Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Tue, 16 Oct 2018 23:22:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 Playing Chicken With DirecTV: How to Lower Your Bill and Get Free NFL Sunday Ticket Max http://yourpfpro.com/playing-chicken-directv-lower-bill-get-free-nfl-sunday-ticket-max/ http://yourpfpro.com/playing-chicken-directv-lower-bill-get-free-nfl-sunday-ticket-max/#comments Sat, 06 Sep 2014 18:10:08 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=5316 Just want to sign up with DIRECTV?  Use my referral link and get signed up and watching NFL Sunday Ticket today! I signed up for DirecTV a little over a year ago when we moved from San Diego to Newport Beach.  I used to have ATT U-Verse and I loved their service: it was less […]

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Playing Chicken With DirecTV: How to Lower Your Bill and Get Free NFL Sunday Ticket Max

Just want to sign up with DIRECTV?  Use my referral link and get signed up and watching NFL Sunday Ticket today!

I signed up for DirecTV a little over a year ago when we moved from San Diego to Newport Beach.  I used to have ATT U-Verse and I loved their service: it was less than a hundred dollars for internet and TV and I got everything I wanted.  And since I wasn’t on a contract, every time my promotional credits expired, I would just call in and threaten to cancel and they would quickly succumb to my negotiating powers.

U-Verse wasn’t offered in our new area though so I decided to get internet from Time Warner Cable and my TV from DirecTV.  I’ve been on the fence for years about cutting the cable and the one thing that has been holding me back is the ability to watch and record live sports.  I actually don’t even need to watch them in real time anymore (I love watching a 2 hour basketball game in just 30 minutes by fast-forwarding through all the commercials and free throws).  But I just can’t imagine an entire season of football going by without me being able to sit on the couch and watch for hours at a time.  That is my definition of a good time.

1 Year Sticker Shock

One of the things that sold me on DirecTV initially was the low price and the fact that they gave new subscribers free NFL Sunday Ticket.  For those who don’t know that basically just means that instead of only getting to watch two games at a time on Sundays, you get to watch all of them!

Related Article: How To Get Local HD Channels For Free

The big problem with DirecTV plans though is that they give you a bunch of promotional credits that expire after year one of your two year contract.  So once my promotions expired, my bill shot up from $75 to $115.  Even though I knew the average price of $95 over two years was much less than Time Warner, it just didn’t sit well to have to pay so much for my beloved football.

$10/off A Month Is Not Enough

I read reports in a thread on SlickDeals that even if you were still under contract with DirecTV you could call in, threaten to cancel and get some type of retention offer.  The best offer someone was able to get was $10 off per month and free NFL Sunday Ticket.  This obviously depends a lot on what you say and which rep you get but I figured it was worth a shot.

I eventually called in and went through my whole spiel.  Here are a few key points I hit on:

  • I couldn’t believe how much of a difference ($40) it was from one year to the next
  • Why don’t I just sign up for Netflix and pay $7/month?
  • I thought I would get free NFL Sunday Ticket for two years (playing dumb here)

Basically I just did a lot of complaining until the rep finally relented and said they could offer me $10 off per month or half off the price of NFL Sunday Ticket ($180 instead of $360).  Normally I would have taken the $10 off per month since that’s going to save me $120 over the next year but since I knew people were getting better offers I told them I was going to cancel unless they could give me free Sunday Ticket and $10 off/month.  The rep stayed strong though and didn’t budge on his initial offer.  I guess they called my bluff, or did they?

Canceling Service Is Your Best Weapon

Companies hate losing customers since they know how much of a hassle it is to transfer your service.  Most people would rather stay on with DirecTV for example than switch to a new provider who provides the exact same services but for $10 less per month.  That $120 savings per year probably isn’t enough to justify all the work it would take to cancel your old service, set up a time to be home to get the new one installed, etc.

But as a consumer, you can use this to your advantage.  I ‘threaten to cancel’ my service all the time (with everyone from TV providers to credit card companies).  Generally, when you call into a company’s customer service line, the first rep that you talk to won’t be able to offer you much.  You need to threaten to cancel in order to get transferred to the retentions or cancellation departments.  These are company’s last lines of defense against losing customers so they’re going to bring out all the stops to keep you.

Let’s Play Some Chicken

I knew that DirecTV had better retention offers available but I didn’t feel like wasting my time calling in again until I got a rep willing to work with me.  Instead, I tried something new.  I told them I wanted to cancel my service and I scheduled a cancellation for the end of the month.  My plan was to wait it out and see if they would give me a better offer.  If they didn’t, I would just call in and try to get the $10 off a month they had initially offered me.  Within a day though, I got a call from DirecTV.

