This is a guest post from Stephen Ward, who writes at Project Paradox.

Although many frugality experts decry the need for television, my wife and I enjoy it too much to give it up.  That didn’t stop me from getting a better deal, though!  Just the other day, I called up my provider to get my rate reduced.  It took about 15 minutes on the phone to get a rate that was 15% lower.  Here’s how I did it:

I armed myself with a better deal.  Facts are powerful negotiating tools.  My first step was to go online and find a comparable offer by a competitor at a cheaper price.  In my case, I found another cable and high speed internet package deal that was $26.86 cheaper than my current monthly bill.  I made sure to write down the specifics, including the name of the competitor, the product in question, and where I’d seen it.

I called the service cancellation line.  To be honest, I had no desire to go through the hassle of canceling my existing service and signing on with a new provider (whose rates would no doubt end up being higher than advertised).  However, I gave the distinct impression that I was shopping around and considering alternatives.  I was immediately forwarded to the customer retention line.

I was courteous.  Service agreements such as these are business contracts.  I simply explained that I had seen a better offer and wanted the best deal.  I also explained that I was happy with my current service and wanted to give them the opportunity to match the competitor’s price.  All of this is just good business; getting belligerent or making it personal only gets in the way.

I cut through the counterpoints.  The representative to whom I spoke tried to convince me that the competitor’s service was inferior and that they could reduce my price by downgrading me to a lower-tiered product.  I politely affirmed that I was satisfied with the competitor’s offering and didn’t want something of lower quality.  Remember: this person’s job was to satisfy me, but actually giving me a better deal was a last resort.  By indicating that nothing but a price reduction would do the trick, that’s exactly what I got.

I accepted a reasonable resolution.  After the representative agreed to put me on a promotional discount, my monthly bill was reduced by 14.83% for the next six months.  Granted, this didn’t match the competitor’s offer, but it was plenty to make me happy paying for a service I wanted to keep anyway.  I might have been able to get more by continuing to haggle, but failing to compromise is just bad negotiating.

So there you have it — not a bad return on 15 minutes of work!  Remember, a willingness to negotiate a better deal is your first step to getting one, whether you’re talking about the television bill or anything else.