I Lowered My Time Warner Bill In 4 Minutes, Just By Asking

Yet another success story for our “Just Ask To Pay Less Money” technique. Commenter tinyrobot was paying too much for Time Warner Cable, so he called them up and told them so. Now he pays less. It’s not a Thanksgiving miracle, you can do it, too.

tinyrobot says:

I took your advice, and called Time Warner Cable during my lunchbreak today to see if anything could be done about my bill. I have the standard cable modem (not “lite”/low speed) service, and Digital TV standard package with an HD DVR, all coming out to about $121 per month.

I called up, spoke to a friendly CSR after navigating to the “Downgrade my service” option in the phone tree, and explained that I was thinking about canceling my TV service, since there’s a recession on and I got an e-mail offer from DirecTV that advertised comparable service for $30 per month. As soon as I mentioned the last part, the rep put me on hold (a good sign, I’ve learned) and came back with a tasty offer: 25% off my current package total for the next 13 months. That brought service (taxes included) down to $90 per month without a contract or any other obligation, or change/downgrade in services. The whole thing took about 4 minutes.

Perhaps I could have haggled for more, but this brought the whole bill for ~10mbps internet and a gazillion channels with HD DVR back to where it seems reasonable again, so I was happy.

Thanks for the urging – worked for me!

Hooray! If your cable bill has gone up recently, and you’d like to save some money — read this post.

(Photo: meghannmarco )

Comments

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  1. YOXIM says:

    This sounds very interesting. I will have to give it a shot and see what happens.

    • usul356 says:

      @YOXIM: I tried it with Suddenlink, but it was a no go. I called saying I wanted to cancel the subscription so they first started out checking on what they could do to lower it. The only options she came up with to lower it was to drop packages. I told her I liked one or two channels in each of the packages and it would be nice if I could just get those. I don’t know why they don’t allow a la carte btw.

      I was actually willing to cancel and try the whole online thing though. So that’s what I’m doing now is getting local channels digitally through antenna and watching other shows through my 360/computer/playon. They did offer to lower my internet bill by $10 if I kept the local channels package. The problem with that is the local channels wouldn’t be digital and it would cost like $25 hmmm.. I wonder why I didn’t take that offer?

    • dareiff says:

      @YOXIM: I did it with Comcast here in Seattle just last week. I got my first ‘real’ bill, (you know, after the first one with all those fees), and it was more than what I was quoted. OK, so it was probably just high b/c of Seattle’s outrageous taxes.

      Anyway, I called, said I wasn’t getting what I was expecting, and I was going to cancel the digital TV part. (I had the works, and monthly came to $99)

      About 2 minutes later, she offered to give me the HD DVR for free, knock the 12mbps cable down to 17 bucks, and the total bill would be about 60 before taxes.

      UNREAL! Finally happy with Comcast!

  2. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    I am planning on trying this, but I only use cable for my internet access, and I require a fast connection.

    I wonder, what would a person in my situation do? I could threaten to go to AT&T’s DSL, but I have a feeling they would remind me that it’s slower and I’d have to concede on that point.

    FIOS is not available in my area, and even if U-Verse is (I don’t think so), then I’m still looking at an overall speed decrease.

    • theblackdog says:

      @WiglyWorm: If they try to tell you it’s slower, tell them you’re going to get more value out of it.

    • oneandone says:

      @WiglyWorm: They don’t need to know that you require a fast connection. If you focus on price, they might be flexible – without knowing that you weren’t really serious about dropping them.

      I’m planning on doing the same thing soon with my cellphone company – as soon as I’m out of contract in a month. I don’t really want to switch to anyone else, but they don’t have to know that – just that if I did switch, I’d be getting a better deal somewhere else. Good luck!

    • Anonymous says:

      @WiglyWorm: My TW 10MBPS service has never hit even 3 MBPS, so I’m dropping them next week, no matter what kind of discount they offer. In Manhattan at least, they have weekly internet outages, and you have to call each time to get a credit. That, combined with their meager hi-def offerings, primitive DVR and craptacular customer service has pushed me to AT&T DSL, where I get the same speed (around 3) for less money. And for HDTV, either sat. provider offers much more. TW just doesn’t get the new competitive landscape; they still think they’re the only game in town.

