What You Really Get From Bill Negotiators

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When it comes to budgeting, you can say one thing for bills: At least they're basically consistent, even if they add up. Bills, however, have a little more wiggle room than you might expect — and there's a whole industry out that that wants to help you with that.

Companies like BillShark, BillFixers, and Shrinkabill take what could be a huge hassle and, for a fee, renegotiate with your service provider for a better monthly rate. This is certainly something you as a consumer can do yourself; periodically checking with your ISP for better or cheaper deals on internet access, for instance, is totally worthwhile. If you're looking at a long list of bills, you might be tempted to try outsourcing this task, especially if you're not confident on the phone or with haggling.

It's worth understanding the full structure of bill negotiation companies before you dive in. Many of them won't charge unless they save you money, but in the event that they come through (BillShark claims it can reduce 85 percent of bills), they generally take a huge cut, upward of 40 or 50 percent of your savings. Customers have complained of some deceptive accounting practices, messing up access to a service or utility, and generally being more trouble than it's worth. It may be more important, though, to be the right kind of customer for this service.

My Millennial Guide recommends that potential customers look at factors like how old and costly a monthly bill is, their own relative stability and affluence, and what types of bills will and won't budge. In some ways, bill negotiation is too good to be true — but if it works out for you, it can really work.