Last night I threatened to disconnect my cable

By Paul Michael on 10 April 2007 (Updated 9 June 2007) 39 comments

Super phone

Sit down, relax, and let me tell you a story. A story about how you get to be a hero, and how to get your cable company begging on all fours like a dog.

See, I got my cable bill last night. It was not a shock, or a surprise. I know what I'm paying, and I know I'm paying too much. Way too much. Compared to either Dish Network or DirecTV, Comcast (or your own cable co., they're all the same) is undoubtedly the most overpriced way to watch TV and get Internet service.

After seeing substantially cheaper offers, free equipment and all sorts of additional cool stuff, I had reached my breaking point. Why should I pay almost 50% more for almost exactly the same service? This is not the life of frugality I am preaching.

So on behalf of Wisebread (and for my own selfish reasons) I called Comcast. I said right out I wanted to disconnect my service, and was not interested in any offers to make me change my mind. Of course, that's all I was interested in. I don't want to go through the hassle of returning equipment, stopping service, and setting up a new account with a new provider. That's way too much work. I just want more for less.

After taking my account details, the customer service rep then went into SAVE SALE mode. You know it, I'm sure. It went something like this.

CSR: Why do you want to disconnect sir, is it because of the high price? (wow, talk about an admission)

ME: Yes.

CSR: Getting too much for you? (again, this is way more than I was expecting already)

ME: Yes, I can get a much better package somewhere else for what I'm paying now. I'd just like to disconnect please.

CSR: I should let you know, as you are a loyal customer I can offer you some very special deals right now.

ME: Oh, really? (acting surprised and delighted) What would they be?

CSR: Well, for what you're paying now I can upgrade you to the GOLD package (two movie channels, not one) plus I can hook you up to Comcast Digital Voice with unlimited long distance. That means you get rid of your QWEST phone bill, saving you around $30 a month, and no longer pay for long distance calls.

ME: Sounds ok. But these other offers I'm getting offer free DVR.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

SR: Let me talk to my supervisor (I am put on hold for 5 seconds)

CSR: Yes, we can offer you free DVR equipment. All you would need to do is pay for DVR service.

ME: Ummm, if I can get FREE service too, I think that would be something I can go with.

CSR: Let me check (I am put on hold again, for 10 seconds)

CSR: Yes, we can do that.

ME: Is there any charge for installation of any of these services?

CSR: Yes, the digital voice is $49.95

ME: Ummmm

CSR: I can waive that!

ME: OK, I'll do it.

So, here's a quick summary. I was on the phone for 10 minutes.

Before I started, I had Comcast Digital Cable Silver (Around $78 a month) and High Speed Internet ($43 a month). I also got my phone through Qwest for another $30 a month, and that had no long distance. Total = $151 a month.

After my 10-minute call, I had upgraded to Comcast Gold (2 movie channels) plus High Speed Internet, also got my phone service through Comcast (dumping my $30 Qwest phone bill) with free installation, I got long distance free, plus a DVR with DVR service and free installation. Total = $129 a month.

The moral of this story. Ask. It never hurts to call and see if your provider can do something to keep you around. It costs them a lot of money to acquire new customers, it costs a lot less to keep old ones. They will always try something. If they can't lower your price, they can most likely add services for no extra charge, like the DVR.

Now, go forth and call your own providers. And let me know how you get on.

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Andrea Karim's picture

I LOVE doing that. I call Comcast every time they up my rates and do the whole "I'm switching to Qwest" thing, which I would never do, because I hate Qwest with the passion of a million burning suns. But they drop my bills back to the ol' promotional rate every time. Mine you, I only have internet. But that's $30 for promotional versus $60 (including taxes) for a regular rate.

Paul Michael's picture

It works because the cable companies know they are losing customers left and right to satellite. Most people love Cable for On Demand, but it won't be long before satellite figures out a way to do that. And then I'm sure we'll all see a big drop in cable prices.

Andrea Karim's picture

And as has been explained before (by you?), it costs them more to gain new customers than it does to keep the old ones. No matter how much of a discount they give you.

Guest's picture

I gave up cable about 5 months ago and I don't miss it because I watch all my favourite episodes online and/or end up in hotels most of the time watching free cable in the rooms (which end up being reruns most of the time).

But when I went to go do it, my cable service was almost crying on the other end, begging me to stay. They offered to drop it down by 50% for the next 6 months and a bunch of other things. But I told her that 50% of $50 is still $25 more for a service I don't want because I'm never around to use it.

