Attention: You Lowered Your Cable Bill

Ah, the power of asking for discounts. Here are a few stories from Consumerist readers who “threatened” their cable operators and got discounts because of it. Paul writes:

    Thanks a lot for the article about threatening to cancel cable service. I did that today and saved a bundle. Here’s the basic rundown: I called my ISP, Charter, and said I wanted to cancel my account. When asked why, I said that it was too expensive (I’ve been paying about $62/month for a 3Mbps connection) and that I wanted their $19.99/month promotion rate (listed on their webpage for new customers). After some poking around on the computer, the CSR was able to get me the lower rate for a full twelve months! I’m pretty happy; a 67% reduction is pretty good, so I need to figure out what to do with the extra $40/month that I’ll have now.

No, Paul, thank you for sharing your story.


Zac writes:

    I just read your story on getting discounts on cable by threatening to cancel. I just did this, and it worked out quite well. I had been getting cable for an absurdly low rate – one of those rates that expire after a set amount of time. I was getting Comcast’s “Digital Silver” package for $30 a month (lots of channels, Encore, Bravo, SciFi, plus HBO, about 200 total). I got February’s bill and it had jumped to $70, which I knew was coming and had planned to cancel my service once it did.

    When I called to cancel I talked to a (amazingly) nice CSR at Comcast who asked me why I was cancelling. I explained my situation… told her I simply couldn’t afford it. She asked me what I needed cable for and I said really I like the OnDemand feature and HBO shows. She said “Honey you hold on for a moment and Miss Jones will see what she can do for you.” I kid you not.

    Five minutes later she came back and offered to continue my service for $38 dollars a month for the next six months instead of the regular $70. While it’s still more a month, I consider it pretty big since the original deal had gotten me that rate for 16 months. Just thought I’d let you know. I also got her direct line in case other issues come up – no 800 number, just a regular phone number and extension.

    That’s a lot of words for a simple story… just thought I’d let you know.

    Zac

Good job, Zac! Thanks for sharing your story. The rest of you, get on the phone! —MEGHANN MARCO

RELATED: Comcast Sets 60-Day Waiting Period For Customers Snagging Discounts By Threatening to Leave

Threatening To Cancel Cable Can Get You Discounts

Comments

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  1. dewrock says:

    It’s good that he got a discount, but I hope he doesn’t expect to be able to do this anymore. There’s a reason why companies have new customer promotions. While it may seem “unfair” that these older customers aren’t getting these same deals, they were new customers at one time also and received similar promotions.

  2. testkahuna says:

    I called to cancel my Adelphia cable and cable internet after just a couple weeks (I was switching back to satellite).

    Me: I’d like to cancel everything
    Adelphia: OK, just a minute please…
    Adelphia: OK, your all set, is there anything else I can do for you…

    Never had that happen before!

  3. MarcAnthony says:

    I would call but I’ve been getting free cable for about a year now! I called last year to discontinue their service, and they never shut me off I guess. Still have a clear picture, love the E! and Food Network by the way, and no bill! Talk about consumers biting back!

  4. Clare says:

    I want to call Comcast to try this, but my roommates don’t think I’ll be able to pull this off. I live in Delaware and we pay about $90/month for “Total Basic and Standard” cable and internet service.

    My goal would be to get digital cable + the HBOs + internet for that price, but do you guys think that’s a reasonable thing to ask for? Do you think Comcast would bite?

  5. that guy says:

    Clare, when I (Zac) called, I fully planned to cancel my service… I didn’t threaten, I just asked them to cancel. The lower rate was their idea. I don’t know how it has worked for others… I have friends that have tried a more threatening approach and it hasn’t worked. You might try simply telling them that you would really like more features and the same rate. In my experience agreeable tone has gotten me farther (further?) with Comcast.

    BTW, my package does not include internet, as my building has free wireless.

  6. Kornkob says:

    I suspect that taking an advesarial tone and approach would probably pretty uniformly fail. The guy on the other end of the phone is far less likely to work to find the combination fo feature and price you want if you’re being nasty about it.

    On the other hand, if you approach it from a question/answer kind of view, where you’re playing it like you aren’t aware that they can make deals, you give them the illusion of control while still getting what you need.

    It’s amazing how good the deals can get when they are ‘talking you into it’ instead of you trying to force them to give what you ‘heard’ your co-worker got when he was bragging at happy hour last night.

  7. haba says:

    Here, we’ve got a choice between Rogers digital cable or Bell ExpressVu satellite TV. I’ve got Rogers, but it’s nothing special, really… So I called and told them that Bell offered me a high definition PVR free for two years (lie #1). Rogers immediately offered a so-so deal. I balked. Then they offered the high-def PVR free for 2 years ($20 or $25/month savings — I can’t remember anymore), and lowered my bill by about $10/month to boot.

