- Partly cloudy
Many people get their TV, internet and phone services from the same company because "triple plays" or bundles get you steep discounts, at least at first.
The problem is that after a limited time the bills shoot up. But there are some ways to lower that bill again without cutting the cable completely and switching to Hulu or other internet TV services.
Phone Call Saved Money
When Leta Pegram saw a jump in her monthly telecom bill she took action.
"Once I did see that my cable bill was too high, I picked up the phone," Pegram said. She asked her cable company about dropping some TV channels as a way to save.
"They said, 'Oh, no, no, no, we have a special going on where you can get the premium channels, the HBO.' I said, 'Listen, I'm trying to save, I'm not trying to go up, I'm trying to go down!'"
In the end, Pegram managed to add HBO and other premium channels and still save $20 a month. Our partners at Consumer Reports Magazine say you may be able to save even more.
Bargain for Discount
"44 percent of those who bargained got up to $50 a month off their bill," said Rosalind Tordesillas of Consumer Reports. "Seven percent got an even bigger discount."
If you use your cell phone more than your home phone, some companies are letting you make a triple play with your cell phone instead of a landline. If you have Cincinnati Bell Fioptics in your area, this can be a great deal.
If you want to keep both, several major providers are offering "quad plays" that let you add your cellphone service, too. Time Warner Cable offers a quad play in the Cincinnati area in partnership with Verizon Wireless.
"Don't stick with the plan you've always had," Tordesillas advises. "Explore new options. Your situation changes, and you might be paying for services you don't even use all that much."
Leta Pegram tries to negotiate every time she gets an increase.
"If I see that it's getting to a point where I can't handle the cost, I'm gonna make a phone call," Pegram said.
Eliminate What You Don't Need
When calling, go over what you have and what can be eliminated without much fuss. Do you really need a second cable box or DVR?
Can your bedroom TV be used with just the antenna to get local off-air stations only? That may cut $10 or more off your monthly bill.
Do you pay for more than one Premium channel, such as HBO or Showtime? Ask about how much you'll save by dropping the one you rarely watch.
In addition, consider cutting back to just internet only (for about $30 a month) then watching cable shows through Netflix or Hulu.
Ask for Customer Retention Department
Consumer Reports offers another negotiating tip: If you don't get what you want from a regular customer-service rep, ask to speak with customer-retention.
That department may be more willing to negotiate as long as you're an existing subscriber.
That way you don't waste your money.
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