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How to Lower Your Cable Bill

by Alan Kirk, Demand Media

    People who want to reduce their monthly expenses may start by examining their entertainment costs, and the cable bill is often one of the first items to attract scrutiny. You can lower that monthly obligation by reducing services. However, if you employ the art of negotiation, you may be able to trim costs without sacrificing much.

    Step 1

    Foster competition. If there is more than one cable company in your area, each is competing for your business. Contact the companies and detail their offers on a spreadsheet. Include the channels each company provides, the price of extra boxes and the availability of DVR service and other extras.

    Step 2

    Contact satellite providers, even if you prefer receiving your television transmission via cable. You don't have to sign with a satellite company; you simply want to elicit more competitive bids. Cable companies dread losing customers to satellite providers, so threatening to switch to the dish can spur the cable representative to sweeten your current deal. Add the satellite details to your spreadsheet.

    Step 3

    Call your current provider. Explain that you have received several offers from competing companies and have decided to switch to one of them. Most cable companies empower their representatives to make counteroffers when a customer threatens to leave. The representative probably will begin negotiating without your asking.

    Step 4

    Start with the lowest offer on your spreadsheet and detail everything it includes. If the representative offers to match it, don't agree. Ask him to top it. If he claims he can't, ask him to loop in a supervisor, who may be able to provide additional enhancements. Employ the same strategy if the supervisor declines to match the offer you've quoted.

    Step 5

    Drop the dish on them. If the final offer still doesn't fit your budget, announce that you've decided to switch to a satellite company, even if a cable provider has extended the lowest offer. Many cable companies tell their representatives to offer special discounts and other perks to dissuade customers from switching to satellite.

    Step 6

    Reduce the final offer further. Negotiate over services you are willing to eliminate, including additional cable boxes, DVR or higher-speed Internet connections.

    Step 7

    Review the offer with the representative once more. If you are not satisfied, announce that you probably will switch to another provider when your current billing cycle ends. The representative may make one final offer in an effort to retain your business. If he doesn't, end the conversation.

    Step 8

    Wait a few days. Someone from the cable company may phone with yet another "final" offer. If that call doesn't come, phone the company and ask the representative to cancel your service at the end of the month. Time your phone call for the beginning of the billing cycle. This will allow another week or two for your current cable company to make another offer.

    Step 9

    Accept your cable company's last offer or sign with a competitor if you have not received another offer by the last week of the billing cycle. Either way, you will end up with service that costs less than you currently pay.

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    About the Author

    Alan Kirk has been writing for online publications since 2006. He has more than 15 years' experience in catering, management and government relations. Kirk has a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Maryland.

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