If you cancelled your cable package in the past, returning to that same provider may be the last thing on your mind.
But before you completely throw the idea out, consider this: "Cable companies know that many customers have been lost because of high prices and limited selections for their packages," points out Jeff Haynes, editor at techbargains.com.
As a result, cable companies are eager to change those negative opinions and win back your affections. And you may be able to reap the benefits of these efforts.
Keep reading to learn exactly what you stand to gain by giving your old provider another chance to impress you.
You've been there before. Your DVR fails to record your favorite show, your Internet is moving at a turtle's pace and before long, you've made so many service appointments that your cable repair person is starting to feel more like a roommate.
This may be how you remember your old cable service, but if you've been away from your provider for a while, don't be surprised to find a superior level of service the second time around.
"Cable companies have made significant improvements to service offerings in recent years, so returning customers will find that broadband speeds have increased, more channels are available, and new interactive services are being offered," says Brian Dietz, vice president of communications and digital strategy for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA).
Haynes agrees, noting that many companies have instant access to programming through OnDemand, incorporated security software into their Internet offerings, and improved DVR functions to allow you to watch recorded shows in various rooms of your house.
What's more, both AT&T and Verizon have released quad-play bundles during the past few years to give customers the option of adding a variety of cell phone options to their bundles.
These quad-play packages often give consumers even more discounts than the popular triple-play bundles, according to a 2013 telecom survey by the Consumer Reports Research Center.
And instead of sticking with a handful of rigid package structures, companies like AT&T and COX allow you to build your own personalized packages.
"Customers can almost entirely customize the services that they acquire from cable companies," Haynes says.
Discounts for Returning Customers
Service options and quality are definitely important, but let's be real: It's usually the sky-high prices that drive people to switch providers or cancel their services altogether.
But if you let your old provider know you're thinking of coming back to them, you may be able to score a pretty good deal.
In general, Haynes says that most cable companies are willing to price match instead of letting you sign up with a competitor. And even if your cable company is the only provider in your area, he says that those companies are often still competing with satellite options.
In fact, 18 percent of Consumer Reports readers who changed TV providers in the last six months said that their previous cable companies were willing to offer a discount of at least $20 a month if they were amenable to coming back.
Better Contract Terms
When you initially signed up with your old provider, you probably thought you landed the best deal on the block, only to discover that it wasn't so hot when you examined the exact terms of the contract.
Haynes notes that several years ago, many promotions lasted for only three months, which caused consumers to experience some serious sticker shock early on.
But these days, Haynes says "you can lock these packages in for a year at an inexpensive rate." And while a year is still a limited term, it's much better than the previous standard deal periods. Securing these low prices for a full year can add up to some sizable savings, giving frugal consumers another incentive to switch back to their old providers.
And if you're worried about getting pulled back in by false promises of amazing service, there's another improvement that might give you a little peace of mind. More companies have recently rolled out money-back satisfaction guarantees in an effort to impress old customers.
Time Warner Cable, for example, has been touting their policy that customers can receive a full refund within the first 30 days if they aren't happy with any aspect of their service.
So whether you're looking for more flexibility or better pricing, the good news is that certain cable companies have heard your complaints. And even if you aren't typically a fan of giving second chances, it may pay off to make an exception this time around.
- Jeff Haynes