How to Request a Change in Payment Terms

If you suddenly are unable to pay all your bills, it's best to take the initiative in finding a solution. Contact companies you have a good relationship with, and be prepared to make a partial payment on your bill. If you're strategic with your request, the company may offer you payment terms that ease your financial burden.

Assess your own needs and your relationship with the company you owe money to. If you simply need to align your payment date with the date you receive your paycheck, you may be able to change your payment date online. Evaluate all of your financial obligations and reach out to the company you've had the longest relationship with. A company is more likely to extend you better payment terms if you're an established customer with a long, solid payment history.

Contact the company's customer service department and ask the representative for a change in payment terms. For best results, do this before you become late or delinquent on any payments. If you can't afford to pay the full amount of your bill, offer to make a partial payment and arrange a payment plan. Offering a partial payment shows a good faith effort to pay your debts and makes a payment arrangement more likely.

If you're unable to arrange new payment terms with the first representative you speak with, ask to speak with her supervisor. Supervisors often have more flexibility and authority than front-line representatives when it comes to changing payment terms. If you still aren't able to negotiate new terms, take the problem to the company's executive customer service. This is usually located at the company headquarters, and you can often find the address on the company's website. Put your request in writing, and request a response by a specific date.

Team up with professionals to get the job done. If you can't get results on your own, contact a local consumer advocacy group in your area and ask for assistance with your request. If the company is in a regulated industry, seek assistance from government consumer assistance departments. For example, you can contact your state public utilities department for assistance with gas and electric bills or the Federal Trade Commission for assistance with phone or cable company bills.