Almost all consumer based industries punish loyalty and reward tyranny. 'New' customers get amazing deals that existing customers are not eligible for. As a consumer, you can put up with this -- or you can work the system to get the best results. Here are my ten key negotiating strategies.
This first appeared as a comment last week, but we liked it so much we wanted to run it as a separate post. There's definitely value in being polite, but sometimes more extreme tactics are needed. Thanks Kendal!
Picture by Font Font
Get a bill you don't like but pay it anyway, or, complain and moan and wow – you get a discount. Threaten to leave a company for the competition, and you get a better deal, but stay quietly and loyally for years, no such benefit.
My tip is to kick and scream and moan and whine and complain and threaten to leave and play companies off against each other, as much and as often as possible. Be a BAD customer, you will get what you want and more. In the context of this guy who chained himself to a store, I can see how the tactic was both effective and exactly what he needed to do. So here is a short list of what to do in order to be a bad customer , and get more, more, more.
1. Shop around, but don't just keep what you find out to yourself; package it up and use it as part of your arsenal when engaging sales staff and customer service. Remember also to shop on your existing deals: you might find that your existing agreements, while holding expensive exit fees, are open for negotiation (ultimately, everything is open for negotiation).
2. Escalate. If you don't get what you want, just burn your way up the chain. But keep in mind that most sales and customer service reps hate to have to escalate, so use this as leverage (a threat) when asking for (demanding) more.
3. Do the maths. If you have a $100 problem, and you look like $1000 worth of time wasted, you'll get what you want almost every time.
4. Complain all the time. I know someone who complained about a bad manicure openly on Facebook; later that day she got a call and offers of free stuff. If you're not happy, tell the world, make a big deal about it; it can pay off.
5. Be disloyally loyal. This means staying with one company for a long time if there are benefits, and milking that company for as many benefits as possible. Your opening statement should include a phase like ‘I have been a customer for years..' If you aren't getting what you want, do the reverse when seeking more from competitors: ‘I have been loyal to your competitor for years, and would like to change to your service, if I were to be offered . . .' It may also be worth taking this back to the original company and showing them what you've been offered. Remember, if they don't give you what you want, escalate.
6. Never pay retail. Ever. Tell them you never pay retail, that paying retail is for idiots, and if they expect you to pay retail, then they are calling you an idiot. ‘You're not suggesting I'm an idiot are you…?' Let the know that you understand sales margins and that they have plenty of ‘wiggle room' to play with, and that price is what you're really shopping on.
7. Never take the first offer, even when they say ‘this is as low as they can go' Call them on their BS. Free is as low as they can go; tell them this to their face, but then explain that you understand you don't want it for free, you just don't want to pay first offer, and tell them you and they both know they can ‘do better.' If not, escalate.
8. Take up as much time and resources as you possibly can. Send emails requesting details and info which is not readily available. Keep people on the phone. Ask a string of questions and ‘what-ifs.' People hate it when they invest a lot of time and effort into something and lose. They HATE it. So have them invest lots of time and effort; this increases your chances of getting more and landing some sweet deals.
9. It is a game, so don't make it personal or take it personally. These companies do care about you, specifically, the money part of you, which they care about so much, they want it to be theirs. They are playing this game too, and looking to get as much of that cashola as possible. Your role is to get the goods with minimal spend. They know this, and set up the game to limit your chances, but play well, and you will enjoy the spoils.
10. Keep the game alive. This is important: as soon as you have paid, or gone to the competition, it's OVER (unless it's a service, then milk-on). You want to push and push and push until it's beyond reasonable, even logical, then you win.
Remember: loyalty is punished, and tyranny rewarded. Good luck!
And a word on the ethics of this: I'm not telling you to lie or make false claims or steal or make any misrepresentations. It's life hacking, not life-bending-over- and-taking-it.