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FEE BARGAIN: Questioning fees worth the time


Posted: 04/14/14 by Tim Bean

Not only $35 or 40 cell phone activation charge has ever directly been linked to a consumer clinging to a credit score or filing for bankruptcy, but those who pay attention to those fees and aren't afraid to question them certainly find themselves well ahead of the financial game.

Between the cable company, your cell phone provider or just a neighborhood plumber or electrician, it seems every new device, upgrade or service call includes a fee that is dubbed anything from “activation” to “assessment.”

What these companies, large or small, don't take into consideration is the amount of competition that permeates through their respective industries. That negotiating caveat is the ultimate variable when it comes to moving forward on a new purchase or project, and saving money in the process.

Cell phones have a particular penchant for putting their so called activation charge on a new phone line, usually between $30-50. They may argue that these fees are set in stone, but that's a promise they'll willing to break if you play a little proverbial hard ball.

That means telling them that you're shopping around or you'll simply take your business to another cell phone provider. Usually that's enough incentive to get their attention so that the fee will be waived before you wave goodbye to their establishment.

The cable company usually doesn't hit their customers with an activation fee in the same vein as cell phone providers do, but rather disguise theirs as a service fee or installation charge. This extra money coming directly out of your pocket can be circumvented in two ways: do the installation yourself or, once again, politely threaten that you'll just call one of their competitors.

Most cable related issues and installations don't need an expert, and come complete with instructions that are remarkably easy to follow. If the thought of uploading or connecting so much as a cable cord is going to drive you crazy, then just tell Comcast, Verizon FIOS or any of the other communications companies that you'd appreciate the fee waived or you'll be happy to call Direct TV.

Pitting these organizations against one another is no different than calling around department stores and price matching a purse. The goal is to save money, not necessarily make friends with sales associates, operators or companies.

Truthfully, these extra fees account for millions of dollars in revenues for these companies but your monthly fees mean more to these corporations than a few dollars initially. Knowing that puts the consumer in control when it comes to having them eliminated and thus saving money in the process.



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