How I Saved Over $300 On My Cable And Internet Bills

We have to be out of our house at the end of the month and I have started the process of transferring all of our utilities over to the place we’ll be renting this summer until our new house is built.

Most of the transfers can now be made online, but I like to use these opportunities to call each company directly and discuss our bill to see if we are getting the best deal possible.  I’m glad that I did, since we ended up saving over $300 on our cable and internet bills with just two phone calls.

How Did I Save On Cable And Internet Bills?

First I called TELUS, our internet service provider, to let them know about our move.  I noticed that since their last dividend increase my bill had just gone up from $37.95 to $41.50 per month.  At the end of the call I brought up the billing increase.  I just flat out asked if they had a better available monthly rate, and after a few minutes on hold they came back and offered me a rate of $35, for a savings of $78 over the next year ($6.50 per month).

Next up was our satellite TV provider, Bell XPressVu.  I was determined to get a better deal from Bell or I was going to switch to the new TELUS Optik TV to save on cable.  We were paying around $80 per month, which was a bit high considering we only watch about half a dozen shows.

The nice thing about moving is that you have a good incentive to switch providers since you are going to make the transfer arrangements anyway.  The Bell customer service rep was going to charge me $75 to hook-up the satellite a 2nd time (for the new house), so that’s where I made my move to escalate the call to their loyalty department.  I spoke with a very nice woman who not only agreed to waive the hook-up fee, but also managed to reduce our monthly bill by $20 for the next 12 months, for a savings of $240 for the year.

Thinking about calling your provider to get a better deal?  Here are a few money saving tips to help increase your chances of success:

Review Your Bill Frequently

I have been a Bell satellite subscriber for over 12 years.  When I moved to our current house nearly 8 years ago I called Bell to transfer my service and was surprised to hear that I was paying for a package that no longer existed in their system.  It turned out that I was over-paying for similar service by about $10 per month.

Since that day I have made it a point to regularly call each utility company and review my bill to ensure that I am still getting the best available price.  We’ve all seen the special offers geared towards signing up new customers but there is never an incentive to keep loyal customers happy.  The next time you see a deal offered by your service provider, call and ask for a similar incentive for your account to make sure you save on cable and other utilities.

Call With A Purpose

Just calling and asking the first available representative for a better price on your monthly bill won’t likely get you anywhere.  You need to call with a purpose in mind.  Have a competitors’ most recent offer in your hands to refer to during the phone call.  Know the exact service you are currently receiving and the price that you’re paying.

The first person you speak with is probably a front line employee and they have little authority to offer you big savings and discounts.  If you are serious about saving money then ask to speak with Loyalty and Retention, a department who has the authority and incentive to keep you loyal and happy.

Be Willing To Walk Away

Set a savings goal that you want to achieve by the end of the call.  If you don’t reach that goal, are you willing to walk away?  I have heard a lot of anecdotal evidence describing how easy the customer service representatives will cave-in and do whatever it takes to keep your business, but in reality it’s not that simple.  At least it shouldn’t be.  As a shareholder of BCE, I don’t want them to just give money away with every phone call.

Know what the competition is offering and how it will impact your bottom line if you switch.  Most of the time the introductory offer for new customers is a 3-6 month deep discount before the full price kicks-in.  Explain your eagerness to switch and that you are giving your current provider the chance to match or exceed their offer.  Being willing to walk away will show that you are serious and that there is a sense of urgency with the call.

Readers: Are you ever tempted to switch to a new provider in order to save on cable or internet charges?  Do you regularly call your current provider to check for discounts?


32 Responses to How I Saved Over $300 On My Cable And Internet Bills

  1. I left a similar comment on “For The Love of Money” last week. Basically people should realize the age-old adage that EVERYthing is negotiable! If you consider what most companies give for introductory rates and assume that they probably aren’t losing money at those prices (probably cutting into their profit margin quite a bit, but still) you realize that you can probably manage to talk them into some savings if you pull the loyalty card. Tell them you would like to stay with them, but they have to, “At least be in the same ballpark,” as this offer from a rival company. Usually the loyalty rep is aware of these other offers in my experience and will do their best to at least get close to it, if not match it outright. Most people just prefer ‘not to bother’ with the half-hour or so on the phone. I might feel that way if it were a one time fee, but monthly service charge savings are the gift that keeps on giving, so that makes it worth it for me.

    • Echo says:

      @My University Money
      I agree that most people can’t be bothered to spend 20 minutes on the phone to check for discounts but if they did this regularly it’s definitely worth the effort.

  2. A.Rajah says:

    Yes I review it once a year and call to find any discounts or other options to reduce the bill. I do that with auto and home insurance as well.

    • Echo says:

      @ A.Rajeh
      Good idea to do this with insurance as well. In fact, for any recurring bill it’s probably worth spending some time to ensure you’re getting the best price.

