Have you tried to negotiate with your service provider?

It may sound funny, but NEGOTIATE with your cable company about your bill. Call them, spend the 45 Minutes on hold waiting to talk to a representative (HA Ya, usually not a lot of Reps taking calls) as it may be worth it. As more options for consumers develop over time, cable companies has authorized their Reps to "add discounts" or have special packages to retain customers. So how do you get access to this discounts?

You need to ask! If you don't call and complain about your bill you will never be considered for a discount. The cable company doesn't go around giving discounts to "happy" customers as they are just giving away profits. So don't act like a happy customer, but don't be mean either or the Rep will not care (their employer will) if you leave their service so they don't ever have to talk to you again. Here is a tip (follow in this order):

  1. I need to reduce the amount of my monthly bills - Starting with a statement like this gives the Rep a "Problem" they can help you with. It doesn't automatically send you down the discount path, but gets your foot in the door in most cases. You may need to share some of your considerations and possibly actions you are willing to take to solve your problem.
  2. Figure out what is your least useful service from your current package - You will likely have signed up with a "bundled" service. It will probably include "HDTV", "Internet Cable", and "Phone Service". Depending on which you choose, the following buzz words/approaches may help. These are generally less threatening to the service provider, we will get into the more "call to action" statements later.
    • HDTV - "I don't watch all those channels", "Can't I get just these individual channels... (name a few, CNN, MSNBC, Comedy Central, Discovery, etc...)", "Can I just pay for what I watch?" - There may be a lower-tier TV package that has all the ones you want but cheaper. Don't expect them to make "Your specific package" as they probably can't do that, but you might start to have a good claim for a discount as an "unhappy customer".
    • Internet Cable - "I don't go online that much", "Are there cheaper Internet Plans?", "Do I really need all thsi bandwidth?" If you are not streaming videos and playing real-time FRAGGing your friends on-line, you probably don't need the bandwidth you are paying for currently.
    • Phone - "All I get are telemarketers", "I don't use it much anymore due to my cellphone", "Is there a cheaper plan?" - You probably get "Free Canadian and Mexico calling" with your UNLIMITED Phone service. We think how often if you just pay for the calls you make it would be cheaper than $40 - $50/Month for UNLIMITED callling. Some providers offer a metered phone service as well if you mainly just receive calls on your home phone.
  3. Talk about options - Now that you have your least favorite service, consider if you would cancel that service or if you need it without all the bells and whistles. Now talk with the Rep about your "concerns" about the target service. They will likely be able to find either a cheaper solution to fit your needs. Or if they feel you could be happer and keep your current service with a $10 or $20 discount, they might start talking about adding a discount to your service!
  4. You ask for a discount - Okay, you have tried and the Rep just is NOT taking the bait. Try to provoke the thought of the discount. "Do you have a customer loyalty or good customer discount?". This squarely puts the ball in their court as "NO" wouldn't be a great answer from a Customer Service Rep. Pretty much they are saying they don't value customers. You are unlikely to get the answer NO. If you still just want a discount, thank them for their time and tell them you will consider your options and call back later and hopefully get a different Rep. If you are done with a company that doesn't value you as a customer, it is time to bring out the ultimatum.
  5. Ultimatum - You tried calling back and couldn't get a different result. Now you need to motivate the company to consider your problem "I need to reduce the amount of my monthly bills." by presenting options or demands. I have broken them down again by "service":
    • HDTV - "I have found a lot of online services I can stream the channels I watch", "I am thinking of putting in an amplified Antenna for HDTV", "I want just BASIC CABLE" - You need to express there are options other the their HDTV service you are considering. "Basic Cable" is a federally mandated service where for ~$20/month they need to provider you with your locally broadcast stations (what you can pickup with an Antenna). Not that this Basic Cable might not be in HDTV format, so you might be giving up the crystal clear signal, but if you don't use it much what does it matter. You can stream many channels over your Internet, just make sure you do have an average bandwidth of ~40Mbps or so to make sure the quality is good.
    • Internet Cable - "I don't think I need it in my house, I can tether my cellphone to my .....(Tablet, computer, TV, etc)", "I have a quote from [company name] for DSL, can you meet their price", "There is a wireless broadband service in my area that seems more cost effective tome" - Your cable company is not the only game in town, they know this, they might not even know your area, so you might be able to bluff your way through a "Quote" or "Wireless service" in your area. If they ask for proof to match the price, just tell them you would rather just switch to their service after you activate it, that will hopefully back off any arrogant request from a Rep calling your bluff.
    • Phone - "I have a cellphone now so I don't think I need a Home Phone", "I am considering using a broadband digital phone service such as MagicJack or Ooma - You probably get "Free Canadian and Mexico calling" with your UNLIMITED Phone service. We think how often if you just pay for the calls you make it would be cheaper than $40 - $50/Month for UNLIMITED callling. Some providers offer a metered phone service as well if you mainly just receive calls on your home phone.

Hopefully by now, you have managed to reduce your current cable bill, or find some alternative solutions to reduce your costs.

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