How to Save Money on Your TV & Internet Costs
One of the things people frequently complain about is how much they're spending monthly on their TV and Internet bills. I've been a longtime customer of a large cable TV company and am happy with their level of service. However, they can be pricey, especially when you are no longer covered under a promotional rate. Let's talk about what you can do when your TV and Internet prices get too high - believe it or not, there are options!
Begin by finding out what's included in the package you currently have. Here's what I mean:
- Find out the Internet speed you're paying for.
- Find out which package you have for TV channels and see which pay stations (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, TMC, Starz, Hitz, Epix, etc) are included.
- Does your package include a home phone line? If so, see if it includes unlimited long-distance and voice mail.
Once you know what you have, see if there are things included that you don't use. For example, we very rarely (if ever) watch TMC (The Movie Channel) or Starz. Decide if you really need the Internet speed you are paying for on your bill. Think about whether you really need unlimited long-distance on your home phone bill, especially if it's already included on your cell phone. Voice mail that's included may not be something you need, especially if the phone system you have includes an answering machine.
Do some shopping around prior to contacting your cable company. Go onto their website and see what their promotional rates are for new subscribers. Are your rates at that level or are they higher? Look at special rate offers for current subscribers - could they save you some money?
Once you have a pretty good idea that you might be able to save money based on their current offerings or based on the fact that you're paying for things you don't really use or need, it's time to call the billing department for the company you're dealing with. Here's what you can expect:
- You'll begin by speaking with a representative who may or may not be successful in lowering your bill. If you aren't happy, tell them you are considering dropping service because you're paying too much. Most likely they'll put you through to the retention department, and from my experience, these are the people that are most likely able to do something to lower your costs.
- Once you've reached someone in the retention department, and chances are this is where you'll have the most success, begin the conversation again. Explain that you are aware of promotional offers out there that could help you. Tell them what you've figured out from looking at what is included in your current bill. Can you be happy dropping down to fewer pay stations? Explain that to them. Do you really need all of the base stations you are paying for - can you be happy with less if it saves you money? Discuss your options. Make sure you tell them that you are considering switching services to someone else if you can't lower your cost. Chances are, they'll find a way to drop your bill! Here's an example: I was paying over $300 a month (ouch!) for cable TV service that included 260+ channels on three TVs (including HBO, Showtime, TMC, Starz, Epix, and Hitz, plus a sports package and DVR service). It also included extremely fast Internet service and home phone service with unlimited local and long-distance calling. After working with a retention specialist, dropping the two pay stations I don't watch, and adding Cinemax in (due to a promotional rate on packages that included it), I was able to reduce my monthly bill by more than $60 a month. I still have all of the same stations I had before (less TMC and Starz but adding Cinemax), I still have my fast Internet speed, and I have the same phone service as before. I'm just paying less because I spent about an hour on the phone discussing my options with them! They understood that I was considering switching possibly to DirecTV with AT&T for Internet and wanted to keep me as a customer, so they were willing to lower my monthly cost!
I will tell you that it doesn't always work on the first phone call. There have been times that I've had to place multiple calls to get my rate lowered, and to me, the savings was worth the hassle on the phone! Just don't give up if the first person you speak with says no - keep trying.
My guess is if you're on a promotional rate that is as low as they are offering to new customers, there won't be much they can do to assist you. But if you've been with them and are now out of the promotional period (usually two years but sometimes less), you may be able to stay with them and save. Set a reminder in your phone to remind you yearly to review your cable/internet/phone costs and plan on contacting the company you're dealing with to see if they can lower your bill.
If you're still not happy after working with your current company, there are other things that you can consider. Some people completely drop their TV service but keep their high-speed Internet. If you do, you may find that you can stream what you want to watch and it will save you money (possibly picking up a package like NetFlix, Hulu with Live TV, Philo, YouTube, Sling, or Amazon Fire). If you have a Smart TV, you may have a way to easily access these services directly from your TV if you keep up your Internet service. Another way people are saving money is by not renting equipment from their company and purchasing it instead. When reviewing my bill, I see that I am currently paying $14 a month to rent my Wi-Fi modem. Modems are selling for less than $100 up to around $250, so if I buy instead of renting, I'll be able to save money in the long run. I'm not sure if I really want to do that, but I'm thinking about it.
Don't settle for paying too much for your cable, Internet, and phone services. Begin by examining what you currently have and decide what you can do without. Try contacting your service provider and work at negotiating for a lower rate - you may be surprised by how much you can save just by asking! I hope you're successful!
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