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.