At BuddyTV, we love watching TV, but we don't love how the cable companies keep raising rates without increasing service, providing poor customer service, and hoping that we don't cancel our service.
Profits at the largest cable companies have been growing nicely, and their primary way to grow is to hike cable subscription fees approximately 6% or higher every year (much higher than the rate of inflation). Of course, they like to blame programming costs -- while true, they are also looking to increase profits. Most Americans just continue paying, but it's getting harder as we're in a recession and need to find ways to save money.
At BuddyTV, not only do we want to help you find the best content to watch and provide you with the best commentary on your favorite shows, we also want to help you avoid getting gouged just to watch your favorite shows. Here are five sure-fire ways to lower your cable bill: 1) Call and negotiate.
OK, before you stop reading because negotiating on the phone sounds about as fun as getting your wisdom teeth pulled - realize that this is a lot easier than it seems. Imagine that you're playing a board game, and your goal is to get a lower rate while the cable company has the privilege of keeping you as a customer. Remember, you are in the driver's seat.
Here's how to do it:
a. Call your cable's customer service department.
b. Ask to speak with the retention department, as you're considering cutting cable due to cheaper alternatives, and you're looking to save money in this environment.
c. Once you are speaking with someone who can help you out, be cordial, polite, and firm that you need the best offer they can give you - you want what they offer to new customers.
d. Tell them that you can very easily cancel service and then re-install service as a new customer, which would be bad for both parties. You just want to make sure you have the best deal available. See what they can give you; you should expect to save anywhere from $10-$50/month.
2) Check your bill every month.
If you don't understand each line-item, have the customer services representative walk you through what each of them means. They have a way of magically adding line items and most are not written in plain English. By asking, you can have them removed if you aren't using the services. This can result in substantial savings as these are monthly recurring charges.
3) Buy used equipment.
Do you know you are being gouged on rental fees on electronic equipment that is getting cheaper and cheaper by the day? Take a look at the cable modem the cable operator ships to you, and consider looking up similar products that you can buy used on eBay, Craigslist or Amazon. Then, send back the "rental" equipment to the cable operator and call technical support to set up the new equipment - it usually takes only minutes to enable the new product. This will save you anywhere from $5-$15/month.
4) Shave or cut the cord.
What programs are you watching? If you aren't watching sports or news much, you can stand to save a ton of money. The sports channels cost the most for cable operators to provide to consumers. You can downgrade to basic cable and buy most other programming a la carte from iTunes, Amazon, or cheaper subscription services like Hulu+ or Netflix to offset some of your lost programming. With BuddyTV Guide
, you could consider cutting the cord (the common term for cutting cable entirely), rely on free over-the-air broadcast using an antennae that you can buy from Costco, Radio Shack or your favorite retailer and use the mobile BuddyTV Guide as your channel guide to help you find shows to watch over the air. Most of the major networks available over the air (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX) also air the major live sporting events. You can also use the BuddyTV Guide to find show to watch over the Internet like Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, iTunes and other sources.
5) Reverse On Demand.
This is a more complex transaction that can save you a lot of money. On Demand is offered as a way for you to pay ala carte for premium programming or to provide you more value for your regular and premium cable subscription. You can play this in "reverse" with the cable operator. Let's say that you want to watch Game of Thrones
, but don't want to pay the average $15/month for HBO for 12 months, which comes out to $180. You can subscribe to HBO, watch all the episodes of Game of Thrones
in 3 days and then immediately cancel the subscription. Consuming 20 episodes On Demand or on HBO Go this eay will run you about $0.075 per episode, or $1.50 total. Sure beats any other deal.
With a little ingenuity, there's no doubt that you can save a ton on your entertainment spending. By saving more, you'll better know your entertainment options, find more content to watch and maybe even enjoy a better box of popcorn while you're watching. Don't let the cable companies take advantage of you by raising rates, knowing that you won't call in or cancel. Take the 15 minutes or so to save yourself some real money. It really isn't that hard or scary. Let us know how it goes.
Happy TV watching! Andy LiuBuddyTV CEO(Image: BuddyTV Guide)