How To Get The Best Deal When Signing Up For Cable Or Satellite TV

For the longest time I vowed that I would never pay for cable or satellite TV.  For the first 33 years of my life, I didn’t, and I got along just fine.  My wife and I do enjoy movies and TV, but we had found ways to get our favorite shows without paying the high cost for TV service.

This past month my wife and I made a decision to get cable TV.  I didn’t really want to get cable, but my wife wanted to because she doesn’t enjoy the process of watching streaming video through our Xbox as much as I do.   She enjoys the ability to just turn on the TV, flip through the channels and just watch something without having to look up a certain show.  She also enjoys  the social aspect of watching TV by being able to talk with friends about certain shows the day after they air.   Me – not so much.  I understand her reasoning for wanting to get service, so I gave in.  However, that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to do my best to get a great deal.

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Researching The Best Cable And Satellite TV Deals

How to get cable cheaper

Once we had decided that we were going to get cable TV, I moved into the next phase – research mode.  I started saving all of the cable and satellite TV flyers that we received in the newspaper and in the mail looking for the best possible deal on cable.   The deals I found were ok, but nothing to write home about.   I kept them all just in case I could hobble together a deal of my own.

Next I tried finding a good deal or promotion on TV service through an online reseller or physical store.  A lot of them will have rebate programs available that will give you big incentives if you sign up. One offered me a $100 Amazon gift card if I signed up.  The only problem with a lot of these sites or stores is that most of them are selling you cable service at a higher price than  you should be paying.  For example, for cable tv service with comcast (who we ended up going with), most of the resellers were charging $54.95 for the package we ended up getting for much less.  So you may be getting rebates and bonuses, but you’re paying for it through higher monthly subscription prices.

After checking all the reseller sites trying to find a deal I moved on to one of my favorite resources, the forums at  Through those forums I was able to do a search for all of the latest deals that people had been able to find through Comcast, Dish Network and Direct TV.  Many of those deals were much better than anything I had been able to find online or in the newspaper.

After some more research on FatWallet I found that most people weren’t able to get the great deals on their cable bill just by ordering service through the website, or by phone.  The trick was to go on the company’s online chat and to work with the sales agents on there.  From what I could gather, the agents when you call are actually Comcast employees, and they toe a hard line on giving discounts or special deals.   The chat agents are outsourced, and are more likely to give you a deal.  I found the chat agents much more helpful later on when I was ordering.

Ordering Cable TV Service

After doing our research we finally decided that we’d rather have cable TV service since we didn’t want to have a satellite dish mounted on our garage. The pricing seemed comparable – as did the channel lineup.  So we proceeded to try and find the best deal through the website,  over the phone and through the online chat.

Through the website:  Cable TV in our area comes mainly through Comcast, so we set about finding the best possible deal on digital cable through them.  After checking the website for special deals or discounts – the best deal that I could find on service was for 6 months of their digital starter package for $29.99 plus $15 rental every month for the HD DVR cable box.  $44.99 a month for the service we wanted.  After the first 6 months the pricing would revert back to $54.99 a month plus $15 rental.   $69.99 a month after the first 6 months!  No thank you.

Over the phone:  Next I called Comcast’s phone agents to see what type of a deal I could talk them into over the phone.  Over the phone they offered me a similar deal to the one I had seen on the website, except they offered to throw in the HD DVR box for 1/2 price.  So it would be $36.99 a month for 6 months for everything.  That’s a little better than on the website, but I wasn’t satisfied.  I hung up and called back to get another agent.  This agent wouldn’t go any further than the other one, they would give me 1/2 off on HD DVR service, but no free premium channels or further discounts.  Even after telling the agents that I knew other people had gotten a better deal, they wouldn’t budge.  Time to move on to the chat.

