Is your cable TV provider the only player in town? If so, you might think that you're stuck with the high prices they're charging. And unfortunately, there are a lot of consumers in this predicament.
According to a 2013 survey conducted by Consumer Reports on the telecom industry, most parts of the country tend to have only one cable provider.
So, unless you live in a large city, you might be stuck with your current provider. But here's the good news: You don't have to be stuck with their prices.
Keep reading to learn how you can reduce your TV bill without having to switch providers.
# 1 - Use these Negotiation Tactics...
Bring up the Satellite TV Competition: Just because there's only one cable provider where you live, doesn't mean your options end there. Look at rates from satellite providers and if they're lower, use them to negotiate with your cable provider.
Mention the Low Price of Streaming TV Subscriptions: "Subscriptions to both Hulu Plus and Netflix are only $8 per month," explains David Bakke, editor of moneycrashers.com, a personal finance resources website. When you call your provider, mention that you are considering switching to streaming to get the low price.
Cable company not budging? Bakke says you should consider dropping to a basic cable package and add in streaming in order to save. Although the amount of your savings will vary by provider, Bakke says that "if you save $40 per month by cutting back on your cable TV package, and add in streaming from Netflix, for example, you'd save close to $400 per year."
Play the Loyalty Card: If there aren't other services available where you live, you might think loyalty to your cable company means little. You'd be wrong.
"Customer loyalty is always important to cable providers, so should use this to your advantage when requesting a discount," according to Bakke. After all, your cable company knows you could still leave or switch to satellite service, Bakke says.
How can you take advantage of loyalty discounts? Simply call your cable provider and remind them of how long you've been a customer, says Bakke. He adds that he normally doesn't recommend doing this until you've been with a company for at least a couple of years. "However, if the company recently started up service in your area or if they're the only ones in town, you might not have to wait that long," Bakke says.
# 2 - Ask About Promotions that Became Available After You Signed On
Providers are constantly offering new promotions to entice new business. And according to Bakke, it never hurts to ask your provider to match discounts offered to new customers.
As a result, you might be eligible for "specials or new packages that were not offered when you originally signed up for their cable service," says Jon Lal, founder of the befrugal.com website. He adds that since new offers can become available at any time, it is possible that another package can save you money.
So, if there's a promotion that wasn't available when you first signed on, but is now, don't be afraid to ask about it.
"Plus, it's usually not necessary to wait until your current promotion has ended to try to switch to another package," Lal says. Instead, he recommends you call when your contract is still valid to request that the service provider matches a current promotion that was not available when you signed up.
If you do switch, however, Lal says it's important to have a clear understanding of the inclusions and requirements (such as a contract extension) of the new package before making the change.
# 3 - Add Cell, Home Security, or Streaming Services to Your Package
"The more services you bundle, the better the savings," Bakke explains.
And these days, the variety of things you can bundle has definitely expanded outside of just cable, Internet, and home phone.
In fact, some providers are now offering consumers the option to package their TV service with home security, cell, and in some cases, even streaming services.
For example, Comcast now offers an "Internet Plus" plan that bundles basic cable, Internet, and an HBO and HBO GO (streaming) subscription for $39.99. While the package only includes 10 basic channels like - NBC, FOX, and CBS - it comes with an Internet connection speed of 25 Mbps to stream your favorite HBO shows.
- cable provider