;)

Try it with phone companies too. Some will buckle, but the VOIP ones won't...

Guest's picture

It's funny to read this article just minutes after hearing about http://www.wewantchoiceohio.com/ while in my car picking up my lunch.

I'm sick of the high prices I pay for cable in Ohio, but there aren't any better alternatives (other than turning it off for good). My wife and I have discussed turning it off, but there are always one or two shows that we don't want to give up. Plus, my 2 yr old really like watching Disney or Noggin every now and then.

We don't watch very much, but it's hard to actually give it up for good. If there was a way to buy the shows we want to watch directly through TiVo, I'd do it in an heartbeat.

Guest's picture
Guest

You might want to look at buying episodes of your favorite shows from iTunes or the like. If you only watch a few shows a week, the annual cost might be lower than what you pay now for cable.

Guest's picture
Guest

Of course this only works if there is an alternative in your area. I only have one provider of both high speed internet and cable television and that is through Charter. It took 6 months from the time they hooked up service until I finally had a quality connection/reception. I complained many times, saying I was going to have to disconnect my service if things didn't get better and I didn't get so much as a coupon. They knew the options were limited in my area.

Paul Michael's picture

Wow, that sucks. I hate the way a company can screw you if they have no competition. 

Guest's picture
Guest

You just have to be careful that these are not special offer prices that expire after 3, 6 or 12 months. We had our Comcast bill lowered to $70 for digital cable and internet after Verizon put FiOS into our neighborhood. I make sure that what they were giving me was not a special deal before I took it.

Guest's picture

Completely disconnecting your cable is probably the best thing you could ever do for yourself. Getting a discount is nice, but when you break free from the TV you'll find a whole new world out there. :) I know from experience. I had cable for almost 20 years of my life and canceling it a year ago was one of the most liberating things I've done.

Guest's picture
Chris

I tried a similar approach when contacting Bellsouth ("The NEW AT&T") about when my bills are due. I prefer all of my household bills to be due at the same time, first of the month, as it makes budgeting and taking care of finances easier. I was told by not one, but two Bellsouth reps that it would be impossible for me to change my billing cycle as it is tied to my phone number. I explained that MCI (my previous provider before switching for cost reasons) was more than happy and capable of providing the change for me. That was true, but the argument did not work with the rep. I've seen where in order to change your billing cycle you had to temporarily cancel and resubscribe under a different date. Not the case here. No, it seems that in order to change cycles you have to completely change your phone number. Excellent customer service.

Andrea Karim's picture

I got rid of my TV a while back. I'll occasionally watch movies and stuff, but not sitting in front of the damn thing all evening is a blessing and a good savings.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

Yeah, after they canceld Firefly there's pretty much nothing worth watching on TV. 

Paul Michael's picture

and I work for a movie company. I couldn't get rid of my TV if I wanted to.

Guest's picture
Damien

Love a story like this.

I've been without cable service for about two years now. I stopped watching television, and have been leeching WiFi from a coffee shop across the street ever since I canceled my account with Comcast.

I will, however, be shopping for dedicated high speed internet service in the near future (I'm basically tired of the weak signal, lack of control over security, slow speed, etc.) and articles like this are a huge boost to my confidence in knowing I'll have at least SOME control over what I'll be paying.

Anyone have any good ideas on how to first approach Comcast to set up an account and get the best possible deal?

Keep up the good work, Paul!

Paul Michael's picture

Basically, you have a less leverage because you can't threaten to leave or disconnect. I would mention the deals the other service providers are offering right now, see if they can cut you some slack on the price. They will usually give you at least 1 year at a discount (after that, you are already a customer and can haggle). And don't pay the installation fee. It's a rip off. I hooked mine up myself, I bought the self-install kit. If it goes wrong, Comcast will send a serviceman out to fix it for free. At least, several of my friends have got that deal. Good luck Damien.

Guest's picture
Guest

Yea, I work in the "retention" department at comcast, and MOST of our reps can smell wanna be hustlers like you guys through the phone. I know when your just trying to get fish a promo out of me. You think your slick, but your not, what you dont know is, when I do call your bluff and you squirm and ask me stuff like "dont you want to keep me as a customer?" then I know I got you, hook line and sinker, more and more people are figuring out this little game you guys are playing and next time you do it be carefull what you ask for, you just might get it, disconnected baby!!!!!!!!!! NO PROMO FOR YOU and you go to the competition because who wants to deal with a winey customer who cant afford the actual value of the service. Direct TV DISH and dsl can deal with you.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am ditching my cable, no phone call, no haggling. The boxes are next to the front door waiting to be dropped off tomorrow.

