Personal Finance

How I Lowered My Cable TV Bill

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After reading a Washington Post article about haggling, I was inspired to try it out myself. That evening, I called my cable service provider, which delivers my family's television and Internet service. We were paying $142 a month, and I wanted to see if I could reduce the monthly bill.

A friendly man from the cable company named Derek asked me how he could assist me, and I told him that I wanted to cancel my service.

"Now, why would you want to do that?" he said, sounding surprised and a little hurt, even though I had followed the voice mail prompts leading me to the "discontinue service" option. I told him that I was going to switch to satellite TV service. Derek gave me a prepared response about the downright awfulness of satellite contracts, warning me I would regret it if I switched. I told him that if he could lower my monthly bill, I might be tempted to stay with his company. He offered to cancel some of my premium channels, or downgrade my level of Internet service, but I said that wouldn't do. I wanted the same level of service, but I didn't want to pay as much as I had been paying.

He said, "I think I can work with you on that. Hold on a minute." After a moment of being placed on hold, Derek returned and told me he could reduce my rate to $129 a month, for a savings of $13 a month. A shrewder haggler wold have continued to push Derek further, but I decided against it. I was happy just to have gotten any kind of price break at all.

I might try to get my cell phone bill lowered next. I'll let you know what happens.

Mark Frauenfelder – Editor-in-chief of MAKE magazine and the founder of the popular Boing Boing weblog, Mark was an editor at Wired from 1993-1998 and is the founding editor of Wired Online.

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