This week I learned an important lesson about how to save money when negotiating service rates with the cable company and other vendors. As I am in the process of moving to my new job, I have had a couple of days off and got around to doing some things I have been planning to do for a long time. One of these tasks was to get our cable bill reduced.
We get our cable TV and broadband Internet from Comcast and our monthly bill comes out to about $160 including all taxes, fees & the cost of our HD DVR. We are very happy with the level of service we receive, but the price is just too steep for us. I know many PF bloggers are all about saving money by cutting off cable, but for us this is a complete non-starter. We enjoy our HD channels, HBO & our fast broadband connection and have no intention of giving them up. Since that is the case, the best we can hope to do is to reduce our cable charges as much as possible.
Early in the week I called Comcast customer service and asked for a price reduction. They essentially gave me a resounding "get lost" response. They offered us a $10 reduction in our monthly bill, if we were to subscribe to their triple play service, i.e. buy cable, Internet and phone service from them as a bundle. This was actually a pretty good deal, since not only would we be able to reduce our monthly fee by $10 but subscribing to triple play would mean that we could cancel our land-line phone service and save another $20 a month. However, after my wife and I discussed it we decided that we would rather stick with a traditional land-line. One of our main reasons for this is that a typical land-line works even when the power is out, while a cable phone would only be able to operate as long as its backup power was available (8 hours according to the Comcast representative).
Back to the main story. My challenge was to get a lower price for our current service package. Since I already called customer service and they turned me down flat, I decided to call the disconnection department. That made life a whole lot easier. The agent on the other end of the line was very receptive to my requests. Within minutes I got a $40 discount on our rate effective for 12 months, without having to sign up for any additional services. In addition, the promotional price did not require any contract and we are free to add, change or cancel service at any time. That call saved us about $500 over the next year. As an added bonus, I got the customer service agent to send us a technician, free of charge, to move one of our cable connection spots to another side of the house. This normally costs $150.
So here is the lesson: if you want to get a discount, don't call the customer service center. Talk to the folks that really matter: the department responsible for customer retention & account terminations.
I put this lesson to another good use later in the week by calling AT&T Wireless regarding my cell phone plan. My employer picks up the tab for my cell phone, but I wanted a new Blackberry free of charge. The folks at the disconnection department got pretty close, after the regular customer service agents turned me down flat. I haven't closed the deal yet, I want to make sure that my employer is willing to pick up the difference on my new phone before I make the purchase, but one thing is clear: if you talk to the folks that are tasked with keeping customers, your chances for getting what you need improve dramatically.