FORT MYERS, Fla. - They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but Lise Vincent of Naples never expected how much grease she'd get with one phone call to her television provider.
Experts say her method of negotiating can be used with just about any monthly service provider to lower a bill or improve service.
Earlier this year, Vincent was paying CenturyLink nearly $240 a month for cable, internet, and phone service. She was a dedicated customer with a good payment record.
But Vincent wanted a lower bill, and didn't want to switch to a competing company.
Guided by a WINK News Facebook post with advice on how to save a little money, Vincent decided to make her own Call for Action.
"We were very surprised," Vincent told WINK News Anchor Cayle Thompson.
"I thought I'd give it a shot, so I called them," she said. "I told (CenturyLink) that Comcast was offering some really good deals, and were thinking of switching."
It didn't take much more for Vincent to find herself speaking with a supervisor.
"The initial person said he could drop my bill by $10," Vincent said. She told him that wasn't enough. "He put me on hold and transferred me to another person, and she said, 'Oh no, I can save you a lot more than ten dollars!'"
To keep Vincent's business, CenturyLink agreed to knock $50 off her monthly bill, and give her one year of premium channels at an additional monthly value of almost $100.
Vincent's total savings with the new package came to nearly $1,800 a year.
"Don't be afraid to call and ask," Vincent said. "What's the worst they can say? No?"
That's exactly the advice veteran financial education expert Sandee Rains gives her clients.
"None of the creditors want to lose their customers," Rains said. "They want the customer to be happy."
But there are often limits, she says.
"Some of them will go above and beyond to help the client, and then you have others who won't go very far at all."
Although she says Vincent's extreme savings are rare, Rains adds it's not hard to save at least a little by following four simple steps.
Experts say it's important to do your research. Make sure you know what the competition is offering, and whether your current provider is running any specials or discounts.
It's true what they say about vinegar, honey, and flies. Politeness can have a positive impact. Don't make demands and don't be rude, but do have an honest conversation about what you'd like to spend.
If at first you don't succeed, politely ask to speak with a supervisor. The first person to answer the phone rarely has authority to offer more than small perks.
Be Ready for "Plan B"
Remember the research you did on the competition? If you can't get a discount that makes you happy, follow through and make the switch.
But if that's going too far for you, Rains suggests simply calling again on another day.
"You never know," she says. "You may be able to get somebody different."
WINK News reached out to CenturyLink for this report. The company provided WINK News with this statement from regional vice president and general manager Taylor Chestnut:
“Offering outstanding service at an excellent value is the top priority for CenturyLink. We’re pleased to hear about the positive customer experience sited in your story. We do offer a complimentary bill analysis at our local stores and invite customers to call or stop by if they are interested.”
Experts stress results will vary based on individual circumstances. In general, your chances may improve if you are a good customer who pays on time and in full. For those who can't, some companies will help you find a more affordable service package, although it may require giving up some of your current perks.
As for Vincent, she remains a satisfied and loyal CenturyLink customer. She also recently married, and knows exactly how to spend the money she saved through negotiating.
"We're going to use it our honeymoon now!"