  3. dtmoore says:

    I did this and just ended up actually getting my cable downgraded. I miss digital cable :(. Not worth the extra $35/month though.

    • mellisn says:

      @dtmoore:

      so it didn’t work? you got to pay less because you downgraded?

    • dtmoore says:

      @mellisn:
      yeah, I was going to downgrade anyway, but I was hoping they would give me a deal to keep it. We had the initial promo price that was around $60 for cable/internet for a year, then it jumped up to over $100 last month.

      So to answer your question, i’m paying less because I downgraded not because they gave me a discount.

    • PollockRoc says:

      @dtmoore: I did the same thing. Now I only have 19 channels, no digital box and no DVR. Cable and RoadRunner are only costing me $55/month now, though.

    • Rhayader says:

      @dtmoore: Have you considered buying/building a cheap PC and setting it up as a Media Center/PVR? I’m not sure exactly how many of the digital channels you would be able to get with it, and I know for a fact that the On Demand stuff wouldn’t work. Still though, might be a good way to get some of the benefits of digital cable without paying for the set-top box.

      I’d look into it before plunging in, but it might end up being worthwhile.

  4. olderbudwizer says:

    Then your task is to convince the cable co that you can live with the ‘inferior’ DSL because of the price. In poker, we call this ‘bluffing’. Good Luck

    • PriceIsWrong says:

      @olderbudwizer:

      I did this recently with Time Warner after I moved into my new house.
      Time Warner wanted to charge me a fee to transfer service, along with the higher monthly rate for my Internet ($50 as apposed to the $30 introductory rate, so I told them I was canceling and all they said they could do was downgrade my service.
      Instead I got DSL just last night.
      It’s slower than cable, but a hell of a lot cheaper considering my new budget constraints.

      At&t is also sending me a $125 or $150 visa gift card for switching from cable, so that will cover a couple months of service which is nice.

    • Jbondkicks says:

      @olderbudwizer:

      Unfortunately, there is a problem with this technique. Rather than letting you keep your services for a lower price, they may offer you Road Runner Basic which is comparable to DSL speed.

    • wcnghj says:

      @olderbudwizer:

      If you are a TWC customer, threaten to switch to earthlink cable. It runs on TWC lines and 7/1 is $30/month.

  5. Rhayader says:

    I want to try this, as I am a TW customer. However, when I signed up, I agreed to a two-year contract on a TV/Internet/Phone bundle in order to lower my monthly payment (they call it “Price Lock Guarantee” or some crap).

    Even though it resulted in a lower monthly payment, my feeling here is that it will be tough to re-negotiate like the OP did because of this contract. Any thoughts?

    • WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

      @Rhayader: Here’s my thought:

      Can’t hurt to try. Maybe if you agree to re-up your contract?

    • Suttin says:

      @Rhayader:

      Say something along the lines of, I cant afford the payments of my service anymore. Currently, it is cheaper for me in the long run to pay the ETF and go with another company than it is to continue to have the service with you.

    • cmschmidt says:

      @Rhayader: I have the same “price lock guarantee”. called yesterday and they were still easily able to discount my services. I think like 20% for 6 months. not bad for no work at all.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just tried this and they wouldn’t lower it to $90 a month (now paying $142). They agreed to do $127 for 6 months. They wouldn’t do less and they said the only thing they could do was a two year contract. They didn’t believe someone got $90 with HD.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Didnt work for me as an Internet only subscriber to Comcast. Asked to get lower price, they offered to downgrade me, which I took. And then on top of that without telling me charged a $2 fee for the downgrade. Up yours, Comcast. I know DSL is slower but I’d rather have no access than Comcast now. I’m cancelling soon — and I know they won’t care, either. So this method really only works for those who have a couple of services IMHO. I already switched from Comcast to Dish a long time ago for TV (Dish is soo much better).

  8. Anonymous says:

    I managed to get a similar great deal in the UK. We are with Virgin and there was an issue between Virgin and Sky which meant the Sky channels were being removed from the Virgin service. We phoned and said we were going to go with Sky instead, and they offered us the ‘XL’ package at no extra charge. This gave us a lot more channels including some we actually wanted to watch!
    A few months later we were called by Virgin and they offered to give us a Virgin + box which can record programs for no extra charge, just a £25 installation. This was offered as a thank you for being loyal customers.
    Go Virgin!

