How to Lower Your Cable or DirecTV Bill
Whether you use a cable, satellite, or fiber optic provider, there is no need to pay over $100 a month for TV. All companies start new customers off with great deals (does “only $19.99 a month!” sound familiar?), but the bill creeps up to as much as $150 a month once you add the channels you really want to watch, like ESPN and HBO.
The good news: Many of these companies respond well when customers call to negotiate prices down. Here are a few steps that may help bring your bill down, perhaps by as much as a half, and tips about discounts that will save you even more money. I am a devoted DirecTV customer and have negotiated my bill way down using some of these tips, but they are just as relevant for other providers.
Quick Tips to Reduce Your TV Bill
Ask for a Better Deal!
• Research what the competition is offering.
• Call and say you are considering canceling service.
• Hold out for a helpful service rep.
• Tell them what the other company has offered.
• Consider bundling your TV service with internet and phone.
• Review your package for channels you don't use.
• Buy your own antenna, modem, dish, or router.
1. Research Other TV Provider Deals
Figure out how much an alternative like DSL would cost and ask for a discount to bring your bill down to that amount. Knowing how cheap the competition is gives you negotiating power on the phone. The specific discounts and promotions below could apply to any provider, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Don't forget to find out what the regional cable companies in your area are offering.
2. Call Your TV Company
(888) 777-2454 or (800) 531-5000
(800) 266-2278 or (800) 934-6489
3. Find a Customer Service Rep Who Will Help You
Finding the service representative that’s right for you is kind of like picking a out a new pair of jeans. You may have to try on a few pairs before finding the ones you really want to buy.
If you find you're not wild about the first, second, or even third operator, simply call back until you find the right one. Be personable. If you begin the conversation with "How is your day?" or "Where are you hailing from?" the small talk begins, and they will be much more than willing to lend you a helping hand. A good service rep will find the right deals for you.
4. Ask for a Deal
Remember: They Want to Keep Your Business
• If you notice your bill goes up, place a quick call. It is possible that some discounts that were applied to your account earlier have expired. Tell the service representative that you're not thrilled with what you are paying, and they will find some new discounts to apply to your bill. Last month, I received a bill for a little over $100. It turned out that various discounts had expired. I placed a quick call, and now I am down to under $50.
• If you use DishNetwork or DirecTV, tell them you plan to switch to the competition or to using Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu with an over-the-air antennae.
• Say you plan to leave and bundle your telecom services with another provider. Retention discounts can range from $5-$20.
• Follow-up discounts may be less generous than promotional discounts, but it’s important to providers to keep your business. Negotiate hard.
• Ask for discounts even if you are on contract.
• If you're a Comcast customer, tell them you are having trouble with video streaming and ask for a free upgrade to the Blast Cable Internet tier. Ask for discounts on top of the upgrade.
• Look for online coupons.
• Ask about three- to six-month promo offers for Starz, Showtime, Cinemax, or Encore. The only paid movie stations some providers do not offer up for a free trial is HBO, due to its popularity. But if you sign up for HBO, sometimes they will offer $5.00 off per month for three or six months and throw in Cinemax for free as well.
• Check back in a year.
5. Bundle Your Telecom Services
With any provider who offers telecom packages, like AT&T and Comcast, it is always cheaper to buy phone, internet, and television service together. Of course, you may be loyal to one company for phone and not want to bundle that with your other service. Just know that, as with home and auto insurance, it’s always a better deal to go for the so-called triple-play.
6. Review Your Package
Take a good look at the channels in your package. I recently did this for my DirecTV channels and realized that my family does not watch any of the 60+ channels we were getting in the Choice Xtra package. I dropped down to the Standard Choice package and saved $7 per month. Look at your bill closely. There may be other ways to save small amounts of money, which can add up.
7. Get Your Own Modem or Antenna
If you are paying your provider a fee to use a modem, antenna, or router, get your own device (dish, antenna, or modem and router) and converter box. The cost upfront may not be much and will save on your monthly bills.
Bonus for Football Fans
Do you like NFL Sunday Ticket? Most football fans out there do, but hesitate to pay the $350 or more it costs per year. For returning customers, DirecTV offers NFL Sunday Ticket for eight payments of $24.95.
But I would advise anyone who is interested to play the waiting game. About two months before the NFL season begins, DirecTV will offer the same program for around $100. Then, about three weeks before the season begins, they will drop that down to between $60-$80, which is still a fantastic deal (but keep reading).
Last year, just two weeks into the NFL season, I took DirecTV up on their $80 offer. Then I talked them in to giving me a $20 credit for each of the next six months. If you're still doing the math on that, let me help you out: I paid DirecTV $80 but they paid me $120 in credits. So I got the NFL Sunday Ticket plus $40, and this was the MAX package not the basic.
Friends and Family Discount
While I did not write this article so that readers would use the DirecTV friends and family referral program, some have done so anyway. If you are a new DirecTV customer, why not use the discount? If this article was helpful and you would like to use my account number when signing up, you will save $10 per month for 10 months. My account number is 50094048. Please do not feel pressure to use it. Thanks and good luck!