Step 5: Speak to a sales person at the company you're considering, and be prepared to take notes. Cable companies often keep charges hidden in lots of different way.
For example, DirecTV, now owned by AT&T, offers a "free" Genie DVR. However, DirecTV actually charges a $15-a-month rental fee. A company sales representative told me it's "free" because you don't have to buy it. Yeah. That's akin to a car rental company saying all of its cars are free because customers don't have to purchase them. DirecTV also slips in a $20-a-month charge for digital service, which is a basic part of the offering.
I'm not trying to pick on DirecTV specifically; other companies pull similar shenanigans. The company is probably no worse (or better) than its competitors, but I'm using it as a real-world example of things to look out for.
Step 6: When you talk to a sales person, get a price quote, and unless it's an absolutely terrific offer, write it down and tell them you need to think about it and will call back later. They won't like that, but it's the right thing for you to do.
Step 7: Call your TV provider, and tell them you think you're paying too much for the service. They'll likely say they understand and will attempt to sell you a cheaper package. That's not good enough. Explain that you want to pay less and get more, or at least keep the service you currently have. A "customer retention specialists" will probably take over from there, and they're the people who have the power to cut deals.
Step 8: Bargain, bargain, bargain – but don't lie. Explain that you shopped around, and tell them what their competitors offered. If you make something up, they won't take you seriously, so be honest. That's why doing your research beforehand is so important.
Finally, you need to remember that the customer retention folks are paid to keep you from defecting. That means there's a good chance that you, like me, can save a significant chunk of money without giving up the features you want. If not, say goodbye and go to the competition. You might have to return some TV hardware, then sign a new contract, but if you follow all of the steps listed here, the efforts can result in significant savings.
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