How to negotiate cable and utility bills

A man negotiates his cable and utility bills
May 14, 2020 | Kate Streit

You likely consider your cable and internet bills part of your fixed expenses. Especially in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, people are spending more and more time at home, making reliable and fast internet, electricity and other utilities more necessary than ever.

And since we can’t socialize in the ways that we’re used to, and our movement is severely restricted, a steady queue of television shows and movies to keep us entertained feels like a luxury we can’t give up.

But just because your cable and utility bills are recurring monthly expenses you must budget for, that doesn’t mean that you can’t lower them. In fact, there are some key tips and tricks that will ensure you don’t pay a penny more for these services than is absolutely necessary.

Everything is negotiable

The first thing to know about cable and utility bills is that unlike a lot of other expenses, they are completely negotiable. The price you see advertised, and even the price you’ve been paying is not set in stone.

Before you pick up the phone to call customer service, though, do your homework. When it comes to negotiating your cable and/or internet bill, you’ll want to take stock of your current plan. Know exactly how much you’re paying each month and for what. Have an idea in mind of how much you’d like to pay as well as what you may be open to using as a bargaining chip. For example, maybe you need the highest internet speed available, but you’re willing to part with certain premium cable channels.

When negotiating, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, but of course, remain courteous and friendly. If you get an offer that’s better than what you have, but still not ideal, feel free to press the issue in a gentle manner. You can ask, “Is that the absolute best you can do?” If you have a particular figure in mind, ask what they can do to get your bill under that amount. You can assume that the first discount they offer is not the lowest they’re willing to go.

Look out for perks and deals

One way to save on your cable and internet bills is to bundle them together. If you get a package from the same provider, you will often pay less than you would if you paid for each service separately.

Companies also often offer promotional prices for new customers, so it may be worth looking into your provider’s competition to see if you can snag introductory prices. While these lower prices typically go up after a finite period of time, you may still save in the long-term. Calculate what you’d spend with each provider over a year’s time to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

In “energy choice” states, you have your pick of more than one electricity and gas provider. This opens the door for negotiating utility bills as well. Comparison shop to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your needs. When you tell your current provider you’re thinking of switching, that may get them to offer you an even lower price.

Consider cutting the cord

These days, there’s more choice than ever when it comes to in-home entertainment options. With an array of streaming services offering virtually unlimited movies and television shows, you may decide that getting rid of traditional cable altogether is the most economical option.

In addition to individual streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, you can also watch live TV with internet subscription services such as YouTube TV and Sling TV. With these services, you can get a live TV experience that is similar to the one you’re used to with traditional cable, and many of the same channels are available. In the end, a mix of individual streaming services as well as an internet TV service might be the best and most economical choice for you. 

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