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
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 http://www.fatwallet.com. 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!