$180 In Overages Waived By Staying Calm, Asking For The Supervisor, And Smart Negotiating

Dave writes:

I just got a wireless bill from Cincinnati Bell with $180 worth of overages. Thanks to several of the articles I’ve read on your site, I felt confident that I would be able to get them waived. And I did. The one thing I did that I probably wouldn’t have done without your site was when the rep I was speaking with said that she “didn’t have the power” to grant my request (I wanted all of my overages waived if I upgraded my account), I didn’t lose my cool or get upset but calmly asked to talk to her supervisor. Her supervisor offered me what I wanted without ever having to ask! One hundred and eighty, thanks.

That’s the way to do it. If the customer service rep says they “don’t have the power,” then you just simply ask to be put in touch with someone who does. Remaining cool, calm and professional, you escalate to someone with decision-making powers. Also note his successful negotiation tactic…

He successfully made the following argument: waive my overages and I will upgrade the account and make your money. Bam. Simple business equation. Businesses do stuff like that all the time. Think like a business, talk their language, and you might have more luck getting what you want.

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Pupator says:

    Is it 160 or 180?

  2. freshyill says:

    Staying calm and asking for a supervisor has helped me on more than one occasion. In 2006, when I had four RAZRs go bad over four months, talking to a supervisor with Cingular spared me the trouble of getting a fifth. Took ’em long enough, but they sent me a SLVR, and it’s been pretty good ever since. I also had a huge bill from text messages one month. Talking to a supervisor got them to retroactively change my plan to one that would have included that many messages.

  3. yg17 says:

    If you went over on your cell phone bill, then pay the damn thing. Don’t try to weasel your way out of it.

  4. headon says:

    Aw this is crap I wanna read stories of people filled with hatred and rage. I wanna see companies slammed and customer service calls that end in frustration. Not this all is well zen flower child hippie stuff. C’mon consumerist save the love stories bring on the smackdowns.

  5. snoop-blog says:

    i was waiting for the victim bashers to call him some sort of thief, con-man, or just scumbag.

    @yg17: it doesn’t say if it was his fault or not, i’ll give him the benefit of the doubt seeing how it’s from a cell provider.

  6. Phunk says:

    I’m all for getting a freebie every once in a while here and there, but if this is a case of someone actually running up overages and then trying to get out of it..well that fault doesn’t lie with the company.

  7. kenblakely says:

    Who gives a darn whose fault it was? You guys are all toss-bags: If you can get out of paying a bill just by asking nicely, why the heck wouldn’t you? Oh, I got it – we should just fork over our money even if we don’t have to. Pfft – that’s just STOOPiD!

  8. upokyin says:

    @yg17: He offered to upgrade his account, so now the company gets more money from him each month in exchange for waiving this one-time fee. That’s not “weasling” at all. It’s just smart negotiating.

  9. Andy S. says:

    @Phunk: I presume that the case here was that, had Dave been on an different plan, the overages would have been covered by the normal monthly fee. If Dave recognized that his normal monthly usage would be pushing him into this sort of overage on a regular basis, it is entirely reasonable for him to contact the company, and ask them to move him to a more expensive plan, if they in turn cancel the overage fees.

    Dave wins, because he isn’t out $180 in outages (rather, he is out whatever the delta between his old and new plans is).

    Cincinnati Bell wins, because Dave is now on a more expensive plan. It is likely that they will make that $180 and more from him in the coming months with the new plan, but moreover, they have engendered goodwill and created a happy customer. That is worth far more than $180 to them in the long run.

    Both sides did the smart thing, and everybody won. I love the drama of the bad CS experiences as much as the next guy, but seeing articles like this at least helps to restore my faith in humanity, just a little.

  10. LAGirl says:

    staying calm + asking for a supervisor almost always works for me. i say something like “you’ve been really great, and i do appreciate your help. but maybe a supervisor has the authority to ______________. if you transfer me, i’ll be sure to tell them what a great job you’ve done’

    i’m telling you, a little ass-kissing goes a LONG way.

    as for cell phone bill overages? tell them that you went online + upgraded your plan the previous month. but there must have been a problem since the system still has you on the old plan. calculate the difference between the cost of your current plan, and the one you ‘should have been upgraded to’. ask the supervisor to credit the difference back to your account. if you’re nice, don’t yell, + pay them a compliment or two, almost guaranteed they’ll do it for you.

  11. RandoX says:

    I had this happen with Verizon. I called them up just to ask if they could do anything for me and the CSR offered the same option, upgrade the service and they’d waive the fees. She even suggested that I could call back the next month and return to the previous plan. I ended up keeping the higher plan anyway.

  12. UpsetPanda says:

    I misread “overages” as oranges and wondered why Bell would charge the user for oranges… off topic, I know.

    On topic! I had a few issues with the good ol’ verizon and the person I talked to solved my problems in about 15 minutes without me haggling or anything. i think for most people, the first rule (don’t go in angry) is actually the best thing you can do because people shut off to anger.

  13. kc2idf says:

    If the customer service rep says they “don’t have the power,” then you just simply ask to be put in touch with someone who does.

    Sometimes, overwhelming them with logic helps, too.

    I had a situation where I was attempting to get my credit card bank to at least look at whether or not they could reduce my interest rate. The CSR I spoke to tole me that he couldn’t, and that a supervisor wouldn’t be able to, either.

    I told the CSR that I work in the IT industry; that I am a System Administrator; that I have worked just about every position in the IT industry; that I understand computers; that there is always an override somewhere and that there is someone in his organization who can trip that override.

    The CSR put me through to his supervisor, after again telling me that she would not be able to help, but might know who could.

    It turns out that the supervisor was able to help me after all.

    Shall I name names? Sure, why not? This was HSBC — the lowest ranked credit card bank by customer service.

  14. Marce says:

    Being calm and polite is a good way to go, but make sure to listen to the what the CSR says and how. I will come out and tell people, “I don’t have the power to expedite your information. You can come speak to XYZ person and ask them nicely to do it.” If I say, “No one in my office has the power to do it,” please don’t ask to speak to my supervisor–I know what they can and can’t do in many cases. And I’ll usually tell you if I know of another institution that can help with your issue.

    In short, wield your power carefully, folks!

  15. ADM says:

    t-mobile once retroactively applied a text-messaging plan for me, saving me $8, but that’s nothing compared to what they did for my girlfriend:

    not having a lot of common sense sometimes and being distracted by other things, she somehow went over her plan by 390 minutes! she didn’t realize until the last day of her billing cycle.

    i suggested that she call t-mobile and negotiate. listen to this: they put her on a plan and waived all the overage fees and didn’t even require her to agree to a contract!

    all cellphone companies suck, but sometimes t-mobile sucks less than the others.

  16. ADM says:

    except when they are writing mandatory arbitration clauses.