What to say
The first step when asking for a better deal over the phone is to stand up! Your voice naturally becomes more authoritative, and you'll feel more confident. Make a note of you want to say so you don't forget anything. If you're an existing customer, start with 'I've been a loyal customer for years and was wondering if my current arrangement is still the most suitable for my needs/lifestyle. Could you advise me if I'm getting the best deal available, or whether you now have a better package I should switch to?'
If enquiring with a new company, say 'I'm currently not getting value for money from my existing company so I'm shopping around for the best deal. What can you offer me to tempt me to switch companies?' That should do the trick!
Speak up and save
Georgina saved a whopping $2192 in one day just by asking a few questions. She was working hard to pay off two credit cards, a gold card at 19 per cent interest and a Mastercard at 11.99 per cent. The balance on the gold card was much higher than the Mastercard, so she called her bank and asked if she could swap the lower Mastercard balance to the gold card, and vice versa. The answer was no - but that didn't stop Georgina.
Determined to reduce her debt, she met with her bank manager. After chatting to the bank's head office he agreed to swap balances. Visiting the bank manager in person saved her $1421 in interest and $71 in fees!
Feeling empowered, Georgina then rang her phone and internet provider and asked for a better deal.
She came away with a new phone, mobile and internet bundle, saving her $700 a year. Amazingly, she found that by switching to paperless billing, her internet bills would be halved for three months.
'All this just because I asked,' says Georgina. 'I'm happy I saved myself a total of $2192 in one day, but I'm angry I wouldn't have been offered these savings if I hadn't pushed a bit. It shows that customers shouldn't be afraid to ask for what they want and question what large companies charge them.'
Give your bills the twice over
Katrina saved her family (above) $1744 by reviewing her bills not once, but twice. The first time she reviewed their phone and internet providers, she cut them by $480 a year. The second time she saved another $1264 by moving her home line to the mobile network, saving $360 line rental per year and gaining unlimited free national and local calls. Giving up their old ISP and changing their mobile phones to the same provider as their new ISP saved them a further $300 a year.
A better deal from your bank
Michelle and her husband saved $4000 in the first year of their home loan, with years more savings to come.
Having bought their first property, they shopped around for a better mortgage deal. The results? A new mortgage that had no establishment fees (saving $600), no annual mortgage fee (saving $395) and a discount of 0.8 per cent off the standard variable rate, plus no transaction or credit-card fees.
'It was certainly worth the time and effort to ask for a better deal before we signed up,' Michelle says.
Well done, ladies - and readers, you can speak up too. Happy savings!
For more budget tips, check out Penny Wise.