Bargaining for broadband saves money, even more in a competitive market

31 March 2013 by Steve Blum

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Sharp consumers can sometimes save hundreds of dollars a year by negotiating with cable and telephone companies, according to a recent study by Consumer Reports. But few people are even giving it a try.

Only a third of the triple/quad play subscribers surveyed said they tried to bargain for a better deal for Internet, television and telephone service. And the people responding were subscribers to Consumer Reports, who aren’t exactly passive shoppers. I’d expect that the haggle rate among all consumers nationwide is probably lower, and by a considerable amount.

More than half the people who did negotiate, though, shaved money off their monthly bills. Seven percent said they saved more than $50 a month, and forty-four percent reported lowering their bill by $50 or less. They picked up other spiffs too, including fee waivers and service upgrades.

The biggest benefit comes when service providers go head to head in a given area:

Consumers who are lucky enough to have two competitors offering triple-play packages in their neighborhood can play them against each other. Among readers who had changed TV providers in the previous six months, 18 percent were offered new savings of $20 or more a month by their old provider if they didn’t switch to a new company or if they had switched but were open to coming back.

Just calling up your current provider and threatening to switch pays off. The study said that eighteen percent of consumers who moved their business around were offered incentives worth $20 a month or more “if they didn’t switch to a new company or if they had switched but were open to coming back”.

Competition matters a lot, but it counts even more when you jump in the game yourself.