  9. maddypilar says:

    I am going to have to try this, especially since the OP was paying less than I am for more than I am getting already.

  10. Sunflower1970 says:

    I did something similar 6 months ago. Got my bill down to $99 for cable and internet service. But, they stiffed us. They somehow “forgot” to send a bill out to us two months ago, and upped our bill by $20 due to ‘no payment’ for their error that month.

    We’re seriously thinking of cancelling now and going with satellite.

  11. annelise13 says:

    I’m glad someone is having luck with this. I tried it with Time Warner twice over the past couple years, and struck out both times. I was told I was already getting their best deal and if DirecTV was offering something better I should just go with them. They didn’t even make me an offer to stay when I called to cancel my service earlier this month!

  12. battra92 says:

    I told TW that my cable bill was too high and I asked them what options I had save for cutting cable. The best that they came up with was cutting back packages. I told them I liked most of the programming but that I didn’t watch half the channels but those I did were almost all digital.

    I ended up cutting HBO saving me $8 a month. I’m debating on cutting out the cable box in my bedroom to save on money. I could have all the regular channels plus the HD local channels and save another $8 a month or so.

  13. grandzu says:

    TW says a lot of things but wait until you actually get the bill before you chalk this up as a win.

  14. randomizer9 says:

    Here is the deal with the “on hold” thing, or at least the way it worked when I worked at Time Warner:

    When you call the tech support line and threaten to cancel, the sales/tech support CSR should put you on hold and transfer you over to the retention department.

    Now unless you have a really dim CSR, they aren’t going to TELL you that (I did overhear it a few times myself). Once you’re in retention its time to play “let’s make a deal.” That said, your account may have a note saying “Do NOT send to retention” if they feel you’ve gone to the well too many times.

  15. Problogue says:

    When I switched to Time Warner, they said I get two free months for switching. It turned out that the two free months were the Seventh and the Ninth month. I was ok with that, but when it came down to getting my seventh month credit, Time Warner acted like they didn’t know what I was talking about. At this point I became irrate. So I actually had to go to the Local Office and then they agreed to help me out, saying that it’s only a local deal and that corporate had no knowledge of their special deals. Ever since then I have had nothing but problems with my bills through them. But their service is great… so I guess I’m kinda getting punked, but I always put up a fight.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is a game that consumers play. Unfortunately, this is why full price is so high. So many customers threaten to drop that they have to have a special department set up to lower their bills. I feel that if there wasn’t so much churn in the cable industry, the prices would be lower for everyone.

    • brenton says:

      @PinoGaloogie: Ya know, I really wish that this was true, but the bottom line…is that these companies are just looking to increase profits. They care about being just mediocre enough to convince the customer it’s too much hassle to change providers.

  17. HRHKingFridayXX says:

    I tried this last night with Comcast (they took away some of our favorite channels, including AMC HD). So, I really had a reason to ask for a discount.

    Anyone want to guess if actually got the discount???

  18. East_Coast_Midwesterner says:

    If people have comcast and do not need the on demand channel you will save 13 bucks a month. I have basic, and I mean BASIC cable and regular internet with them. Total monthly cost is about 38 dollars, no I do not live in the boons, downtown Boston so this can be achieved even in large markets. When I want to watch shows I plug my laptop via s-video into my hdtv and fire up http://www.HULU.com .

    But seriously check out hulu, it is a great option for not having cable at all.

    God I hate comcast

  19. bsalamon says:

    Did the same thing with Time Warner, although that was after I found out that they weren’t giving me all the channels I was supposed to get

  20. Jbondkicks says:

    I briefly worked taking calls for Time Warner. Keep in mind that they have access to a database that tells what deals are being offered by competitors. They type in your Zip and see what Direct TV, Dish Network, etc. are offering in your area.

    Basically, make sure you are talking about legitimate offers or they can find out.

    Another interesting note. Being transferred is one thing, otherwise, when you are “on hold”–assume that you are just muted. Bite your tongue because the rep can still hear you (you just can’t hear him).

