How to Slash Your Cable Bill in Half: 5 Steps to Huge Savings
How much do you pay for cable/Internet?
Chances are, more than you'd like to, and the prices keep going up.
Like you, I've been paying for my TV service waaaaay too much but lately I got fed up and called my cable provider (Cox). After a lengthy negotiation I was able to cut my cable bill almost in half, from $296 a month to $165. That's 45% savings!!! ($165 is still too much, if you ask me, but it's a start.)
Want to know how I did it? I followed these 5 steps:
- Define your cable/Internet needs
- Do some research on alternative offers
- Call your cable company
- Negotiate until you get the deal you like
- Be willing to cancel the service if you don't like what you're offered.
So if you're ready to save big on your cable bill, let's get started.
1. Figure Out Your Cable/Internet Must-Haves
Do you have a bunch of channels you never watch? Are the premium channels worth the extra $30-$60 bucks a month? Narrow it down. Make a list of channels you watch the most, and have it in front of you when you call your cable company.
Because the first thing they're going to offer to lower your bill is downgrading your service. They might say: "What channels do you watch the most? Maybe we can offer you a more basic package."
Now that may be something worth looking into.
Do the same with the Internet. Do you stream a lot of videos, shows, movies and play video games? Or do you mostly use the Internet for web browsing, email and social media? The answer will determine the level of service you need.
Don't want to downgrade? No problem. You can still get a better deal.
2. Find a Better Deal From a Competitor
This isn't a necessary step but I highly recommend it because it puts you in the best position when you're negotiating with your cable company.
All you need to do is:
- Find out which cable companies cover your area. Just google your zip code + cable provider, and you’ll find a list of cable companies that are covering your area. Otherwise you’ll waste a bunch of time making calls to random companies, only to find out they aren’t servicing your zip code.
- Find an alternative package that's comparable to yours. Cable companies make it intentionally complicated. With so many packages, promotional offers and hidden fees it can get confusing. Don't fret! Just find an offer that resembles your current package or the package you want.
- Call the company and get a specific quote (their best offer). You might say: “I’m considering switching my cable provider. What is the best deal you can offer on the cable/Internet bundle?”
I recommend that you actually call and talk to somebody because the online offers aren't their final price. You need to find out what their actual offer is, including taxes, installation fees, equipment fees etc. Other questions you might want to ask: what’s the Internet speed? Is it cable, DSL or fiber optics? How many channels are included? How much are the premiums? Is there a contract? Is that a promotional offer that will expire after 1-2 years? Is there a trial period? How soon can they complete an installation?
Once you have asked all the right questions and got a specific quote, you have the leverage to negotiate with your cable provider.
You also have a viable option in case you can't reach a compromise with your cable company: you can actually go ahead and cancel your service, and get another cable provider that offers the better deal.
3. Make the Call to Your Cable Company
This is the most crucial step! You're going to call your cable company and the conversation will go something like this:
Hi, I'd like to cancel my service.
May I ask the reason?
I found another cable company in my area that offers a much better price for the same service.
OK, hold please.
At this point they will transfer you to the Retention Department. The people in this department aren't regular customer service reps. They've been trained to deal with disgruntled customers, and they have the power to offer the best deals and discounts in order to keep you as a customer. That's why you want to be transferred to the Retention Department right away.
4. Negotiate Until You Get a Better Deal
At this point you have to show the rep that you mean business, and that they can't just throw some low-ball offer at you.
This is where you’ll be glad you've done your homework, because guess what? The Retention Department reps have a list of things they will say to try to downplay the major perks that the competitor has promised you. They’ll also try to confuse you with numbers and technical terms in order to convey that although the competing offer is cheaper, the service is worse. So expect that they’ll want to argue with you until you're confused and exhausted.
This is mostly BS. Stay firm. Bring the conversation back to the negotiation:
OK, let’s cut to the chase. What’s your best offer?
They'll put you on hold and come back with a better deal, but not the best deal they can offer. You can say:
This is closer to what I'd like to pay, but still not quite as good as the deal I was offered from <another cable provider>. Are you willing to work with me a little more?
They’ll put you on hold again, and come back with a much better deal. At this point you have to decide: is this offer good enough for you or do you want to go ahead and cancel the service?
5. Be Willing to Cut the Cord
This is your ace in the hole; the secret to a successful negotiation with a cable company.
The cable company rep hopes that you're bluffing and you don't really want to cancel your cable service. Even if it's true, consider the possibility of cutting the cord altogether.
What would happen? Perhaps, you would miss some of your favorite TV shows at first, but then get used to it and be glad you did it. Perhaps, you'd have more time to spend with your family and more money in your pocket. Or, perhaps, you'll find a TV streaming service that offers your favorite channels live, at a fraction of your cable bill.
All of these options are viable, and they are great alternatives to anything your cable company is willing to offer you.
Or just use it as a negotiation tactic. Tell them you’ve been thinking about cancelling your cable subscription for a while, you mostly watch Netflix anyway. Tell them they’ll be doing you a favor. Say it with conviction! After all, the numbers are on your side. More than 7.6 million people have canceled their TV subscriptions over the last five years, and the cable companies are aware of that. They want to keep their remaining customers, so keep negotiating until you get the price you want. if you don't get the best deal the first time, call again and again. That's what the pros do.
And remember: always be polite when negotiating with your cable company. The customer service reps get yelled at by disgruntled customers on a daily basis, don't stoop to that level. They don't set the prices, they're just doing their job. So if you're nice and courteous, they'll be appreciative and more likely to get you the best deal.
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© 2019 Lana Adler