Patience is a virtue, and that’s never more true than when you’re waiting on hold and getting the runaround on the phone by customer service. But if you knew how to negotiate a cable bill after sitting in a customer service queue, would it make the wait worth your time?
Customers aren’t aware that in most cases their cable bill is negotiable. You don’t have to settle for cable, internet and phone bill hikes. There’s an art to advocating for your consumer rights and bargaining for a cable bill that fits within your budget. We’ve gathered tips to help you learn when and how to negotiate a cable bill to save money.
Understanding your cable bill
Before you jump on the phone and play “Let’s Make A Deal” with your cable provider, do your homework. Research the market prices to understand the going rates offered by other cable providers. That means researching what competitors advertise for other bundles and single services. Also find out about any current promotional offers on the market.
Look over your bill to understand what you’re paying for cable, internet and phone service. The assumption is that by bundling all of your services together with one provider you’re saving cash. But are you? Some customers report that they find hidden fees on their bill such charges for equipment that they’re not using. It never hurts to make sure you understand all of the charges on your bill.
Calculate what you would pay for single phone or internet service from the competitors and see if you’re actually saving money with your bundle. Once you’re armed with information, you are prepared to negotiate a cable bill.
How to negotiate a cable bill – the tools
To start with, let’s set grounds rules for how to negotiate a cable bill: be patient, pleasant and persistent. You will not get anywhere with a customer service representative by being pushy and angry. They’re accustomed to angry callers. Surprise customer service with your pleasant attitude. Also know that being a long-time customer who pays on time will give you bargaining chips. But that’s not to say that if you were late on a couple of payments you don’t have any negotiating power.
The best time to call and negotiate a cable bill is when your promotional deal is nearing the expiration date, or you see an advertisement for a competitor with a better price. It’s generally recommended that you negotiate your bill every six to 12 months. When calling, pick the automated option to go directly to the “cancel my service” choice or ask for the retention department. You’ll have the best luck negotiating with representatives in this department since they typically have more power to negotiate. Tell them your bill is too high and start from there.
As a warning, know that cable providers are hesitant of serial negotiators. But rarely is bargaining fruitless. The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a study in 2014 and found that 92 percent of people who haggled for a lower bill got money back or some other perk. Of those surveyed, 46 percent received a lower rate of up to $50 a month or less; 44 percent received an extended or promotional rate; 33 percent got more channels; and 16 percent received free or discounted equipment. Only 8 percent received nothing.
Plan to make several calls to your cable provider and expect to be on the phone for a while before you’re given a satisfactory deal. Know that cable providers will first try to appease you with free cable channels or other small perks before they offer cash savings. However, here’s where your research will pay off. If the competitors are providing a better deal, see if your cable provider will match that rate.
Don’t expect this experience to be easy. There are companies that will do the haggling for you, if you’re not up for the challenge. Companies like BillFixers.com or Shrinkabill.com will negotiate lower bills for you, but it will cost you a fee.
Terms and conditions
Suppose you follow these steps for how to negotiate a cable bill with your provider, and it works. What’s next? Be careful about deceptive bargains. You may pay less for a bundle, but will you be getting a slower internet service, less channels, or are you now locked into a contract for a set term? Signing onto a locked contract will limit your bargaining abilities in the future. Understand your cable bill contract terms and be sure to document the person you spoke with and their department. And don’t take their word that the deal is guaranteed. Call back and confirm that the new rate is reflected on your account.
If you aren’t able negotiate a cable bill, don’t be discouraged. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of speaking to the right person. Call back and try again. Be prepared to walk to another company or even consider cutting the cord on one of the services.
Have you succeeded in lowering your cable bill? Tell us how in the comments section. AAA members can find tons of other ways to save by visiting AAA Discounts & Rewards.