How 15 Minutes Saved Me 15% on My Television Bill

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.

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Mrs. Micah
Mrs. Micah
12 years ago

If only our cable company weren’t a monopoly. However, we’re considering just dropping the service, since we only watch a few stations and can get our favorite shows through their websites….

If I had a bargaining chip, I’d use it. 🙂

NoBoB
NoBoB
12 years ago

Mrs. Micah, wouldn’t the satellite services count as competition?

Cascadia Girl
Cascadia Girl
12 years ago

Yes, sadly, Seattle is divided into geographic monopolies as well. A couple options: Check with the state or county you live in to find out whether there is a regulation-enforced basic service. In the Seattle area, there is “limited cable” that the cable company does not advertise, but you can request. It’s about $17 per month. I opted for this for a time as I cannot get broadcast TV otherwise. After a while I realized that even $17 was too much for the c**p that was aired. I opted instead for Netflix. Not only do they have a huge library… Read more »

Cigar Jack
Cigar Jack
12 years ago

I have a bundle service with our Cable Provider that includes VOIP/Cable/Broadband/DVR I’m extremely happy with it and if I call in every 6 months and tell them I’m switching to the Phone Company’s similar package I can knock $50 off my bill for a few months.

Adam
Adam
12 years ago

Hmmm, maybe this would be worth trying considering we just got 3/4 of our channels repo’d. I thought we had the basic (like 22 channels) the whole time, but after a year, I was building a friend a mythTV system and realized it was showing the expanded basic, so I thought maybe I had them all along but didn’t program the channels right. So, for the next year we had all these nice channels, and I actually enjoyed TLC, Discovery, Nat Geo, History, etc… But then the other day before Thanksgiving, they all went away but the very basic and… Read more »

E.T.Cook
E.T.Cook
12 years ago

We spend all day complaining about when companies take advantage of us or lie to us…then we go off, and lie to them to get what we want…

This seems a little bit hypocritical, doesn’t it?

Tom
Tom
12 years ago

It’s sad that some areas do only offer one type of cable service. When I used to live in an apartment, we were subject to their cable service only which stunk!

These are great tips and the same tips work just as well for satellite radio 😉

brian
brian
12 years ago

Just to be clear, it’s okay to lie in order to save money? You had no real intention of cancelling, but called to cancel the service and carried out the charade just so you could save

MoneyChangesThings
MoneyChangesThings
12 years ago

This has worked well with cellphone plans, as well. Our daughter racked up a lot of text message charges; my husband called AT&T Cingular and asked for a bundled text message rate (way cheaper) and to have the higher charges removed, and they cheerfully removed the charges. Of course we now have added text messaging line item, so we’re paying more, but for a service she uses, so that’s fair.
This approach does not work with credit cards, in my experience!
http://moneychangesthings.blogspot.com/2007/06/i-hate-advanta.html

Becky
Becky
12 years ago

Brian, It’s not lying. It’s trying out to see the best deal you can get. Car deals, Cell Phones, and TV subscriptions are all handled this way. I love Verizon Wireless as my cell phone provider. But, if they refuse to upgrade to the phone I want for less than $100 (the upgrade price online, for a Chocolate phone !! >=( ) I will let them know that other options are out there, for cheaper costs when signing a contract. Now it’s up to them whether they want to keep my regular $50/mo. coming in for the less cost of… Read more »

Mrs. Micah
Mrs. Micah
12 years ago

Good point, NoBob, but we’re not set up well to get satellite reception. Plus the apartment complex has a rule against it. :/ Otherwise we might look into that. But our general tv reception isn’t too bad.

I kind of wonder if plain old non-cable tv is going to disappear one of these days.

E.T.Cook
E.T.Cook
12 years ago

@9 It’s not lying? You might want to check the dictionary…and get a definition of lying.

Maybe you would be a proponent of lying about your nationality to get a scholarship as well…

Matt
Matt
12 years ago

Mrs. Micah:
Non-cable analog standard definition broadcasts will cease in 2009; the only over-the-air broadcasts after the cutoff date will be digital high definition. It will still be possible to watch over-the-air broadcasts on a standard definition TV, but one will need a digital to analog converter box.

