How to Negotiate Your Cable Bill

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You aren’t doomed to pay retail on your bills.  A few minutes on the phone can save you up to thousands a year.  This is particularly true for recurring bills, like rent or credit card payments.

Another huge one?

Your cable and internet bill.

This bill can get large quickly if you’re not on a reduced-price contract. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to negotiate your cable bill.

Prepare for Negotiations with Your Cable Company

Like most things in life, your negotiations with your cable company will benefit from some preparation. First, you’ll want to gather info like:

  • Your current cable package.
  • Your current internet package and speed.
  • The channels your family ‘can’t live without.’

See if there are any specific programming needs that could be met through streaming rather than through a cable package.

Shop the competition.

Most cable companies and internet service providers roll out the red carpet for new customers. As a new customer, you may be able to secure introductory pricing in exchange for signing a one- or two-year contract.

If you have Comcast, for example, and Spectrum is another provider in your area, you would want to check out Spectrum’s offers for new customers.

Switching providers can cost you money in terms of installation and other fees. You’re not necessarily committing to switching providers at this point. But having this information can help you as you negotiate with you current provider.

Research current deals.

You aren’t going to qualify for introductory pricing with your current service provider. But that doesn’t mean they won’t offer you a lower price.

Your ability to get a new price will depend on your contract. Some providers may allow you to sign up for a new package twelve months into a twenty-four month package. Others may make you wait until your current contract expires.

But once your contract expires, most companies will offer you reduced-price packages to get you back on contract. They won’t be as low as the offers for new customers, but they’re often dramatically cheaper than going month-to-month.

Talk to the Right Person

When you call to negotiate your internet bill, the first person you talk to isn’t likely the best-suited to help you. Often, you want to talk to someone in sales. Some companies will even have a department specifically as a stop-gap for customers considering cancellation, complete with reps authorized to provide even lower-priced packages.

If the first person you talk to can’t help you, or isn’t giving you a price you can afford, ask to talk to someone in another department — sales or customer retention. If there is no other department, ask to speak to a manager. Be kind and respectful about your ask, but don’t be afraid to make it.

If you’re not getting anywhere, it’s okay to call again later. The odds of getting the same representative — especially if you’re dealing with a larger company — is slim. The next person you talk to may be more willing or able to help you.

Ask About Bundle Pricing

Once you’ve found a helpful representative, they’ll likely offer you bundle packages. This can include services for internet, cable and home phone lines.

Bundled services are less expensive. However, bundles can also be pack with preselected channels you don’t actually need. Check to make sure the bundle is actually cheaper than what you need rather than what you’re often being sold: A padded bundle.

Ask about smaller internet and cable packages.

I’ve never had a customer service representative offer me a package with bare-bones basic cable.

I have to ask for it explicitly.

Often, bundling your internet with basic cable will result in a lower bill than if you get internet alone. However, if you have to rent extra equipment it can end up being a wash or even more expensive.

Cut the cord.

If you really want to save on cable, you can cut it altogether. Services like Netflix and Sling TV have given us a myriad of viewing options at a sliver of the price.

Low-Cost Internet Programs

There are certain situations where government programs can help you get discounted or even free internet access. A couple of the big ones include:

  • Lifeline. Lifeline is an FCC program that has been around since 1985. Initiated with the intent of helping lower-income Americans have access to a landline, it has since evolved and now includes broadband access. You can apply for the Lifeline program here if you meet the income eligibility guidelines. You can also inquire with your internet service provider about low-income programs.
  • ConnectHomeUSA. The ConnectHome program was created under the Obama administration. It was a pilot program, and the expansion — ConnectHomeUSA — was opened in 2017. This program provides free or subsidized internet services, capped at under $10/month. It also provides discounted laptops and tablets, along with digital literacy programs. It’s currently available in 48 states & DC, and is targeted at those who live in HUD housing.
  • EveryoneOn. The nonprofit partner that runs ConnectHomeUSA — EveryoneOn — also has a tool that can help you look for additional assistance programs. There are even some programs you qualify for simply by virtue of having a K-12 child.

12 thoughts on “How to Negotiate Your Cable Bill

  1. Holly

    One other way to get cheap internet: share with your neighbors. Dave and I have done this in both apartments we’ve lived in. It’s usually only about $10/month, and you don’t have to pay for phone lines or TV packages you don’t need. Then for TV shows we use Hulu or Netflix (I guess local sports would be hard to find that way, though).

    Nice blog, Brynne. Love all your tips!

  2. femmefrugality

    Holly I love those suggestions! I used to use hulu all the time…went years without cable. Then as soon as I renegotiate my cable bill and talk up the buccos they start falling into their old habits…

  3. Niki

    I am a huge fan of the “it never hurts to ask” philosophy but I like the at first you don’t succeed approach too. I am glad you got your cable bill lowered.

  4. jlcollinsnh

    Prefect timing on this post for me. Like you we were on a promo package for a phone/internet/TV deal.

    When it expired we got the same, sorry story from comcast. We cut back on the cable package a bit but, embrassingly, let it go.

    Now we’ve decided to drop our land line. I’ll be calling them this week should be an interesting conversation.

    BTW, my wife called last week. when they found out what she wanted they put her on hold and just left her there. as you can imagine, we don’t like them much.

  5. femmefrugality

    Truly evil. Ask for their customer retention program. Or customer loyalty. I forget which one it’s called, but their job is to convince you not to get rid of their services, so they have clearance to give you bigger cuts.

    1. jlcollinsnh

      thanks, FF….

      just finished that post. Good stuff.

      Comcast is indeed a pain. no other company I do business with irritates me more.

      That’s what happens with a near monopoly on a service most folks are unwilling to do without.

      BTW, how do I get your site to recognize me so I don;t have to log in with each comment? thanks!

    2. femmefrugality

      Hope it helps! I really dislike cable companies, too. I don’t understand why they’re allowed to have regional monopolies for all intents and purposes.

      I think if you get a Gravatar account with google that’ll solve the log in problem. Let me know if that info is unhelpful, though, and I’ll look into it.

    3. jlcollinsnh

      last thing I want is another account somewhere! 🙂

      BTW, I just hung up with Michael at Comcast. Seems our account is in my wife’s name so he couldn’t help but what a pleasant fellow to deal with. Maybe Comcast is getting their act together or maybe I just got lucky this time.

  6. jlcollinsnh

    The rest of the story…..

    ….my wife left a message for Michael authorizing me to make account changes. Within 1/2 hour he called me back. Dropping the phone line couldn’t have been easier. boom. done. $56.93 per month saved. That left 101.65 for the cable & internet.

    When Michael asked if there was anything else he could do I said “Sure, are there any promotional rates for the the two things left.”

    There are, but then he quoted $112 & change. Fortuately I had the bill in front of me and told him that was higher than what I’d be paying without the phone. We went try it line by line together and it turns out he had assumed we had a more expensive cable package than we do. Honest mistake and problem solved. New price: $85.90 for a total monthly savings of $72.68.

    Lessons learned:

    1. there are good people at Comcast (and other places) if you don’t get one at first hang up and try again. It is the luck of the draw.

    2. be familiar with your bill before you call.

    3. be friendly. honey v. vinegar and all that.

    4. just ask.

    Thanks again FF. without your post this would still be on my to do list. I owe you a cup of coffee next time you’re in New Hampshire!

  7. femmefrugality

    Oh, I’m so glad everything worked out well! I’m glad you found a “good guy.” It seems like they don’t have many of them, but when you find them they’re amazing. Great job!

  8. Rachyl

    Great post. I need to call my cable company and see what I can do! They just raised our rates for inflation. I wasn’t happy to see that!


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