Satellite TV Retention Department Employee On Haggling Discounts

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One of my more popular posts is about Haggling To Lower Your Cable or Direct TV Satellite Bill. Looking at the stats, I would confidently estimate that hundreds of people have saved hundreds of dollars each after reading it and taking some action. Today, a call center worker in the Retention Department of a satellite TV company (Dish? DirecTV?) left some interesting thoughts that I didn’t want to get lost in the 135+ comments. I’ve quoted it below, unedited except for a few spaces to break things up.

I work for a satellite company, I wont say which one. and might I just say that if you are going to call in and do all this just to get money off of your bill at least be up front about it. The worst is when people call in and try to give some sob story about not being able to afford it when they have like the highest package but wont go down to a more affordable one. We have done this long enough to know who is “blowing smoke” so if you want the best deal just be nice (we in the retention department deal with mostly escalated situations as well as customer retention)

If you call in and just say “hey, I know you guys have a lot of good deals going on for different customers, is there anything you can do for me” I PROMISE You you will get the best deal.

1, you are being polite which we will automatically do more for you because you are easy to deal with. 2. DO NOT use the “why do you treat new customers better than loyal ones” approach, you got new customer promos when you signed up so that just makes you sound like you are going to be hard to work with. 3. we KNOW what people want when they call in, we do do this for a living, so just be honest, it will get you the best deal every time, we expect people to call to ask for discounts so when you are up front about it it makes our jobs a lot easier because we dont have to ask you 1,000 questions we can just cut to the chase.

Not surprisingly, you sense a certain level of resentment/annoyance/exhaustion about this practice. I’d probably feel that way too if that was my full-time job, but I’m afraid that won’t stop me as customer from asking for discounts if a phone call saves me $300.

I love the idea of just cutting to the chase. However, if they gave every person that calls in the best discount, I’m sure upper management would not be happy. So you’ll still need to get to the Retention Department which is never the first person you’ll speak to on the phone. This may be as easy as asking for “retentions”, but by definition they may need to first feel the need to “retain” you. After reaching the people who can apply the best discounts, perhaps simply being polite and direct (even use the suggested phrase above) will get you the best deal.

Recently, I get the feeling that a computer algorithm has already decided what they’ll offer you; unfortunately if you’ve gotten a discount recently you’re much less likely to get another one at least for a while. But this part remains the same: You still won’t get anything unless you ask.

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  1. I work at DIRECTV and I used to work at DISH, both in corporate positions. Both companies have clearly defined limits as to the maximum they will give you. While I cannot tell you what these limits are, they do vary by type of customer (which package you have, how long you’ve been with the company, do you pay your bill on time, etc.). My advice:
    -When you call in say, “I’m calling to cancel my service. I’m switching to (DIRECTV, DISH, Comcast, etc.). The second you say this, a red flag will go off and you should automatically be transferred to retention.
    -As you said above, always be polite and courteous. This goes for anything in life.

    And just to be clear, I’m not speaking on behalf of any of these companies. Just a big fan of the blog and thought I’d chime in. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

  2. “Recently, I get the feeling that a computer algorithm has already decided what they’ll offer you”

    Very true. Couple months ago my sister called to have her bill lowered, after hearing of my experience with our parents bill. I was able to get my parents bill lowered twice in the last five years. The last time was over a year ago.

    My sister had never called before and she got an extremely good deal, much better than my parents. We called to see if they would offer the same deal for my parents. Even with repeated calls to different agents and the retention department, the cable company took a very hard stance.

    They essentially said, we don’t do that anymore, you are getting the best rate, eliminating service it will end up costing you more, sorry to see you go, etc, etc.

  3. I struck a deal with DirecTV that included money off, free HD access, and free Showtime, but they keep cutting the deal short and I have to keep calling them to remind them of the deal and then they say their notes don’t reflect the deal I said they agreed to. Eventually they give in and give me the original deal, but not without a lot of phone calls and arguments.

    Recently though, they cut off the free Showtime six months earlier. Despite my calls and fighting, they will only give me three months, not six. I told them I am going to cancel after the three months are up, but they did not seem to care this time. Hmm. Maybe they are tired of me.

