The 6 Monthly Telecom Bills You Can Negotiate

Opening and paying the monthly bills is usually something we dread. This is especially true if you feel you’re being gouged by your cable, phone, or wireless provider. But with just a little bit of knowledge on the proper way to call and negotiate a lower bill, you can easily save hundreds of dollars per year. Here are six telecom companies notorious for working with customers to lower their bill, along with some insider negotiation tips for each.

1. DirecTV

When it comes to negotiating a lower monthly bill with DirecTV, the first thing you have to do is analyze the competition, namely Dish Network. DirecTV is typically more expensive than Dish, which makes the “competition is cheaper” card great ammunition when making the phone call to DirecTV customer service. Find out what current specials Dish is offering and use those when explaining why you’re considering leaving DirecTV. This will typically only work when you’re not under contract, as they can’t do much for you when you’re locked into a specific rate for a set period of time.

When making the call, tell the first person you speak with that you’d like to cancel your service as it’s more than you can afford right now. They’ll then transfer you to the retention department, who are the folks who have the authority to actually lower your bill. Then explain why you’re considering switching to Dish Network and be as specific as possible. In other words, tell them exactly what Dish is offering new customers and ask if they can meet it, or at the very least get close to it. Be polite and conversational in tone, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the result of a lower monthly bill, in most cases.

2. Dish Network

Same drill with Dish Network. Tell the first person you speak with that you want to cancel your service, and they’ll get you to the customer loyalty or retention department. When it comes to negotiating a lower monthly bill with Dish, it’s important to understand that they’re already lower in price than DirecTV. This means that in most cases, you can’t say you’re switching to DirecTV, because they’re already cheaper.

Instead, you should tell them you’re considering cutting the cord entirely by switching to an over-the-air HD antennae and cheap streaming options like Netflix and Hulu. These “other” options serve as excellent ammunition when talking to Dish. Stick to the facts, don’t get emotionally involved, and remember that you can simply call back later if the person is having a bad day and not willing to work with you.

Once you‘ve told them why you want to leave, they should offer you something to stay on as a loyal customer. You can also take the bull by the horns and start the conversation by asking for $15–$25 off your monthly bill depending on what package you subscribe to. You can also ask for a few free movie channels if that means more to you. Remember that they’ve invested a lot to get and keep you as a customer, and are willing to throw you a bone to keep your business. Always be willing to take your business elsewhere if they can’t come close to what you want. If you actually don’t want to leave and they won’t budge, you can always say you want to reconsider other options before canceling.

3. Comcast

I recently had an anonymous Comcast retention employee give me the scoop on what to say to get your bill lowered. She told me that the worst thing you can do is tell the rep that you’re switching to a competitor. Instead, she said to tell them you want to stay with Comcast but can’t afford your monthly bill and will have to switch to a streaming service if the bill can’t be lowered. She even said that Sling TV was the best streaming option to use as ammunition. She said that in most cases this will work and get you up to 20% off your monthly bill, as that percentage is the biggest discount they can offer.

Lastly, she told me not to ask to speak to a supervisor as that will typically only get you a call-back request that rarely happens. Plus, they are authorized to offer the same discounts as the retention employee, so it’s not worth your time.

4. Verizon

Verizon can be a tricky company to convince to lower your bill. They have created a coverage map that beats the competition and they know that many customers are bluffing when playing the “cancel card” to try and negotiate a lower bill. Because of this, it’s important that you do ample research on the competition before making the call. What are Republic Wireless, T-Mobile, and Straight Talk currently offering, and how long will it take you to recoup your money, in terms of savings, if you have to pay to get out of your Verizon contract?

By having these numbers at your disposal when making the call, the Verizon rep will sense your seriousness and often offer you a lower rate in return. I recently did this and was able to secure $10 off my bill for 12 months. Not a huge savings, but I really didn’t want to leave Verizon as I live in a rural area where Verizon is my only coverage option.

5. AT&T Wireless

While you may not be able to negotiate a lower rate with AT&T the old-fashioned way, you can get rid of services you don’t need and look for little-known discounts. Start by analyzing your bill very carefully as AT&T is notorious for sneaking in add-on services like AT&T Navigator, Family Map, enhanced voicemail, and smart limits. If you don’t use them, get rid of them immediately. Also, check to see if you’re eligible for an employer discount. Many organizations work directly with AT&T to offer their employees a pretty sweet discount so be sure you’re not missing out.