    • Problogue says:

      @Jbondkicks: Thanks for the tip.

    • brenton says:

      @Jbondkicks: That’s a really great point. I use to work for a cordless phone maker, and I normally dealt with warranty issues. Anytime I told the customer I was putting them on hold, it was really just muting them (We didn’t want the hold music to play if they just finished waiting 5 minutes to talk to us). Needless to say, I caught a lot of customers misleading me about why their product was not working this way.

  21. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    @Rhayader: Without the “cable box” you can’t get any additional channels. So building a Media PC would only fulfill the DVR requirement, not insta-digital-cable.

  22. flyingphotog says:

    My wife called and was successful a couple of weeks ago with TW here in Dallas. They did not downgrade any of our services.

  23. RoccoEspionate says:

    My Time Warner internet bill just went up last month without warning from $45 to $50 a month. I called in and they gave me 6 months for $30 because of their mistake.

  24. albear says:

    OMG! thank you OP and consumerist! after reading this story I got on the phone and called Time Warner cable. I bluffed about canceling service and going to DirectTV. I told them that they had a hi def channel package for $35.99 for a whole year.

    When I mentioned this the guy (very friendly by the way) went on with his retention speech. He offered to lower my current service (basic extended HD) that I pay $58.99 for a month for a price of $39.99 plus waived the hi def cable box rental fee (about 4.50 a month I think) and he threw in free Showtime channels, 7 plus Showtime HD and Showtime on demand. A normal cost of $15.00 a month. Dang! I’m a happy camper! All these goodies until November 2009! A couple hundred dollar savings here.

    Again, thanks Original poster and Consumerist!!!!!! :)

  25. maevro says:

    I recently moved from Chelsea to the UES. at my old place, the cable was in my girlfriends name, now its in mine (we broke up). Anyway, they treat me like I am a new customer, even though I have lived in NYC since 99 and have had Digital Cable since the beginning.

    Anyway, they gave me 30 days free of HBO and Cinemax and I told them that if it doesnt end after 30 days, I will leave TWC. Well they called my bluff and charged me the 2nd month. I canceled the package and they gave me a $20 rebate on top.

    It was nice, but wasn’t worth them trying to screw me from the getgo.

  26. Munchie says:

    Ok people here is my rant of DSL vs Cable

    Both are very goood services each have their strengths and weaknesses. DSL is better for browsing web pages and email because it is a direct line to the CO. This is called latency. Lower latency means faster small requests ie. browsing web pages and sending email. Cable runs on a shared node and has extra hops to get to the CO to mke the request, so slower browsing and email. Cables strengtrh is in large file downloading, it has more available bandwith. Bandwith is not everything and unless your downloading large files DSL is probably better than cable for you.

    /rant

  27. marike says:

    We’ve been Oceanic TW customers for a little over 3 years now, paying the same bill, meaning we’ve never called to get a lower price. It just went up about $12 last month, so after seeing this, I got the urge to call. I asked about downgrading our service w/ the prices offers from satellite/dsl that we’ve been getting, and they said to call them back when I’m ready to cancel. We ended up cancelling HBO since we have Netflix, but no luck here.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I just followed tinyrobot’s strategy exactly. It totally worked. After explaining that I needed to trim spending and that Direct TV has offered me a much better deal, the retention department cut my bill from $128 down to $98 for 13 months. Then I went one further: I apologetically said that was still too high. The representative offered to comp me my $15 HBO package for the next three months. Sweet! Thanks a ton. Now on to Sprint.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Worked for me as well. I talked to a Comcast rep for about 10 minutes. He knocked off about $25/month and added HBO and Starz (not that I cared about those channels) free for a year. No downgrade in channel package.

  30. JeffSimmermonTWC says:

    Whoah — A positive post from the Consumerist about Time Warner Cable! It *must* be getting close to Christmas …

    I’m glad we could help satisfy you guys as customers. Of course it benefits us to say this, but I really recommend the Price Lock Guarantee here — programming costs are going to jump for all providers — U-Verse, Dish, everyone in the coming year and all those companies pass those onto the customer. If you lock in your rates with us now, you’re insulated from the shock:

    [tinyurl.com]

  31. 108Reliant says:

    I am dropping cable as soon as my HD antenna is up and running. I get pixelation all the time with the HD signals I get from Time Warner Cable. I have AT&T DSL and am told that Uverse will be coming October 2009. I will be using the money I save from dropping cable to going to Netflix.