  4. I had never had any luck with any of the service providers….comcast, vonage and i have been a customer since eons.

  5. I don’t see that comment as ‘resentment’ nor is he saying you shouldn’t ask for advice but just straight forward advice from an insider on how to deal with their system / rules to get a discount.

    I think different companies have different policies about these discounts and the policies are likely changing over time. So I dont think theres any one size fits all method that will work all the time.

  6. @jim – I agree there is helpful advice, but what about the phrase “if you are going to call in and do all this just to get money off of your bill”? That feels like belittling the behavior, as if it would be beneath him/her.

  7. I just went through the shuffle with Verizon last week. I was pretty clear in stating that my promo’s had just expired and I wanted to see what we can do to shuffle things around so that their service would be affordable.

    After monkeying around a bit the rep wasn’t offering much better than what I could see to be essentially the base bundle. At the end I had to push the comcast thing to get him to come to the table with an actual discount.

    So in my case, straight-forward got the base price. Only with the threat did they respond to competitor pricing. Good for them, comcast’s prior unwillingness to extend a promo is how I became a FIOS customer.

  8. It’s very frustrating as an ethical customer to see people continue to do this, and I would agree with the employee, faking hardship is pathetic.

    It’s just like the idiots who call in to waive theri $5 late fee. If you screwed up and forgot to pay your bill on time, deal with it. Instead, we have increasing prices on everything because some people like to game the system.

  9. What the employee said is true, i think, if we can go by what happened to me last week when i called into Cox communications (our internet/phone company).

    I actually called to downgrade our package because i just wanted to see if the connection performance would be missed by us at all. I was ver polite and didn’t even expect anything. The CSR was nice but succinct. He said “why don’t I give you the promotion going on now and give you $5 less on your bill each month? it’ll give you the same package as now. Call back next year for the same discount if you want to extend it another year”. That was it! He probably didn’t want to hear another sob story (not that i was giving any) and he knew that I wanted to downgrade for monetary reasons and was going to downgrade no matter what. He just cut to the chase and saved me money and kept the same service.

    Sometimes, fighting is good but alot of the times, the people on the other side of the phone just don’t want another complaint on the phone since they hear this all day long.

  10. I just did this. Called up, mentioned “Cancel” to the robot and was directed to a very friendly retention woman named BJ. Please no jokes, she was AWESOME. I was very upfront and said that I wasn’t going to use any of the “cancellation” ploys and I just wanted to see what she could do for me. We joked about her heavy southern accent though she was from Cali. Nicest rep I’ve ever talked to.

    She looked at my account and saw that we’d been out of contract for several years and have never had a deal since we signed up (my bad). But it worked this time in my favor.

    I was calling in just to get Sunday Ticket but she was able to get me more. $20 off/month on my package for 12 months, $10 DVR credit for 12 months, $15 off for 15 months (can’t remember what this was for), and I got my free Sunday Ticket. She couldn’t get my the Max version of the Sunday Ticket for free but I agreed to ~$19 for four months to get the Max upgrade. With the discounts I’m still way ahead. Lastly, I did sign up for a year contract when I was most likely going to be with them for a year anyways.

    So, all told, if my math is at all accurate.

    $240 + $120 + $225 + $299 (sunday ticket max I was going to pay) – $80 = $804.

    Astounded. She had quoted my a cheaper price for sunday ticket but I’m guessing it was some sort of deal price she could see. I’m using the price on the Sunday Ticket webpage because that’s what I was going to sign up for.

    $804!! And it was an EASY EASY call to make when I was upfront and not antagonistic.

    It works people.


    PS – This could be a sweeter deal because I had never called in before and was paying full price for three years out of contract.

  11. @TJ – there is nothing unethical about negotiating prices or fees. One should not use deceit in doing so, but a customer is not a servant.

  12. I would negotiate with my television service provider, but my antenna doesn’t answer the phone. It doesn’t charge me for content either.

  13. Although this post is probably dead I thought I’d recommend an additional point. I also work for a state lit television company, however I work in billing, and if you don’t understand what you are paying for/being offered, and/or aren’t paying your bill; before endeavoring to lower your cost understand what you’re buying, and please pay for it.

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