The guy on the other end of the line claimed to be my account manager and he told me he would make sure that he did everything in his power to retain my business.  I basically explained to him that I was more than willing to pay the  $75/month I was paying but I wanted to keep the same programming I had and I wanted free NFL Sunday Ticket again.  Lofty demands but I figured it was worth a shot.

After some back and forth, they eventually agreed and they put me on the DirecTV Choice Package for $85/month (I had a refer a friend $10/mo promotion that expired) and they gave me free NFL Sunday Ticket.  At one point, they were going to charge me $100 for the NFL package but I told them no deal.  The rep talked it over with his manager and they said they could make a one time exception.  Gee thanks.

How Can You Use This Information?

I don’t know if everyone will be able to replicate this deal but it does show that going the extra mile can really pay off.  I spent a couple hours researching this deal, posting on Slickdeals and calling in to DirecTV.  In the end, it was fun to figure all of this out and the monetary pay out was more than worth it to me.  I could never justify paying $360 for a few extra NFL games but if it’s free, sign me up!

Most companies know that you have a lot of different options but it’s up to you to leverage those other offers.  You can’t be afraid of threatening to cancel and then actually going through with it because that’s the only way you keep the power on your side.  There’s a reason why they say more competition is a good thing for consumers.  There are a lot of people who won’t go to these lengths to save a few bucks.  But since I did all of the leg work for you, you should be able to get a similar deal in a fraction of the time.

Readers, what do you think about my strategy to milk everything that I possibly could out of DirecTV?  Would you do the same or is it just too much hassle?  

If you’re a football fan like me, DirecTV is actually offering free NFL Sunday Ticket again to new customers.  And if you use my trick, you should be able to turn that one year of free football into two years.  If you’d like to support the site, please sign up using my referral code and we’ll both get $10/month off our bill for 10 months.

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Overpay Your Utilities Before You Cancel Service http://yourpfpro.com/overpay-utilities-cancel-service/ http://yourpfpro.com/overpay-utilities-cancel-service/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 14:22:01 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=2980 I’m always looking for easy ways to save money or make money.  Basically anything that will put more money in my pocket without much work is something I like.  I get a lot of my ideas from browsing deal forums like Slickdeals or travel forums like Flyertalk but occasionally I’ll come up with a good […]

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Overpay Your Utilities Before You Cancel ServiceI’m always looking for easy ways to save money or make money.  Basically anything that will put more money in my pocket without much work is something I like.  I get a lot of my ideas from browsing deal forums like Slickdeals or travel forums like Flyertalk but occasionally I’ll come up with a good idea on my own and share it here.

One of my favorite cards is the Chase Ink Bold Business card that I signed up for a few months ago.  I like this card because it gave me a 50,000 point sign-up bonus, has no foreign transaction fee and it gets me 5x points back on office supplies and utilities like phone, internet and tv services.  The Chase Ultimate Rewards points are very valuable too since you can transfer your points 1:1 to airlines like Southwest and United and hotel chains like Hyatt.  Or you can redeem your points for 20% off travel, so for example a $625 flight on any airline would only require 50,000 points.

Racking up the Points

The only problem is that I don’t spend much on my utilities every month so I don’t get the 5x back on much money.  I pay about $70/month for Directv and $40/month for high speed internet.  I’m still on my mom’s family plan so even my smart phone only costs $50/month(although my mom pays the bill).

When we moved a couple months ago, I decided to switch from ATT Uverse to Time Warner since the former only offered internet in my new area.  Before I canceled my U-Verse though, I did an experiment to see if I could overpay my bill and still get 5x the rewards points.  On my last statement, I overpaid by $300(that was as much as they would let me) and waited.  The payment worked and about 2 months later, I received a check in the mail for just under $300.

So I essentially got 5x back on $300 2 months after I cancelled my service.  I had to call AT&T once to make sure everything was going to get refunded but I guess they’re just really slow to process refund payments.  On my $300 purchase, I got 1,500 Chase UR points back.  Assuming a conservative 1.5 cents to 1 point ratio, these points are worth about $22.50.  Not bad for a few minutes of my time.

Readers, what do you think about my strategy to overpay utilities and get 5x cash back?  Is it worth it for $22.50?  

