For example, I had charged about 300 dollars on a store credit card. I returned the items and so I believed that I had a zero balance. I actually had a 26 dollar balance. I failed to look at the paperwork. I received a collections call. It had been less than 3 weeks late, but they had charged me late fees. The late fees were 28 dollars. I called and simply said something along the lines of "even though it was my mistake to not check, it seems like a very high late fee, 2 dollars more than the late balance. Is there anything you can do for me?" They said that the charges were applied automatically and how would i like to pay the 54 dollar balance? I repeated, politely, that it seemed kind of criminal to charge someone more than what they owed for paying it less than three weeks late, I was really hoping you could lower the late fee in some way? and then just was quiet. She said, I will be right back. Then returned quickly and said she can lower it down to 2 dollars, (from 28 dollars). I said well, that sounds great, thank you so much.
This almost always seems to work out well if I'm polite and ask general questions like"Is there anything you can do for me at all?" I wish someone had told me this earlier in life, so I am passing it on, hopefully it can help you as well.