Monday, June 26, 2006

"I would like you to lower my interest rate now, please."

Finance writer Greg Karp has an article today about haggling over credit card interest rates that I thought was amusing.

Karp quotes from an e-book called "Credit Card Insider Tips" by financial coach Cindy Morus. Basically the article tells you that it's just fine to call your credit card company and ask for better terms on your interest rate, credit line, etc.

What I found amusing was the script that apparently is in the e-book, which tells you exactly what to say over the phone. I've used phone scripts for various reasons in my life, and they always crack me up, because they are always written in ways that are completely un-conversational. This one's no exception. From the article:

You: "Hi, can you tell me what my current interest rate is?"

Operator: "Your current interest rate is X percent."

You: "Hmmm. I would like you to lower my interest rate now, please." Don't say another word.

The ball is in their court, and they'll fill the silence with an offer.

Operator: "OK, I can lower it to X percent."

You: "That's not enough, but I will take that for now. Thank you for your help. I'd like to tell your supervisor how helpful you've been. Could you pass me over?"

Supervisor: "How can I help you?"

You: "First, I wanted to let you know how helpful the operator was. She/he did an excellent job of helping me.

"Now, can you tell me what my interest rate is?"

First off, I don't believe they're going to lower your interest rate just based on your robotic "Hmmm. I would like you to lower my interest rate now, please." What it's actually going to take are threats. And this pass-off-to-the-supervisor thing to get a second shot at lowering the interest rate? Not going to work. If you got the reduction in the first place, do you really think the supervisor isn't going to know you just got a reduction and say, "we just gave you a reduction"? These companies track everything--you're not going to fool them that easily."

Here's a script that is more likely to work for you...

You: My interest rate is 15% right now and I'd like to see about getting it reduced.

Operator: Well, sir/ma'am, that's the interest rate we've determined is correct for you. I can't do anything about that. I'm sorry.

You: OK, well, I think I'm just going to transfer this balance to another credit card. I got a pretty nice zero-percent offer in the mail yesterday......"

Operator: Well, let me see if there's anything I can offer you.... O.K. I can actually offer you a 13 percent interest rate."

You: Mmmmm....

Operator: Does that work for you?

You: Mmmm...

Operator: Sir/Ma'am?

You: Mmmm...

(Awkward silence.)

You: Well, I've got an offer for a 10.99% card. I don't really want to switch because it's a hassle and I don't like opening up all these credit lines. Think you can match that & I'll just leave it alone?"

Operator: Can you hold please?

You: Sure.

(Short hold period while operator pretends she's getting authorization from a higher power to give you new, amazing low rate.)

Operator: Sir, Ma'am?

You: Uh huh.

Operator: I'm happy to tell you that I can offer you the 10.99% rate you requested.

You: Great.

I should really write an e-book on this stuff.


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