, so I might as well commit and save money.

  • Melissa January 22, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I never thought of asking for a discount. These are some great tips I will use in the future!

  • Newlyweds on a Budget January 22, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I am always ask for the best rates but never really use the word discount. I have closed accounts though, like internet and car insurance, over what I perceived to be rip-offs. This is a good way to really break it down on asking for a discount though

    • Marissa January 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      I straight up ask them because I know they have better deals.

  • Canadian Budget Binder January 22, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I call our cable company every year and ask for a discount because I can. They offer discounts but only if you ask and talk to the retentions department. Your tips are spot on and one of the most important is to know our services and have info ready about what other companies are offering us. We have been with the same provider for many years now, my wife alot longer and they are good to us. Half price internet this year, free pvr and a host of other discounts… plus they even let us keep a PVR for free. Always ask! Great Post.

    • Marissa January 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      Are you with Rogers 😉

  • Brian @frugallyminded January 22, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    This is great advice. Sometimes it just takes a call and a bit of your time to get a discount. I’ve gotten my cable bill back down to its original rate.

    • Marissa January 22, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      And all it takes is a few mins of your time.

  • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies January 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Definitely know when you have a good deal and keep your mouth shut. We pay ~$13/month for our DSL as there are discounts applied to our account that should have expired 6 months ago. So when the internet is a little slow… we don’t call to complain because we don’t want anyone to take our discounts away over something small.

    • Marissa January 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      I do that all the time too!

  • KK@Student Debt Survivor January 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    We recently did this with Hertz on Demand. The car they promised us was not available (literally was not on the street when we arrived to pick it up). It was really frustrating because it was freezing cold and we walked about 10 blocks to get there. BF was sweet as pie with the rep and let her know how much we appreciated her setting up another car for us. She appreciated how kind and understand he was and ended up giving us the whole reservation for free (we’d only asked for 30 minutes to be added to the reservation because we had to wait for another car to return). We felt good and she felt good. Win-win.

    • Marissa January 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      Aww thats awesome. Being nice gets you places.

  • Eddie January 23, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I pick and choose my battles. When it’s a good deal, I shut up. When I feel that I’m not getting what I deserve, I make the necessary calls.

    • Marissa January 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      I’m like that too.

  • Marie at Family Money Values January 23, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Nice! American’s aren’t trained to bargain. I know I never was at least. I am starting to learn (late in life). I just negotiated away an increase in my satellite bill and nailed a discount on a piece of furniture AND free delivery to a destination several hundred miles away. That said, it was so easy, I wonder if I should have pushed for more…I may have left money on the table.

    • Marissa January 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      It is a foreign concept for most. That is why I normally offer to do it.

  • Catherine January 24, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Every six or so months I do the exact same thing and usually with great success. Here in NS there are only 2 providers for TV/Internet so not a whole lot of competition but I still always try and like I said, usually works. I recently managed to have them decrease my bill by 30.00/month for 6 months- 180.00 they don’t need!

    • Marissa January 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Great job! Don’t forget that there is competition online as well.

  • Nimeshka June 6, 2013 at 3:01 am

    I landed here from Google, searching for how to request for a discount.
    actually what I wanted to know was how can I mention it in a document is a proper way. But this is a whole bunch of knowledge about the topic. thanks for this. Good luck!