Through the online chat:  I clicked on the chat icon through Comcast’s support section, and was quickly transferred to the “sales chat”.  I told the agent that I was trying to get a deal that I knew several other people on the forums had gotten.   I wanted to get the digital starter package for $29.99 with 1/2 price HD DVR, for 1 year without price increase.   I didn’t want to worry about the price going up after only 6 months.  The chat agent quickly agreed to the deal, which made me realize that maybe I could get a little more out of him.  I told him I still wasn’t sure I wanted to move ahead with it.  He said that if I signed up now, he would also throw in HBO free for 1 year.  Normally HBO can cost up to $15/month.  With that I agreed to sign up.     So here’s what I got.

  • 1 year Digital Starter Cable TV Package: Normally $54.99/month – we got it for $29.99/month. (we got an extra 6 months of this deal by chatting)
  • HD DVR cable box: Normally $15/month – we got it for $7.00/month.
  • Free HBO: Normally $15/month – we got it for free for 1 year.  We’ll cancel after that.
  • Total: Normally our cable package would end up costing $84.99/month. We’re currently paying $36.99/month.

Things To Remember When Signing Up For Cable Or Satellite

When buying cable or satellite tv there are a few things you can do to ensure that you get the best possible deal.

  • Research the best deals:  Save all the flyers and circulars you get, do internet searches for online resellers, and check deals forums to find what kind of deals other people are getting on service.   Once you know what deals others are getting, it’ll give you a better idea of what to shoot for.
  • Figure out what kind of deal you want:  After finding out what deals are available, figure out what package you want, what price you’d like to pay, and what (if any) extras you want.   Since you’ve already done the research to find out what the best deals are that others are getting, you can now use those as a baseline for your own deal.
  • Contact the company through phone, website, chat: Contact the cable or satellite TV company through different contact methods.  Sometimes  you’ll find that one method is more successful than others at getting you discounts, free premium channels and other bonuses.    For us the online chat at Comcast had the most friendly agents who were willing to give the best deal.  Make sure to get it in writing!
  • When your promo period ends, re-negotiate your deal!: One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of people make is to not re-negotiate their cable deal with their 6 month or 1 year promo period ends.   That means their monthly bill jumps from $30-40 up to $70-100! Don’t make that same mistake.  Make sure that you re-negotiate your deal when it comes due, and make sure that you continue paying only as much as you need to.  If they don’t give  you the same or a better deal, cancel!

Do you have your own suggestions or tips for getting a good deal on cable TV?  Do you have ways that you save on your TV bill?  Have an experience signing up for service that you’d care to share?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Last Edited: 26th November 2012

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  1. says

    I agree with Craig, you have to be willing to walk away or you risk getting sucked in. These same tactics can help you get improved deals on your current service. Do your research and save some money.

    Glad to see you have joined the 21st century. ;-)
    Kyle´s last post ..My Identity may have Been Compromised

  2. says

    Whew, I wish I had read this a week ago when I was signing up for cable/Internet/phone services with ATT/Directv.

    I did try the website first, and they had the best prices, but when trying to order services, for some reason, the online form would not accept my new address, so it directed me to call by phone to order my services.

    Of course, when I called in by phone, the pricing was different, and not only that, I ended up not really getting the best deal for what I wanted, just because of the general confusion caused by trying to order these types of services by phone, mainly because there are so many options and details to consider and the customer service reps keep pushing options on you.

    However, I did have some redemption by complaining a little after I had already ordered, and I did receive an additional discount that I wasn’t first given, just because I decided to complain about their bait and switch tactics used over the phone.

    I’m actually still in my battle, trying to get better rebates and discounts, you really have to stay on top of these companies and all of the discounts they offer, as they’re not always applied as promised.

    Oh well, I’m stuck in a contract for a little while now, so we’ll see how it goes, but if I only knew then what I knew now…
    Max´s last post ..Cashbaq Shopping Rebates Network $5 Free Registration Bonus

    • Rando Man says

      I would just like to point out that people talk about corporate greed all the time, but consumer greed is just as bad or worse. I”m not sure what’s worse, trying to pay as little for as much as you can get, or charge as much for as little as you can give.

