Ask And Save On Your Cable Bill


Cable

My wife was getting sick of the cable bill.

It’s gone up recently to the point where we had to question whether it was worth keeping or not.

I mean, remember when TV was free? 

Now to get reception you have to pay (at least until the digital boxes take effect in February).

So my wife said it was time to get rid of cable!

Whoa!  I gotta admit, I’m an addict.  I’ve been glued to the TV since I was a wee little pea.  I know that’s not the best thing but I wasn’t ready to go cold turkey just yet.  But I also understand that we’re spending way too much money for the privilege of watching a ton of commercials on shows we mostly don’t care too much about.

I told my wife to let me take a shot at calling the cable company to see what they can do for us.

So I grabbed our latest bill, a pen, and some paper and gave them a call.

I got a friendly woman who asked how she can help me.  I asked her what can be done to lower the bill as the rates have gotten real high and we were ready to drop cable if the rates continued as they were.

Immediately she said they had a 12 month promotion that would save us $25!

Oh yeah!

I checked with the Mrs to see if this was acceptable (we’re cool like that in that we clear money issues with each other).  I got the yes nod and told the woman we’d take it.

Just like that we saved roughly $25 a month on our cable!

I took the person’s name and company number in case any issues arise on the next bill.  I also wrote the details down so I can refer to then when the next bill comes in.

Lesson – If you want something to change you have to ask!  It won’t happen on it’s own.

Some things to keep in mind if you’re calling to change your cable bill:

  • Calmly but firmly state that you want to find out how your bill can be lowered.
  • Always remain friendly when speaking to the customer representative.  If the person you get can’t help you ask to speak to their superior or someone that can.
  • Be nice!  Customer service probably gets hundreds of calls in a day, many of which are not too friendly.  Being nice can go a long way in getting what you need.
  • If needed, state that you are prepared to drop their service or go to another service provider.  Have an example of a competitors lower prices if possible.  Many companies have a customer retention department who are equipped for these kind of calls.  Remember, only go the drop route if you are really prepared to drop their service.
  • You might not get the answer you want the first time through.  Nicely hang up and call back in a few minutes to see if you get another rep.
  • Ask about combination packages.  You might get a lower cable rate if you combine cable service with internet and/or telephone service.
  • Get the rep’s name and customer number or ID.  They should have some sort of ID to trace the call back to them.  Write down the details and repeat them back to make sure you understand correctly.  Watch for deals that require a contracted time.  That might not be an ideal situation for you.

Do you have any other tips?  Let me know what’s worked for you!

Creative Commons License photo credit: jessicafm

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Published or updated December 20, 2011.

Comments

  1. That’s rule number one -you’ll never know if you can get a discount if you don’t ask!

    Personally we don’t have a cable bill, we stream all our TV for free using a software called Playon and our xbox 360. We can get most of the network shows that we watch, as well as netflix movies and more!

    Happy 2009!

    Pete’s last blog post..It’s A New Year. Time For A Fresh Start! 2008 Recap.

    • @ Pete – I’ll have to look into Playon. Is that only for the Xbox? I’ve checked out Hulu.com which has shows online.

      @ Ashley – For us it was a package deal. I tried to itemize the services but it would have come out about the same that way. We gave up out caller ID years ago. Hasn’t really affected us and a percentage of our calls come via cell which has caller ID anyway. It’s amazing what you can cut off the bill though. $30/month is a lot in a year!

      @ Jarod – By no means is this limited to your cable bill! The real lesson is you have to speak up if you want something changed!

      @ SG – I’ve heard of getting trials on premium channels. We may have to try that next month and see where that gets us. You just want to watch out trials that charge you automatically after the trial period.

  2. Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet says:

    I did the same thing a few months ago and cut $30 off my bill. I dropped my internet speed down a notch (can’t tell the difference at all) and dropped the extras on the phone (kinda miss caller ID) and dropped the digital cable on one of the TVs (don’t miss it, still have it on one TV).

    Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet’s last blog post..Interview with Mrs. Money

  3. I honestly call and complain about my cable bill almost monthly. So far I was able to get a nice discount on premium movie channels. Never had any luck with getting a discount on the basic service.

  4. Jarod - debt relief says:

    Great lesson to learn. My wife and I have found that this approach works in many areas. We got our interest rates lowered on our credit cards by simply requesting it and mentioning we were tempted to go with a 0% card for 12 months and transfer the balance.

    I look forward to reading your other posts

  5. Great story. I agree to always be nice to the customer reps, because yelling isn’t going to get you anywhere. The problem is you have to be ready to drop if they don’t help out. Most people aren’t on the edge the way you are, so if they catch your bluff you look like a fool.