Jerry
Jerry
12 years ago

You could save even more of a bundle if you didn’t have cable at all. I know, I know. That would compromise a person’s quality of life. I don’t have the discipline to not watch all of those tempting channels on cable. So, we have basic which is fine for us. And, it gives us some insurance that our 2 year old won’t stumble onto an inappropriate channel. However, if there was a cable company selling a package that was really inexpensive I’d give it a second thought…

Jerry
http://www.leads4insurance.com

M!
M!
12 years ago

Noun 1. lying – the deliberate act of deviating from the truth Rereading the article, the only place that I could find that might be considered a lie is when Mr. Ward stated that “I gave the distinct impression that I was shopping around and considering alternatives.” This doesn’t actually deviate from the truth, as he really did shop around to find out what deals were available and he did consider what his alternatives may be. If anything, the company was “deliberately deviating from the truth” stating that the competition was inherently inferior, after Mr Ward’s research had proved otherwise.… Read more »

Mike Huang
Mike Huang
12 years ago

Haggling works no matter where a perons is shopping 🙂 It’s always worth a try!

-Mike

Dave C
Dave C
12 years ago

I used the same general trick to get $20 (17% or so I think) off my cable/internet package for 6 months… turned into 8 and I thought may be overlooked permanently but alas this month it’s back to regular price… make that $7 more than it was before my discount. I’ll make no bones about it. Cable provider is Mediacom, they have a stranglehold in my market of Central Iowa, Dish Network and DirectTV are your other options, and I’m seriously considering calling right back in and asking for the same deal otherwise I’ll cancel. It’s simply not a good… Read more »

E.T.Cook
E.T.Cook
12 years ago

@12

Wrong. When you misrepresent your intentions, and your claims are fallacious, you are lying. If you never intend to leave the service either way, you aren’t really considering alternatives are you? But yet you state that there is a distinct possibility that this is the case. I am making absolutely no representation on whether or not you should utilize this tactic, but your claims that it isn’t lying are…well…a lie.

ebonyblazer
ebonyblazer
12 years ago

With all of this blathering about lying perhaps we should all simply re-read what Stephen wrote (italics and bold print added): 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. If everything happened as Mr. Ward posted–where exactly is the lie? Argue the technicals of… Read more »

Sam
Sam
12 years ago

I did the same thing with DirecTV. The only addition to the above list was I mentioned how long I had been a loyal DirecTV customer (since 2000) and that while I was happy with the service I was not happy with the price. My monthly price went from $72 a month to $50 a month. My lower price will end in 12 mos., but the customer rep encouraged me to call back when the deal expired.

Julia
Julia
12 years ago

We canceled our service today and have no plans to get any other service (netflix, cable, etc). We already rarely watch TV, so why spend so much when cutting TV out entirely wouldn’t be that hard? Especially now with the writers strike, the programs we used to watch aren’t even on anymore.

E.T.Cook
E.T.Cook
12 years ago

@19

You must have skipped over this part.

” 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.”

pat
pat
12 years ago

Re “I gave the distinct impression that I was shopping around and considering alternatives”

How is this a lie? He did shop around and did consider alternatives. He decided to just as soon stay there to avoid hassle of changing, but did consider alternatives. Had this “haggling” albeit polite haggling, not worked out may very well have sitched. Geez.

E.T.Cook
E.T.Cook
12 years ago

English might be tough for you #23. The sentence in itself admits that he was intentionally misleading the rep by stating that he was thinking about switching, when he had no such intention. I don’t know how it could be any more clear cut than that.

Maybe you could argue about whether the lie was justified or not, but you are going to have a hard time arguing that it wasn’t a lie…I’m sorry.

ET
ET
12 years ago

He went through all of the trouble of finding another deal which means he’s already been thinking of switching. Why else would someone do this?

D. Berger
D. Berger
12 years ago

#24, You seem to ignore the fact that the point is to haggle for a better rate when a better rate has been proven to exist. Is it lying to ‘mislead’ others? Sure, at times. Let me give you an example: You walk into an Arab Suq, and you have 50 USD. You see a hooka that you really like, and the advertised price is 40 USD. Now, you really like the hooka, but you tell the man that you only have $30. After some haggling, he sells it to you for that $30. Is that lying? Sure. You definitely… Read more »

hitesh sahni
hitesh sahni
12 years ago

that took much more than just 15 minutes when you follow all the mentioned steps.

searching for the competitor offer and so on…

Minimum Wage
Minimum Wage
12 years ago

I saw a bumper sticker that says KILL YOUR TELEVISION. That would save 100% on your television bill.

