Readers have told us the best way to save money on your cable bill without the hassle of actually switching is to call them up and negotiate… but what should you actually say?
Research: The first thing you’ll want to do is look around and see what the other companies are offering. Don’t forget to include Dish Network and DirecTV, particularly if you enjoy sports and can speak intelligently about the superiority of DirecTV’s sports packages.
Locate Evidence: Gather a copy of your bill as well as any deals you’ve been offered by the competition so you can refer to them during the negotiation.
Call your cable company and get transferred to the retentions specialist. You don’t want to be negotiating with someone who isn’t authorized to help you. You can also try to go directly there by using the annoying phone tree robot and expressing intent to cancel or reduce services.
Once you get to the retention specialist, begin the negotiation. Remain calm, be firm but friendly, and try to relate to the person on the other end of the telephone. A friend who can save you money is a good friend indeed:
You: Hi, this is Captain Awesome III, [that is, your name, right?], and my cable bill has recently increased. I noticed that [competing cable/satellite company] has a promotion that would save me [amount of money.] I’m interested in lowering my cable bill.
They will likely argue with you, or offer you Free HBO. If you wanted Free HBO, fantastic! Take your Free HBO. If not, try saying stuff like:
You: I appreciate the offer, and I do like HBO, particularly when its free, but I really called to lower my bill. Is there anything you can do to bring your offer down to where the competition is?
If they are really giving you a hard time, try negotiating based on your value as a customer. From what we’ve heard, those of you who subscribe to expensive sports packages or get your telephone services from the cable company have the strongest negotiating positions.
You: Did you realize that I pay full price for a lot of services? I’d really like a discount on some of these [read all full price things from your bill, line by line.]
Remember, timing is everything. The best time to call and negotiate is after your “deal” expires. Once you’ve got a new one, be sure to lock in a time period. Some cable companies will want you to agree to a contract with a termination fee. It’s really up to you whether you want to do this, but there’s no harm in trying to avoid it.
Sudden Death Overtime: It’s possible that these tactics won’t work. Either this is because there isn’t sufficient competition in your area and thus not enough “churn” to warrant negotiating with customers, or it’s because your rep’s dog took a dump in her shoe that morning and she’s taking it out on you.
In order to make sure it’s not the dog’s fault you’re overpaying for cable, call back in a week and try again.
Did this script save you money? Did we miss something? Did you find something that worked better? Send us what you said to your cable company at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share it with the world.