Paying for TV service has its pros and cons. As a pro, it’s a very cheap form of entertainment. If you pay $60 a month for a cable subscription and spend 90 hours a week watching TV (about three hours a day), you’re only paying $0.67 an hour for pretty good entertainment. As a con, TV service is a costly discretionary expense that sometimes winds up costing more than people realize. A cable subscription advertised at a rate of $60 a month often winds up being substantially more after hidden fees, taxes, and installation costs are factored in. The extra $20-$30 a month you’re forced to pay beyond what you thought you were going to be charged really adds up. That’s a few hundred dollars a year just in hidden fees!
The Case for Keeping Cable
Dropping a cable TV subscription can be a great way to cut your monthly budget in a snap. Realistically though, you should probably keep it unless you virtually never watch TV. As stated above, if you watch TV three hours a day on average, you’re paying less than a dollar per hour for that form of entertainment. Most people need some form of entertainment in their lives and a cable subscription is about as cheap as it gets. In general, anytime you can meet your entertainment needs without having to leave the house, you’re probably saving money. Cable TV allows you to do this on a regular basis.
Saving on Cable
A little-known secret in the world of cable TV service is that most companies will do anything to retain a customer. In fact, they even have specially designated “retention departments” that exist specifically to help keep customers from leaving. These departments generally have a lot of flexibility when it comes to offering customers a discount on their services in exchange for staying with their company.
So how do you work the system in your favor? Call your cable company and tell them your monthly bill is higher than you originally thought it would be. Tell them you have a flier from a rival company in which they offer a very similar service for a substantially lower cost (even if you didn’t). You can be pretty direct: tell them you’re thinking of switching to the other company and ask them if there’s anything they can offer you to change your mind. They will generally offer you something in the neighborhood of $10-$25 off of your monthly bill for a few months in order to consider staying.
When trying this method, keep in mind that you have a lot of power but not all of the power. If you demand too much, you’ll get nothing. Be reasonable with them and when they are reasonable with you in return, accept their offer. Cable TV companies will break if bent too much.
Keep an eye open for deals being offered by competitors. While pretending to switch companies is likely to result in saving some money, actually switching companies could result in saving even more, so routinely check your options to see if there are any sizzling deals being offered.