How to Save Money on Cable TV and High Speed Internet

Update(5/28/2013):  My 6 month promotion just ended so I called in to see what their offer would be this time.  The CS rep only offered me free wireless boxes(2 x $7/month savings) so I told them I wanted to cancel.  They transferred me to retention department where a really nice CS lady gave me U200 for $26 off($74-$26), two free wireless boxes($14 savings), and waived the HDTV fee($10).  They also upgraded my internet to Max Plus and gave me a $10 discount on it($56 – $10).  My total bill is now $100 flat($48 for TV, $52 for internet) with $60 in total savings.

Update(12/2/2012): AT&T U-Verse has a promotion going on right now where they will give you $28 off your bill. I just called in last week and complained about my internet speed and although they didn’t give me any discounts there, they did offer me a $28/month discount on my TV service for 6 months. My total bill now is only $102/mo for U200 and 6 mbps internet including all taxes. Remember though the CS rep usually won’t be able to give you any promotions. You will usually need to threaten to cancel then the cancellation department or an account specialist can give you the good promotions.

Save-Money-cable-internet

Across the country, there are quite a few options for internet and TV service.  But here in San Diego, I signed up with AT&T U-Verse because they had a great sign up bonus and don’t require you to sign a contract.  I like the flexibility that a month to month plan affords me even though there are some tempting sign-up bonuses every year, e.g., free NFL Sunday Ticket for signing up with Directv!  However, these promotions usually require you to sign up for at least a year.

When I started comparing the services I had to the local cable companies, I realized I was getting ripped off big time!  My last bill came in at $143 for HD television in two rooms and high speed internet.  I like my high speed internet(15MB per second) because it allows me to download television shows and movies from the internet very quickly, and the price, at $48/month, seemed about right after I compared it to a few other companies.  However, my basic TV service at $95, was way too expensive.

Get Rid of My TV  

For a while, I seriously contemplated getting rid of my television service altogether.  I can easily download most of the shows and movies I want to see, but there is no alternative for live sporting events.  During basketball season, I record and watch almost every Lakers game.  And when fall rolls around, I’m usually glued to the TV every Sunday and Monday night watching football.  I have a couple friends without TV and every time they need to watch a game, they end up at a bar.  Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of getting rid of your cable to save money?

There’s some great technology coming along like the Logitech Revue and the Roku Player that should allow me to get rid of my service altogether.  But until live sporting events are available without cable, I’ll have to keep it.

How a Phone Call Saved Me $264

Why do cable companies schedule appointments for four hour windows?  I never understood that, but the though of it seemed pretty unappealing.  Every time I move, I hate waiting around for a cable guy who may or may not show up in between the hours of 12 and 4 pm.  So before I did anything drastic, I gave AT&T customer service a call on my lunch break.

In a competitive business like cable tv and internet, remember the consumer is always in control.  You can cancel, modify or renew your service at any time and it’s up to your provider to retain your business.  Whether I’m trying to refinance or looking for a vacation rental, I always shop around and try to pit businesses and people against one another.

I’ve compiled a short list of helpful tips I’ve used in the past to get discounts from AT&T U-Verse and Directv.  These tactics aren’t guaranteed to work but most of the big companies will have promotions available for existing customers.  Here are the key points to mention:

  • I have been with your company for several years, are there any promotions you have for current or loyal customers?
  • Why is comparable service at your competitor less expensive?
  • Mention that you can not afford your current service with your current income level.
  • Your ace in the hole: threaten to cancel.

At first, I spoke with a basic customer service rep and explained to them my predicament.  They weren’t much help and it wasn’t until I said the keyword “cancel” that they transferred me to their customer specialist/retentions department.  I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with the first rep and was offered a $5/month discount on internet.  After only 2 minutes with the retentions rep, they offered me the $5/month discount for a year, gave me my second receiver free for a year($7/month) and topped it off with a $10/month HD discount for a year.  In total, they reduced my monthly bill by $22.

It’s a lot of work to switch companies and set up new service, but a quick phone call can save you hundreds of dollars a month.  If I stay with AT&T for another year, my total savings will be $264.  Not too bad :)

Readers, have you thought about cutting your cable?  Have you had any luck getting your bills reduced by calling in to customer service?

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Hi, I'm Harry, the owner and head writer for Your PF Pro. I started this site back in 2011 in order to create a place where young professionals could come and get all of their financial questions answered. On the site, you'll find articles on everything from asset allocation for retirement to saving money at Chipotle! So enjoy..

Comments

  1. Joe says

    I cut my cable about a year ago and haven’t looked back. I pay 7.99 for Hulu Plus to stay current on new programming and $8.99/month for Netflix for movies and older TV series’. This saves me a pretty penny and I don’t miss out on any TV that I really want to see. I also stream through my Xbox to the TV which is much more appealing than watching on your laptop. You do bring up a good point with live sporting events. Though I never went to the bars just so I could watch the games… if I didn’t feel like partying a bit, I would find some sucker paying for cable and go to his house. Now who’s the financial pro?

  2. says

    I use my logitech revue to stream, movies and tv shows I download from the internet, wirelessly to my tv and it also gives me access to Netflix, HBO GO, etc. I record a lot of basketball games so I can watch them faster, and at my leisure :)

  3. says

    I’ve used similar tricks with Comcast in San Francisco. They also always will give you a discount if your bill jumps in price. A word to the wise, make sure to ask to speak to someone in their “loyalty” department. They will have the authority to cut you a new deal.

    • says

      Yea that’s a good point, usually the initial CS rep that you talk to has very little power. As soon as you mention the word cancel though, they should transfer you to retention/loyalty department like you mention.

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