      People who also complain about the general high cost/rising cost of TV should really focus on the people who actually control the pricing. The networks, not the providers. Just as you have to pay your TV company for programming, they in turn have to pay networks for the right to carry the channels for consumers. So the pricing really starts at the networks, which no one can really call and complain at.

  3. says

    Great tips although it does seem somewhat time intensive to try each of the avenues of phone, email, and chat to get a deal (although it very well could be worth it depending upon the deal one is able to work out and for how long the special pricing will last). BTW I loved your other post that you linked to and I am going to try out Playon ASAP for my XBOX 360. Thanks!
    Credit Card Chaser´s last post ..Ever Wonder How Credit Card Issuers Can Pay Out Cash Rewards? Ask 7-11

  4. tim h says

    So what I’m hearing is that this is 36.99 a month that isn’t going to good causes, and time spent nickle and diming that wasn’t spent doing good deeds. Shame.

  5. KevFitz says

    Some companies won’t deal. I was a Verizon FIOS person from the early days and when I told them that Cablevision (Optimum) was going to give me a better deal they said good luck. Part of the negotiation is with what company you talk to. Market share is king.

    • says

      You’ve got a good point there. In our market there is at least a little competition, which makes it easier to get a deal. You also have to be dealing with a company that is willing to give you a deal.

  6. Larry says

    After a year though, you’re gonna be paying through the nose and you’ll wish you never signed up. Plus, Comcast will start upping your rates every other year or so. You’ll lose in the end.

  7. says

    Great post and clearly a hot topic. Thank you for the mention. I’m glad to see that the forum community at FatWallet was of value as a resource for you.

    Laura Pagles

    • says

      I love Fatwallet Laura, i used them in my search for a good TV deal as well. The only problem with Fatwallet is that it has TOO many deals to be had, resulting in overspending! :)

  8. Jack says

    This is pure bull. I’ve tried the Comcast., Directv, Dish Chat and those people cannot give you a better deal than by phone! The Chat is outsourced and given fixed guidlines.

  9. Marshall says

    I chatted online with Comcast yesterday as well as spoke to them on the phone. No deals to be had. They would not budge off the promo price of $44.95 for digital preferred for 6 months. All I asked for was the promo price for one year and that I was willing to turn the satellite off. Market share does not seem to be a priority with them; profits are at the top of the list.

  10. says

    I like trying all of the different meathods to contact the cable company. We have only tried over the phone and been successful with that, but we will be trying the chat and website. Thanks for the great advice!

  11. rose says

    I use to be with Comcast before I started working for DISH Network and never was able to get a deal like that. I spoke to a few different people outsourced and all and they all have different stories, but same prices. With DISH Network it was so easy to set up service. The customer care agents were very nice and all had the same story and promotions. It made me wonder if the Comcast agents knew what promotions were going on. I love DISH Network and they have the cheapest prices out their compared to any cable provider.

  12. Lori says

    Excellent information. It’s somewhat mind boggling researching all the different Comcast choices through the authorized dealers. Shall now try the “sales chat”. Thanks…and again GREAT info.

  13. Sdpunker says

    It seems most of the people commenting on this blog just cant afford the luxury of cable and internet. Might i suggest going to the library for internet or a friends house to enjoy TV. I can only assume you sacrifice the luxury of both internet and cable cause you waste your money on things such as going out to dinner and bars. Even earning minimum wage, you can afford a 100.00 a month cable and internet bill (equaling 3.33 a day) Quit complaining and just accept the fact you may be able to afford such a cheap luxury if you would have went to college or just used a condom.

    • Mike says

      Sdpunker- Take a deep breath. It sounds like you’ve had a bad day. In with the butterflies, out with the bees… Feel better? I hope so. If not, take another breath. Commission sales is a rough business. Is that your vocation by any chance? I’m guessing that it is, and you have my apologies if there is some other reason this blog got on your nerves today. If so, understanding the mindset of us frugal types might ease your frustration and maybe even boost your sales. We like people who “get” us.

