If you think you're paying too much for cable and Internet, we've got some good news: There's something you can do about it.
In fact, real consumers, like you, have seen significant savings by doing simple things like switching cable providers, negotiating, and downsizing their services.
Keep reading to learn about the specific techniques and strategies they used…
David’s Story: Switching Providers
David Rae, a certified financial planner from West Hollywood, Calif., says he was paying roughly $170 per month for a "middle-of-the-road" cable-only package with Time Warner Cable (TWC). The high price was partially attributed to five DVR boxes, which TWC charged him for separately.
The AHA! Moment: "I’d held off switching for a long time because it can be such a hassle," Rae says. However, he finally decided to go ahead with the switch because his cable boxes kept going out. "So I really changed to save money and improve service," he explains.
What He Did: Rae went online and checked out pricing at the DirecTV website. He also asked around to see who people in the area used and if they were happy. When he finally decided to go with DirecTV, he said it was easy to get a good price just by calling the company.
"My friend passed along a referral credit to me, which saved me an additional $10/month," says Rae.
His new package with DirecTV offers a similar channel line-up to what he had with TWC. However, DirecTV offers a whole-house DVR, which meant he didn’t have to rent additional boxes.
"Plus, I also got free 6 months of Showtime and HBO for switching," Rae says. He signed a two-year contract which locks him in at $60 per month for the first year, and $110 per month for the second year.
"At the end of year two, I’m planning on calling DirecTV to try and get another special rate in exchange for committing to another year," Rae says.
Savings Tip: "When signing up for a new service, know what other services are available in your area and what kind of specials they have to offer you," Rae says.
Final Savings: $110 per month for the first year; $60 for the second year
Jon’s Story: Removing Unused Services
Jon W. Ulin is the managing principal of Ulin & Co. Wealth Management in Boca Raton, Fla. Ulin had a Comcast contract that included Internet, a modem, and an additional premium package upgrade for 100 extra channels, plus HBO programming. For that, he was paying $105 per month.
It should be noted, however, that the actual price of the package was $170 per month, but Ulin’s community homeowner's association subsidized the basic cable.
The AHA! Moment: "I’m always looking for ways to cut my monthly bills," Ulin says. "Once per month I pick one of my bills from the mail and read the vendors disclosures, offers, and rebates to see if there is an opportunity to save a few bucks," Ulin explains. He adds that if the savings are going to be greater than $10 or more per month ($120 per year), it’s worth investigating.
What He Did: Ulin called Comcast and explained to the service rep that he was looking to lower his bill and politely asked the rep to break down the services he was paying for.
"It occurred to me that I never seem to watch the digital channels, don’t need hundreds of channels, nor utilize the DVR taping function of the HD digital box," Ulin says.
As a result, Comcast instructed him to visit one of their service centers to simply exchange the cable box. Swapping the HD cable box for a non-HD cable box reduced the monthly bill by $20 automatically. They also removed the premium channel services, including HBO, which brought the bill down to $55.
The service representative then offered Ulin a 12-month promotion.
"He swapped out my current $55 per month Internet and cable plan for a $34 per month plan for a year," Ulin says. "That saved me another $17 a month, bringing my bill down to $38 a month [after taxes and fees]," he says.
Saving Tip: Opportunities to save on cable are not always obvious, so you have to look for them. "It took extra effort to have to unhook the machine and lug it to the service center, wait in line and exchange it," Ulin says. If you’re willing to work at it, though, it might be worth it.
Final Savings: $67 per month
Trinidad’s Story: Downgrading to Basic Cable
Trinidad Pena is a blogger and graphic/web designer located in Somerset, N.J. She originally signed with Comcast during a special offer, where she received an Internet and cable bundle for approximately $80. However, the price jumped to approximately $120 once the offer expired.
The AHA! Moment: Pena realized she rarely watched some of the networks she was paying for. "Occasionally, I would tune into a reality TV show if I was channel surfing but, it wasn't anything I was hooked on," she says.
So Pena went online and learned that most cable companies have a plan with just the basic networks (ABC, NBC, FOX, etc.) that they don't advertise.
"So I called Comcast and, sure enough, they offered [a basic cable package] for about $12 per month," she says. "That would make my bill for cable and Internet $70 instead of $120."
What She Did: Before Pena called Comcast to downgrade her service, she wanted to make sure that she could really live without cable. So, she purchased a Roku Box ($50) and a Hulu Plus ($7.99 per month) subscription.
"The Roku Box allows you to stream Internet on your TV, so you can stream subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime on your TV, instead of just on your computer," Pena explains. With these subscriptions, Pena also had access to shows the day after they aired, and was able to watch episodes from previous seasons.
After testing the waters for about a month, she noticed that the only TV show she missed was "The Walking Dead." So, she did some more research and learned that she could buy the current season of "The Walking Dead" for about $40 a season on iTunes and watch the episodes the day after it airs.
"This sealed the deal for me," Pena explains. In the end, Pena downgraded to basic cable and now uses the Roku Box for shows and movies she wants to watch.
Savings Tip: Be sure to do some research, call your cable company, and ask about any unadvertised offers, Pena says. "If I [didn't] read online that you could get the very basic [cable package] with most cable companies, I wouldn't have known to ask," she says.
Final Savings: $34 per month (after the Roku Box, monthly Hulu subscription, and "Walking Dead" season)
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