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Consumer
Make one call cut your cable bill
SAN MATEO, Calif. (10/12/11)--Cable companies and cable services earn a lot of grousing from consumers, and the cable bill adds salt to that wound. If your cable bill is out of hand, you’ll welcome knowing that you can trim that expense with a little research, followed up with a phone call or online chat (caring.com Sept. 19). First, collect those offers you’ve been discarding from your cable provider and its competitors. See how the offers stack up to the service package you’re using now. Consider how long you’ve been a customer and how consistently you pay your bill on time; knowing these details can improve your leverage. Prepare to call with your current bill at hand for reference; use a highlighter to focus on the parts of the bill you want to question or try to sweeten. Make a short list of the benefits you want to ask about: reduced bill, premium channels, or some service bundle. Anticipate that the service rep might point out that the offers you’re seeing are for new customers--be prepared to point out that your loyalty deserves some consideration as well. If you’re concerned about having to be aggressive to get a deal, remember that silence is your friend. Don't answer offers immediately--a well-timed sigh can lengthen a pause and prompt something better (Home & Family Finance Resource Center September 2011). If a service rep tries this, hold tight and don't negotiate against yourself. Caring.com suggests this five-sentence script:
* State your goal. "I'd like to make changes in my cable service because I can't afford my current payment." * Point out your alternatives. "I'm thinking about switching-- I got an offer from [rival company] for [list the services, such as cable and Internet] for [how much]." Or explain that "my brother across town only pays [price]." * Point out your loyalty and payment history. If the representative mentions benefits you get, such as virus protection, explain that you already have those services from other sources. Politely repeat that you're thinking of switching or even canceling to save money. Then wait quietly. Many times, the representative will offer specials, or, you can prompt with, "What can you do to help me cut costs?" If you’re getting nowhere, asking to speak with a supervisor may get you closer your goal. * Ask for a better offer. If necessary, ask again. "Is that the best you can do?" If the offer isn't enough, say, "I don't think that's going to make enough of a difference." If the deal is an introductory offer that expires after six months, ask for a longer term or ask what to do to keep your rate from bumping back up. The cable rep might decline an extension and say you can call back in six months and ask to have the introductory offer extended. If so, note the date when the rate hike goes into effect. * Confirm the details and payment specifics. Show some gratitude. "You've helped me, and I really appreciate it. Can we confirm the details--and can I have your name so I know whom I was talking to?" Remember to ask for e-mail confirmation.
If the representative has been helpful and you participate in an automatic customer service survey later, give the rep a good review. For more ideas about ways to reduce your costs for goods and services, read “Negotiate Your Way to a Better Price” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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