      Some people simply place a relatively low value on tv entertainment. The same amount of money per year can equate to some pretty cool things- Disneyland tickets, a week camping on a lake, or any number of motorized toys on Craigslist. It’s a matter of priorities and self control.

      I was compelled to reply to your comments because I disagree with your conclusions, and I don’t like to see nice people get insulted. Those with too little education and too many kids already have cable. It is their main (sometimes only) source of escape, sad as that is. Frugal does not equal poor, and the uneducated are not as deliberate as this audience when it comes to researching the best deal possible before signing a contract with a multimillion dollar corporation.

      The last time my wife and I moved we opted not get satellite until we missed it…6 years ago. Every business trip I go on reinforces that decision. I turn on the tv at the hotel and there’s nothing on that I like.

      Would I still enjoy a DVR loaded with my favorite programs? For the right price…hence my visit to this blog.

      Peter- Keep up the good work.

  14. Holly says

    I just spent almost an hour chatting with someone then his supervisor at Comcast about a deal for internet only service I saw on I was following Peter’s advice.

    They told me that my address was not “serviceable” by Comcast which means it doesn’t show up in their system. (No surprise, I’m not an existing customer.) They would have to send someone out to “connect” my home to their lines before they could determine what deals would be available to me. Many of my neighbors have Comcast, so I know they service my area. I said it made no sense for them to come out to “connect” me unless I decided to sign up with them which I couldn’t do until I knew what the cost of service would be. I was flabbergasted. As I was trying to clarify things with the supervisor, the chat line “experienced difficulties” and the next thing I knew, I was no longer in the chat room. What a waste of time and a total run around. My interpretation is that they don’t want new customers to negotiate service deals using the chat line. (Perhaps they’re on to you, Peter.)

    I should make clear that I was professional and curteous throughout. I know that people can be real jerks so it’s no surprise that they get hung-up on.

    I guess I know what customer service would be like if I went with Comcast!

  15. Holly says

    I just tried Peter’s advice with Comcast using the chat option to ask about an internet-only deal I saw on Almost an hour later and nothing to show for it.

    I was unable to find a way to chat with a salesperson online so I contacted customer service using the chat option. I said I was not a customer but was interested in learning about internet-only options with Comcast. Fastforward 45 minutes. I was told my address is not “servicedable” which means it doesn’t show up in their system because I am not connected to their lines. (No surprise there; I’m not an existing customer.) Here’s where it got interesting: They would have to send someone out to connect me to their lines before they could tell me the prices they could offer. My neighbors have Comcast, so I know they service my area. I told them it made no sense for them to come out to my house to “connect” me if I didn’t know if I wanted their services which I couldn’t do until I knew what the cost would be. At that point, the chat line experienced “technical difficulties” and the next thing I knew, I was no longer in the chat room.

    I should point out that I was professional and curteous throughout. My interpretation is that they don’t want new customers to inquire about deals via the chat option because others have followed Peter’s advice and gotten good deals. (They maybe on to you, Peter.)

    I have the full transcript of the chat. It’s really ridiculous. Any advice?

  16. Holly says

    Sorry for the repeated comment. It didn’t appear to have gone through the first time.

    —Department of Redundancy Department

  17. Bryan says

    I love Comcast. I have had them for 12 years and have never paid full price. The trick is to call in and then follow the options to the “I want to downgrade or discontinue service”. This gets you to the save agents responsible for keeping you as a customer. Tell them about the deal you see with a competitor and tell them you are leaving if they cant do something for you. I have never hung up without being offered a new promo. If you are in Utah and are looking for a deal feel free to contact me – I have already done the research :-)

  18. says

    There are always promotions, you just have to know how, when & who to ask.

