Cable television, and internet service, is ridiculous expensive these days. Cable providers claim it’s so they can provide hundreds of channels, many of which are also available in high definition, but I think it’s because they can get away with it. Too many people sign up for service and then just automatically pay each month without thinking about it.
The cable companies are smart about getting people to sign long term contracts, add channels they won’t watch as often as they think they will, and rent boxes that do a lot more than people really need. Fortunately, competition in the cable service business is incredibly fierce and you can use it to your advantage.
The only way you will be able to negotiate a better deal on your cable television service is if you have some sort of leverage. As a customer, your leverage is your money and how you can sign up with any cable television provider that does business in you neighborhood. Even if there are no other providers in your area, you could always cancel service entirely. So in the end, you always have an alternative to your current cable provider.
So, the first step is to figure out whether or not you are still in a contract. Usually cable providers will offer a deal and then require you to sign a one or two year contract that locks you in at that price. It’s often marketed as a way for you to set your price for that contract, though what it really means is that you can’t get it lowered until the contract is set to be renewed. If you are in a contract, you’ll have to wait until it expires before you try any of the tips in this post.
If you are not under contract, you have the freedom to cancel service and sign up with another provider. Your current provider will try their hardest to get you to stick around and you can use that to your advantage.
You will need to find a competitor’s best introductory offer and show that to your current provider. Let’s say you’re with Comcast and your contract just expired. You look around at alternatives and settle on a Verizon FiOS promotion of $69.99/mo for the first six months, $79.99/mo for the next six months. It’s better than the $100/mo you’re paying now so you call up Comcast to see if they’ll match the offer.
If they do offer to match it, great because you’re done (be wary of contracts, the FiOS offer requires no contract). If they don’t, ask to talk to retentions.
Retentions is the department that tries to get you to stay if you want to leave. If they won’t match the offer you presented, or don’t match it sufficiently (sometimes they will offer to knock a few dollars off your bill, but not actually match the other offer), ask to talk to retentions because you’d like to cancel your service (presumably to sign up with the competitor). You will want to renew your pitch with the retentions CSR, asking them to match the offer or you’ll walk.
If they say no, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to follow through. Signing up for another provider will mean a staying at home to meet the installer, dealing with a new system of payment, and a few other headaches that may or may not be worth it. That’s ultimately up to you.
This strategy almost always gets me a discount on my cable service and I know many a friend who has employed this with great success.