Putting off the awkward conversations
As part of my frugality adventures, I’ve been on a cost cutting mission for just over a year. In doing so, we’ve cut back our travel, groceries, alcohol, hobbies, takeaway and entertainment costs. These costs were easy for me to make a change to, as they were all self-imposed and self-controlled.
However, what I hadn’t yet pursued was cutting utility costs through negotiating better deals with my suppliers. As a socially awkward, conflict avoiding introvert, the idea of calling my utility providers to ask for discounts makes me squirmish. So, I kept putting this off despite knowing that I could be paying too much for utilities.
However, recently I was talking to a friend, and reader of this blog (you know who you are), about how her partner and her had recently swapped electricity suppliers due to a 28% off electricity usage costs (cents per kw/hr) deal being offered by a competitor.
This conversation inspired me and I decided to finally have that conversation I’d been putting off for so long…
How to save money on electricity charges
Later that afternoon, I called my electricity provider to negotiate a better deal. I told them that I’d been offered a 28% off usage costs deal by a competitor, was thinking about leaving, and wanted to know what they could offer to try and keep me.
As soon as I mentioned I was thinking about leaving, they transferred me through to their promotions team. I then re-explained that I had received a 28% off offer, that I was thinkiing about leaving, but that I wanted to know what they could offer me to try and keep my business.
The consultant explained that they were aware of the 28% off usage costs deal and were offering a 21% off usage costs and daily supply charge costs as a price match deal as a result.
I told them to wait while I calculated how that deal compared and would then decide if I would stay.
As it turned out, the overall figures pretty much matched on par for my average electricity consumption per bill cycle. Consequently, I told them I would stay with them so long as they sorted out the discount immediately.
Tips for getting the best deal
As you can see from above, before I entered into negotiations with my electricity supplier, I did some preparation and research to ensure I was well armed for my phone call.
After my friend and I discussed the 28% off deal, I researched the market to see if there were any better deals.
I then prepared some notes including my current electricity usage and supply costs, as well as what my costs would be with a 28% off usage discount.
Having this information at hand meant that I was armed and ready for any BS that may have been thrown at me during the conversation. It also meant that I appeared like I knew what I was talking about, which is critically important for negotiations.
Furthermore, by starting out the conversation by outlining that I knew a competitor had a good deal and I was thinking about leaving meant that I was able to get straight to where I wanted…
Electricity suppliers offer a range of promotional deals, and as such if you just ask for “a discount” or “your best deal”, your chances of getting the best deal straight up are pretty low.
Alternatively, if you’ve done your homework and outline your position straight up, they know they can’t give you the “8% off is the best deal I can give you ” crap, because they’ll end up red faced.
If you’ve been putting off the awkward “give me a discount” conversation with your utility providers, don’t. Negotiating a decent discount can be a simple and easy process that’ll save you hundreds in the long run.
So long as you do your research, you’ll be prepared to call BS and put the provider in their place should you need to. Chances are however, if you show how prepared you are straight away, you won’t even have to call BS.