    • @ Craig – True. You do have to be prepared to drop or lower your package/services. That’s what gives you a hand in the bargaining. But if you can’t afford the payments or it’s cramping your budget then perhaps you really need to consider dropping or less services anyway? And you know, you can always say you’ll consider what they say and get back to them in a few days. You don’t have to drop immediately.

  6. I definitely agree that you have to ask. The worst they can do is say no. And right now, certain providers are hurting.

    I almost cancelled our internet (to go thru someone else) but Comcast offered $22.95/month — $20 savings for a quick phone call.

    I’m really wary of bundling, though. $33 for a phone is really not a good deal. Think about it: How many long-distance calls do you really make? Could you make them with a cell phone? Yeah, you get all the bells & whistles, but most of them you don’t need.

    Voicemail? Get an answering machine (most are now remotely accessible, just like voicemail, and it’s a one-time expense, usually cheap if you watch Walgreens or Rite Aid)

    Call Waiting is nice, sure. If you want that you can get it for about $3/month.

    Caller ID? Screen (when it’s an answering machine and not voicemail, you can hear who it is)

    When I called Qwest, I asked for a basic line. They said, “Great, our basic package is $25 and includes…” I interrupted and said, “No, no package. I want a line. No call waiting, no caller ID. Just a phone line that will ring when people call me.” It was $12 a month $15 after taxes.

    So I have a hard time believing that any bundle will save me money. You can get your internet for $19.99 for 6 months from Comcast (just type in $19.99 and comcast to a search engine). Then you call and say you can’t afford the regular price, and they’ll generally extend for 3-6 months. Again, that’s cheaper than the $33 bundle Comcast offers.

    Cable is trickier, but if you’re careful about what you order, you can get a good deal. Our Dish bill is $40 after taxes. We avoid movie channels (Blockbuster membership) and there’s really only two channels in the next bundle up that we miss. I’ve told my husband that when our debt gets further down, we can spend the extra $12 a month. It keeps him going.

    Abigail’s last blog post..I warrant you’ll be wantin’ a warranty

    • @ Abigail – You do have to know the details of the bundle that’s being offered. I think I read recently how fast food offers meal deals that are sometimes more expensive than the individual pieces! Our bundle is internet and cable. We haven’t gone the digital phone route yet. We also have a basic land line and use our cells for long distance.

      @ Craig – You should look into whether there’s a fee for canceling before the contract expires. I’d imagine there is but it may still make sense to drop the dish if the cancel fee isn’t a lot and you can get a better deal for cable. Or at least use that as a bargaining chip?

  7. @ffb That is true, you don’t have to drop just cause you threaten. I am on an 18 month plan for my dish network. Any chance you think I could use that technique and try to switch to cable? Not sure how it works when you are on a contract.

  8. @ Craig, you’ll pay a fee for cancelling, but if you can convince them it’s worth it, they might take you seriously. Personally, I love Dish. And, thanks to a fight between them & a local ABC affiliate, I was able to get $5 off our bill for 10 mos (or until the fight is finishd and we have ABC again). So we’re basically getting local channels for $.99!

    Abigail’s last blog post..I warrant you’ll be wantin’ a warranty

  9. @ffb There probably is a cancellation fee I should look into. Either way, I am waiting for FIOS to come down to my area and then I will def be using it as a bargaining chip to get the best deal possible.

    • @ Craig – Aren’t free markets great?

      @ Abigail – Great advice on Dish TV! These days a company does not want to lose a customer. Smart ones will do what they can to retain you.

  10. @ Craig (part two) sorry I forgot to tell you: Mention DirecTV’s current deal: $29.99 a month (it’s after some rigamarole, so I don’t bother) for a full year. Also mention (if you get a manager) that Dish has, for the second consecutive quarter, gone down in customers & profit. it’s a new trend and I bet they’re scared to death!

    Abigail’s last blog post..I warrant you’ll be wantin’ a warranty

  11. I’ve done this several times with pretty decent success. Helps to have a competitors ad handy too.

    PT Money’s last blog post..A Plan to Be Debt Free in 2009

  12. @Abigail I have DirecTV and that is a trick I should use. I signed up and got the NFL package and that included all movie channels for a 4 month period. I believe my roommate called up and they extended that. Come spring I may see if they can throw in MLB package for free with using your advice. Thanks.

    @ffb Yes it is.

  13. Great idea to call and ask for a discount!

    We don’t have cable at all right now, and actually, you can use your digital box now (without waiting for the digital transition) and get good reception (well…better than the analog, depending on where you are). We have pretty bad analog reception where we are, but we get pretty good digital reception. It’s amazing how clear the picture is. We even get extra stations. For example, we get 3 ABC stations, 3 PBS stations, etc.

