cable tv

After a week of over-air TV, Netflix and HuluPlus programming, I know I can now sucessfully cut the cord with Charter Cable.

The problem is,  I’m not ready to do it.

Like an addict needing their fix (in my case Showtime, HBO and new episodes of Duck Dynasty on A&E…) I needed a hit from time to time.

In the past I’ve negotiated with Charter over the phone, in person at my local office and via online chat, like I did today.

Unfortunately for the consumer, one method is not significantly better than the other and in my experience depends upon the person you encounter and what they had for breakfast that morning.

Neither of which you can predict.

Today I reduced our cable bill by $312 a year and gained both faster Internet and all the premium movie channels I’d been missing.   I have the rate for 12 months and can cancel at any time.

 If I keep it after the 12 month promotional period, I  will have the better plan for $12 less than I’m paying now.  At least until Charter Cable starts bumping it up again.

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Tips To Negotiating With Your Cable Company

If you’re not inclined to cut the cable cord just yet, and yet want to reduce your cable bill via negotiating with your cable company for a better rate, here are some tips.

1. Be pleasant and don’t give up what you know right out of the gate.

In other words, be nice and act ignorant.

2. Mention currently being able to receive over the air HD channels for free, and thinking about no cable TV as an option.  

This adds to their pucker factor, and may be helpful in assisting them to locate promotional offers that were previously unavailable.

3. Record your conversation if possible.

This is why online chats work well for me.  I can cut and paste the chat into a Word document to save for reference, and also have the Internet at my disposal to do look up information while on the chat with the representitive.

4. Don’t be afraid to walk away from the conversation and try again if you’re not hearing what you want to hear.

You have already told them you’re looking to drop cable TV.  They want to keep you using it.  You have the advantage, albeit a small one.  You can always try back later, and may get someone who wants to be more helpful in retaining you as a customer.

5. Remember there’s always a deal available from their ‘manager’, but you may not get that offer out of the gate.

 Charter says  that they no longer offer promotional pricing, and yet they offer it all the time to new customers.  Why would they not offer it to current customers to retain you?  They say they won’t, but if you play it right, they will.

6. If calling your cable company ask for the ‘Retention Department’.  

 I speak with this department at least once a year.  I’m sure my account is red flagged by now, but I dont’ care.  I’m prepared to drop them like a hot rock if need be, and that’s the place you need to be in when you call them.

7. Take your time and don’t let the company rush you into a bundle at a special price.

 The best deals always come in the form of bundles.

The cable companies do this to get you dependent upon them, so it’s harder to make a change.  I’ve not added Charter’s phone services for that reason.  It limits promotional options somewhat, but it’s one less thing to bump up the price when the promotional pricing is over.

8.  Don’t accept any promotional pricing that has a penalty fee should you cancel before a specified date.  

 Always a good thing to check before you say ‘yes’.  More typical of satellite providers, but cable does it too, especially with new customers and 2 year rates.

My Online Chat with Charter Cable: February 12, 2013 

Virtual Assistant: Thank you for contacting Charter. I’m your Virtual Assistant. I know a lot about Charter products and services. How may I assist you today?


Virtual Assistant: Good question. I am not sure how to answer that. Please try rephrasing your question or click the link below and I can transfer you to a Charter Customer Representative for more assistance.

You: Connect With a Charter Customer Representative by Chat  (Clicked this.)

A representative will be with you shortly.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W] has joined the conversation

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Hello. My name is Carole. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help you today. How may I help you?

You: Hi Carole… I’m contacting Charter today to see if there’s any way to reduce my bill. I’ve recently considered dropping Charter TV services and would like to avoid doing that if possible. My address is…  and the online help says to contact you for possible bundles,etc.

You: Recently I’ve obtained all my local HD channels via an indoor antenna, but I do enjoy having Showtime…

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Thank you.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Please give me a moment while I pull up your account.

You: Thank you. Security code is ####

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Thank you for verifying your account.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Let me find a New Pricing Plan that will give you an option.

You: Thank you. I will be keeping my internet service either way.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: You currently have our Basic plus Expanded Basic, Showtime and HD Ultra View channels in HD with 15 mbps internet speed with a leased modem for a payment of $141.13 a month plus $5.65 tax/fees.  **I currently test my connection at 38 mbps so I don’t know what’s up with this info! **

You: I do not lease a modem. I own my modem.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Thank you.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: We are currently offering a promotion including TV Select in HD with one receiver and Internet Plus at 30 mbps for $115.97.   ** A starting point. **  The rate is good for a full year without any contract or commitment, and will go up $15 during the 2nd year. However, we are also offering a deal where you can get TV Select, Internet Plus, and nationwide phone for a PENNY LESS ($115.96 with 1 receiver) and that would give you free Wire Maintenance protection. This all inclusive deal will give you $25 worth of service for $.01 less per month and will give you the peace of mind of having a home phone for emergencies or guests to use. That sounds like a better deal considering the price and overall value, right?

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: You will have the same channels that you currently have.  **She was incorrect on this and I had to do a quick search online to discover it. **

You: No change of service regarding the TV channels and since we already have only (1) HD receiver, that too would be unchanged?

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: That’s correct. The only change will be with your internet.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: You may pick-up and self-install the new free modem if you are comfotable with that or we can have it installed for you for $29.99.  **Save your money and install the modem yourself.  It’s not difficult and if you run into problems you can call and be walked through it for free. **

You: I currently get 30 mbps with my own modem… why do I need another one?

