Hold on to the remote, this news may shock you: the average cable bill is $75, and that number is expected to rise about 5 percent every year. That’s a pretty steep price increase for your favorite shows! If you can’t imagine cancelling your cable, there are a few tricks of the trade that can help you reduce your bill by up to 20 percent. That can amount to $180 or more saved each year!
Photo: West Elm
Do your homework. Unless you live in a one-horse town, there should be more than one cable company operating in your area. Do your research and find out what deals are being offered to you. This isn’t necessarily because you want to switch – you want the information to use as leverage when you call your cable company! You also want to make sure that you know the deals that your company is offering to their new customers. Note: You may need to do some digging online to find this information.
Compare and contrast. Your cable bill is like an airline ticket – people pay very different prices for the exact same results! Ask your neighbors, friends and family members what they’re paying. Again, this can be used as leverage when chatting with the cable company. If you can establish that other people are paying less than you, they’ll often match a lower price or add promotions to your account that lower your bill.
Have a goal. To stay focused, it helps to set a specific price goal before you call the cable company. Make sure it’s realistic – a 15 percent reduction is still a major win.
Be calm. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t be a little irked that you pay twice as much as your friend for the same service – just don’t show the cable company that. Make sure you’re in a calm state of mind before you call the cable company. In this situation, flattery is the name of the game. You want the customer service representative to know that you love their service – you just can’t afford to pay such a high price every month.
Provide a little background. You wouldn’t ask out a date without flirting a little first, would you? (Don’t answer that.) Before you jump right to the big ask, give the customer service representative a little background. Say you’re going through your yearly budget and realized that you just can’t afford their service, or even play the blame game and say your spouse wants a lower bill. If they realize why you’re asking, they’ll be more willing to work with you to solve the problem.
Bring out the big guns. Once you’ve established what you need and schmoozed a little, it’s time to mention a competitor. Make it clear (without being overtly hostile) that you’re thinking about cancelling unless they can lower the bill. Don’t actually say you will cancel, or the call may end with you losing access to your favorite shows. Instead, just say you might be forced to quit since you’ve found a better option.
Try again. If your first call isn’t fruitful, it may just be that the specific agent you talked to wouldn’t play ball. Cable companies have a lot of employees. If you’re not getting anywhere, ask to talk to their loyalty department – they’ll have access to deals that the customer service department doesn’t. If you still don’t get a lower bill, try again on a different night of the week. Think of each call as a first date – you’ll eventually get lucky and meet the perfect customer service rep for you!