    Corrie @ “Cents”able Momma’s last blog post..Mailbox Monday

    • @ Corrie – I used to do something similar in an old apartment. There was a cable but I didn’t have a box. I just plugged the wire right into the TV and viola, great reception! Like you I also got some extra channels too like IFC which was a nice source of movies.

  14. Eliminate Debt Blog says:

    I’ve done something similar to this except that I told them I wanted to remove services. They were quick to give me a discount just so I could keep it.

    The trick for them is that they hope you forget later down the road that you had the 6 month “special deal” and that you’ll just continue to pay the original fee.

    • @ EDB – Absolutely. You have to watch your bills like a hawk to see if the charges changed. A nice way to keep track is to set up an alert in Google Calendar before your promotion period ends this way you can negotiate again before the rates jump back up.

  15. Recently the company Viacom, which is the parent company for many TV stations including MTV, CC, Nickelodeon and more, told comcast to raise rates or else they would no longer be receiving the different channels. They basically twisted arms so that Viacom could get more money. I am sure that this is why rates are going up. You can bet its whoever owns the channels. Lame huh.

  16. We pay $63 for basic (Comcast) cable…we don’t even have a cable box, either…it’s ridiculous! I need to call them to see what they can do. Maybe we need the Dish.

    Bella Casa’s last blog post..Type-A Mom is Hiring Mom Editors

    • @ BellaCasa – Sounds like you might need to look into the digital box that some will need in February. That’s a lot to be paying for just basic (though I’m not sure what your basic consists of).

  17. It is so great to see a blog with such active participation and valuable comments. We’ll definitely be taking this advice!

    Meg’s last blog post..Doing Our Part

  18. Success! We called today and they agreed to knock our bill down by $15 a month- and we decided to get rid of dvr on 1 tv and our voicemail (we have a bundle w/ phone tv and cable).

    Success!

    I also called about my cell phone to be sure I had the right plan- but there wasn’t anything to be saved there because I’ve had the same plan for so many years, and I don’t have any bells or whistles.

    Thanks so much for the suggestion. We are trying to get our fp in order and small successes like this help.

    Thanks!

    Meg’s last blog post..Doing Our Part

    • @Meg – Awesome news! Glad to hear you were able to knock some money off of your bill. Thanks for coming back to tell us.

  19. If you even mention dropping your plan you will have Concast on their knees begging you to stay. You can save a lot of money this way.

  20. The Prudent Planner says:

    Ok…quick question for someone who is converting to this new strategy to save money. Does anyone else have problems with their shows stalling or skiping on their computer? I have wireless and maybe that’s the problem? Someone please give me a bit of advice as to how fast your internet hast to be and how much that will cost me. Thanks.

  21. My family had cable for the longest time and didnt want to switch because was so use to the programming. My husband called to see if he could get a better deal. They said they would give us a HD and cut $10.00 off our bill.
    Then we called Direct TV and see what they could do. The offered us the HD box and as well as a Recorder and cut our current bill in half.
    We called back cable and told us good luck those prices are not real. We switch to Direct TV and we got the price and Save Over $600/ Year.

  22. One nationwide company will give you promotions on your cable, internet and telephone. Usually 6 months to a year WITHOUT A CONTRACT!! However, when the promotion expires, please don’t call and demand a lower price again. You have to pay full price for 90 days. After the 90 days, you can qualify for another promotion. Threaten to leave? Can’t make you stay and we probably don’t want to deal with a “promotion hopper”. You’ll be back at some point in time. As a new customer, with a new promotion rate. I know times are tough but rules are rules. Don’t like them? Leave the service company and see how happy you are with one of our competitors.

    • My experience has been that you can’t keep asking for the same promotions, and like you said, you need to give it some time before you ask for more promotions.

  23. Exactly. I don’t mind giving lower rates and I will at every opportunity. But people have come to expect the lower rates ALL THE TIME. If it was meant to be an “all the time rate”, we wouldn’t offer promotions.

  24. Paradice says:

    This is a great way of saving money on your cable bill. It does not hurt to ask, and I too have gotten promotions this way. The problem here is that they only last so long, before that wretched bill starts creeping up again. After some “promotion hopping” for a few months im still stuck with an outrageous bill. I have now just severed the hand from the arm- cut my cable. I use Redbox, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon prime, etc. I utilize every OTHER way to watch TV now. Its still cheaper.

    • We’ve gone that route as well. If you are happy with the selection then it’s an awesome alternative that can be much cheaper (and actually make you more productive too).

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