Consumer Tips – How to Negotiate Your Internet and TV Bill
In a perfect world, everyone pays exactly what they need to for everything. But we don’t live in a perfect world. People all over the country, in fact, all over the world are overpaying for products and services. Your internet and TV bill are some of the things that you might think you’re paying too much for. And you’re right! Find here the complete guide to negotiate your internet and TV bill, and lower your monthly bill.
Negotiating Internet and TV Bills
We often see internet and TV packages advertised at very good prices. We think that’s a pretty good deal to get for just X dollars. But the thing is, in most cases, the advertised price is just the starting price. After 12 or 24 months, depending on your provider, the price will start increasing. And that’s not to say you get the advertised starting price, to begin with. There are a number of hidden costs in internet and TV services, not to mention federal and state taxes and fees.
Most providers get away with increasing the price because consumers either don’t notice or don’t want to go through the hassle of changing providers. If you’re in a contract with your internet and TV provider, you’ll also have to consider the early termination fees you will have to pay if you switch providers. So you’re pretty much out of options. Or are you? Would you believe me if I told you I have been negotiating my Cox internet bill for the past year and a half? Here’s what you need to do:
- Do Your Homework
- What You Get Vs What You Pay For
- Consider Your Internet Needs
- Look For Hidden Costs and Fees
- Line Up Some Options
- Prep Materials Summary
- Negotiating Strategy
- Call #1
- Call #2
Sounds like a lot to cover doesn’t it? Don’t worry, though. The effort of reading through all these steps will be well worth it in the end when you save a significant portion of your internet and TV bills. Let’s begin.
1. Do Your Homework
Anyone who thinks they can negotiate a good deal without the right preparation and research is kidding themselves. You need to take careful stock of your current internet and TV service. That means you need to know exactly what is in your Cox bill. This will help you understand what you receive so you can compare it to what you pay for.
The first thing you need to do is make a list of all your monthly services and bills. This includes internet, cable, Netflix, Amazon Prime, SlingTV, and any other TV or internet service you have subscribed to. Once you have a list, you need to make the tough decision of figuring out which services on your list are ones you need and ones you don’t.
Next, figure out what you want. Do you want a discount on your monthly bill? Or do you want a bundle deal so you can pay less and get more? This will help set the tone of your negotiation. Bundle offers from internet and cable providers often sound like great deals on the face of it. But if you end up with services you don’t really need, you will simply be wasting money. Knowing your objectives will help you determine what you need and how you will negotiate.
Another important thing you need to look at is your bill payment history. Have you been paying your bills to the same provider for several years? Have you paid all your previous bills up till now on time? If the answer to both these questions is yes, you may be in a stronger position to negotiate a better price.
2. What You Get vs What You Pay For
When prepping to negotiate your internet and TV services bills, it’s usually a good idea to look objectively at the quality of service you are getting. Of course, every customer service rep from any provider will tell you their services are reliable or with minimal downtime. But it pays to keep a meticulous record of any service gaps or downtime you experience during an Optimum billing cycle.
Television service problems are visible almost right away, so you can usually tell when your cable or satellite TV isn’t working properly. But the internet can usually be trickier, especially if your home does not use too much bandwidth. An internet speed test should help you determine exactly what internet speeds you’re getting so you can compare them to the advertised speeds you paid for.
Of course, consumers rarely get the advertised internet speeds, as they are usually the maximum speeds an internet connection can achieve under optimum conditions. Your actual speeds are bound to be somewhat slower. But regular speed tests can show you how your speed fluctuates during the day and how slow it is. This is a solid point to argue when you’re trying to negotiate a better price for your services.
3. Consider Your Internet Needs
When you want to look objectively at your internet service when you wish to negotiate a better price, it is also a good idea to look objectively at your own internet needs as well. You should have some idea of how much bandwidth you consume personally along with other members in your home. A single-person household without heavy usage will not require as much bandwidth as a house with multiple intensive users. Extra bandwidth for only a few more dollars may seem like a good idea at the time, but if you don’t use it or have more than you need, you’re burning money.
You need to ask yourself a few basic questions to understand your internet needs. These include the following:
- What do your internet activities involve?
- How many internet users live in your home?
- How will multiple users in your home use the internet?
- What speeds and bandwidth meet your needs best?
The table below illustrates different types of usage and the speeds that meet them best, acting as a guide to choose internet service levels:
|Usage||Download Speed||Upload Speed|
||1 to 5 Mbps||0.5 to 1.5 Mbps|
||5 to 10 Mbps||2 to 4 Mbps|
||10 to 30 Mbps||4 to 10 Mbps|
||30 to 80 Mbps||10 to 20 Mbps|
||80 Mbps to 1 Gig||20 Mbps to 1 Gig|
4. Look For Hidden Costs and Fees
Keeping track of all the hidden fees and costs that weren’t advertised with your service can help you negotiate a better deal for yourself. Some fees are mandatory, and it is your legal obligation to pay them. But there are certain fees you can legally avoid and get waived or reduced with skillful negotiation. Knowing the difference between mandatory and avoidable fees is important.
For example, most internet and cable service providers either charge you an activation or installation cost. In many cases, we hear customers complaining they got stuck with installation fees even when they were sold a free installation. On the other hand, if you opt to install your service equipment yourself, the ISP charges you for activating your services. Installation and activation fees are unavoidable for the most part.
However, your bill may also contain certain fees that you aren’t obligated to pay. A good example is the FCC recovery fee you may see on your monthly internet bill. According to the FCC.gov website, the line item is often charged to customers as the FCC recovery fee isn’t a tax nor a government charge. That means you may have room to avoid it altogether.
