Coming home on the train the other day, my seatmate was having a disagreement with her dentist’s office about an outstanding bill. She owed them $46. The conversation was loud and lengthy, but oddly friendly. In any case, it was not conducive to the quiet reading I was trying to do.
However, I was soon drawn into the drama. The office explained that her insurance company had denied coverage, plain and simple. No, they didn’t know why.
Diligently, she called up her insurance company next. She was unfailingly friendly and pleasant as she got passed to three people. Apparently she had her cleanings too close together – by one day. So the claim had automatically been denied. After some minor convincing on her part, the insurance company relented and told her that they would pay the claim. She thanked them nicely, called her dentist’s office back, and got off the train. In about 10 minutes, she saved herself $46.
We sometimes underestimate the power of a phone call. Maybe we think we don’t have time. Maybe we think it won’t work. Or maybe we’re just not brave enough. If you’ve seen the movie, “We Bought a Zoo” with Matt Damon, you’ll remember how being brave for just 10 seconds can make a big difference. You just need 10 seconds of courage to get the conversation started.
The examples that come to mind are dealing with credit card companies. We’ve all heard stories about people who call their credit card companies and ask for a lower rate. The truth is, this can actually work. In 2008 when the CBC gave ten mall shoppers a script to read to their credit card company, six were promised a lower rate. Here’s the script:
“I think I’ve been a good customer. I’d like to stay with you, but I really want you to lower the rate on my card. Can you help me?”
If the initial response was no, they asked to speak to a supervisor and make the same case again. Most were approved for a decrease of about 8%.
The reality is, if you pay your bills, and have a reasonable credit rating, credit companies want to hold on to your business.
A rate decrease only really matters if you are carrying a credit card balance. But what if you are faithful and pay yours off in full every month – no need to call the credit card company, right?
I have twice been in the situation where I simply forgot to pay my credit card bill. The first time was about 8 years ago, and most recently was last year. Let’s just blame it on the hustle and bustle of life. Both times, I called Visa and explained that I would like the interest fees waived. Both times, they said yes.
There’s no guarantee of success. Yes, it could end up a waste of time. Or it could save you some real money. So use your 10 seconds of bravery and make that call. By the way, Matt Damon doesn’t use his 10 seconds to call his credit card company. Get some Kleenex and go watch the movie.