Minimum Wage
Minimum Wage
12 years ago

(Apologies to Bob Dylan)

I sat me down on the television floor
Heard a knock on the ol’ front door
Out in the cold there was a sales pitch man
With a list of proGRAMming in his hand

Cable package!
Entertainment!
Pay a bundle!

Whew!

The Bob
The Bob
12 years ago

There was no lying this is the art of haggling. Get over it please. I am about to drop my satellite package to save 50 bucks a month starting in January. However, a tip for anyone who does not have the excellent Digital Video Recorder deal is to call up your Cable, Dish or Direct T.V. provider and tell them you will switch to the competition if they do not give you a DVR for free. Unless you do this they will try to rip you off by charging you a hundred dollars for the device plus 30 bucks installation.… Read more »

E.T.Cook
E.T.Cook
12 years ago

@30

Just because you say it is so, doesn’t make it so.

He clearly claimed to be doing something that he had no intention of following through on…that is lying…did you fail English?

Norman
Norman
12 years ago

I saved 100% on my bill. No lie, no haggling, just cancel. Lots less noise around the house now days. Writers strike, did not notice.

Stephen Ward
Stephen Ward
12 years ago

Hello everyone. I was the author of this article. Apologies for the late entry into the discussion. Since whether or not I was lying seems to be the central argument, I’ll go ahead and address that. To be honest, I was deceptive. I wanted a better deal on my current service. The only negotiating leverage I could use to get that was to make a lower price my cable company’s only alternative to losing me as a customer. If I hadn’t accomplished my objective, I probably would’ve given up rather than gone through the hassle of switching to another provider.… Read more »

E.T.Cook
E.T.Cook
12 years ago

As one of the individuals that so fervently titled your actions as that of a liar, I must say kudos for coming and explaining your actions. I myself am of the camp that says business is business, and would most likely also, and most likely have engaged in the same tactics that you describe, but I just don’t understand the concept that this isn’t lying. Too often, as consumers, we seem to believe that we have a “license to kill”…that whatever we do is justified since we are the little guy, and they are the big business. And, conceptually, and… Read more »

Kev
Kev
12 years ago

Me: Hi, i notice you have a deal on your website for HBO (I love HBO), can you please add it to my account.

Comcast Rep: Sorry, that is a web only deal.

Me: Please open a web browser and change my accout.

Comcast Rep: good one. I have an equivalent deal i can put you on. ( 6 month deal and then i need to call again…)

Me: Thx

Result: Comast Bill reduced from $95.00 to $46.00

Action Item: Call comcast…

Bill C
Bill C
12 years ago

I recently did this exact same thing myself. I ended up getting a very nice woman on the line and I explained that I could get a better deal with satellite. She explained the negatives with satellite, which I politely refuted. I ended up getting every pay channel, the sports package and DVR for free for 1 year. And she cut the price to 88 bucks a month. I even got 10 dollars off a month for my cable modem. I went from 174.00 a month to 117.00 a month. Bottom line, be nice to the people you talk to,… Read more »

brian
brian
12 years ago

Hi. Poster of Comment #8, here. My original comment was truncated somewhere along the line, but I guess I said enough. 😉 In comment #33, the author of the article admits he was being deceptive, but maintains it was ethical to be deceptive because his provider was providing a service at an inflated price. Well. My company is a supplier to Wal-Mart Stores. The price you pay for our products at Wal-Mart is inflated — we marked it up before selling it to Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart marks it up before they sell it to you. You might have heard of… Read more »

Stephen Ward
Stephen Ward
12 years ago

Re: E.T. Cook, you hit the nail on the head. I lied to get ahead, and I don’t have a problem with that. For me, to favor the profit margin of some corporate giant over the improved financial security of my family is a far greater breach of personal ethics. As with all issues of morality, the only conclusions to be drawn are subjective ones. Re: Brian, there is a great deal of difference between haggling and shoplifting. Your analogy would have been more accurate if I had gone to a Wal-Mart customer service desk and asked for a better… Read more »

