Cable TV companies are losing customers every month, as they "cut the cord" and switch to streaming video services.
Despite that, they keep raising rates. Doesn't make much sense, does it?
Neither does the fact that most people keep paying those rate hikes year after year.
So without having to turn your cable box off, or drop channels you love, we're going to show you how to fight back.
$100 to Watch SpongeBob
Andrea Smith is a busy mom trying to make ends meet. It was getting harder and harder to justify paying more than $100 a month for her kids to watch SpongeBob.
"It was about $150 including Internet, and they just kept adding fees, and it kept going up," she said.
So she canceled the cable, and instead grabbed a super low rate, one-year promotion from DirecTV.
"We are paying about $35 a month right now with three TV's with DirecTV."
Don't Want to Cut the Cord?
What if you are more like Tim Bennett? He didn't want to lose ESPN or his Internet service or email address, so he didn't want to cut the cable cord completely.
"It had gotten up to $105 a month," he said. "I was not happy and was basically on the borderline of canceling the cable."
Then he figured out a way of lowering his bill -- and you can do it too.
He first tried asking for a lower rate: That got him nowhere.
Then he checked deals from DirecTV and Dish Network, then checked to see if he had any fiber services in his area, such as Verizon's Fios, AT&T's UVerse.
With several promotional packages in hand, he threatened to leave. It worked.
"They ended up pretty much matching the price," he said.
He lowered his cable and Internet bill from $105 to $90 a month, with improved Internet service thrown in.
Anyone Can Do It.
So how do you lower your cable bill in less than 10 minutes?
- Start by doing your homework: Don't pick up the phone until you are prepared.
- See if you can downgrade your cable package. If you don't use HBO, Showtime, or On Demand, drop it if you are paying for it.
- Find promotional deals from your cable company, satellite services and fiber providers -- if they are yet in your neighborhood.
- Call with specific offers you have found, saying you are thinking of leaving for that other company.
- If they still refuse to help, escalate things. Then ask for the "retention department," whose job it is to keep people from canceling.
As for why your bill keeps going up, cable providers blames soaring programming fees.
Time Warner Cable tells Bloomberg News its fees for carrying live sports have almost doubled since 2008. Comcast also blames soaring sports and other programming fees for its rate hikes.
Despite that, Tim Bennett was able to get a price cut, saying, "see what deals you have going on, and use that as barter tool to get a better deal of switch providers."
Wilma Wood is frustrated, though, saying "I noticed my bill, and it had increased considerably without any notice."
The reason for the big increase? When she called, she learned her one year promotional deal had expired...again.
That left her livid. "I think the fact I have to re-negotiate what I pay once a year is just harassment of customers" she said.
But with rates constantly on the rise, you need to re-negotiate, so you don't waste your money.
As always, don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
"Like" John Matarese on Facebook
Follow John on Twitter ( @JohnMatarese )