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.  We’ll talk more about negotiating other bills in the future on this blog, but I’m particularly excited about my recent success with my cable bill.

First, you need to understand that I need the internet for school.  And random other business.  If I were just using it to stalk people on facebook I would view this as a totally expendable bill.  Then, you need to understand that local sports is a very strong want in our household.  Football we could get away with just watching on local networks.  But when you have a team like the Pirates (even when they’re kicking butt this season!) you’re not going to be able to see games at all without a cable package.  I guess the same thing is almost as true during hockey season, but as hard as I try, I just can’t make myself care.  (But others in my house do.  :p)

But when our 1 year promotional pricing period ended, there was absolutely no way we could afford the luxury of the ridiculously large package we had to pay for just to watch local sports.  (I’m sorry, but all the hormones in the world couldn’t make me care about the Lifetime Movie Network.  That doesn’t mean I wasn’t paying for it.)  So I tried to call and see if I could negotiate my bill.

My first attempt was an epic fail.  I called and asked why my bill was suddenly so high.  The representative told me what I already suspected:  the promo period had ended.  I asked her if there was anything she could do.  Because I knew there was.  All she “could” offer me was $25 off a month to take a lower package without the sports.  In which case we wouldn’t need any package at all.  Then she reminded me that without the cable bundle, my internet costs would go up.  (I felt like I was being fear mongered.)  At this point I started to get angry.  At least once a month my service doesn’t work.  I knew there were other options this representative could be offering me, but she wasn’t.  I also knew that I was lucky because in most areas, one cable company will hold a complete monopoly, but Verizon has started to encroach on their business in this area.  So I told her I didn’t want to make any changes now, but I would be calling Verizon to see what her competition could offer me.  Her response:  “Go ahead.”

So we had to sit down and have a serious discussion.  To get Verizon in we’d have to pay install fees.  Which I just don’t want to do right now.  And apparently we “couldn’t” cut our bill.  So I called the cable company.  To mournfully cancel.  But it was the right thing to do.  Especially for our pocketbooks.

I called and got the most helpful representative this company has every presented me with.  I think they knew.  I told her I needed to cancel.  She asked why.  I told her I couldn’t afford our package without the promotional price.  And there was nothing she could do to change how much money I could afford every month.  So what does she do?  Offer me the promotional price again.  Even prorating my current bill to reflect the change.  I was amazed.

So what was different about these two calls?  Obviously, the representatives.  If at first you don’t succeed, call back again until you find someone that cares.  Then, there was my approach.  The first time I called in initially playing dumb (although it was only slightly an act,) and then getting angry when I didn’t get the results I wanted.  The second time I went in fully educated about my decision and remained calm even when I knew she was trying to make a sale.  I didn’t make it about the representative personally, but more about the black and white of the financial situation.  And it worked!

Summation:

  • If the first representative doesn’t help or is rude, call back again or ask for their supervisor.
  • Go in educated. Know if there are other competitors in the area.  Know if the company has deals going on right now.  Make a solid decision before you call in, and THEN if they offer you something better, TAKE IT!
  • Don’t get angry.  Although it might work sometimes, most big companies will be more annoyed with you and how much you’re ruining THEIR day than concerned with calming you down.
  • TRY.  Don’t think you can’t do it.  The worst thing that can happen is they tell you “no,” and nothing changes.  The best thing that can happen is a lower bill.
Other suggestions welcomed!  What’s worked for you?

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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!

    Reply
  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…Next time it’s time to renew I’m gonna have to talk to the neighbors about internet! Right now we’re all password protected…one of the neighbors even named his network “VIRUS” to deter non-paying sharing. Haha.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    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!

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
  5. 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!

    Reply
  6. 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!

    Reply
  7. 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!

    Reply

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