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: In order to provide our customers powerful and reliable Internet service at a great value, Charter will provide modems with any Internet subscription. We want our customers’ experience to be the best possible, and the modem is a significant piece of the delivery of a great experience. Charter will always ensure its modems can support your Internet speed as a result of speed increases or upgrades. Necessary upgrades or replacements will be made free of charge.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Your current internet speed also is not 30 but 15 mbps.  **I beg to differ, but decided to shut up and not give more info than asked for at this point.**

You: There’s no monthly fee for the modem?

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: It’s free.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Customer-owned cable modems may not be capable of delivering the full speed of Charter’s Internet service, nor can we be sure they will function properly. If you own your own modem and it breaks or malfunctions, you would also have to pay to repair or replace it out of your own pocket. By including the modem with any Internet subscriptions, Charter is taking the worry out of your hands and guaranteeing a higher quality of service.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: What do you think?

You: Please indulge me… so for $115.97 per month (plus fees I would suspect) I would get the same chanels as I have now, 30mbps speed with included ‘new’ modem, If we bundled the phone service – two questions. Do we keep our current number? What will the bill be after 1 year?

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Who is your current phone provider?

You: Century Link (used to be Qwest)

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: I will be able to transfer your phone number over for you. And, after 1 year the cost will be $135.96.

You: This is food for thought. I’m pleased to know that the bill can be reduced as of today, it’s gone up another $3. What I have to decide is whether it’s worth it to me. If I choose to change services will my local office have this information to make the change? Assuming I was to do something this week?

You: I know I would have to go there to pick up a new modem.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: I am online pricing and the local office will not be able to offer you the same bundle.  **An attempt to keep me on the hook.  Online only pricing. **

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: I should say bundle pricing.

You: Noting your online resources descriptions of TV Select – the description doesnt’ include premiums, but TV Silver does? Please advise.  ** Do your research before you contact them, and use it to slow down the full court press by your cable company. **

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Yes, TV Silver adds Hallmark Movie, Bloomberg Financial news, OWN (Oprah) network, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Digital View Plus and Faith & Values to the TV Select package.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: It will be $20.00 a month more.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: It would be $135.97 with TV Silver.

You: You had previously said my programming would remain the same with TV Select – I have Showtime and The Movie Channel.   **Time to ‘share’ what you know. **

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: You’re right; I did not include your optional channels.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: I was concentrating on lowering your costs.   ** I got up and did other things for 10 minutes before coming back to the new ‘one time free upgrade’ offer. **

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: My manager said that I can offer you a one time free upgrade to the Silver package for 12 months.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Would you like to take this package?

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Your cost will be $115.97 plus tax/fees if any.

You: Is this what you’re offering?Charter TV® Silver:  80+ HD Channels included – 175+ channels including local programming,  HBO®, Cinemax® and Showtime®,  30 MBPS Internet Service – 10x faster than standard DSL and 5x faster than AT&T U-VERSE DSL, DigiTier 1, and telephone.   Bundle price is $109.97/mo. Yr 1 & 129.97/mo. Yr 2; standard rates apply after 2 years.   Qualifying bundle includes Charter TV® Silver, Charter Internet® Plus with speeds ups to 30 Mbps and Charter Phone® Unlimited. TV equipment required & is extra; Charter Internet® modem is required & included in price; Phone taxes, fee, & surcharges are included in price; other equipment, install, taxes, fees & surcharges may apply.   **Price is for new customers and with phone.  I didn’t expect them to give that one to me, but gamblers out there might be willing to push for it and win depending upon your representitive and whether or not you decide to say ‘cancel my cable TV service’.  **

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: No, the package I was offering does not include phone.

You: But the channels and and internet are the same?

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Yes.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Do you want phone service too?

You: Price after 1 year?

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Do you want phone service too?

You: Phone would be considered an option, but not a neccesity. My concern is the price of the phone service after any promotional time has expired. I know charter likes to bundle it if they can to offer promotional pricing.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: After 1 year your cost for TV Silver and internet will be $135.97.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Would you save money if you added Charter phone?

You: What is the cost of just internet after the first year if I drop the TV Silver? I currently pay $25 a month for my home phone.  **Ask this both to know if you’re locked into a contract, and to see if you’ve been given their best deal of the day.  **

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Internet only will be $49.99.

You: I will go ahead and accept the change to the TV Silver with internet, no phone for 1 year at the $115.97 plus tax/fees. I will also pick up a new modem (free of charge) at my local office and install it myself.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Great! Let me set that up for you.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: I will have it documented in your account.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: You are all set.

You: One last question: Is there a penalty for cancleing the Siver package before the 1 year is up?

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Your new monthly fee will be $115.97 plus $4.94 tax/fee for a total of $120.91 a month for 12 months.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: You are getting the Silver plan for free.  ** Yeah, right. **

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: There will be no penalty if you remove it.

You: My question: “Is there a penalty of any kind if I find I want or need to cancel TV service with Charter at any time during the next year?”  **Important to know that you can cut the cable TV cord any time you want or need to do so. **

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: None at all.

You: Thank you. You’ve answered my questions and been very helpful. It’s much appreciated.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: I was glad to do it and thank you.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Do you have any further questions or is there anything else I can help you with today?

You: No, you’ve answered all my quesitons. Thank you. Have a good day.

Charter Customer Representative [Carole W]: Thank you for choosing Charter Communications Chat support .

Photo credit: Evil Erin / / CC BY