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Money Scripts: Negotiate Your Internet, Cable & Phone Bills

Woman negotiating bills

Unhappy with your internet and cable providers? Join the club. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports surveyed more than 176,000 of its members and learned that telecom customers—paying a median of $186 per month for TV, internet and home phone services—weren’t too happy about their service.

But the survey also uncovered some good news. Of the 70% who said they had attempted to negotiate a better deal with their providers, 8 in 10 said they were rewarded with either discounted costs or a perk like faster internet speed or additional premium channels. Pair that with findings from a different survey that revealed 84% of credit card holders who ask their provider for a better deal received it and the message is clear: Those who ask—and ask in the right way—may very well receive.

Is your company offering a discount or other promotiThis month, consider doing something other than opening the cable bill with a sigh of resignation. Call up your providers’ customer service number and start up a negotiation with questions like these from our money script:onal rates at this time?

Some experts recommend you reach out to customer service once or twice a year to learn about new and upcoming promotions. Especially if your own promotional rate has just ended, don’t assume that you’re now stuck with that “standard” fee tacked on. Telecom providers are in a competitive industry, and they want to keep your business.

How much will I save if I reduce my services?

Consider if there is a premium channel you can go without (do you really need to watch every Major League Baseball game?) Or consider living without that extra cable box in the bedroom or basement. Saving even just $5 or $10 per month is nothing to sneeze at.

Can I downsize my plan altogether?

A 2016 report by Nielsen revealed most cable TV customers watch only about 20 of the more than 200 channels they have access to—and even that number is slowly decreasing. While the number of available media platforms is on the rise (thanks in part to the proliferation of devices on which to watch them) research what features you can access through free platforms like YouTube, and consider which ones you can do without altogether.

Are some of these fees avoidable?

Customers would do well to be wary of hidden fees and extra costs that pad the monthly fee you were quoted when signing up. If you ask for an explanation of each fee on your bill, you may learn you’re paying for optional items such as the fastest streaming capacity or high-definition technology that you really don’t need.

Can you match your competitor’s rates?

Most successful negotiations require you start from an informed stance. Negotiating with telecom providers is no different. Find out which broadband providers service your area, then call each company to ask about their rates. You might also hop on a local forum hosted by Facebook or NextDoor and ask your neighbors how their service is working for them. Armed with that information, your provider might jump at the chance to meet a competitor’s price. If not, it may be worth moving on in the long run, even if that means paying cancelation fees and having to pay for and install new equipment.

Can I sleep on this?

If you’re offered a mediocre deal, you still have one more trick up your sleeve. Instead of taking the first deal they offer, NerdWallet recommends you tell them you’d like to “sleep on it” and will get back to them. They may come up with a better deal on the spot. If not, you can call back the next day and revisit the offer on the table.

If all else fails…

Is there someone else I can speak to about this?

If all you’re hearing is “no,” sometimes a different customer relations department or a supervisor who has more authority can help. Other times you might have to call again in a day or two and try your luck with someone new on the phone.

Have the nerve

As with most negotiations, you’ll have more luck if your provider has active competition and if you’ve been a loyal and reliable consumer. Either way, you really have nothing to lose by trying. The hardest part is getting up the nerve to make the call!