No matter how hard you try to keep your finances straight, there’s a good chance you’ll make mistakes along the way. Whether you exceed your credit card limit or are late with a mortgage payment, you'll often incur a fee. Not only are they a drag on your bank account, but fees can also poison your relationships with the companies charging them. They want your money, but companies also want your business. To keep you happy they may be willing to reduce or even eliminate those fees if you know how to ask.
Do a little research to find out the best person to whom to write. Your bill or invoice should have a customer service address, but call the company and ask for the name of a manager or other higher-up in customer relations. He may carry more weight than an anonymous customer service employee.
If you were wrong, admit it. Customer service personnel are human, too. They don’t like being lied to, and they will be more open to working with you if they don’t catch you in a lie.
Be civil. Resist the urge to pour your anger onto the page--you want to be firm but polite. If your blood pressure is rising as you write, sleep on it for a day or two and try again.
Hint that you may take your business elsewhere. A little advance research can help. If your credit card company slaps you with a $40 fee, it helps if you can write that you've found another company offering lower interest rates and protection from fees.
Offer a solution that will be acceptable to both parties. Instead of being demanding, stress that you want a positive mutual relationship with the company. For example, you might tell a bank that you'd be interested in using their loan or mortgage services.