Do you feel you’re paying too much for cable? You’re probably not alone. The average monthly cost of a cable subscription currently hovers around $65 per month, though many people pay upwards of $217 per month for their entire cable package, which usually includes high-speed internet and perhaps home phone service.
The price of cable subscriptions has been rising steadily for decades, and it appears this will continue to be the case. It’s, therefore, no surprise that cable companies are losing customers in the millions. Many people are choosing to “cut the cord” and use streaming-only services such as YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and the many more that are out there.
However, it doesn’t always need to be this way. Yes, cable can be expensive, and the tactics the cable companies use can be frustrating, but you are not powerless. However daunting it may seem, you can negotiate with your cable company for a better price or for more services. Here’s everything you need to know about how to secure the best price for your cable subscription.
When we get frustrated with the price of a cable TV, the first thing we want to do is cancel our subscription and become a cord cutter. For some, this might be the best option. Yet, there are many reasons to consider sticking with cable and negotiating a better price.
Here are some of the most compelling reasons to put the effort into renegotiating your cable bill:
Because there are so many streaming options available, frustrated cable customers almost always assume that cutting the cord is the cheaper option. However, when you really break down the cost of switching to just streaming, the difference isn’t quite as big as it initially seems.
Here’s a rough estimate of what it would cost you to switch to streaming-only:
Our estimate includes three additional streaming services, though there are many more you could get. With these three services, your monthly bill for switching to streaming-only would come up to around $153 per month, and this could be even higher if you have high internet demands and need a faster connection (we did this calculation using the $50 number).
Compared to the $65 per month you’re paying for cable, switching over to streaming only can actually cost you more. If we throw in an internet connection worth $50, then the numbers get closer, but cable can still actually be cheaper.
There are ways around this, mainly sharing accounts with other people and splitting the cost. However, this isn’t always an option, especially if you are a family and you use up all your allotted streams as a unit.
Some may say that cutting the cord is still better because you get more value. For example, with many streaming services, you don’t need to watch ads, though this is not the case for the basic Hulu plans and most cable streaming services such as YouTube TV and Hulu.
In addition, cable still gives you some things that streaming does not:
Some of you may read all of this and decide that cutting the cord is still the best option, but hopefully, you now see that it’s not quite as radical of an improvement as it seems.
As you can see, sticking with cable can still make sense, but just because you get some additional services with cable as compared to cord cutting doesn’t mean you should pay higher prices.
Negotiation is the best way to help you save on your cable bill and enjoy all the benefits of cable without having to spend all that extra money. To negotiate with your cable provider, it’s useful to know a few things:
Although cable companies advertise prices for their many packages, these are not fixed rates. In fact, they are more estimates of what you might pay for that type of service, meaning there is a fair bit of wiggle room when working with a cable provider.
Most people don’t know this, and so they don’t push hard enough when dealing with cable sales representatives, many of whom will try to tell you that the price is the price, and that’s it.
When negotiating, consider using some examples of friends or family who got a discounted rate through negotiation. Even if this didn’t “technically” happen, that’s okay. It is occurring, and you should be able to benefit from these negotiated prices just as much as anyone else.
In case you hadn’t noticed, cable is getting increasingly expensive every year, and it has been for decades. One study found that the price of a cable bill has been steadily outpacing inflation for over 20 years.
The individual sales representative you’re speaking with won’t have much power in this, but making it known that you’re aware of how much more money you’re paying might invoke some sympathy.
If nothing else, taking a deeper look into how expensive cable has become might be just enough to fire you up and turn you into a fierce negotiator.
One common tactic cable providers use when you are negotiating is to offer you additional services at the same price point. For example, they may upgrade you to a better channel lineup, or they may add on a sports or movie package at no additional cost.
If your primary goal is to reduce how much you’re actually spending on cable each month, then this approach will not be all that helpful. If you’re more interested in trying to get better value (especially since streaming-only setups often cost around the same anyway) then you’ll want to have this in mind and be ready to ask for it when the time comes.
Another reason to negotiate with your cable provider is that these companies are rather desperate at the moment. Because they have been consistently rising prices, and because there are so many other options, people are cutting the cord in droves.
This means that not only do cable providers face additional competition from these services, but the competition amongst cable providers is also heating up, since there is now a smaller customer pool from which they can draw.
All of this means that you really are in the driver’s seat when dealing with cable companies. In the past, when there were fewer options, cable companies could operate with a real “take it or leave it” attitude. This is no longer the case, and the more aware of this you are, the easier it will be for you to use your leverage to secure a better price.
