When you try to get ahead, there will always be someone trying to take what you’ve got. You need to pay attention in life, especially when it come to finances.

Greed rules our world.

We all know politicians are dirty.

Medical providers overcharge insurance companies and banks charge outrageous fees.

We know large corporations often do things just to make a buck.

These things happen every day, but WHY?

Most people don’t care, until they’re the one getting gouged.

But many people are getting overcharged and ripped off and they don’t even know it.

I received a bill recently for my trash service. The company wanted to charge me $138.65, an increase of about $10.00 more than my last bill. I’d been thinking about changing companies, so I shopped around and found a competitor who offered a similar service for $75.00.

I called my current company to cancel my service so I could switch. The employee proceeded to tell me what a valued customer I am. He wanted to know what the company could do to keep me as a customer.

I said “stop ripping me off”.

After a few minutes of conversation, the person on the other end of the phone said “we can offer you a new rate totaling $68.00, which includes taxes and fees.

I was happy, but I was angry at the same time.

I asked him why they’ve been charging me double that amount if they could offer such a low rate.

He said “because you didn’t ask”.

I went through similar conversations with other utilities.

My county wastewater provider bills customers for an “average flat rate” of 11,000 gallons per month.

I don’t use anywhere near that amount, so I called to complain.

My $80.00 bill suddenly dropped to $20.00 because “most people don’t call to say anything”.

I did this with my internet provider and my cell phone provider, which both resulted in lower monthly bills on my accounts.

I did it with my credit card companies and got my interest rates lowered.

This got me to thinking. If all I had to do is ask in these cases, why couldn’t I do the same with other services, bills and products I buy.

The answer is I can. And I have.

Negotiating is a lost art, but the average consumer shouldn’t expect they’ll have to do this with “trusted” services we use everyday. But apparently we do need to.

It’s pretty sad when companies make millions of dollars each year by taking advantage of uninformed customers. While it’s not illegal, it is wrong.

It’s time for consumers to take charge of their finances.

Look at your bills each month.

Check your bank statements.

Check invoices and receipts.

If something doesn’t look right, say something!

It’s okay to complain because in many cases you just might end up with a better deal.

You work hard for your money and you also need to work hard to keep it!

Written by Marty Augustine

Marty Augustine - Writer