You know when you have that stack of mail and out peeks the monthly bill from the cable company? It’s an almost universal reaction to groan. If you’re like most people, the first thought that runs through your head is I’m paying all this money and still can’t find anything to watch.
Then the second though is why am I paying so much?
If your cable bill is too high and you’re hoping to find a way to pay less, read on. Learn about the ways you can negotiate with your cable company to save some money on that bill.
Consider These Ways to Lower Your Bill
Have you ever thought how does my cable bill keeps getting higher when my services haven’t changed? Cable providers are notorious for their bundling packages that aim to save you money. Yet, they expire without warning or notification.
So, over time, your bill inches up and up. Before you cancel your cable service, consider these ways to get that bill back under control.
Reduce the Number of Premium Channels
While you might not have been willing to give up HBO during Game of Thrones or you don’t want to miss the last season of Homeland on Showtime, those premium channels can cost you a pretty penny.
Often when you sign up for them they are part of a promotional cable package. Yet, if those packages expire or you add just one of the channels to catch a favorite show, they can add up to $20 a month to your bill.
Take a close look at your premium channels. Don’t think of it as a monthly charge because it’s easy to rationalize the $20. Instead, consider the cost over the course of a year. It makes it pretty easy to cut it then.
Bundle Your Services
Another way to save is by making sure you’re bundling your services. The cable company will offer you discounted rates if you get more than cable from them. So, instead of paying AT&T for your internet service and Verizon for phone services, bundle the services together.
Now, in theory, it might make your cable bill seem bigger when you add phone and WiFi to the cable services. But you eliminate other bills. You also get a discounted rate from the cable provider for bundling those services together.
Be careful to not agree to other services or channels you don’t need. This is where the cable company will try to talk you into adding premium channels as part of the bundle.
Use Fewer Cable Boxes
It used to be that you could get cable by having the cable line run hook right up to the TV. Then the cable company said you can’t get cable without a cable box and each cable box costs you. So, for each TV in your house, you had to add a cable box.
It’s time to take stock if you are really watching all the TVs in your house. With so much technology like tablets and iPads, people are often watching things from a streaming service on a device instead of turning on the TV.
While it might only seem like $5 or $10 a month, over the course of a year, eliminating a cable box or two can add up to savings.
Get Rid of DVR Services
Like the cable box, the DVR might just be a waste with today’s technology. The DVR took over for your antiquated VCR so you could record shows. The truth is you can watch most shows the next day on-demand. Comcast is touted for their on-demand services, for example.
You don’t need to DVR something you can see on-demand a day later. This is especially true when you are paying an additional fee for every DVR you have.
Check for Hidden Fees
When you talk to your service provider (more on that later) address the issue of those hidden fees. Why are they there and what do get in return for them?
Downsize the Plan
As a new customer when you call to get cable services, guess what, the cable company doesn’t want to tell you about the cheapest option. They tell you about a package that has a bunch of channels that you think you MIGHT want.
Consider if you can downsize your plan. Go to the most basic cable services. You probably won’t miss any of those other channels and over the course of the year the lower rate can add up.
Are there Cheaper Options?
Take a minute to evaluate what you watch. There are service providers who can offer entertainment options for you that aren’t the cable company.
If you mostly watch a streaming service like Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu, why keep paying the big cable bill?
If you still want some of those cable channels, compare your cable rates with a satellite provider like Direct TV.
Before You Call, Survey the Family
At some point, a phone call to haggle over cost will be necessary. Before you make that dreaded phone call, gather all the information you need.
The cable company is going to ask what channels do you like? Which ones can’t you live without? If you don’t know, you’re going to guess, or worse yet, agree to keep something you really don’t need.
So, survey your family about their wishes and needs. Evaluate your WiFi services too, in case you need to address that when you finally do make the call.
Prepare Before You Call and Negotiate
Before you call, there are some things you can do to give you more negotiating power. It’s hard to call in and ask for better rates if you haven’t been paying your bill on time, for example.
Make sure your payments are on time and up to date before you get on the phone with them. If you’re behind on your bill, they might tell you there isn’t any way they can change services to lower the bill.
What Service Do You Have Now?
