Some of you may remember that in the past I have mentioned using Twitter as a way to get customer service issues taken care of. I have also used my Twitter account to get deals on cable and internet service from both Comcast and Charter, and I recommended at the time that if you use Twitter that you try that route as well. But with or without Twitter, in order to negotiate your phone, cable, or internet bill you need to be prepared with as much information as you can gather. With that in mind, I wanted to fill you in a few tips on how you can attempt to either get a great deal upon signup or in negotiating your existing service as it stands today.
Throughout this post I will use cable TV as my example, just to make things a little easier. The first thing you need to do if you want cable TV is to see what different services are available in your area. These can range from DirecTV satellite, (which from personal experience I highly suggest you skip LINK), DISH Network satellite, regular old cable TV providers, and/or FIOS (fiber optic service) TV. While satellite TV is generally available in most places, making it popular for people who live in rural areas, most communities do have some sort of TV provider in their locale. Here where I live, my options included the two satellite providers and Charter Cable, which made my decision that much easier. Because I refused to sign up with another satellite provider, I didn’t have much choice in where my TV would come from. Internet was a different story, but TV was going to be from Charter.
That being said, if there were multiple companies offering service in my area, you as a potential customer needs to research what each one offers and at what price point. You can then use that to your advantage as you call each company, saying that “XYZ company offers 123 — can you beat that or offer me something better?”. In probably 99% of cases, the customer service reps in sales are able to discount any rates you found on their websites. You must be a gatherer of information if you want to get the best deal possible, so do your homework on any company or service available for your home and use it to your advantage.
Once you have the info, call around. If you get a customer service rep that doesn’t want to help, hang up and call again. You are basically calling into call centers, and the chances of getting the same person again are pretty close to nil. Pit each service against each other. Tell DirecTV you aren’t keen on putting a satellite on your roof, so ask how they can make it worth you doing so. Remember, you are in charge and not them.
As soon as you decide on a service and agree to the terms, be sure to get the reps name/number and extension so that you can reach them again if you need to do so. I did all my signing up for Charter via Twitter and now I have a guy who works there I can Tweet right to and have issues taken care of. This is vital – you need a lifeline to a human just in case.
A few other things to keep in mind when shopping for the best price on cable/phone/internet:
- Sometimes bundles of 2 or 3 services are worth it and sometimes not. Be sure to add up all the costs of what you need to see if it’s really a deal or just a marketing ploy.
- Be sure to ask for free or discounted installation, even if any offers say they charge for it.
- Don’t worry about deals offering $X price for 12 months only. Most (however, DirecTV wouldn’t) providers will have new offers when your 12 months are up and are willing to offer them to you so you don’t jump ship.
- If you don’t need a home phone, don’t get one. Don’t let a rep bully you into buying phone service, even if it’s cheap, if you don’t need it.
- Just because your contract/term isn’t up doesn’t mean you can’t call and ask for a discount. Plans are always changing, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of them. If a provider thinks you may jump ship because another option has made itself available, they will usually be more than willing to discount your costs.
- Don’t pay for more internet speed if you don’t need it. None of us really need 35MB download speed, as I have 15MB and it’s just fine for everything, including Netflix streaming.
Of course, you could skip TV altogether and use some of the methods to watch TV for free at home. But that’s up to you to decide! The most important thing is to get the best deal possible, because it’s your money we are talking about. Now go out and negotiate!
Photo by sfxeric