What Tactics Do You Use To Challenge Bills?

BillShock.jpg When my household contents insurance bill came in recently and was more than double the previous year's figure, I was gobsmacked. However, a quick call to my insurer later and I actually ended up with a lower quote than the 2007 instalment. I'm a pretty lousy negotiator, so this felt like a major victory. There are some obvious rules if you want to challenge any kind of bill: don't rely on email (too easy to ignore); be firm but don't be abusive; assemble as much documentary evidence as possible; make sure you've allocated plenty of time so the call can be escalated if need be. But I want to know how Lifehacker readers cope when a bill with massively excessive charges (be they for broadband or the plumber) come in. Share your tips and your triumphs in the comments.


    Usually I just get my girlfriend onto them....she nasty!!! ha ha....I always find that speaking to them nicely and like you said having documentation handy is always a good thing. We got our power bill last week and it was a big one so called the power company and asked for an extension. This wasnt a problem - I didnt give the person on the other end attitude just asked the question. We have had nasty bills from a plumber before which we ended up having to pay but simply never call on him again - his bad really. He was completely arrogant and ended up hanging up on us ha ha! I find if you be nice, have your facts, somewhat know your rights they will generally come to the party with your request or meet you somewhere close.

    Unlike you Angus, I'm a pretty good negotiator, and I have a few tips to get things fixed on your bills!

    I second the be firm, try to stay cheery as long as possible. Be clear and concise, to ensure the operator knows what you want. Ask questions that you might already know the answer to in order to get responses that help your cause.

    And finally, if the person says "I'm sorry, I can't help you", it's alright to say "That's unacceptable" and ask to have the call escalated. It's also fine to ask for call/employee reference numbers. Once a matter gets escalated, you usually get what you want, as the person you speak to isn't just a phone-gnome.

    I think if you do not stand up for yourself you will get ripped off... All the companies try to get money from you. If there is a mistake on your bill they do not ring you up and tell you. You have to find it for yourself.

    Hmm.. I suggest you get a lawyer. LOL. just joking. Well, as you have said, documentation really is a lot of help. hmm you could also try the good cop and bad cop routine. Try to be nice to them, then let one of your relatives, or girlfriend, etc. to terrorize them a bit. haha

    I agree with the above, but would like to add:

    - Note the time and date you start your call.
    - Ask for the operators name and position as soon as they answer.
    - Ask for a reference number before you hang up.

    In general keep one note pad for all your customer service related inquiries.

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