Sit down with your bill and list the services they currently provide you so you are prepared. Does your cable bill include:
- Premium channels
- Channels beyond basic cable
- DVR services
- Internet services
- Phones service
- Cable boxes
If you know ahead of time exactly what you are paying for, it makes it easier to plan where you want to trim or ask for discounts.
Do your homework too. Do a Google search on your cable provider. Find out what promotions they are currently offering. If they are willing to give a discount to a new customer, they should be willing to offer it to you too.
The promotion you got last year might not be as good as the one they are offering now. The more informed you are, the more negotiating power you have with them.
Why You Should Attempt to Negotiate With the Cable Company
I love to call the cable company, said no one ever. But eventually, you will need to prepare to make the dreaded call to them. You should approach this call knowing you are going to need to negotiate. Don’t be silly enough to believe they will just give you the best deal right out of the gate.
You are going to have to be prepared to persistently negotiate to save money. Sadly, the cable companies are rather notorious for making consumers work at getting the best rate.
Get the Cable Company on the Phone
You’ve done all your research and homework. Consider yourself the Olympic athlete of cable bills, you’re ready for the big competition, ahem, phone call into your cable provider. It doesn’t matter if you use Comcast, Spectrum, or Time Warner Cable, the call will likely be similar.
You will call their 800 number and have to navigate the automated system attempting to get a human on the line. You want to get yourself to the retention department. They are the ones who are charged with doing anything they can to keep you from all-out canceling your service.
This also means they can offer you better deals. Keep asking until you get on the phone with someone from that department.
Have Reasonable Expectations
Now you are geared up and ready for a smaller bill. But remember, to keep your expectations reasonable. If you are keeping services, be prepared to pay for them. Don’t go in thinking you’ve done the homework so the bill should magically shrink in half.
Remember, to pay attention to the research you did on the promotions they are currently offering. Those rates are a good indicator of what you can ask for.
Don’t Enter the Call Fighting
Anytime you go into a call like this, knowing it’s going to be a hassle and you are going to have to haggle your instinct is to put on your fighting face. Remember, the customer service representative is there doing their job too.
You can ask, even insist, on a better rate and still do it nicely. If you try being firm and friendly, they might be more open to helping you get the savings you desire.
Refuse to Take No for an Answer
Yes, you can be nice and friendly and still refuse to take no for an answer. In fact, it’s likely, at least at first, you will be told there isn’t much they can do for you. Be prepared (politely) to dispute that response.
In fact, insist they find a way to save you money. Cable companies are feeling the pinch from the streaming services. They are not the only gig in town anymore. Insist they keep looking until they find a way to get you some savings.
Don’t Take Their First Offer
This is where doing your homework matters. They might offer you a current promotion. But if you know, because you planned and evaluated before the call, there are channels you won’t watch then don’t settle for that offer.
Keep asking until they find a plan that both meets your needs and gets you some savings too.
Ask Them to Weed Out Hidden Fees
Remember, back when you studied your bill and looking for hidden fees you likely didn’t even know you were paying? Now is the time to address those fees.
Ask for those fees to be removed from your bill. Ask for promotions that might help get rid of those fees. You could ask for:
- Free installation
- Free equipment
- Free activation
- Free speed upgrades
- Free channel upgrades
These are places where they might be adding fees that you could get removed.
Threaten to Cancel
In today’s world of COVID-19, unemployment, and overwhelming bills, it’s not unlikely you want to just cancel. They are probably hearing it quite often. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it as a strategy.
Threaten to cancel your services entirely. There’s plenty of competition and they need to keep you as a customer. If you’ve been a long-standing customer, you have even more negotiating power. They know if you leave, you are likely not coming back.
If you haven’t been able to get to the retention department yet, this is your time to ask to speak with them. They will pull out the stops to keep you as a customer.
If you do decide to cancel some services, make sure you ask if they are going to try to tack on a termination fee to your bill and be prepared to dispute it.
Save Money on Your Cable Bill
Nobody likes paying the cable bill. In fact, it often feels like you are paying this big bill for services you don’t use. Use the tips and advice here to negotiate a lower bill. Over the course of a year, even some savings can really add up.
For more articles like this one, be sure to visit our personal finance page.