    For example; you have a better chance getting a deal shopping during peak moving/back to school seasons due to the already aggressive promotions and throw-ins. Before major sports events is another good time to call. When you see alot of TV commercials for cable being broadcast during prime spots you know you can call in and push for deals.

    Don’t even try and push for deep discounts off-season like in between seasons and deep in the summer. You will get shot down like a spring duck, not only will you not get a discount, you may notice their prices are raised! Don’t be surprised, sit back and wait it out a few weeks till that next big game to call your providers and try to save a buck.

  19. Joseph says

    If you want additional $10.00 a month discount for 10 months use my account as a referral when you sign up. Call 1-855-906-3473.
    Give them A/C# 58250512 tell them Joseph Rowe is friend and you are my friend if you use my referral account, I need the referrals. And tell them my zip code is 22443.
    Thanks and enjoy the $100.00 credit.

  20. CTJester says

    If you are an existing customer of a company, call the RETENTION DEPT!!! I have done this with COMCAST Twice a year for at least 5 years and have received discounts every time. I mention that I am getting calls from the competition and ask what can you do for existing customers? Shut up and listen and let them speak. If you speak first you lose!!
    It is worth a 5 minute call, just call the toll free number and ask for RETENTION!!! The best deal I have gotten is $25 off a month, free HD DVR for a year and free HBO for a year. ( I have Digital Preferred and Internet only for now. I have been thinking about the Triple Play which has discounted service and savings too!! ) They will tell you what they can offer you because they want to RETAIN your business and not lose you to the competition!!! GOOD LUCK!!!!

  21. Artie Martin says

    I appreciate reading how you have studied the ways and products of cable TV.
    I have had a good run with Fios but after 2 yrs they refuse to negitiate.

    I will be losing my 2014 rebates and they basically said “is there ant=ything else I can do for you?”

    I have not signed anything for the contiued contract so I believe I am in limbo for now.

    Our next competiter is LI cable Optomum But know they are no batgin.

  22. cheryl a hildreth says

    all I am lookin for is basic cable that doesnt cost a hell of alot in new york state area? can not afford time warner cable prices. thanx

  23. Tracy says

    I Had Directv for 9 years we had (2) DVR’s & (1) basic box that we used for our Motorhome during Glamis Season we paid about $60 monthly with insurance on all the boxes well needless to say every year the price went up to the point we were paying $120/monthly my standard box went out & I called to warranty it the rep on the line said “We stopped using that particular box 5 years ago but you can buy our newest box for the shipping price of $70 we don’t warranty boxes that we stopped using” I was livid I asked her why they charged me $5/month for 5 years Insurance on a box they had no intention of warranting she just apologized and said it’s not their policy to refund my $300 they stole from me I canceled & went with dish now 2 1/2 years later I’m paying $115/month for (1) Hopper & (1) Joey everthing recorded glitches and I’m still dwn a box I have to get another Hopper just to get another box plus a Joey and I need both for my Motorhome for the Glamis Season I wish that their was a 3rd Satellite Company so I will not have to go back to the rip-off Directv.

    • Michael says

      So they accepted 5 years worth of payments for a service they couldn’t even provide?

      I’d have threatened her supervisor that I was ready to lodge complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, and my state District Attorney’s Office AND contact consumer watchdogs of several local TV news stations, unless THEY paid for shipping the new box to me AND credited me for the difference of that $300 in bogus insurance charges. They should have notified you of the impending discontinuance of the old box in time for you to choose whether to accept the upgrade or cancel; someone on their end clearly dropped the ball, and they should eat the cost for it.

      Just can’t believe they could get away with ripping you off for 300 bucks over 5 years like that!

  24. Sarah says

    This is so helpful. I’ve used the chat function before with CenturyLink and have had some luck.

    I found some promo prices online that I’m going to use when chatting with a Dish online rep. It says $24.99 a month for a month

    Think they’ll honor that even if there are no promo dates on it?

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