Negotiating Better Bills Through a Slightly Shady Startup

February 15, 2016

billsIn a perfect world, buying cable TV or a smartphone wouldn’t require customers to parse through a mess of different contracts and “special” deals. But unfortunately that’s not how it works in reality. A confusing collection of regional offers, options and add-ons often confronts people who are looking to upgrade their media services. The whole tangled process can leave customers wondering whether they landed on a good price or ended up paying too much. In many cases, the latter is likely true.

That’s where BillFixers comes in, a Tennessee-based startup that prides itself on securing the best possible payment plans for their consumer clientele. These customers hire the company’s associates to act as agents who negotiate directly with service providers. However, BillFixers doesn’t just argue on their clients’ behalf. They actually pretend to be those customers on the telephone. While the ethical implications of this practice are debatable, it isn’t strictly illegal. One thing that is certain, though, is the strategy’s effectiveness: BillFixers currently boasts a 94.9 percent success rate.

The process starts when a customer sends in a copy of their most recent cable or phone invoice to BillFixers. An associate then calls the billing company, claims they are the customer on the invoice, and gets to work. BillFixers employees come equipped with an arsenal of tricks and strategies to drive down prices. For instance, associates often begin by selecting the “Cancel My Service” option on the service provider’s phone tree. From there they get transferred to a retention representative who is more likely to negotiate than others in the call center. The BillFixers associate then politely and patiently goes in for the kill, inquiring about special deals and offers until a lower option appears at last. Finally, the customer is charged for half of the next year’s savings, meaning that a reduction of $20 per month would net $120 for BillFixers.

Although undeniably effective, BillFixers’ policy of blatantly lying to gain an advantage isn’t for everyone. That includes competitors like BillCutterz, a similar service that engages in three-way calls with clients and their service providers. “I’ve had friends get a lot richer than me by walking the gray line or into the dark, and that’s not my style,” said BillCutterz founder Barry Gross.



  1. Is it ethical for BillFixers to impersonate their clients when on the phone with cable or phone service providers?
  1. Are cable and phone service contracts too complicated? If service contracts were simpler, would there even be a need for companies like BillFixers?


Source: Ron Lieber, “Tips on Reducing Cable and Phone Bills From Ethically Ambiguous Experts,” The New York Times, February 5, 2016. Photo by GotCredit.