This article started out as the individual experience of one personal finance blogger as he successfully haggled with his cable company to reduce his bill by 33% back in 2009. Unfortunately, that sinking feeling you are overpaying for services such as cable is still alive and well in 2016.
But other things have changed dramatically. In 2009, Netflix was still known by many as the company with the red and white DVD sleeves that came in the mail. Hulu didn't launch until 2007. Was there life before Amazon Prime? Not sure.
So if you are here to find out how to cut the cord with cable entirely, take these exact steps (in 2016). If you'd like to see how you can keep cable but pay less thanks to this great post by blogger G.E. Miller, jump to Cheaper Cable TV
Cut Cable Entirely in Four Simple Steps
- First, figure out if you are willing to pay to leave cable. If you don't mind paying a fee, you don't need four steps. Simply call customer service and ask for your service to be canceled immediately. Ignore all deals or efforts to retain your service. Return all equipment and don't forget a receipt showing you did. Important note: If you get your Internet from your cable provider and don't want a service interruption, make sure you have your Internet-only alternative already set up.
- If you don't want to pay an early-exit fee, memorize the end of your contract date. In future calls you may hear this date repeated back to you incorrectly and extended far into the future based on some action you probably didn't take. Insist they note the correct date and ask for this to be repeated back anytime you talk to your cable company.
- Don't forget to purchase a streaming device. Of course you can watch TV directly from the web on your laptop or tablet, but if you want to keep watching from the TV, plan for a Roku or similar device.
- Wake up on your cable-free day ready to say ‘so long'. Who loves calling 1-800 numbers? Staying on hold? Resisting enticing deals to keep my business? Me, when I've done all my homework and look to save potentially $100 or more per month. I recently went down to Internet only, cutting our cable subscription and phone. Monthly savings: $130 per month. (By the way, not a peep of complaint from the kids, who I suspect looked at the black cable box in the same quaint way I saw my family's last rotary dial phone in the 1980s.)
To read another tale of wrangling with cable TV providers, see contributor Rod Kelly's post on the topic of cutting the cable cord.
Cable TV Alternatives
- Netflix, of course.
- Apple TV
- Hulu (Basically streaming cable at this point. See more about Hulu's plans in The Wall Street Journal)
- Amazon/Amazon Prime
These are all paid, but monthly subscriptions are significantly cheaper than cable.
For free services, check out:
Cheaper Cable TV
This is the original post by G.E. Miller who gives a real-life example of using negotiation to save money. For more from G.E., check out his personal finance blogs 20somethingfinance.com and microfrugality.com.
For the third of the country who has no choice but to turn to Comcast for cable television, the thought of price haggling is about as appealing as a root canal. Comcast has a notorious reputation for being unwilling to make their customers happy. Customers of other monopolistic cable outfits across the nation know the feeling.
However, the potential savings that can come from limiting a monthly subscription expense can be enormous – that's money that goes straight to your online savings account. What's a frugal person to do?
Dealing with your local cable superpower doesn't have to be an intimidating process. And as evidenced by the ease in which I recently cut my cable/internet costs by a third during a short online chat without losing any service whatsoever, you may have similar success.
With television service competition increasing and unemployment rates still trending upward, consumers are looking to slice discretionary expenses and service providers may be feeling the pinch to keep them on board. There's no better time to ask than now. Here's my actual chat with a Comcast rep (whose name has been altered to Rizzo to preserve his anonymity). Afterward, we'll discuss some universal price haggling techniques to better prepare you for your interaction.
user G.E. has entered room
analyst Rizzo has entered roomRizzo: Hello G.E., Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Rizzo. Please give me one moment to review your information.
G.E.: Hi Rizzo
Rizzo: Hello G.E., I will be happy to assist you today. How are you?
G.E.: Fine, you?
Rizzo: How may I assist you today? I'm good. Thanks for asking.
G.E.: I need to lower my bill. U-Verse is much cheaper. Thinking of switching
Rizzo: Alright. Let me check my resources for this.
G.E.: A buddy of mine was able to get $39.99/mo. for digital preferred for a year.
Rizzo: Can I have your account number please.
Rizzo: Thank you for that. I will now check on the account. Please bear with me. Thanks.
Rizzo: G.E, I have checked the account. You have our Digital Preferred package for $74.94, DVR for $9.99, Internet $42.95 and Modem Rent for $5.00. I will now check on my resources to lower your bill.
