The following is a contribution by Joe Cassandra. Read more about him after the post.
Most people hate banks. The list, which includes the automated machines, low interest rates, fees, and customer service reps named “Bill,” goes on. The problem is we need banks. Mortgages, credit cards, savings accounts etc., we need them. This doesn’t mean, however, that they have all of the power. They need us, the consumer.
Every account is worth money to them because they take our money and loan it. Essentially they make money from our money. The longer you’re a customer, the more likely they will hold more of your money. This is a key leverage point you will see later.
Fees Are Everywhere – Some as Big as Your Head
The “rent” consumers receive for housing our money in a bank is paid in the form of interest that we receive from our deposited cash. Fair trade right? Well then banks try to get sneaky and post fees that eat up your interest.
“Maintenance fees”, “overdraft fees”, and then the one I got hit with: Excess Use Fee.
My wife, Sam, and I, were out of town for my sister’s wedding in North Georgia. We were moving money around in our accounts to correct for things we under-budgeted for, stuff we shouldn’t have bought… Well, the following week, I checked our account and one of our petty fund accounts was in the negative.
Being of the Scrooge mentality, I was certain that I calculated everything correct, but felt my confidence wavering for a second. “What bill did I miss?” Then I saw it. A $15 fee for “Excess Use” on the account. Excess Use? You USE your account too much and you get a fee? Sounds like a bad April Fool’s joke. Apparently if you transfer money around too much, that is “Excess Use.” When you get hit with these fees, you should immediately begin planning your call to the bank.
You need to collect a few simple things before making the call:
- Your Customer History with the Bank (whether new or old)
- A smile/positive attitude
For fees like this, you can use this script:
“Hi “Bill”, I noticed a Fee on this account of $15, I’ve been a customer for many years and enjoy banking here, I’d like to have that Fee removed.” Then simply stop talking.
Tip: Don’t ask a question that lets them answer with a Yes or No as most will be lazy and just say No. You should then get an immediate “Yes, we can do that for you.” Great! I usually ask more about the fee so it doesn’t happen again.
If they say no: “Well, I’ve been a great customer for many years and wish to continue with “insert bank name”. We just came back from a wedding, and it won’t happen again. What can you do for me?”
Starting a casual conversation with the rep will definitely help as well, as they probably deal with jerks all day.
If you are a new customer, you just tweak what you say a bit more, “I’m a new customer with the bank and have enjoyed the services, I’m also still learning about the accounts and promise it won’t happen again.”
With all that said, you can’t overdraft your account every week and expect a refund. If that’s your problem, you need to work on some other issues, such as budgeting!
Again, make sure you are respectful, polite and in good humor. Thank them for their help, use their name if possible. It’s a simple 5 minute phone call. Don’t be afraid to ask!
If you fail the first time, take a week and try again. You’ll be better the second time, guaranteed! What’s the worst that could happen? You’ll be a pro in no time, and it builds your confidence for future negotiations.
Your mindset is the key here, know what you want and go for it. With every negotiation you go into after, you can draw from your successes here. Think of it as investing in yourself.
Negotiation doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Build value, be open, be personable.
Math Corner: $15 in 5 minutes. That’s $300 a hour. Would you want your time to be worth that much?
Joe Cassandra is the Founder of the 7 minute entrepreneur, where he shows you how to attack your life with the mindset of an entrepreneur in the areas of personal finance, careers, starting your own business and much more.