-Harry @ PF Pro

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How to Get Free HD Local Channels and Cable TV http://yourpfpro.com/get-free-hd-local-channels-cable-tv/ http://yourpfpro.com/get-free-hd-local-channels-cable-tv/#comments Wed, 28 Aug 2013 16:23:27 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=2795 If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you know about my life-long quest to pay less for pretty much anything and everything.  Cable TV is one of those non-essential items that I always find myself struggling with. There are a litany of services out there that have come close to replacing cable tv […]

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How to Get Free HD Local Channels and:or Cable TVIf you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you know about my life-long quest to pay less for pretty much anything and everything.  Cable TV is one of those non-essential items that I always find myself struggling with.

There are a litany of services out there that have come close to replacing cable tv like Slingbox, Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, etc but none of them are quite there in my mind.

I Pay $70/month for Live Sports

One of the main reasons why I still pay $70/month for cable tv is because I love watching sports.  I’m a huge Lakers, NFL fan and Dodgers fan, in that order and none of the above services can provide me with consistent sports programming.  Some of my sport-loving friends without cable tv tell me that it’s not that bad, they just go and watch the games at a bar.  But that sounds like a pretty counter-productive solution to me since I’m trying to save money here.  Food and drinks at a bar are expensive and generally not that good.

I may sound like an old man here but I also don’t want a bunch of drunk hooligans bothering me while I’m trying to watch the last two minutes of a playoff game.  I would much rather be sitting in the comfort of my own home on my couch with a cold $1 micro-brew than on an uncomfortable bar stool for 3-4 hours with a cheap $4 Coors light in my hand.

I Love TiVo

I also have a limited time budget so when I do watch tv, I have to be able to fast forward through commercials and football is about the only sport I still watch live.  I’ve gotten it down to a pretty good science and I can watch a Lakers game in just under an hour by fast forwarding through commercials and free throws.  If I’m real pressed for time, I’ll only watch the first and fourth quarters that way.  Nothing really happens in the middle of the game anyways.

I think the paid services like Hulu and Netflix are getting closer to providing everything you’ll need but they’re still not quite there for me.  It’s getting tougher and tougher though to justify paying $70/month for cable TV now that I’ve found out about a couple new tricks too.

Using an HD receiver

Remember those bunny ear receivers that people used to have before everyone started switching to satellite and cable?  Believe it or not, they still work!  As long as you have a newer version TV(think HD and/or flat screen), all you have to do is buy a simple receiver and hook it up to your TV.

I actually bought this RCA receiver(pictured left) from Amazon for $8 and set it up.  Depending on your area and reception, you could have up to 20-30 HD channels.  Most of them will be in Spanish or Korean or some other foreign language, but you will get the local channels like CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, PBS, etc in crystal clear HD.

The first time I tried it, my reception wasn’t great so I only got a couple local channels in HD but now that I’ve moved and my TV is right next to a window, I get full reception on all the local HD channels.  I know there are Tivo-type boxes you can get to record off an antenna but you still have to enter all the recordings manually.  Once there’s a service that will be able to auto-update their guide based on what’s on TV and interface with your antenna, I’ll be sold.

Using an Old Cable Outlet

This hack is slightly on the unethical side, but I don’t really have a problem with it personally.  If you get your internet from a company that also provides cable tv you can actually use the same input cable to get HD channels for free.  It can be a little bit hit or miss but a friend of mine told me about it and I thought he was full of crap until I tried it myself.

Since we recently moved, I ended up signing up for Direct TV and internet from Time Warner Cable.  Once the internet guy was done, I hooked up their connection to my TV and did a quick search and sure enough I had over 50 HD cable channels!  Again, a lot of channels that I never watch and couldn’t understand but I did have access to all the local channels in HD.  The nice thing about this method is that the picture is perfect and doesn’t rely on a pair of antiquated bunny ears(which tend to be very sensitive to wind, touch, rain, etc).

You can buy a simple splitter for under a couple bucks and split the connection from your cable internet company and have one line going to your modem and another to your TV.  I’m not sure if this works for every cable tv/internet company but it definitely works for Time Warner so give it a shot and let me know how it went in the comments below.

Readers, did you know that you can still buy a simple inexpensive receiver and get free local channels in crystal clear HD?  What do you think about my cable tv hacks?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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How to Save Money on Cable TV and High Speed Internet http://yourpfpro.com/save-money-cable-tv-high-speed-internet/ http://yourpfpro.com/save-money-cable-tv-high-speed-internet/#comments Fri, 01 Jun 2012 03:07:29 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=626 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 […]

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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, after evaluating my internet provider, 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?

-PF Pro

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