    I did the same with my Internet provider (Bell). I called them and told them I was tired of paying $45/month for DSL. I told them that Rogers could offer cable Internet for $19.99/month at the same speeds (lie #2). They said “how about 6 months at $24.99/month, and 6 months at $45.99/month?” I said no. Then they said “OK then, 1 year at $19.99/month.

    2 little tiny white lies = approx. $60/month in savings

  8. CaptainRoin says:

    My uncle works for a major phone company and he wasn’t surprised when I told him this works. He said for companies like this it costs them much more to get new customers than it does to keep existing customers.

  9. drrew says:

    I was able to knock $40 off my Comcast bill for 6 months after this first came up. I spent about three minutes figuring out what the cost of a comparable setup would be to switch to satellite and DSL with Qwest and made the call.

    It was fairly straightforward. The interesting part will be how/if it’ll work after my 6 months is up.

  10. Phyllis Nefler says:

    Has anyone tried this with Time Warner?

  11. Johann says:

    I’ve had cable through Cox Communications on two seperate occasions. Both times when I called up to cancel my service, I was offered reduced rates. (I declined the offer both times and went ahead and cancelled, but that’s beside the point.)

    On the other hand, cancelling my Qwest DSL was one of the most frustrating customer service situations I’ve ever had. My call was transferred four or five times and then I was hung up on. That happened twice. The third time I called, I eventually convinced someone to cancel my account. (Incidentally, when I initially signed up for phone service with them, they got me to agree to a phone “package” by lying about how much it cost compared to just plain phone service. US Worst is now Qworst.) So, maybe you can get cheaper broadband from cable companies by threatening to quit, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if you try it with the phone company…

  12. Clare:

    It seems to me that they’re less likely to negotiate prices, but they’re more willing to give a discounted current promotion to a customer threatening to leave– if that makes any sense.

    Also keep in mind that you have to stay vigilant, watch your next bill, etc… There is always the chance for empty promises.

  13. I just canceled my cable about 3 weeks ago. I explained that Comcast was a) too expensive, and b) I didn’t like that they put ads on the guide menu.

    Their first response was to give me $5/month off. I laughed and said no. They countered with $10/month off.

    I explained that unless they gave me my current Silver digital package at the basic digital price permanently it was no deal.

    They said they could give me that deal for 6 months, but not permanently. Which would be fine if I only wanted cable for 6 months I guess.

    They scheduled a cancellation, and two days prior to the cancellation, they followed up and called me to make another offer for a six month deal. I declined.

    Moral of the story is that for those of you looking for a nice 6 month discount, companies like Comcast will give it to you, but you’ll have to keep playing the game 6 months down the road.

  14. I called ComCast and told them that my current bill for cable TV and internet (about $100/month) was far too much for one person and basic cable. They lowered it $20 a month, for good. Still seems like a ridiculous amount to me, but I haven’t found a better alternative.

  15. Clare says:

    Kornkob, that didn’t work. I was prepared with price quotes from Dish and DirecTV but Cheryl the Comcast CSR (who was very polite, I must say) wouldn’t budge.

    I’m worried about playing the “I want to cancel” card because of the anecdotes in this thread that end with “OK, you’re canceled.”

  16. chunkstyle says:

    Pshaw, don’t worry about them canceling on you like that. They always give you something, you just have to decide if it is enough or not, they almost ALWAYS send to to a very nice retention agent, whose job it is to get you to stay on as a customer, it saves THEM money.
    As if cable isn’t enough of a ripoff, hate that I play the game to not pay as much, but I need the brain-deadening effects sometimes…

  17. Hoss says:

    Hey Clare, Kornkob has it exactly right, I played this game with Comcast last week — I spoke to the CSR and he didn’t budget on price but offered more for the same price. Play the game further by asking the CSR what number you should call after you shop around for a better deal and you want to cancel. But instead of spending more time with other service providers, just call the cancelation number and let them know that you have talked with the CSR and feel that unless they can offer something great, you will jump ship. For me, I got a 24 month flat rate contract at the introductory price of $99 for phone/internet/cable. There’s no risk in letting telling them point blank — if I invest more time beyond your CSR, I’ll take whatever attractive offer is out there without calling you back. My savings was $55/month plus at least $30/month that I previously spent on long distance calls (which are covered in VOIP services these days). Oh, and be sure you ask them to change services at no cost to you.

    Best of luck

  18. facted says:

    Phyllis: I did get some dealing out of Time Warner here in NY. I originally had the Road Runner Intro DSL package which is pretty slow and it cost me 29.99. I called them up and told them I’m switching over to Verizon and before you knew it, they offered their normal Road Runner package for 29.99 for 6 months (which is the intro rate for it if you are a new subscriber). We’ll see what happens when the 6 months rolls around, but I can bet you one thing…I won’t be paying $45 for their normal speed Road Runner which is what they want from me :)

  19. HawkWolf says:

    I oughta do this. Magically enhanced cable (I don’t know what it is for digital classic) went from something like 35 a month to *50* a month recently.