On the other side of things, cable companies are also internet companies. They know full well that you can’t operate your streaming services without a high-speed internet connection. Therefore, when you drop your cable, it’s likely the cost of your internet-only plan will not be that much lower than when you were paying for cable.
So, there is an argument to be made that if you are going to have to pay for internet anyway, why not just bundle in a cable plan and then negotiate for a better price?
In the end, this may end up being cheaper. Again, it will depend slightly on how much these internet-only plans cost in your area, and if there are alternatives. In most cases, bundling will be cheaper, so you might as well negotiate for the best price.
Now that you’re armed with all the insider information, it’s time to negotiate. Here are four steps you should take to increase your chances of getting a better deal:
No negotiation strategy is going to work if you don’t first do your research. The points we discussed above are useful for helping you establish your position, but you need to have some more specific details if you want to convince your cable company to let you pay less (or get more) for your cable bill.
Some things you will want to look into before calling up your cable company include:
After you’ve done your research, it’s time to come up with a list of demands. Going into your phone call asking for something specific is ideal because it will help you get the best deal. Without specifics, your cable provider might offer you something that sounds nice but isn’t the best offer they could come up with.
Think carefully about how much you actually want to pay for cable. After doing some research, you should know the average cost in your area is, so be realistic. Also have a specific discount in mind so that you can at least get negotiations going in the right direction. If you want to be really savvy, then start the conversation at a lower price point so that you can “meet them in the middle” at a price that is really the one you wanted to pay all along.
Another thing to consider mentioning is bundles. Cable companies are all about bundles, and so if you come to them with a specific demand for a bundle, they may work with you. Those who bundle services are usually more loyal. Think about what type of bundle you would want and then suggest that as a negotiation starting point.
Don’t be afraid to remind them of how loyal of a customer you’ve been (assuming this is the case). Most people stick with their cable company for a long time because they can’t be bothered to change. Providers then raise prices on these people, taking advantage of their loyalty. Make sure the sales representative with whom you speak knows this, and it may help unlock some better deals.
While all the tactics we’ve discussed are effective, your best leverage comes from your freedom to walk away from your current cable provider.
As we mentioned, cable companies are really struggling to keep old customers, never mind recruiting new ones. Therefore, if you go into the call determined to cancel your service and switch to another provider, you should be offered quite a few nice offers designed to entice you to stay.
For those of you living in an area where there are multiple cable providers, be sure to mention the specific one to which you are thinking of switching. Cable companies hate losing out to their competitors, and so knowing you’re leaving for one might just bring out some better deals.
If you live in one of the many areas of the country where you don’t have a lot of choices for cable, make sure you have a specific streaming-only alternative lined up that you can use to show your sales representative.
Knowing your options shows your cable provider that you mean business, and this should hopefully get them to negotiate more seriously, leading to better offers and lower prices.
If you’re not happy with the deal you’re being offered, or if you think your sales representative is not taking you seriously, then consider asking to speak to their manager. Sometimes lower-level sales reps are limited in what they can offer you because they simply don’t have the authority. Yet, higher-ups sometimes do, so why not go straight to the source?
If you’re not happy with how negotiations are going, you can simply hang up the phone and call back. It’s likely you will get a different rep, and then you can start over again. This isn’t an overwhelmingly sustainable strategy, but it can work if you are really dedicated to getting a better deal.
If you really feel you’re not getting the deal you want, and it feels like negotiations are going nowhere, then it’s time to follow through with your threat and cancel your service.
In some rare cases, doing this might force your sales representative to offer you one final deal, but more often than not they will just let you go.
Still want cable? Don’t worry. Just go to a competitor and sign up. Promotional pricing is often cheaper, which will help you save money. Of course, these deals often run out after one or two years, so get ready to negotiate again soon, but at least it’s a short-term saving.
You can also cancel with your current provider and then sign up again as a new customer. As we mentioned, a lot of providers charge long-term loyal customers more, so match their backwardness by canceling and then immediately starting a new contract.
Doing this (and canceling) is a bit of a pain, and it means you may need to deal with some service interruptions. If saving money and/or getting more value is your goal, then it’s well worth the short-term hassle.
Not only is it possible for you to negotiate with your cable company, but you most certainly should negotiate with them. If you’ve been paying the same price for some time, or you think you are paying too much, call them, employing the tips and tricks we’ve mentioned here. Hopefully, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying cable TV for much less money.