Part of being a collection agent is being a negotiator. I’ve mentioned before how important I think negotiation strategies are for everyone. Recently, I was talking to a friend about some unfortunate medical bills he was facing. I asked if he had tried negotiating with the hospital and he looked at me like I was an alien. He had no idea that hospital bills were negotiable. I like to think that almost everything can be negotiated, but here are 5 items you might not have thought of negotiating.
Collectively, Americans owe more than one trillion dollars in medical debt. If you’re someone with medical debt like my friend, you might be unaware that medical bills can be negotiated. Some hospitals have lower prices for uninsured patients. Some offices have payment plans or even fee waivers for qualifying patients. Be honest and upfront with the offices of your medical care providers.
Vacations are definitely more fun than medical debt. One of the best ways to save money on a trip is to travel off-season. If it’s not peak season and there are empty rooms at a hotel, you may be able to get a discount on the nightly rate (especially if you’re planning to stay for several days). Ask to speak to a manager. Even if they do not lower your room rate, they may offer you an upgrade. Make sure to do your research and confirm that the hotel is under booked before asking.
Jewelry, Art, Furniture
I put these all in one category, because it’s really the same principle. These are all big ticket items where the dealer tries to maximize profits. Most dealers would prefer to make the sale, and lose a little bit of the profit, rather than lose the entire sale. The exception of course is for anything like this that is being custom made for you. Artists need to eat, too. This is another case where you need to do your research and ensure that what you are asking for is not unfair.
Items in Stores
I’m not suggesting that you treat your local grocery store or Best Buy like a marketplace, but if you’ve found a lower price on an item at another store (or online) many businesses will match the price. Some stores will also discount floor samples or slightly damaged goods. Although being polite is always a good negotiation tactic, it is essential here. Unless she’s an owner, the store manager does not have the same investment in moving the merchandise that you do in buying it.
Credit Card Fees
If you normally pay your bill on time, you can probably negotiate to have your late payment fees waived. If offered a new credit card, you can also call your existing card and see if they will waive annual fees, or even lower your interest rate in order to keep your business. Their willingness to do this generally depends on you being a loyal and responsible customer.
I know that not everything in life is negotiable, but I also know that you won’t know if something is negotiable unless you ask. Looking for more things you can negotiate? Check out our articles on negotiating with contractors and car dealers.