Cable Bill Haggling Revisited

Recently it was time again to haggle my cable bill (I still get a steady stream of success story comments on that post). Actually, I ended up just switching to DSL as I’d been having some ongoing speed issues with my cable internet. I’ll take the one-year discounted deal from DSL, and then when I go back to broadband cable I’ll sign up for whatever special offer they have then.

I’m not the only one. Here’s a Vox article “Here’s the secret to getting a lower cable bill” which supposedly talks to ex-Comcast customer service reps and offers the following tips:

  • “It pays to play hardball,” says a customer service representative who worked at an Oregon call center from 2002 to 2009. “Threatening to cancel will get you further than outright asking for a discount.”
  • Asking to talk to a manager could actually backfire, as managers may not be judged based on customer satisfaction metrics like regular customer reps. You just want to reach retention specialists.
  • People in Comcast’s “retention” department are rewarded based on their success at getting you to keep your service without giving you a big discount. So they’re going to do their best to get you to change your mind for free.
  • Retention specialists only have a limited number of discounts to hand out to folks. If you can’t seem to get one, that specific person might not have any left. Call back and try again and you might get someone with discounts left. But don’t call too many times, as they track your calls.

And here is a Business Insider video with basically the same idea, but maybe the nice production value will convince you that haggling is a legitimate customer tool. ;) As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” Your mega-corp internet provider won’t just hand you a discount worth $100+, but they might if you just ask.

Comments

  1. When I just upgraded from AT&T DSL to AT&T UVerse for my internet, I got a few promotions so that first year was quite cheap. They screwed up the promotions, though, and it required me to call them every month for six months before they finally got it right. That, and my frustrating dealings with Comcast lately make me want to deal with both companies as little as possible.

  2. stephen says:

    I have been playing the game every year with cablevision. every year I have no intention to leave cablevision but I do make the threat. I recently discovered that every threat I made is documented and I am like the boy who cried wolf. Therefore they know that there is no way I will leave. I think in order for them to take me seriously at this point I need to leave even if its for a few months. The biggest problem is the competition- Fios- actually is more money than my deal at cablevision so I am somewhat stuck.

  3. The real issue in my area is competition – or lack of. And I live the Minneapolis-St. Paul, a major metropolitan area.

    For decent high speed internet access, I have one option – Comcast. Comcast is the only cable provider in most of the Twin Cities as well, which is common in most cities.

    I would have no issue dropping cable entirely, but our internet options outside Comcast are very poor – spotty service and slow speeds, which hurts us as we stream most of what we watch via Netflix and Amazon Prime. So we use Comcast basically for internet access and the bundled price (adds cable) is only a few dollars a month more than internet alone.

  4. I’ve played this game the last few years, and it’s that time again for me this year. However, pretty soon, I plan to actually quit cable TV. Depending on the outcome of the ABC vs Aereo Supreme Court case, I’ll either sign up for Aereo or else get a Mohu antenna, but either way I’m ditching cable. It will be interesting to see if the retention specialists lower their offer even more now that I really mean it. :P

  5. I called with every intention of leaving uverse over their throttling and they gave me 24 mbps for $25 a month. Stupidly I took the deal. Still can’t watch netflix in hd.

  6. I’ve had uverse internet for close to 2 years (no cable). I called in April saying I want to ‘be loyal’ and stay with ATT but need to really ‘control my costs’ so was thinking about taking comcast up on a 12 month promo. I really didn’t even threaten to cancel…I just wanted to know what they could do. The retention guy had like 3 different promos I could choose from. I got my rate cut in half and speed doubled for 6 months. I certainly intend to do this again in the fall when my promo is up. If they don’t go for it I’ll cancel and get a comcast 12 month promo. Rinse/repeat. Hopefully when this strategy dries up google fiber will be available!

  7. I own both a cable and a dsl modem and in my area the speed is similar. So if need be I can and do switch between cable and dsl Internet.

    As it comes to pay TV I never had it besides briefly when my tenants insisted. It’s just seems utterly pointless to pay $100+ for the “pleasure” to aimlessly go through one thousand channels of re-runs and re-re-runs. There are much more efficient and cheap ways of discovering content on Netflix for example.

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