"Value"?! Are you kidding, the On Demand service is a joke and the boxes are constantly screwing up and freezing or dropping the signal. People have to sue Comcast to keep them from messing with their internet connections because they dont even want to actually provide the service they advertise.

Im going to the office to drop them off, no phone haggling for me.

Cable is getting weaker and will go away soon enough.

Rip of Comcast and burn them every chance you get.

Guest's picture
tmsingleton

I think everyone should join Florida's lawsuit against Comcast about their sorry On Demand service. New Movies are often not there as advertised or will come out for one day and then get yanked. In addition, they go for weeks without updating the anime channel although they supposedly made a deal with the anime network to offer more and better service.

In addition, Comcast uses the old bait and switch when it comes to advertisement for services that include hidden fees like a $99 installation fee for phone service for their 33+33+33 for internet/phone/cable service.

Was I the only one charged $99 for an installation fee. If so why? How do I correct this.

Guest's picture
Guest

to a reply to the posting labled " I was cheated by comcast and can't get help". Depending on what area you live in ( I work @ the WV call center ) triple play installation is usually just the 29.95 activation fee for the phone portion of the triple play. Any activation of any additional cable lines ( regardless if they are already in the home or just needed turned on) runs 17.60 per cable line( this price is for " additional same trip ") you would have too look at the bill that first had the triple play on it or your work order that the tech had you sigh. I don't have your particular rates for activating additional lines in Fla, but customer service can tell you ( make sure you ask the rate for activating a cable line same trip ) considering the date of the post, it is to late to dispute anything about that now... another common problem w/ the t/p setting up ( on customer service end ) some install fees auto populate on the system we use ( Comtrac ) and many reps do not take those off when setting up a Triple Play. Me personally, after anything I change on a customer account ( weather removing a channel or adding a service) I always save the account for one billing period to make sure that no errors have occurred ( as described above). If any error has occured, I will get a credit issued and call the customer back and follow through. that is what we are suppose to do, but most Comcast CAE's do not do this.... Always get the CAE's extension or operator ID, name, and write dates and times of conversations with any CAE you speak with... if any more postings are on this thread, I am more than willing to try and help.....

Guest's picture
Guest

Depending on where you are in Florida will definately depend on your install costs. In West Florida the Triple play installation is $49.99 which covers your outside hookup, first video outlet, telephone installation, and internet installation.

Any additional video outlets same trip run 24.95 (pending customwork i.e. wallfish, attic crawl)

I hope this helps.

The version of comtrac we use here doesn't autopopulate any extra rate codes, each CAE has to put those on themselves.

Guest's picture
derrickrucker26@yahoo.com

if your bill is paid late there is an immediate cut off but if you switch from comcast to wow it takes approx 2-3 months to get your refund. i have in formed everyone in my complex that has comcast to switch to wow due to your bad practices and i made sure this complex has switched to wow. keep the money as long as possible for the interest to build. we are talking about 132 people that i have had switched and i am an attorney. you guys suck.

Guest's picture
Ray

Support Google! They are going cure all of this with internet over white space. Free TV is not going away. Ads are coming to HBO and Showtime. Comcast come screw off! LOL

Guest's picture
Wolfie Rankin

I did this too, I'm in Australia and was using Optus Vision at the time. I asked to have the lot taken away. I wasn't after a deal, I just realised that paying for television is an awful waste of money and I wasn't watching much anyway, preferring the internet over television for my entertainment.

I ended up with about six months worth of the lot, almost every channel they had, so I had the cable until they wanted to start billing me again, at which point I had the box removed.

No amount of inane crap was going to make me keep the service, I mainly got cable for My Dad who was sick at the time.

I mostly watched the news channels and cartoon network, I don't like sports at all so opening up the sports channels too did nothing for me at all.

Damn right I'm a tough customer. ;)

Next year a new service starts in Australia called Freeview, and that looks fine to me, mainly because it's totally free
digital television... of course I still only watch news and some locally produced shows now and then, the old media can't hack it anymore.

Wolfie!

