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COMMENT: How to haggle for a better deal

Monday, 26th February, 2018 7:59am

Story by Tony McCullagh
COMMENT: How to haggle for a better deal

We need to be more assertive on the phone if we want to get better deals. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

COMMENT: How to haggle for a better deal

We need to be more assertive on the phone if we want to get better deals. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

HAD an interesting experience when renewing my car insurance policy last week.

For the past few years, it has been the same old story: notification of extortionate premium in the post, followed by a furious phone call from me to some unfortunate insurance company rep at the other end of the line.

Every time there's an increase, I plead my case forcefully: no claims since I started driving over 25 years ago; reduced replacement value if my car is stolen or damaged beyond repair; and, of course, the fact that I have been a loyal customer of this particular insurance company since the days when I still had L-plates. Doesn't loyalty count for anything?

In the past, a compromise was usually reached. At an absolute minimum, I would demand - with varying degrees of success - that the premium should at least stay the same as the previous year. 

But last week my pleas were falling on deaf ears. There was nothing that could be done. Nothing. It was a case of “computer says no".

I got the whole blah, blah, blah spiel about rising premiums across the insurance market and the hard sell about all the bells and whistles that came with this gold-plated policy. Even when I insisted that I only needed the meat and two veg version (with the option of increased excess per claim), it only brought the premium down by a tenner.

It was time for the nuclear option. I told the insurance guy to cancel my policy before the renewal date - I would be taking my custom elsewhere. His tone suddenly changed and he urged me to stay on the call while he frantically pounded his keyboard. 

 Maybe, just maybe, something could be done after all. 

 "You're going to want to take your credit card out when I tell you the quote I've just managed to get for you," he deadpanned. 

In a miracle worthy of Fatima, he was suddenly able to offer me a premium that not only matched last year's price, it actually came in substantially cheaper.

After the deal was sealed, I asked him one simple question: what had changed in the 10 minutes of our conversation that now allowed him to pivot from his intractable position so radically? He mumbled something vague about having to follow certain procedures. 

The lesson learned, clearly, is to haggle to the death when negotiating with your insurance company, right up to the point where you are fully prepared to walk away.

Next on my list of companies to haggle with is my health insurance provider. I’ll let you know how I get on.

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