Don't negotiate your TV bill this way

Plan on giving your TV provider a call to negotiate your expensive bill? Here are a few things you don't want to do or say.

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If you're not happy with the monthly charge for your current TV bill, consider contacting your provider to discuss your concerns. But keep in mind that your negotiating strategy will play a huge role in determining if your efforts will be successful or not.

If you're not happy with the monthly charge for your current TV bill, consider contacting your provider to discuss your concerns.

But keep in mind that your negotiating strategy will play a huge role in determining if your efforts will be successful or not. If you use the wrong approach, your strategy can backfire, and your provider may not budge even an inch.

To help in finessing your approach, we contacted several consumer finance experts - and one college professor who teaches negotiation techniques - to discover what you shouldn't do when negotiating your TV and Internet bill.

Tip #1 - Don't Be Rude

Before you plan on laying the smack down on your TV representative, remember this: Your attitude may be the determining factor in whether or not you get what you're asking for.

"You have to remember that on the other end of the phone is a human being," says Matt Becker, founder of Mom and Dad Money, a Boston-based financial planning practice for new parents. "This person is not responsible for whatever frustration you're feeling so it really doesn't make sense to take it out on them."

[Want to save on your TV service? Click to get quotes from providers in your area now.]

And John Ogilvie, a management professor who teaches classes on bargaining and negotiation at the University of Hartford, agrees.

"Being nice pays off, so if you can create a positive atmosphere, people are more likely to say yes." On the other hand, Ogilvie warns, "Negotiation doesn't work as well when you are annoying and irritating."

So how can you create a positive atmosphere? "Be polite. Use their name. Go out of your way to thank them for every little effort they make," advises Becker, who says that this approach makes the representative feel respected and therefore, more likely to help you.

And David Bakke of MoneyCrashers.com, a personal finance blog, adds, "These companies don't want to lose your business, but they also won't put up with being berated. Rudeness will never get you anywhere when trying to negotiate your Internet or TV bill."

Tip #2 - Don't Tell Your Provider How Much You Want to Pay

"In negotiations, you never want to be the first person to set the price," says Aaron Shepherd, who along with two friends, founded the frugal living blog, ThreeThriftyGuys.com. "It's more advantageous to wait for the offer, and then counter it if need be."

For example, the company may have been willing to reduce your bill by $40, but if you take the lead and ask for a $20 reduction, they'll agree to your amount.

Ogilvie agrees that you should not propose a set price, but he also adds, "Set a reservation price or a resistance point. As part of your planning process, decide, 'I will not pay more than this amount.'"

Ogilvie also says that it's important to know the competition's price as this can help you decide how much you're willing to pay for your current service.

[Click to get quotes on TV and Internet packages from providers in your area now.]

Tip #3 - Don't Accept the First Offer You Receive

Sometimes, foregoing the first offer to wait and see what's behind door number two may net you a better deal.

"Often, the first offer you're given is a predetermined discount and is only the tip of the iceberg of what the company can actually offer," says James. He advises consumers to politely decline the first offer and tell the representative what their competitors are offering.  By not giving in to the first offer, James says "a much more attractive discount will often come your way."

Shepherd agrees and explains, "Many times the first offer can be an 'appeasement' gesture. Most of us are afraid to say no and counter in negotiations because we aren't used to the whole back-and-forth bargaining process."

And Ogilvie adds, "Often if you can get someone to agree to any discount, you'll say, 'Oh, that's pretty good!' But if you keep negotiating, you may end up with an even better deal."

Tip #4 - Don't Got Tricked into Adding on More Services

When you call to negotiate with your provider, the last thing you want to do is get sidetracked by other offers and forget the reason for your call.

"Usually the first thing the provider will try to do is offer you more features or services at a higher price," says Bakke. If that doesn't work, Bakke says they'll try to add a few more services to your plan while maintaining your monthly bill.

"Cable companies are especially likely to do this by offering free premium movie channels," says Becker. "If that was really your goal when you called, then great - grab it." But if that wasn't your goal, he warns against falling into this trap. "If it helps, write down your goal before calling and keep it on hand as a reminder. You want to end up with your deal, not their deal."

[Click to get quotes from TV and Internet providers in your area now.]

Tip #5 - Don't Give Up After Talking to Just One Person

If at first you don't succeed, try again.

"If you aren't satisfied with your first offer or aren't getting anywhere - perhaps you may want to call again," says Shepherd. "Often, the person you're dealing with can make a world of difference. The first person may have been having a bad day, doesn't like their job, or any number of other reasons."

You might think this approach is too aggressive, but it takes a certain level of aggression to get results. "Some consumers are overly cooperative," says Ogilvie. "Being persistent is a way to overcome that weakness. Don't give up because you received one negative response."

Also, your lack of success could have been a result of talking to someone who was unqualified to even render a decision.

"Sometimes, you just talked to the wrong department," says Kyle James, consumer advisor and founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com, a website that finds, sorts, and posts online, mobile, and print coupons, and free shipping codes. "In most cases the people in the loyalty/retention department are the only employees authorized to negotiate your bill."

[Want to save on your TV service? Click to get quotes from providers in your area now.]

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