  3. I did the same last summer with Shaw. In fact, I will have to do it again once all the perks vanish mid summer. I managed to have a free HD PVR rental for free and other perks.

    It’s getting tough to negotiate those though.

    • Echo says:

      @Passive Income Earner
      It probably does get tougher to negotiate over time (can’t be free, right?), but I find that we are constantly upgrading as the technology improves, which causes our bill to go up and gives us another opportunity to negotiate :)

  4. krantcents says:

    I routinely (annually) ask some of these questions with every service. A simple phone call and asking a couple of questions cut my newspaper subscription in half.

    • Echo says:

      @krantcents
      Thanks for stopping by! It’s amazing what a few minutes on the phone can save you over the course of the year.

  5. GAZZA says:

    Or even better. Since usually they rope you into a contract when you get these “special deals”

    Step 1:
    Cancel Cable

    Step 2:
    Move your computer to the tv and hook the video card into the HDMI input. You can stream all shows online in 480P(HD for TV) for free. Yes it is legal, go to CBC.ca/video for example. Total cost $0

    Step 3:
    Buy an OTA HD antenna, they take 5 mins to set up. Now you can watch HNIC and The National and also you get CTV, FOX, CBS, NBC, OMNI1, OMNI2 and about 15 others in HD. Total cost $40 then $0 per month

    Step 4:
    “Oh but I love TSN for out of market hockey games and random sports.” First off, give me a break, secondly, NHL Game Centre online. Total cost $20 per month.

    Step 5:

    “I love TMN.” No you don’t, you hate money and got those things confused. http://www.zip.ca. $25 a month for unlimited BlueRay rentals.

    Step 5: Switch your internet to Teksavvy. $45 for high-speed access with a 300GB cap. If you need more than that, you are up to no good.

    Ok so now your utilities are $20 per month for NHL Centre Ice + $45 for internet + $25 for all the movies you can watch.

    That is $90 a month, I didn’t give up a single thing, in fact the online streams and HD antenna are in far better picture quality that crappy Telus or Rogers.

    So I win, I improved my service across the board, I get all the BlueRays I can watch, and I have a gynormus download cap on my internet with blistering download speed. Also I saved $60 x 12 months for a total of $720. Also, it is all 100% legal, no laws broken.

    Extra added bonus, I never have to deal with Rogers, Bell or Telus ever again.

    • Echo says:

      @GAZZA
      You win for the best comment, that was great!

      That actually sounds pretty good, maybe we should try it out in our rental for the summer and see how we like it.

  6. OttawaSaver says:

    I live in a townhouse. My neighbours are in their 70s, and only use the internet to read UK newspapers and send the odd email. They now share my wireless connection for $20 month. We both basically get internet for half the price.

  7. Great savings! That is no small feat!

    Like Passive, I call the cable co. (Rogers) here in Ottawa every now and again and ask for deals. I tend to save $10-$20/month with each annual call. I also have negotiated a free HD PVR, but the longer I have this box the tougher it becomes to get it for free ;)

    BTW – got my site up and running!
    http://www.myownadvisor.ca/

    Stay in touch often!
    Mark

  8. I just got set up with Shaw and negotiated for a free PVR and free PVR expander.. the first six months deal is killer ($56 a month for internet and cable) and then they get you after that…

    I like that Shaw isn’t on contract, so I can always call them to threaten to leave to Telus :) Hoping that works… looking at Passive Income Investor’s comment, it looks like it might :)

    I relish in the 20-30 minutes of negotiating on the phone- especially if the CSR is nice and amiable.

    • A friend of mine could not get deals from Shaw anymore after a couple of years. He ended up following through on his promise and move to Telus.

      You don’t have to go with a contract if you don’t sign up with deals and take all the freebies either. It’s something I did not know.

      I believe these days if you can have all three services with the same company (cable, internet, home phone) you get a decent deal.

    • Echo says:

      @Y&T
      That sounds like a great deal from Shaw. I also enjoy negotiating on the phone, I do it all the time at work when companies are trying to get me to reduce my price…so I just use the same tricks that I know worked on me ;)

  9. Hail_Nero says:

    The phone answering system by these cable and telephone service providers are specifically designed for the consumer not to bother to ask for service and inquire regarding especially billing! They know people don’t have time to spend waiting on the line for the sake of saving a few dollars! Best thing to do is talk to your MP and try to have the CRTC do away with rules and regulations which favour these monopolistic cable companies. Ask for more competition from Ottawa please!

    • Echo says:

      @Hail_Nero
      That’s why most people dread these phone calls, they have no patience to be placed on hold for 10-20 minutes (and even multiple times).

      • My eyes are open says:

        But think of it like a job. You could spend 20 minutes on the phone, and save $240 for the year. That’s an hourly rate of $720. If someone said you could get $240 for showing up at a certain place 10 minutes away, would you go?

