How Can You Lower Your Cable TV Bill?
These are challenging times for the providers of cable TV. Cable companies such as AT&T, Time Warner and Comcast see challengers everywhere they look. A growing number of consumers are cutting the cable cord completely, relying on streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus to provide the entertainment they once received from cable. Others are turning to satellite TV providers such as DirecTV and Dish Network.
Even YouTube has become a competitor to cable, with many of today's younger consumers happy to spend hours scouring YouTube videos.
But as the cable companies struggle to keep their current customers, they continue to raise their rates. This can put stress on your family's budget.
Fortunately, there is one simple strategy you can rely on to cut your cable bill. The best news? This strategy requires just one phone call and a few minutes of research.
Cable rates are especially vexing for families today. That's because cable companies haven't been shy lately about boosting their rates. Financial news site Bloomberg earlier this year reported that Time Warner Cable Inc. is adding a $2.75 monthly charge for sports programming. Cablevision System is now charging $6 a month for sports programming.
And in February, the Federal Communications Commission reported that average cable TV bills across the country rose by 5.8 percent in the one-year period stretching from July of 2013 to July of 2014.
There's no sign that this trend will change. Cable providers have consistently boosted their rates over time. Customers might complain about these fee increases. But not enough of them actually leave for alternative entertainment providers to cause cable companies to rethink their strategy. This leaves you in an unfortunate position.
Fortunately, you can take action. First, do the research. See if you can find any lower-priced deals from competitors such as Dish Network or other satellite providers. Check, too, to see if there are any providers offering fiber services in your area. Some services to look for include the newer Google Fiber and competitors such as AT&T's UVerse or Verizon's FiOS.
If you do find competitors who are offering lower rates, you are now ready to call your cable provider. Make sure you have all your information at the ready. When a customer-service representative answers, explain that you are concerned about your rising cable bill and would like to lower your rate.
The odds are good that your provider will refuse this request. This is when you bring out your research. Explain that you've found better offers from alternative providers and that if you don't get a lower rate, you're going to cancel your service.
This tactic will often result in a concession from your cable provider. Your provider might drop your bill $10, $15 or $20 a month. Your provider might also throw in faster Internet service as a bonus.
Of course, the lower rates might be part of a promotional package, meaning that they might only be temporary. This means that you'll have to call again -- after doing your research, of course -- and threaten one more time to leave. The odds are high that your cable provider will again agree to lower your monthly bill.
Be Persistent -- and Vigilant
The key to lowering that cable bill comes down persistence and vigilance.
It can be easy to overlook your cable bill in the crush of bills you receive each month. It can be easy to ignore that $10 monthly increase in your cable bill when you're instead worrying about your mortgage bill and rising healthcare costs.
But that $10 a month adds up. That's where vigilance comes in. If you notice that your cable bill is rising every year, it's time to take action. If you don't, your bill will simply continue to rise year after year.
Then there's persistence: Don't simply take "no" for an answer when you call your cable provider. Remember, your cable company needs subscribers to succeed. It doesn't want to lose customers. If you threaten to leave, and if you come armed with information about special offers or deals from competitors, you should persuade your provider to come up with a better offer.
But if you're not persistent and if you don't keep a close eye on those cable bills? You'll have to resign yourself to constantly paying more to watch your favorite TV shows.