Does it pay to be a loyal customer?
You don’t get much in this life unless you ask. That’s definitely the case with your bank, your insurance company and utility companies. There’s a lot of money to be made there. And if we’re lazy, companies can maximise their profits.
Don’t let that be you. By playing hard to get, or by ‘rate tarting’ (that’s shopping around for a better rate), you can have your loyalty rewarded.
Understand your spending
Before you storm into your bank or phone your insurance company, take time to work out how much you’re spending now and the number and nature of the units/calls/fees that go to make up your bill.
Perhaps you’re making numerous nationwide phone calls or eating up too many megabytes a month on your broadband plan and a prepay deal could save you heaps.
We also have a new spend tracker tool – Money Simple. It helps you see where your money’s coming from and where it’s going, and helps you work out how to get the most out of what you have.
Compare and contrast
Once you know what you’re spending a month, how many kilowatts of energy you use, what the interest rate is on your savings and all the other data, you can get your mouse out and compare your current deal.
Shopping around is made easy with comparison sites, see our offers, Consumer PowerSwitch, canstar.co.nz or interest.co.nz. Or open a spreadsheet or get good old fashioned pen and paper out to do the comparison.
If there’s a new kid in town that’s advertising everywhere consider calling, or getting a quote online and see if you could do better. Sometimes their deals simply can’t be beaten.
Ask for a better deal
Now it’s time to pick up the phone and call your provider to see what they can do to keep your loyalty. “Can you give me a discount?” or “that’s too expensive” are very powerful words in the English language. Remember it costs them a lot more to gain a new customer than keep you. So try your luck.
There’s one really important rule when playing this game: that’s never be rude if you want a better deal. Call centre staff are human and will be motivated to help you if you’re polite.
If the call centre operator doesn’t have the authority to give you a discount as if the supervisor has the discretion to give you a discount?” you might just be successful.
Find out if there are other ways to save
If your existing supplier can’t or won’t give you a discount, then move onto Plan B. That’s asking them for other ways to cut your bill.
These companies release new plans and accounts all the time and they can analyse your existing spending and find the best deal for your personal circumstances.
It may be that there’s a new bank account available with reduced fees or your accounts can be reorganised to stop you being pinged with honour and dishonour fees.
Be careful, however, that you read and understand the fine print. Does the new insurance policy you’re being offered have the same cover as the last or are you agreeing to a new fixed term contract that you can’t break?
If all else fails: walk
Sometimes you just need to vote with your feet. If the opposition is offering a better deal and you’re sure you’re comparing apples with apples, then move. Hopefully your new supplier will value your new-found loyalty.
Do it all again
If you really want to win at this game, make a diary note to do it all again in 12 or 18 months time. Chances are there are better deals around again.
Lauren is Credit Simple's resident content guru, bringing you tips and tricks to help you take control of your money and find financial freedom.All stories by: Lauren Quinn