Or Goren runs Cord Busters , a blog for people who want to ditch their expensive cable/satellite TV bills and become cord cutters.
Some say loyal customers used to mean something back in the day. But judging by the modern TV and telecommunication companies, it’s just the opposite – the more you stay with a company, the more they charge you, and the enticing deals they advertise are only for new customers.
Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’ve been with your TV company for more than a year, you’re most likely paying more than you should – and it’s time to haggle. This step-by-step guide will help you do just that.
1. When’s The Time To Haggle?
When you joined your TV provider (either just for TV, or with a combined plan of TV + Broadband + Phone), you most likely signed a contract. These contracts are usually for 12 months, though they can also be for 18 or 24 months. If you leave the company before the contract is up, you’re going to pay a fine – so in most cases, there’s no point in trying to negotiate a new deal before your contract is up.
However, when your contract is up – in most cases, your price will jump UP automatically – unless you do something about it.
So, check your bill or contact the company and ask them when your current contract is up for renewal. Additionally, if the company announces a mid-contract price increase, you’re entitled to break the contract in some cases.
Now, when should you start the haggling process? Approximately 30 days before the due date, as you usually need to give the company a 30-days notice when you’re leaving them.
2. Learn The Field: Check Prices And Competing Offers
Before you sit down to call your TV provider, you have to research the playing field. First, go to your provider’s website and check the offers and deals they have for NEW customers. As these will usually be the best offers they have, they’ll give you an estimate of how low you can aim for.
Now, check the competitors as well. Prepare a document with the other companies and their offers – are there TV plans similar to yours’ but for better prices? Are there plans that offer more channels or better equipment for the same price you’re paying now? Write it all down.
3. Decide What You Want And Your Minimum And Maximum Prices
Now that you know what plans and prices are out there, it’s time to decide what it is you want from your TV provider. Would you be willing to pay a bit more for a better plan, or, let’s
say, for a 4K TV box? Do you want the best possible price for the plan you’re getting right now?
Write down the LOWEST cost you’re aiming for, and the MAXIMUM you’re willing to pay in case the company refuses to budge. Knowing these numbers will help you once the salesperson starts confusing you.
4. Call The TV Company: Be Polite But Firm
After years and years of making these haggling calls (in more than one country!), I know they can be exhausting – and often that’s what the companies are counting on.
Be polite, say your contract is almost up and you want a better price – or you’re going to LEAVE.
In most cases, you’ll get a speech on how good the company is, and how the plan you’re getting is the best plan they can offer you. You should then say “that’s just not good enough”, and they’ll waste some more of your time until eventually they’ll budge a little bit and make their first “offer”.
That offer will, in most cases, be pretty far from those Minimum and Maximum costs you wrote down. This is where your research comes in – let the person on the phone know you’ve asked around, and you know they have X and Y offers for new customers. Also, let them know you have offers from competing companies, and mention the prices you researched.
Additionally, if you know of someone specific who has a good deal with them – a family member or a friend – give out their name (assuming your pal is OK with that) – and say you want that exact deal. That sometimes helps as well.
At this point, the FIRST phone representative will probably give you the best offer he’s authorised to give. It’ll be SLIGHTLY better than what you started with – but in most cases, won’t be good enough. This is the time to bring out the big guns.
5. Keep Threatening To Leave – And Be Willing To Act Up On It
If you’re still far-off from the maximum price you’re willing to pay – tell the representative the offers you’re getting aren’t good enough, and you absolutely want to leave.
At this point, he will transfer you to the “Cancellations” department (or whatever they call it) – where you’ll get a more senior representative, who can give you better offers.
The thing is, you have to be willing to ACT UP on your “threat” to leave. Remember those other competing offers you researched? Those options are really out there. Hey, you can even become a true TV cord cutter, watch Freeview with a TV aerial and just join a streaming service like Netflix.
But if you’re not REALLY willing to leave, the representative will often sniff that out and call your bluff.
The dirty little secret, however, is that even after years of threatening to leave companies – I never actually had to leave (unless I did it for other, technical reasons for example) – every time, I ended up getting close enough to the price I was going for.
It takes time – I’ve had haggling calls that lasted for more than an hour (!). But in the end, if you’re going to save £100-£300 every year, and sometimes even more – that’s time well spent