Nov 3, 2013

Stop paying sticker price for your internet, satellite, etc.

I continue to be surprised at how many people I speak to who pay sticker (i.e. advertised) price for some of their services, such as cable internet, satellite TV, etc.

I haven't paid the standard rate for these services for years, and you shouldn't, either.

At the moment I am paying
  • $15-20/month less on internet, locked in for 12 months.
  • $14/month less on SiriusXM (50% off each on two vehicles), locked in for 12 months.
  • $20-30/month less on DirecTV, locked in for 12 months (at least I was; I have since dropped DirecTV)

Let's start with cable internet. The simple reality is that once the infrastructure has been laid to service an area, the operating margin on individual internet subscribers is extremely high. This means that even though Time Warner, for example, may want you to pay the sticker price of $50/month, you're still profitable as a customer at $40/month. My guess is that the cost to maintain satellite subscribers (TV or radio) is even lower; additional users require more licensing fees and back-end support like customer service, but they do not increase load to the system.

Turn 20 minutes into $200.

Most providers of a service entice new subscribers with low rates. At the end of an introductory period, the rate defaults to standard. Your goal is to step in before the end of the introductory rate, and ensure you do not get defaulted to standard. All this takes is a phone call.

As soon as you call your provider (online customer service won't work--you must call), you have two main options:
1) Ask if they can lower your rate. Simply asking is often enough (it has been with Time Warner in my experience).
2) Threaten to cancel service.

If you truly are ready to cancel service unless the rate can be lowered, you'll receive steep discounts. I like SiriusXM, but not at $14/month, for example. They have no problems letting you stay for a much lower rate. In the case of DirecTV I was absolutely ready to leave even though I was still under the two year contract. I received an extra $20/month off on top of a discount I had requested a few months earlier.

All of the calls should be pleasant--if you're courteous they are likely to be, and more likely to help you out.

Of those I've recommended locally to call Time Warner, every single one has received a discount off the standard rate. The entire process is not unusual or difficult--give it a shot!

When asking for a discount won't work

Some services do appear to have a same-cost-for-all, such as Netflix, your power company, etc.

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