Lower Cable Bill, More Services: My Story

After seeing the success of fellow bloggers with lowering their cable bills (particularly this inspiring account from Darwin’s Finance), I decided it was finally time to take matters into my own hands and try the same thing.

Let me set the stage for you:

For the last 3-4 years, we’ve paid about $110 a month for basic non-HD cable and Internet service. That’s the standard full rate from Comcast in our area.

About 2 years ago, we purchased a small HD TV to replace an aging set that weighed about 300 pounds and was a pain to operate. Because we were on “digital” cable (with the digital box, rather than hooked up to the wall jack directly), we weren’t able to take advantage of any HD channels.

(For those who don’t know, all the standard channels–ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. are available in 1080p HD if you plug your HD TV into your cable outlet directly–you do not need HD cable service to get them!). But I digress…

My wife has wanted a DVR (digital video recorder) for a long time. She watches a couple of shows religiously during the week, and it’s always a hassle to have to be home “on time” and do nothing but stay glued to the TV between 8 PM and 9 PM (or whenever the show happens to be on). So I’ve wanted one for a long time, too. :)

All things considered, I had three goals in mind for my chat with Comcast:

  1. Get my bill lowered to a more competitive rate.
  2. Get HD service.
  3. Get a DVR box.

It was ambitious, but I was up for the challenge. I took advantage of the Comcast “online chat” support so I could think about my questions and answers carefully (and because I really don’t like dealing with customer service on the phone).

The whole conversation really hinged on two main points that I made (I’ve bolded them below). The other 30 lines of text included “One moment please,” and other things I’ve summarized.

After account verification, I kicked off the chat with this little mission statement for my rep:

“I would like to do two things today: I am interested in getting HD and DVR service at my home. However, I lost my job a few months ago*, and really can’t afford to pay any more than $100 a month. Are there any promotions available that we could take advantage of?”

*I wasn’t fibbing. My wife really did lose her job last July. That set the stage for exactly what I wanted, why I wanted it, and specifically what I was asking the rep to do.

A couple of minutes later, the rep came back with an offer to add HD and DVR service at a special promotional rate. My total bill was going to be over $130, and I wasn’t ready to go there. So I pushed further.

“Thanks, but I’m afraid that won’t work for us. I really need to get my bill under $100 per month, or I will have to start looking at other options. I have to admit, satellite TV services are becoming very competitive against your prices. Are you sure there are no other promotions available?”

Yeah, I went there. In not so many words, I made it crystal clear that I was willing to start looking elsewhere for services if my needs weren’t met.

My point was understood. Magically, another promotion appeared that sliced my Internet bill by more than 50%, on top of the new promotional rate for HD service.

Before I left the chat, I made sure that I verified the total price I would be paying for all the services combined. Everything totaled just under $95. With taxes and the remaining junk, we’re going to end up paying about $5 per month less than we were for the last 3 years.

By the following afternoon, I had an HD DVR box sitting at home, and set up to rock.

The “promotional rate” runs for the next 12 months (I was pleasantly surprised, since it’s usually a 6-month deal). What will happen after a year? Well, if the experience of Darwin’s Finance is any indication, I will be able to at least keep the deal going, if not push the issue even further.

I encourage you to take advantage of a competitive economy, and negotiate your subscription rates for cable and any other services you have!

Have you lowered a bill recently? Tell me about your experience!

Photo by mollybob

Comments

  1. says

    Most major cable companies have a retention department (I have Comcast and have called them). I lowered rates for some family members by calling and asking right for the retention department. It seems to cut through the initial bs and get right to “what’s the best deal you have because I’m thinking of leaving.” They will almost always offer the best promotion running. It’s a good tip I got from a friend that works at Comcast.
    .-= CJ Bowker´s last post: Your Circles =-.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says

      Awesome suggestion CJ! It definitely took a few tries before I got to the real “juicy” deals they had. Cutting through all that may be the way to go!

  2. says

    One thing to keep in mind with Comcast — after your deal is up, you are required to pay full price for 3 months, after which you are eligible for another deal.

    I was able to save almost $1000 on my set up – Internet, two cable boxes, HD, DVR, HBO, Starz, Encore — all for less than $75/month.

    My two posts on it:
    http://www.automaticfinances.com/comcast-money-saving-tips/
    http://www.automaticfinances.com/it-pays-to-complain/
    .-= Jason´s last post: How to Cut the Federal Deficit =-.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says

      Great tip–I didn’t know that! Perhaps if pushed, they would be willing to make an exception, but you can probably get better deals by holding out the three months.

  3. says

    I used to have Time-Warner Cable. They advertise “free HD”, but 3 months after the conversion, they changed it so you could only have free HD if you paid for the cable box. I had never had to have a cable box before, so this would have effectively doubled my bill. I dropped them and started using an antenna, and I’m completely happy having one fewer bill!
    .-= Karen´s last post: Bread Update =-.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says

      I think Cable TV may experience a slow and painful death, as we consume more and more of our videos online. But there is still a good segment of the population (at least for now) who wants to watch their shows on the big screen and is willing to pay for it.