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

I recently had a similar experience. I’m NOT an experienced negotiator so I was thrilled by my little success. There is only one cable provider available where I live. I’ve recently moved and had called to set up my cable TV, internet and phone service. We decided to go with the digital phone because we have so much family out of state. The unlimited long distance is a huge plus. After I compared the phone services my cable company offered with those of Vonage I found that Vonage was definitely cheaper. I called the cable company and told them what… Read more »

Dean
Dean
12 years ago

In an interesting turn of events, I was called by my cable provider over the weekend and offered a deal that I went for after making them call me back. You might try to call them and mention you heard about it… They called and said that they were trying to get their subscribers to get on the digital platform as this would soon be a requirement for getting a cable signal into your TV (I have basic cable – analog service (no converter box) – about 80 channels – plenty for me). They offered to send me a digital… Read more »

Dave
Dave
12 years ago

In a similar vein, I recently decided that, while I liked it, I wasn’t using my XM radio account enough to justify the monthly cost. When I called them to cancel, they offered to cut my price in half if I would continue my subscription. If anyone has XM, I would suggest they look into this. On the topic of lying, isn’t it also lying for a company to advertise its services at one price, but not tell you that they are offering exactly the same thing for half the cost, if you only know to ask? I consider this… Read more »

E.T.Cook
E.T.Cook
12 years ago

@41

No. It is not lying for them to offer a different price to someone else. That is absurd. You may be willing to do something for one person that you wouldn’t for another…is that lying? You might work for your father in law for one price, but a stranger for another…is that lying? Having a different price or different individuals is not lying.

Again…this is the notion I was talking about before. Alternate realities or hypocritical notions held by consumers that rationalize their hypocritical behavior. Shame on you.

Arthur
Arthur
12 years ago

Be aware that these special discounts on your monthly bills are temporary (3-6 months).

Yes, you can call back and ask for the same deal, but cable companies such as Comcast have been cracking down and are now unwilling to offer discounts beyond the initial term.

One strategy is to actually set up a date for them to cut off service and hope that they (the cable company) blink.

However, the easiest way to save on your bill is to cancel it altogether if you don’t need it.

Anna
Anna
12 years ago

Hi. I just read this post and did the exact same thing the author did. My cable bill has gone down from $125 to $88 per month for six months! (I have cable and internet bundled together.) It was easier than I thought it would be. I merely went to the competitor’s site, noted the price of their offer and then called Comcast. I went directly to the cancellation of services option and when the customer service rep picked up I explained to her that I was thinking of switching my service to Direct TV, which, if the offer was… Read more »

Stephen Ward
Stephen Ward
12 years ago

I’m happy to have helped, Anna. 🙂

WTL
WTL
12 years ago

Back in June I wrote a blog post about my wife and I dropping our cable, and how it affected our life. I wonder if more people will look at doing this if the current writer’s strike continues, and tonnes of new content being generated on the Internet.

The Bob
The Bob
12 years ago

Again, it was haggling-which has gone on for thousands of years.

They do whatever it takes to get the most money out of you and you do the most to save that money.

I guess the next time some of you deal with a used car salesmen you will take the higher ground and walk away broke.

Not me.

E.T.Cook
E.T.Cook
12 years ago

@The Bob

You are such a sensationalist. Can you even take yourself seriously?

MikeVx
MikeVx
12 years ago

A few months ago I called Comcast back because they had called me and left an unintelligible message. It turns out that they were trying to sell me phone service. Since I had just had an internet promotion expire I asked about a way to reduce my bill as it was now above my limit. (I have a hard limit that I will not exceed for internet service.) When the CSR asked what I was thinking of, I said that a few months back AT&T had offered me speed X for price Y for duration Z, which were respectively a… Read more »

Rev.Bucky
Rev.Bucky
12 years ago

I find it humorous that people are picking sides between customers and Corps, and who is allowed to mislead the other in the name of making or saving money. It’s really the simple nature of capitalism, greed and self preservation are inherit in the act of exchanging services or goods for money. We can talk about the lies, lies of omission, mistruth, misleading people, but again, isn’t that basically capitalism in a nutshell, when it goes beyond basic physical need, into convoluted mental want. If I offer you X and you agree to pay for it, but I am asking… Read more »

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