Rizzo: I have checked my resources. I can offer you Digital Preffered $54.99 for 12months and Internet for $19.99 for 6 months.
G.E.: Can you do $44.99 on the cable or 1/2 price DVR and extend the internet to a year?
Rizzo: With this your new monthly charge will be $89.97. Thats the best promotion available G.E.
G.E.: Rizzo, we're so close! =)
Rizzo: Thanks. Do you want me to process this one for you?
G.E.: Can you extend the internet to a year? That way the cable and internet are both a year
Rizzo: The Internet Code is only good for 6 months. That's the best price I can offer you for internet. However, you can check back on us again next quarter to check if there's another promotion available to you. Would that be okay?
G.E.: What's my TOTAL bill now, and what would it be after your offer?
Rizzo: Your current monthly charge is $132.88. With this offer your monthly bill is $89.97.
G.E.: Preferred is what I presently have, correct?
Rizzo: Yes, the offer that I have is also a Digital Preferred package. Do you want me to proceed and process this one?
G.E.: Yes, can you send me an email confirmation?
Rizzo: Unfortunately, I cannot. The process will take effect immediately. You will see this rates adjusted on your next bill.
Rizzo: Shall I process this now?
G.E.: thanks Rizzo, you're a good man.
Rizzo: You're welcome. I'm still processing. Please bear with me.
Rizzo: G.E., I already have processed the order. The new charges includes Preferred $54.99, DVR $9.99, Modem $5.00 and Internet $19.99. Your new monthly charge is $89.97.
Rizzo: Do you have other concerns for today? I will be glad to assist you further.
G.E.: Nope, that's it. thanks
Rizzo: You're welcome. By the way, to properly close this chat room please click on the END SESSION button. Thank you. I hope that you can find time in answering the 3 question survey after this chat. Thanks.
Rizzo: Bye for now.
So what can you take away from this chat transcript? There are a few universal haggling techniques that are applicable to just about any price haggling scenario.
1. Don't be afraid to ask.
Asking to cut my bill worked. Amazed at how simple it was to cut more than I was aiming for from my bill immediately, I asked for an even bigger cut. That request was denied (not to my surprise or dismay). Truth be told, I'm not sure that any of the techniques I used triggered the better offer, but I do know one thing — had I been afraid to simply ask for the price break, I would have never gotten one. Rule number one is to overcome your fear and just ask.
2. Be pleasant.
Congeniality is king when interacting with CSRs. Being rude only infuses CSRs with the desire to deny your request. CSRs aren't paid near what they should be, and probably don't have the highest job satisfaction levels. If you can appeal to their gentler human-side, you win. Spit fire at them, and they will slam the door on you with pleasure.
3. Refer to the competition.
I had heard that Comcast was motivated to be a little more giving with the entrance of AT&T U-Verse cable into the marketplace (at lower prices). I'm not sure that it helped in this specific case, but referencing the competition specifically or generically (if its offerings are weaker) rarely will hurt you.
4. State the facts.
More than anything else, I wanted to lower my cost, and that's what I asked for. Someone I know had received a better price than I was paying and I stated that fact.
5. Do your research.
Knowing what kind of promotions the company is offering to new or exiting customers is essential to getting the best deal. When it comes down to it, if you can quit your service and then re-start it the next day at a cheaper price, the company knows it has little incentive to let you leave without matching that offer.
6. Look for special circumstances.
I'd heard that working with Comcast online chat representatives often yielded better results because the reps weren't actual Comcast employees, and therefore had lesser incentive to play the hard line. That's why I chose the online chat route versus the phone.
7. Let them make the first move.
Before the chat, had I not received a cost break, I was willing to cut my service levels. I didn't offer that right away, and it turned out that I didn't need to. Don't show all your cards right away.
When I need to call back in, I now have two additional pieces of information that I can take into the negotiation process based on this statement form the CSR: “The Internet Code is only good for 6 months. That's the best price I can offer you for internet. However, you can check back on us again next quarter to check if there's another promotion available to you.”
I now know that Comcast has promotions available on a quarterly basis. I also know that there are “codes” for both Internet and cable. Both pieces of info should help me in future negotiations. Hopefully, they'll help you as well.
Have you had similar success haggling with your cable company or ISP? What do you attribute it to? What kind of a break did you get on your bill?