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Always Ask to have a Fee Refunded/Waived

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Have you seen the latest Bank of America offer of $100 (offer expired) for opening a checking account? How about Comcast willing to pay you $25 a month to trade in your dish (or one you just bought off Ebay) and get you as a subscriber? Companies try their hardest to get new customers and with the prevailing attitude that it’s cheaper to keep a customer than it is to get a new one, you can get out of almost any penalty or fee if you simply ask. Just ask.

I’ve missed a credit card payment before on several (three times maybe, over the course of seven years) where I thought I did a payment online or, even farther back, I just misplaced the envelope and forgot (out of sight, out of mind). Well, in each case I was obviously dinged with a $10 or a $20 finance charge. Just call up the credit card company and tell them that you simply forgot, you’re a good customer, and could they waive the penalty. If they decline, simply tell them, politely, that you’d like to stay a loyal customer but if the credit card company isn’t willing to waive a small fee then you’ll try to find someone more understanding. In most cases, a CSR (customer service representative) has the authority to waive minor fees. Just give them a good reason.

The other day I discovered that at my credit union that I have overdraft protection on my checking account, if overdrawn money is automatically transferred from my savings account. I had seen it happen a number of times but I figured in the computer age, this service should be completely free. Maybe back in the day when someone had to write something in a ledger, I could understand it costing something. Anyhow, I have two overdraft protections a month and each one after that costs me a whopping $20. Well, that month I had my two and tacked on a third when I made a transfer to my ING Direct account and what walloped with the overdraft fee. I went in and politely talked to the credit union’s reps and told them I didn’t know about the overdraft (I didn’t) and if they could waive that fee. They did. (with a little bit of grumbling)

Moral: Always ask to have a fee refunded. If they say no, politely ask to have the account closed because you don’t understand why they wouldn’t help out a loyal customer (I think the wording of that line is very important), and don’t forget/mess up too often. It wouldn’t be unreasonable if they denied my attempt to have a second overdraft fee waived and I’d be irresponsible to expect them to waive it. Please share experiences you may have doing the same thing because the customer is always right!

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4 Responses to “Always Ask to have a Fee Refunded/Waived”

  1. Ace Wags says:

    Yes, I’ve done that with my credit card a couple times and with Verizon Wireless once for a late fee.

  2. Tim says:

    And if first you don’t succeed, try, try again…If you get someone stubborn, hang up and try again, just remember the customer service rep’s name so you don’t talk to him/her again.

  3. Nathan says:

    Excellent post, and very true. I too use this tactic where appropriate.

    The key, as you correctly emphasized, is to be polite about the whole thing. When I first got my cable set up I had numerous problems with the provider simply not doing their job. At one point I was talking to a CSR and she was so blown away by the fact that I was being so polite she gave me 1 year of my choice of premium movie channel for free. I didn’t even have to ask.

    I am surprised though at the number of companies willing to let a customer go for something minor though. I usually have the best luck with the cancellation people rather than just any old CSR. I’ve had many cases where I’m told by a CSR that they can’t do something, so I go out and get a new account or service with someone else. Then when I call in to cancel the old service the cancellation representitive tells me they can fix everything. Now I go straight to cancellation.

    Great post though!

  4. Quintin says:

    Yeah, I just attempted to do this with Bank of America. They did not budge. And they were quite okay with me closing my account… just as soon as the balance is brought back to zero…

    I am a college student who needs to keep all the money he has. I just don’t understand why a Student Checking Account would have such high fees.


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