My friend, Michelle, makes fun of me because I can and will stand up for myself when I interact with the public at large (interpersonal relationships, on the other hand, get messier when you have to see this person the day after you demanded something). For instance, I will ask people to move over in movie theaters, if it's crowded and they have created a "buffer" zone between them and other people. She's also amazed at how I handle credit card companies.
This summer the CC company with whom I had consolidated a bit of debt, up and changed my due date and unbeknownst to me (I was in LA), I was late with my payment. This meant that I was hit with a late fee AND they rescinded my special interest rate. So, I called them and talked to a representative (surprisingly in the day of automatic systems, it's rather easy to talk to a live person at these institutions). I told them that I didn't know the date had changed and would they waive the late fee and give me the good rate back. Yes. They did it. It was that easy.
Of course (disclaimer) it's best not to carry a balance but I am and have been young(ish) and irresponsible and now I'm paying for it. Just yesterday, I realized that I was out of checks despite the fact I had re-ordered them a month ago. The bank said they mailed it Sept. 10 and to expect them in ten working days. Well, I had a small balance on another CC that I wanted to pay off (because I'm trying to pay off that bigger balance) and the jerks were going to charge me 15 bucks to do it over the phone. After some mashing of buttons, I got a live person, who may have been living on the other side of the world given his accent. Can they waive this fee? Yes.
Ya know, I don't think people just ask these questions. I know that my CC magic number isn't stellar but I suppose they find it easier to accomodate than have an irate person. Plus, they get to try to sell me new stuff but I find it easy to resist.
Just ask, people. It's not hard. Oh, and a little tip on the expensive cable companies? Ask them to lower your rate and they will. I knocked fifty bucks off my internet/cable bill by doing so -- good for a year.
On another credit note, once I began complaining about my dead TV, I have received an offer to take a 20 inch tube TV off a person's hands. I'm debating it. What do y'all think? I was kinda hoping for a flat screen, although I had decided I could not go for the 26 or 32 inch (other expenses are getting in the way). Free is always good but thin is in, my friends.