#WisdomWednesday: How to Game Your Cable Company

#WisdomWednesday: How to Game Your Cable Company

This year, cable bills will increase by an average of 3%-4%.

Cable is expensive. Customer service can be awful and, since the industry is so monopolized, there’s not a lot of competition to keep pricing low.

[Related: Charter and Time Warner Merger Will Screw Cable Customers Even More]

There are some ways to ‘game’ the system. Here’s how you can proactively work to keep your cable and Internet costs down:

1. Switch between providers
Tell your provider’s competitors (if there are any in your area) what you are currently paying. See if they can do better.

If you have cable, talk to a satellite provider such as Dish, and tell them you are contemplating switching. Typically, the satellite provider will give you a better deal, but be warned, broadband providers tend to give “special rates” only for a year and then costs usually increase.

You can then go back to the cable company and tell them you are thinking of switching from satellite. Some switch between the satellite and cable on a fairly regular basis just to keep their cable bill down.

2. Get your own equipment
One of the recurring costs of a cable bill is leasing equipment. You don’t need to use the cable company’s cable modem or Wi-Fi router. Buy your own modem such as the Netgear CM400-1AZNAS or the ARRIS SURFboard SB6183.

Be sure the cable modem you choose is DOCSIS 3.0-compliant so that it works with your service. Your provider will also have to allow the device onto your connection.

You also don’t need Wi-Fi from your provider. Once you have an Internet connection, invest in your own wireless router from manufacturers including Netgear, Linksys, and TP-Link.

3. Renegotiate your service plan in person
Not too long ago, I was trying to reduce my cable bill. I called my company’s customer service line. The agent told me I would get a better deal if I went to one of the company’s locations in my area. Sure enough, that worked. Sometimes, you can renegotiate a better deal in person than over the phone.

4. Keep a log of any outages
Your Internet and TV service will go down, hopefully, only occasionally. Most providers will reimburse you for extended outages and apply it to your next bill. Keep track of any such downtime.

5. Go mobile with FreedomPop
FreedomPop offers low-cost 4G LTE mobile. The service works with the phones the company sells, but it may work with a device you have (they can check compatibility by the serial number).

Service plans start from free for 200 minutes of calling and 500MB of data to unlimited calling, texting, and data for $24.99 per month. Wi-Fi tethering, is an additional $7.99 per month.