Like most people, I have a long-running “dislike” with my cable provider. I think most everyone has issues with their cable company because they divided up customers to create monopolies and have no real reason to compete. My particular cable provider is Cox Communications, but this story may be helpful for those with Comcast or other cable providers.
Two and a half years ago, I explained that Cox’s pricing was banana pants crazy. They made me take a telephone service I didn’t want to get bundle pricing. (I have Ooma’s “free” service. It’s $5 a month with taxes.) I would end up paying $40 for the telephone and taxes to get $50 off my bill. It didn’t make business sense, because $20 of those dollars would go to Uncle Sam. Why not just say, “We’ll give you a $25 off for having cable and internet?” The only reason I could think of for them to give up money and give so much to taxes was a crazy conspiracy theory involving Big Cable and Uncle Sam.
I later learned what I think is the real reason why they bundled the phone. My bundle pricing expired 12-months later. When I didn’t call up to get a new bundle, they’ve effectively “sold” me the telephone that I never wanted by taking the $50 credit away from my bill. Here’s how I felt about it:
Pretty sneaky sis, right?
So essentially I need to do what I call “The Annual Cable Bundle Dance.” That means calling them up and explaining that your bill went up a lot with the expiring of the bundle discount. Here’s how it went down last year. I was able to get my bill to $153 for a fairly barebones internet and television package. That’s no HBO, NFL Network, or add-ons like that. It includes $2 for a cable card and $3 for a dumb cable box. This is because I built my own DVR cable box.
Two weeks ago, it was time to do this year’s “Cable Bundle Dance.” It took 45 minutes and 2 transfers to get to the right person, but finally I got there. I explained that my bill was $153 and that they are showing that my new bill will be $212. They said that the $212 was an old price and that it would really be $188. So that’s about 23% more than what I had before. I asked if we can do better, citing that I have this $40 albatross of a telephone that I don’t want. He went through his bag of tricks and found that he could lower my bill to $148 by taking away some of the services on the phone and applying a new bundle. I tried to remove these extra services on the phone that I didn’t use before, but I was told that I needed them to qualify for that bundle.
With the price at $148, I saved my self $40 from what they were going to charge me. This bundle lasts for a year, so that’s $480 for around an hour of my time. Trust me, no one is going to pay me $480 for any kind of real dance.
Last week, the real magic happened! I got the feedback email from Cox and I gave them low scores (except for the service of the person who did quite well). That prompted them to call me back and ask what the story was. I explained the telephone hassle all over. She understood that it was crazy to pay $25 in telephone taxes when I didn’t use the phone. (I think my Ooma taxes are $5. I don’t have the energy to to get into why Cox’s is $25.)
She did something so simple it amazed me. She took the phone off the bill! Boom! My cable and internet is now $126 a month. It will take me a few days for the bill to updated so that I can review it, but that’s an actual savings.
So the secret seems to be to use the feedback email and get a little a lucky with the people you talk to.
As you can tell, I’m shocked. I presume the phone operators have pretty strict guidelines to sell more product and not let people lower their bill. Threatening to leave is typically empty because of the monopoly mention above. Also, here’s Cox prevents competition by making your internet bill higher if you sign up with an internet television provider like Sling or Hulu TV. They do this by taking away a bundle discount with the internet service itself. I imagine it’s hard for them to get new customers since they have their markets carved out. Thus I think the best way they raise profits is to charge each customer more.
Maybe that’s why it only took me 2.5 years of complaining to get some real savings on the two services I use.