      I’m curious to see how that evolves…

  4. TexasT says

    We were using the DVR and HD service from Time Warner, but we weren’t watching but a handful of shows. With my son watching Netflix streaming to the laptop, I didn’t see the need to even have cable. It was a “nice to have”.
    So today, we use an HD antenna and get all the local stations (in HD), and anything we miss, we can watch it on any number of online websites: Hulu, NBC, Fox, etc.
    .-= TexasT´s last post: Control Your Finances – Budget Step #1 =-.

  5. says

    Wow – good suggestions. We’ll have to try it. I left my job with the state of CA – decreased pay. We have been paying 198.00/mo and its hard to swallow! I’m glad I found this. Thanks!

  6. TDubb says

    I live in Los Angeles, California and pay $72 for a cable high-speed internet and standard cable tv package from Time Warner Cable. It has been at that rate for over 3 years now for us. $72 is better than $95 if you ask me. And Time Warner throws in the HD channels for free. We have 1 DVR. We can’t get dish because of where we live, but having said that I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t first go for Dish or DirecTV before looking at rip-off cable.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says

      Where we live (SW Florida), dish service is notoriously bad during the summer because of daily thunderstorms (usually right when you get home and want to watch TV). Supposedly, they are now “99% reliable” but I have yet to hear about it from friends.

      I really wish there was more local competition between cable companies, but unfortunately Comcast is it for now.

    • says

      If i’m not mistaken Dish has free over the air codes that you can input in the box to have all channels.

      Don’t quote me, but I’ve heard that around the office.
      .-= Dallas Dollars´s last post: Looking for good financial advice on a budget? =-.

  7. says

    I’m gonna try those suggestions! I was so frustrated with my service provider that I was considering disconnecting the cable and just hook my tv up to my cpu and watch the shows on hulu. Hopefully I can make your tips work for me!!

  8. Dana Wong says

    I now use Time Warner for cable, internet and landline phone. We had Dish network before for 9 years, but had trouble receiving some stations due to interferance from tall structures in the area. We would also lose service during bad weather. All these companies are willing to run promotions to sign you up, but once you’re in they aren’t willing to give up concessions to keep you. I asked Dish network for a new remote after 8 years and they wanted to charge me $80! I went to WalMart and got a Universal remote for less than $15.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says

      I don’t know about Dish, but Comcast is more than willing to shave the price if you are thinking of leaving. I believe a relative currently has Time Warner, and she was also able to strike a similar deal. It might just depend on how hard you push or what other companies in the area are offering!

  9. says

    My wife and I dropped our premium channels and just have basic cable and internet service via Comcast. We’re saving $100 a month and not missing a thing. The kids can watch their favorite shows on PBS and Netflix and I can get ESPN on my Xbox 360.

    We still have cable because we don’t want the hassle of making a OTA antenna work. Also for $2 more we have basic cable because it is bundled with our high speed internet. I can live with $24 a year instead of dealing with installing the antenna.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says

      $2 a month for cable service? Interesting…we had basic cable and Internet and were paying almost $100. What kind of promotions were you able to take advantage of?

    • Buddy French says

      wow , I am paying 139 a month for a digital box , prefered digital and high speed internet. I chatted with them moments ago about adjusting my plan and they were not willing to help me. The rep just gave me a 1 800 number to call on Monday.I dont watch TV much, but I do have other people living here that watch it.

      • Wojo says

        Threatening to quit may help! Since so many people have been using this method, they might just be calling your bluff.

  10. Louaine says

    I called today threated to quit nothing. My bill is $150 for cable and internet no premium channels. Called direct tv they are coming out on saturday. I wouldlike to keep my internet with Comcast and they still won’t lower there price $50.00 a month for 6mbps. They actually told me after 11 years that maybe I should look else where I called their bluff Good Bye Comcast.

    • Wojo says

      I’m seeing more and more of this. Comcast is staring their own demise in the face and calling its bluff–they’re going to have a rude awakening as the train starts to roll downhill fast.

  11. Kathleen Lovett says

    A year ago I Comcast lured me away from Dish (it didn’t take much as the Dish was useless in the lightest rain). I had a bundled plan with Comcast with a lot of bells and whistles that included internet, TV and phone service. Monthly it ran about $125.

    Recently the promo expired and I received a bill from Comcast for $198.00!! I am retired and live alone, so this was a ridiculous amount to be spending. I sought help in lowering the bill online. After explaining that I wanted to LOWER MY BILL even if it meant cutting services, the agent started to work with me.

    In the end, I gave up most of the TV channels ( I watch very little) and went with Basic Cable.
    I went from the highest speed connection, to the Performance connection. This will still allow me to stream video. Finally I gave up the unlimited long distance service on the phone as I can use my cell phone for these calls.

    As a result of these changes my bill was lowered from $198 to $84 per month, a savings of
    $114 per month or over $1200 per year. There is enough savings here for me to subscribe to Amazon Prime, so I won’t miss the channels I gave up.

    Accomplishing this took over an hour of online discussion. Not bad for a 65 year old grandmother.

  12. Cable Inside Schoop says

    I loved this post. Good job on setting goals early in advance so that you know what you want when you call the retention department. They will give you whatever you want if you push hard enough

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