Another fee you can probably avoid is modem rentals. Many ISPs stick you with a modem rental even if you bought your own equipment and aren’t using theirs. Or maybe the ISP charges you a full rental even though the service representative promised you a discount for using your own equipment. Regardless, you shouldn’t have to pay modem rentals if you aren’t using the provider’s modem.
There is no easy way to identify all the hidden costs and fees that come with your service. A consumer’s Spectrum bill pay may have them differently. On the other hand, Frontier’s hidden fees may be displayed differently. It always pays off to pay very close attention to all the line items on your monthly bill. Pay special attention to the way the cost is broken down, and note down any items that you don’t understand. As for details on them when you call, and if the representative cannot justify them as government fees or taxes, you should be able to avoid them.
5. Line Up Some Options
If you live in an area that multiple internet service providers cover, you can use that to your advantage. Have a look at what other providers are offering, especially if they are pricing their services lower than your provider. Many times, having different options can be just the leverage you need to negotiate a better deal for yourself.
Pay close attention to any promotions your current provider has running. Compare these special offers to your own service. Most of the time, providers pay close attention to the competition and have competing offers ready to retain your business. Knowing what the competition offers and how it compares to your service is potent knowledge for negotiation.
6. Prep Materials Summary
You may feel like this is getting too big to keep track of in one place. But don’t worry. Here’s a short summary of all the materials you need to prepare for negotiating your internet and TV bills:
- Amount of current service bill.
- Amount of service bill at initial sign up.
- Charges of subsequent bill increase.
- Reasons behind the subsequent bill increase.
- Duration of current service subscription.
- Records of any service problems.
- Competitor promotions and offers.
- Special promotions for new customers.
7. Negotiation Strategy
Once you have all these materials ready, you can start negotiating for a better price on your service bills. Of course, most negotiating guides tell you to threaten to switch to another provider when negotiating. This worked well up until a few years ago. Providers now understand this is mostly a bluff and have a script ready to defuse the situation instead of knuckling under.
Instead of an aggressive, my-way-or-the-highway stance, these days it’s best to approach service price negotiations more calmly. Instead of trying to negotiate on the spot, spread out the process over two or more phone calls, not one. Keep three important negotiation tips in mind.
First, you need to speak with the right person only. You want to speak to someone in the Retentions department. They are the ones with the power to give you a better price, so don’t waste your time. Second, be polite and friendly. Most customer service reps deal with disgruntled customers every day. A polite demeanor will have them more open to helping you. Finally, double-check that you have all the prep materials listed above. Since it is difficult to have a record of a phone conversation, try to get any agreement with the provider in writing. Don’t be afraid to call back again to make sure your provider follows up.
Here are a few additional points to keep in mind before beginning negotiations:
- Let them know your exact issue politely.
- Don’t bluff about canceling your subscription.
- Do your prep thoroughly.
- Don’t always accept the first offer.
- Take your time.
- Be prepared to actually cancel.
Got it? Great! Now we can move on to the actual negotiation, which you will spread over 2 or more calls.
8. Call #1
The first call is about laying down the groundwork. You should be polite and clear when stating your exact problem and concern. Get the representative to engage with you by politely asking them about your options. Wait for them to finish and tell them you feel you are overpaying and want to reduce your monthly bill. The negotiations are now open, and it is very important for you to remain polite and levelheaded.
Of course, this will be nothing new for the representative, who is likely to have a preapproved script for exactly this sort of situation. So be calm and patient while they run through this script. Remember, it’s part of their job to follow the script before they can give you what you want or transfer you to someone who can.
Once the representative finishes with the script and does not make a new offer, you can move to the next step. This is where all the research you prepped before the call will come in handy. Use all the material that gives you a stronger negotiating position. Talk about competitive offers from other providers, the length of your service relationship, and your bill payment history. Also, talk about any extras included with your service that you don’t really need that include hidden fees.
The representative might still stick to the script. Again, it is very important to stay calm because you still have options to make use of. There are 2 things you can do. You can politely ask to speak to the representative’s supervisor who may be in a position to offer you a discount. You can also choose to end the call and call back again later hoping to connect to someone more agreeable.
Remember, your business is very important to your service provider. They are willing to do anything reasonable in order to retain you as a customer. Therefore, when you show them you’re a loyal customer who is willing to negotiate, it is more productive to the negotiation process. Threatening to cancel your service should only be your last resort.
9. Call #2
You were calm, patient, and polite during the first call, but for whatever reason, the negotiation didn’t go as planned. Your second call, in such a case, should take a stronger stance. Now you can pull out the cancellation option as leverage to negotiate. But remember to do so carefully.
Once you drop the C-word, the representative will likely transfer you to either Customer Retention, Cancellation, or Customer Loyalty. If your provider offers a direct line to any of these departments, make use of it. Otherwise, ask the representative to connect you to them.
Retention and loyalty employees have one job and one job only. That is, to retain customers at all costs. Being polite but firm will really help you in negotiating a better offer with them. From a cost-benefit standpoint, most providers find it cheaper to retain customers at lower prices than to lose them altogether.
Sometimes, you may have trouble getting connected to the retention department. You can either call back and speak to a different representative, or you can talk to their supervisor. Calling for a third time can help you connect to someone with more expertise with disgruntled customers.
Finally, don’t take the cancellation stance too soon or you will eliminate all your options. Many internet service providers merge or acquire each other all the time. That could mean limited options to choose from. Keep cancellation as your final ace in the hole.
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