Calling the cable companies is almost as bad as accidentally grabbing a pan from the oven without the oven mitt on your hand (not fun). Even though it is a big pain, I call them pretty regularly just to check in and make sure I’m getting the best rate.
This time I ended up getting more “bang for my buck” if you will. Here’s what happened.
As I told you in a previous post (the power of extra loan payments), I cancelled my cable services as a way to save money each month. I kept the internet and have Netflix, so it’s really not missed as much as you would think it would be.
I got a letter from my internet/cable company in the mail this weekend saying that “it had come to their attention” that I was not being charged for my HD cable box and they were going to start adding $10 onto my account beginning this month. I was quite intrigued since, as I just mentioned, I no longer have any cable services.
I gave them a call and was ready for a laugh as we tried to figure out why I received this letter.
I ended up speaking to the most level-headed agent I’ve ever spoken to at this company (I’ve spoken to at least 25 of them since January). This was quite a surprise since my service with them has been terrible. Anyway, it turns out that because I am a procrastinator and have yet to return my cable box, they are now charging me $10 for it. Oops.
Since I already had them on the phone, I mentioned that a competitor company was now available in my area, and they were offering basic cable and the same internet speed I have now for $50 a month. I asked her why I should stick with their company and not switch to the new one offering a much better deal. She surprised me by saying that she could not only offer me a lower bill, but had a new offer which was comparable to the one I had mentioned.
By “comparable”, she meant much better. They had a new deal that offered their fastest internet service, basic cable and HBO free for the first year for only $49.99 a month.
Before I let myself get too excited, I knew this had to come with a 2 year contract, so I asked.
No contract was required.
I now have cable, faster internet, AND am paying $10 less each month.
So much for them charging me more money.
Cable Company: 0
Here are some tips I use for scoring a lower cable bill:
1. Call at least once every six months to check on new promotions. I usually call every 2 months or whenever I find a great deal on their website, but you don’t have to call this often if you’d rather not.
2. Get yourself to the right department. When you call, make sure to hit the prompt for the “looking to remove one or all of your services”. This will get you get right to their customer retention department. These are the people who will be able to help get you the best offers. If you select something else, you typically get bounced around between departments and waste your time. I’ve also found that getting transferred around increases your risk of being “accidentally” hung up on, so I try to avoid it at all costs.
3. Before you make this call, jump on their website first and see what they are offering new customers so you have knowledge about what you want. Ask the agent why you should continue to be a customer of theirs if they are not willing to provide you with their best offer. Sometimes they will come up with something better than you have now. Sometimes they put you on hold to “check with their supervisor” and end up offering a $10-$20 discount per month to get you closer to that price.
4. Check out their competitors website to see what they are offering. Let the agent know what you found and that you are looking into switching if they cannot offer something comparable. Ask them directly if they can meet or beat that price.
5. Never sign a new contract. If they offer you something you can’t refuse, let them know you will not sign a contract. If you absolutely must, make sure it is no longer than one year. After the first 12 months, companies like to jump the prices $20 or more a month, and you are then stuck in your contract with very few options. I have not been under contract for a cable company in years and this has given me the flexibility to be able to call every few months and negotiate a lower rate, or at the very least extend my promotional price.
6. This is not a quick process. Be prepared to be on the phone for more than 10 minutes. I have been on the phone with them for 60 minutes before, but I have also had calls that only lasted about 8 minutes, but never any shorter than that. It’s a process, and they also seem to take their time – probably in hopes that you won’t be calling back anytime soon. Just be prepared and don’t allow them to upset you by keeping you on hold for a while.
7. Be kind, but assertive. Being nice goes a long way, but don’t let them rush of you off the phone either.
8. Call back if you don’t get what you want the first time. Yes, I’m serious. Most of the time, if one agent isn’t willing to “find” you a better rate, the next one will. You may have rubbed the first person the wrong way, or maybe they didn’t want to give you the better rate. Either way, hang up and try again.