Guest's picture
Guest

And I, as a Cable Company Slave, have no motivation whatsoever to help "save" customers (since the company gives me none) and will gladly respond with, "Would you like for me to set up that disconnection now?"

Guest's picture

I tried this a while back (Time-Warner). They were more than happy to disconnect my service without offering a damn thing. You never know when you're going to get an operator who just doesn't care.

Guest's picture
gWallet

Right on man! I've used that trick a few times before as well, and as you said - works like a charm everytime. Speaking of asking - just to add a bit here. I've found that the same philosophy works with airlines. I've yet to fly without asking for a business upgrade. Sometimes you score, sometimes not, but they will at least stick you in the bulkhead, and after an NYC/SFO flight, those extra 6 inches of leg room make all the difference.

Guest's picture
Max

I had a similar experience where I was fed up and just wanted to lower my bill. I called and the first thing I said was "Hi, I'm paying too much and want to pay less." I honestly had no idea how it would work, but after a minute on hold the woman told me she could add free phone service, to which I replied I didn't want more service, I just wanted to pay less. Another minute or so and she came back to tell me she could drop my bill by about a third for a year, no change in service or anything. I told her thanks, and the whole thing took about 5 minutes to save me several hundred dollars!

Guest's picture
Guest

I work for a cable company as a csr and I can agree with this whole heartedly. Usually what happens is the business department regularly comes out with special promotions at random intervals for different random areas. Unless a customer calls in and asks about it, we don't know if they qualify or not. Considering the immense number of areas, services, and the like, it's impossible to make sure every customer knows about them. So yes, at least once a month, call your provider to see if new promotions have come out.

Guest's picture
Len

I stumbled here looking for a way to cut the cable with the least expense. The last time I tried to ditch Comcast, I was told it would cost $50. I'm sick of the my service costs being increased, so I'm switching to dsl... anyone have experience with disconnect fees?

Guest's picture
Guest

You would really be showing them if you actually canceled it.
You are still paying 129 for useless shite.

Guest's picture

After reading this and may other articles I decided i will give this a try, actually I tried multiple times.

http://www.emoneylog.com/negotiation/my-comcast-negotiating-experience/

Guest's picture

there are other plans available too .
Try them google it :D

Guest's picture
Aaron Lennon

Dear Comcast,

I switched to direct TV today so I could watch football games I wanted to watch rather than the games comcast blesses me with in my local market. I LOVE comcast internet service and called their hotline to disconnect my TV Cable and keep my internet service. The lady (Christina) on the comcast end of the phone treated me like I was the biggest idiot in the world and was throwing my money away. I tried to explain to the bitch that I didn't care how much I paid I just wanted to watch some specific football games.

After a while she told me I could not cancel my service over the phone and I had to bring back a bunch of equipment to the local office.

So, I tried comcast online chat
then called the number the indian guy online told me to call
NOW I have to run down to the local comcast office to get rid of my service. Weird.

Comcast, you need to chill. Some of us don't mind the over priced service but would like to use on demand in a way that is more 2009 and less 1999. Really, i had to change services to watch a football game. That is retarded. I would have been happy to pay an additional $5-$10 per out-of-market game I wanted to watch

Did it really have to come to this?

Thanks
Aaron

Guest's picture

It works like this in real life too, for non commercial things. Such as getting help. So many people are afraid to ask for anything. But most people are happy to give.

Guest's picture
Guest

Just make sure that you know that you're most likely only getting these deals for a year, or in the case of the extra movie channels for as little as one month.

I work for a cable company, and they do this to customers all the time. Usually if you call before the year is up, they'll keep you at the lower rate for another year, but after that it'll go back to full price.

Guest's picture
Dan

It's 2010, why are you still paying for television at all? Do you really watch any of those stupid overpriced cable channels? I get 22 channels for free(Including ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, Fox, MyNetwork, PBS, Create, Documentary, Megahertz, and MTV3), and would get more if I had an outside antenna. Unless your up a canyon somewhere, or out in the sticks, your crazy to be paying for TV these days.

Guest's picture
derrickrucker26@yahoo.com

i dont care what you think is appropriate.

Guest's picture
JoeDISH

Well I know that working for DISH Network you can definitely get a great deal and keep a low rate. DISH offers the most packages so everyone can afford one. DISH has duo receivers that give a multi room solution so you get better value paying for less equipment. DISH also has the most HD with 200 channels. DISH is giving this free for life. I don’t think this is something that TWC can even try to touch.