  32. Overheal says:

    To the OP: What Time Warner did there is gave you the Competitive Rate. By showing that youve done your own research (in my case dish network) on cheaper/similar alternatives, its the policy of Time Warner to counter-offer with the Competitive Rate.

    I did that when I signed up: I showed them Comcast’s internet plan, Dish Network’s DVR Advantage pack and Time Warner quickly got back to me offering Full Digital Cable, with Encore (no premiums and such) and Mid Grade 7mbps broadband, for ~$90/mo

  33. emptydarkone says:

    I just did this with Comcast. Called the local office, told the CSR I was offered a good deal with satellite. Short story shorter, I got rid of the digital cable and kept the internet, and I now have expanded basic (with introductory price of $24 and change for new customers for 6 months) and internet for $67.97 a month instead of digital and internet for $111.72.

  34. terrytaillard says:

    I have used this with successfully with Comcast too. Sometimes they try to throw in more channels, like HBO, to preserve their income but if you emphasize the need to cut costs you may be successful.

  35. Zyzzyva100 says:

    Man, Rochester NY really gets hosed here. This is what I hate about living in a smaller market. With pretty much no options everything ends up costing the same amount and nobody cares if you threaten to switch.

    I just called up TWC to see if they had anything comparable to DISH + earthlink DSL pricewise. I could save maybe $15 a month by switching, but it would be a pain and I would actually lose a channel or two that I care about (plus I would have a contract). The guy didn’t bat an eye and apparently was the downgrade/retention/cancellation department all in one. He even told me that since earthlink goes through TWC that I wouldn’t be eligible for their new promotion (no idea if its true or not). I guess I am just at the mercy of the monopolies here. Oh well.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I just tried this as well. The best they could do was $30 per month off my bill with a 2 year contract (a whopping 16% off). I’m finding it hard to believe the OP got this deal with no contract…either that or TWC got wise.

  37. Jbondkicks says:

    Make sure you get transferred to the right department. If you call in and get the sales department, keep in mind that they will try to sell to you before they are willing to transfer you to retention.

    Scenario: You call in and say you are paying too much and would like to cancel or drop services. I pull up your account and see that you are paying 100 bucks for cable and internet. I ask if you have a home phone and ask how much you are paying for it. You tell me it costs 40 bucks a month for in state calling. I say, “Well, sir, if you actually bundled all three services with us, you could get our Unlimited Phone service which allows you to call anywhere in the U.S., anytime at no additional charge. All three services would come to $120 before tax. This would actually save you about $20 in what you’re paying for phone!”

    This might be a good deal for you, or it might not. Just be prepared to have to refuse some sort of pitch or offer to “help” before they actually give you to retention.

  38. Rubleaux says:

    I have actually been using this technique for years with Time Warner and it works every time.

  39. frankieman70 says:

    I was not able to, the lady kept telling me Cable was a luxury and there for if I can’t afford it to cancel. I pay about $200 with Time Warner 2hd dvr’s 1 reg. cable box, all premiums, phone and dsl included. I need to switch companies. anyone recommend any?

  40. jc364 says:

    I received a letter in the mail saying my internet rates were going to increase with TWC, just a month after I started service. I went in to the store, told them I was paying too much, and they cut my bill to less than what I was originally paying.

    I’ve been pretty happy with TWC. Just make sure to let them know when you have a complaint; they are usually pretty good about fixing problems.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I learned about asking for a service discount about nine months ago, so I called Knology and they gave me a $25/month credit for six months. That took me from a $135/month bill to $105 a month. The six months expired, and my bill went back up, not to the previous level but another $5/month, to $140.

    I called and asked for another credit and the Knology rep said that because I had already received a credit, she could only offer me $15/month for six months, which would lower my bill to $125.

    I asked to speak to her supervisor, then was put on hold. The supervisor came on but wouldn’t cut me any more slack. She stuck to her guns and said she could only offer me the $15/month deal. So I accepted it.

    Maybe I should have been prepared to cancel my Knology service right then and there.