Q. My monthly cable TV bill just keeps going up and up. My last bill was about $20 more than before and I’m not even sure why! I don’t want to get rid of my service but I gotta get my bill down. Do you have any ideas? — Jennifer, Washington, D.C.
Jennifer, I feel your pain. Due to higher programming costs, and a few other reasons perhaps less justified, most TV providers annually raise their subscribers’ monthly fees. In fact, six major pay TV operators raised their bills again last January!
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In addition to paying more for your programming package, cable and satellite operators routinely increase fees for other services, too, such as DVRs, Internet modems, regional sports channels, and the dreaded broadcast fee (local channels).
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After they add it all up — and squeeze in taxes and other miscellaneous charges — it feels like you need a loan officer just to watch TV, or access the Internet.
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But there are some things you can do to lower your bill. One is obvious. One may not be and I’m calling it, ‘The secret to saving money on your TV bill.’
First, the obvious one: Take a close look at your bill and think real hard if you really need everything you’re getting. For example, some TV providers charge almost $20 a month to rent a HD DVR. If you don’t record many shows, you could get by with a less expensive HD receiver.
Also, do you subscribe to premium channels such as HBO and Showtime? They usually cost more than $10 a month. If you don’t watch them very often, why pay the extra cash?
Of course, if you are using these types of services, that’s a different story and I wouldn’t tell you to drop them. But give it some serious thought. You might be surprised that you’re paying for things you really don’t need. With that in mind, what about your overall programming package? Do you need all the channels you’re getting? Would you be satisfied with a less expensive package that includes fewer channels?
For instance, if you don’t watch sports very often, some pay TV ops will offer cheaper plans that do not include sports channels. (These channels may also exclude regional sports channels, which will eliminate the regional sports fee.)
After you’ve done this review, there’s one more thing you can do. Yes, the secret thing. And it is…
Pick up a phone.
Yes, pick up a phone and call your TV provider. Tell the customer service person that you believe your bill is too high and you want to know what he or she can do to lower it.
It may sound crazy, but TV providers will often work with you to cut your bill down. They may offer you a six-month or annual discount on a program package or a premium channel. The reason why is that they want to keep you as a subscriber. The competition for video subscribers today is intense and the TV providers are desperate to keep their sub numbers up. They know that if you call and sound concerned, there’s a decent chance you will drop your service and sign up with someone else. So they have specials ready to keep you on board.
It may not work all the time — the TV providers are more likely to work with you if your bill is higher than average — but it does work.
So, give ’em a call. You might walk away with more cash in your pocket.
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I dropped my cable bill from $148 a month to $65 + $10 for Netflix + $20 for Sling TV = $95 and I am one happy camper! I get all of the channels that I watched on cable TV on Netflix and Sling TV and I am saving $53 a month, which is $636 a year. If that number doesn’t grab you, then multiply that times 10 years of savings = $6,360. Just think what you could buy with that, or save for retirement when you think about 20 years of 30 years! Not only do you save big $$$, you also get hundreds of channels on Sling TV + all of the movies on Netflix and Sling TV. Instead of paying for cable TV, get just internet from your cable company and then add Netflix and Sling TV… plus if your an Amazon Prime member (I am) then you get all sorts of TV shows and great movies. In all honesty, I get so many channels, TV channels, and movies, that I can’t watch them all, so I get to choose what shows to watch, versus, your cable company’s listing.
I like how you point out that some TV providers will actually work with you to get your bill down. My husband and I have recently married, and we’re trying to figure out what we should do about TV. We don’t have too much cash, but it seems like we could get on a good network who’d work with that.