  10. Wolf says:

    These negotiation tactics are also useful for obtaining great cellphone contracts. My mobile provider is Rogers and after making bi-weekly calls to them for the last few months my bills have gone from $100 to $50 dollars a month. Not only has the cost been reduced, the service has been improved with more minutes, better long distance, more data, etc. They key is to get transferred to retentions and then proceed to manipulate the customer service representative into giving you credits and better contract offers.

  11. Witty Artist says:

    I regularly review my bill but I haven’t call my provider to check for any discount. Thanks for the idea!:)

  12. Ed says:

    “Be Willing To Walk Away.”

    Then do it.

    I quit cable over a year ago. Wished I’d done it 20 years ago. Haven’t missed it AT ALL.

  13. Stocksicity says:

    Wish I had all those options in my area. All I have is Direct TV or Time Warner Cable. We have a Verizon Office right across the street but FiOS isn’t available. And I live in an apartment without a balcony (on the 11th floor) and we can’t get permission from the landlord to have DirectTV install their service with a tripod on the window. So I’m stuck with TWC for now until I move.

  14. zen says:

    I called my cable provider twice. The 1st time i went the “customer retention department” route. I got nowhere. They were happy to cancel my cable if I didn’t like the packages they offered – I was surprised! I called back a month later, this time I spoke to a customer service rep and explained to her that my spouse was on the verge of cancelling the cable on my behalf b/c don’t watch enough TV to justify the cable bill. There are only a few channels beyond the basic package – mostly movie channels like Bravo, EA2 and Showcase – that we’d like to have but we can live without them. She empathized with me and created and knocked about $15 off my monthly bill, along with giving me a few “custom channels” that I got to pick. So we still have cable but are paying less on a sliding scale.

  15. Jean says:

    I recently had a similar experience when I realized that the plan I was using was grandfathered in for existing users but not available anymore. Now there was a far cheaper plan for only a minimal loss of speed which would have saved me a tidy sum. I immediately switched over to it but sadly, I’d been wasting money pretty much since the new plan was introduced.

    -Jean

  16. Francoise says:

    I haven’t had cable in ages. In my basement (!) apartment I got all of the basic channels (CTV, CBC, Global, Omni 1 and 2, French CBC, TVO) for free with rabbit ears on my old TV. Now that everything is digital, I picked up a small flat screen and Digital antenna and I get the same channels, again for free. If I want PBS and other channels that stream or upload their shows, I and hook up my computer to the TV. Some shows are held back before they’re online but I can live with that. Simple, cheap and puts the pay to the crooked cable companies. I refuse to pay them a cent.

  17. SE Book says:

    Great tips i will have to try some of them out.

  18. Janice says:

    Great story! I work 11 hours a day and I’m exhausted when coming home. So its very convenient not to check my bills,
    and keep paying the same I amounts as I pay today. But when I got the time and checked my bills, and started negotiating with different provides, I wound up saving 100$ a month. (Cables/Cell/phone) That’s 1200$ a year. Imagine someone gives you in the end of the year a gift worth this amount, isn’t it nice?

  19. NOT "THE CABLE GUY" says:

    How the hell do you “save on cable” when TELUS doesn’t do cable. STOP calling any type of TV service cable. IT’S NOT CABLE. Theres cable (SHAW) Theres Satellite (BELL, SHAW DIRECT, STARCHOICE) And theres IPTV (TELUS). That is like calling EVERY type of car, van, truck, a FORD. Regardless of what it is you call it a FORD. It irritates people who understand these systems when its called “cable.” Not trying to rant but I need to spread the word. Because when I show up to your guy’s house to install IPTV, and you guys have it stuck in your head that it’s cable. Problems happen. Also I laugh when SHAW fans say how they love that SHAW doesnt have contracts. Neither does TELUS. You can sign a contract with TELUS IF YOU WANT. If you sign then you will get better pricing (of course). Without TELUS contract its still cheaper than SHAW. SHAW overpays employees. That money comes from all of SHAW customers. Eventually SHAW will have to rethink strategy to recoup lost funds from over salaried employees. You want competition. Leave SHAW, let them rethink slaries for employees. Prices will finally drop to TELUS grade. Then jump back, give them a chance to think about how they’re doing business.

  20. Dan says:

    I have found it more and more difficult to save with Shaw. they seem less willing to negotiate than in the past. I called two weeks ago to complain about my rates and they basically showed me the door. Has anyone else had any luck with shaw in the recent past?

  21. Money Saving says:

    The tips you give here are great. I also find that calling up and getting through to the retention department is the way to go.

    I wrote a similar post (with video) on how I was able to save ~$360 a year by haggling with the Comcast folks. I had to actually speak to 3 different people before I could get the lowest rate.

    Here’s the post if anyone is interested: http://www.moneyahoy.com/money-saving-negotiate-cheapest-cable-phone-and-internet-service-rates-part-1/

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