6. Time Warner Cable

Time Warner is notorious for raising your rate without informing you as to why. So once you get a rate you’re happy with, be sure to keep it by calling them every 12 months. Simply call their customer service line, be polite, and get straight to the point by telling them you want to keep your low rate for another 12 months. If the operator is unwilling to extend your rate for another year, simply hang up and try back later. Be persistent and you’ll eventually get an employee willing to work with you and help you keep your low rate for another year.

What bills, if any, do you consistently try to negotiate a lower rate on?

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Guest's picture

I'm going to be completely honest, I work for a cable company (unnamed) and we could care less if you switch, you don't have too threaten to get a lower bill, if you call in respectfully and talk to us and not yell answer curse, the call will go alot smoother and we would actually really like to help you get a reduced rate.

Guest's picture

So true, the author has a clue as I've had to wrangle with many of those communications companies. The TWC advice works because you'll often get a lazy/tired and apathetic rep; you can hear it in their voice before you even ask. AT&T didn't bother checking me or a family member even work at that Fortune 500 company.

Guest's picture

My only carrier is Cablevision with no competition. How do I negotiate with them?

Guest's picture
Jay Beck

Verizon does not care if you say you will leave they will only let you negotiate after you leave. I was with Verizon since 2002 with two phone numbers. I have always paid bill on time, and have upgraded phones and services many time. Last year (after 14 years being a loyal customer) I called to get my now $200+ monthly bill lowered. I called and talked to a rep who offered $20 off for 6 months. I just laughed and said is that all you can do for me a 14 year subscriber. I asked to be transferred to a supervise or someone who could really help me. I was transferred to someone that said they were a supervisor in the billing department
They said that they will look at my account and bring it to their manager and call back later that day. Recived the call about 1 hour later. I was told all they could do was offer to lower my bill $20 a month. I explained to them that unless they give me a a discount that is not laughable I will be leave 2 days before my bill ends for this month. Which was 2 weeks away. 1 week later I got call saying they can lower my bill $30 a month, but would have to change my plan that would remove my grandfathered unlimited data. I quoted what I would pay at t-moble, straight talk, and sprint when I left then told them they have a 1 week left. 1 day before I was going to leave they called me saying they could lower my monthly payment to $199. I reminded them about the prices I mentioned before and was told how their networks were not as wide spread as Verizon and this would be their last offer. After a month of negotiations i was tired of the crap. I hung up called T-moble and canceled Verizon that day. Surprize Surprize three days later Verizon calls they told me they are sorry to lose a long time costomer and offered to match what I was paying T-Moble. I laughed at the caller and said wait I tried to negotiate for over month to get close to other companys prices I would have been happy with 125 a month which is 35 dollars more then what I paying now. You would not budge but gave me lip service now after I leave you want me to come back? Verizon really needs to learn that customer retention starts before a customer leaves not after.

Guest's picture

Good article...I hear you clearly and good for you:)

Guest's picture

I used to work for AT&T (never had their service personally, though, believe it or not. I lived in a distant rural area where only one *undisclosed* (LOL) carrier worked at all) and they have secret / retired plans they can give to loyal customers. I know because I used them. Double the data you have now for the same monthly cost you’re paying for what you have now, an extra 2 gigs for the hell of it. We weren’t really supposed to talk about these, but we used them strategically anyway -- we’re salespeople working on commission in these stores, come on.

If you take this seriously and talk like you know what you’re talking about, you can get one too. Call, say you’re there to cancel today, and how you were offered such a better deal somewhere else (have a couple numbers just to legitimize your claim), and you’re done. --This only works well when you’ve been with them for at least a few years. You’ll get sent to retention and they’ll hook you up, provided your claim makes sense. If you use 1 gig they won’t offer you 30 gigs though.

Guest's picture
Amber Masters

This is genuinely one of the most helpful financial posts I have ever seen. I loved the sneaky insight into Comcast! I will be calling them asap-- we are chipping away at 550k in student loans and need every penny we can get. Thanks for the scoop!