  20. bchains says:

    Totally worked! Told the nice lady I was thinking of switching to AT&T (who even knows if they provide in my area) and she knocked $20 off my cable internet, and then $20 off my digital cable – EACH MONTH for 1 YEAR. Even told me “yes, its tough times these days”. Score!

  21. Clare says:

    Can some kind soul post Comcast’s rentention department phone number then?

  22. kiloman says:

    I’ve tried this with only minimal success. I called in October and spoke to the cancelations department. Citing my bill was too high ($95/month for standard analog tv + cable internet), the rep gave me $10 off for three months, and scoffed at the idea of giving me a larger discount.

    Three months being up, I called them again and stated that my bill was too high and I wanted to cancel. I said that alternatives such as DishNetwork, DirectTV, and Verizon DSL gave better deals.

    The rep tried to upsell me to digital cable with OnDemand because it was a “better value” (though a more expensive monthly price), tried to downgrade me to slower/cheaper cable internet speeds so I can “test out DSL speeds,”, and went on and on about her difficult, expensive, and detailed personal experiences with DishNetwork.

    I didn’t make any changes to my account. Maybe I’m just too pliable. Can I tell them to cancel it a few days in the future, and call up before then to un-cancel it without paying a “service change” fee?

    Can I keep calling back until I get a rep who will budge? Do they make notes on the account so that other reps can see that you keep threatening to cancel, but never go through with it?

    I’m in the Boston area, and I’ve read on your site about others in my area getting discounts.

  23. Trick says:

    Well I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try so I called Comcast and inquired about a lower internet only rate. Of course the first customer no-service drone I spoke said that would be impossible and that the $59 a month rate I was paying for my 6MB service was great!

    So I said well, lets go ahead and cancel my service, Verizon has a plan for $14.95 and I really don’t need such a fast service. The drone transferred me to the “cancelation department” where the much friendlier and not wanting to close my account drone offered the same service for $29.95 for the next 12 months!

    In one 10 minute call I saved myself $360 for 2007! It was The Consumerist that gave me the idea to try. Pretty slick indeed!

  24. smac972 says:

    I do tech support for a large cable internet company. The wierd thing is, people call in with this “us against them” attitude – like Time Warner sucks! or Comcast rocks!

    The funniest thing I would hear was when I worked for Time Warner Cable and they had purchased Adelphia. Customers would call in when their internet went down and say, “This never happenned when I was with Adelphia.” It’s the same equipment, dumbass – we just bought it. Nothing was changed to it…and it’s the INTERNET. It breaks.

    In response to the “getting a promotion” by cancelling, as much as I like people much more than corporations, and I know that internet companies are making some good margin, the bottom line is, most of us agents have a sense of fairness.

    If you’re getting a better deal, then we have promotions to try to keep you as a customer – sure, maybe we’ll even lose a little money in the process.

    If you’re a nice person who honestly just wants to budget a little better and you have an air of respect and decency, yeah, you’ll get a big ass promotion.

    But, if you’re rude, condascending, tell me how much me and my company sucks and act as if the company owes you a big favour, then why would I want to talk to you much longer than “Well, sorry to see you leave us. Thanks for calling _____.”

    As a supervisor for MCI, I had a sign on my desk which read, “Your chance of receiving credit is in direct correlation to your attitude.”

    In fact, if someone was a complete and utter dick, even if the credit was fair, I would sift through the Terms and Agreements in my mind just to find an excuse to deny it. Why? In my opinion, there are people who have sincere and honest concerns who want them addressed properly. It seems only ethical to help them above and beyond my means.

    And then..there are people who pompously tell me they should be billing ME the $200.00 an hour they charge as a “lawyer/orthodontist/whatever” and then proceed to patronize my representatives or myself, you’re gonna get jack squat. Threaten to sue me? I imagine your face when the team of blue suits from _________ show up at your doorstep wondering why you’re using your residential account for profitable gain.

    Moral: Be nice. There are thousands of agents out there and most of us want to be happy. Be nice. It works both ways. Things break down. Belive me, if your internet goes down, I promise you, if you think back long enough, you can remember the days before you had the internet. You were happy then. It’ll be okay.

    (Thanks – keep smiling, y’all)

  25. ryuD says:

    I tried this with Time Warner in Ventura County (CA). Free HBO for 3 months, Showtime for a whole year, and the digital package for the same price I’m currently paying for the basic package good up to a year. I told the CSR there were better deals with Verizon FIOS and Direct TV.

  26. zombieboy30 says:

    Sweet! I Called Comcast advised the gal on the other line that I was not happy with paying 45 bucks for internet service and she offered me a promo for internet at $19.99 a month for the next 6 months. I am saving 50% on my monthly bill now and they also advised me that my next bill will be prorated. Oh yeah, I picked the cancellation option through the automated system and bypassed the billing reps so I think this may have helped a ton.