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How Can I Lower My Comcast Bill?

2012 December 28
by Aaron

aaron_image1A couple weeks ago we got a notice in the mail that our Comcast (XFINITY) cable bill was going up at the beginning of 2013 by about $50. Apparently they had mistakenly extended our promotional period  (I don’t know how that happened) and needed to start billing us what they should have been charging us the last 6 months or so.

Of course – we knew this letter (or one like it) would be arriving at our mailbox soon. It’s just a bit of a surprise when it comes. I guess what I thought was most troubling was they disguised the increase as a mistake of theirs and assured us they wouldn’t be charging us for that error (Thanks!).



I’ve written before about my attempts at lowering my Comcast bill by touting our good customer status and loyalty. But, it didn’t really go as planned.

Then, I happened upon a special that Financial Expert Jean Chatzky did on the Today show.  She polled her readers what one thing they most would like to save money on. The answer: how to lower my cable bill.

The answer didn’t surprise. Getting a good rate (and a consistent one at that) is no easy task.

So, using Jean’s suggestions, here’s how I got our cable bill lowered and how you can too:

Be sure you have some time to negotiate

From when I first picked up the phone to call Comcast, to when I hung up – the whole process took 1 hour. Be sure you have a little time carved out of your day for this phone call. Of course, I did call at the end of the year and Comcast was likely a bit short-staffed given the holidays. Still, know this could take some time.

Do some research

One of the things I did before calling Comcast was to check around the neighborhood to see what folks where paying. In particular, I wanted to see what a competitor of Comcast was charging folks. In this case, it was Dish (or DirectTV). My next door neighbor, was getting a package that was considerably less than what I was getting with Comcast. You’ll need this information to make the case for lower rates.

Ask for the Retention Department

Jean Chatzky recommends that when you get on the line with a billing customer representative, that you immediately ask to be transferred to the Retention Department. This was my first mistake. I didn’t. I had a helpful and courteous rep who tried their best to offer me a cheaper package, only to come out with about $6 less/per month. I wasn’t happy with that and finally asked to be transferred to Retention. Ask for this department right away.

Be polite – but to the point

I never think you have to be rude or inconsiderate to negotiate a better deal. At the same time, you don’t have to be a pushover. When you get through to the Retention Department, state the reason of your call: “I see that Dish is offering considerably lower rates than Comcast – and would like to see if there is anything you can do to lower our bill before we decide to leave.” Of course, you could eliminate that last part “before we decide to leave” – but I’m just giving you a script that worked for me. When you get to the Retention Department, they already know you’re about to leave.

Be prepared to negotiate some

The first offer the customer service representative gives you may not be to your liking. Don’t settle. Ask if there is anything further they can do. They’ll likely go through a checklist to see what services you are using. In our case, the rep asked us what channels  we were using.

I didn’t need to spend a lot of time negotiating. The rep gave us a deal to get us back to our original promotional pricing and included an upgrade to our landline (which we use for faxing).

There will likely be a “catch”

To give you the starter promotional prices, Comcast does something similar to what the cell phone companies do. They “lock” you in. To get our bill back to the promotional rate, Comcast required us to stay on for two years. They ensure this by a $150 early termination fee (which goes down by $15 every 3 months after the new rate goes into affect). I don’t really see this as a terrible catch – as we won’t need to re-negotiate on the pricing every 6 months when the promo expires.

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Hope this helps. You should be able to lower your Comcast cable bill too. Please let us know how it worked!

UPDATE (1/11/13): In addition to the lower monthly rate – Comcast also gave us a credit on our account (which amounted to a free month of service. Nice.

Need help lowering your bills? We may be able to help

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Aaron

Helped start Three Thrifty Guys with his friends Charlie and Mark after being inspired by how they lived their lives “on the thrift”. A designer by day, Aaron was once $40k in debt. After 5 years – he dug himself out and lives to tell about it. Aaron also blogs at the StarTribune

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6 Responses
  1. December 28, 2012

    I had something like this happen to my roommate and I several years ago with Comcast. What they told us, however, was that they weren’t going to honor the “12 months promotional period” we had signed up for because they could change their mind at any time (after only 6 months apparently). My roommate called them and proceeded to have what I consider the most hilarious conversation with a customer rep that I’ve ever heard.

    The customer rep we got refused to transfer him to the retention department and by the end of the phone call, my roommate started saying “just say you don’t want me as a customer anymore” which the rep actually did say. Needless to say, we cancelled that service on the spot.

    Honestly, I refuse to use Comcast and highly suggest everyone else avoid them. My wife had a problem when she cancelled her service where they sent her account to collections because they wouldn’t send a written copy of the bill. They told her “Just pay us what we say is due and we’ll send you any overage back when we figure it all out”. She called them every day and they refused to send her a paper bill. When she explained that to the collection agency, it was amazing how quickly they were willing to figure out that whole “what you actually owe” thing and it was a couple hundred of dollars less than what they told her she owed.

    • Aaron permalink*
      December 28, 2012

      Wow – crazy stories! I know Comcast is trying hard to alleviate their “worst company in America” status – but they probably still have a ways to go.

  2. toeknee permalink
    January 4, 2013

    Thanks for your suggestions – they worked for me!

    I’ve been a customer with Comcast since 1998. Two years ago I got an HDTV, so I called Comcast to see what my options were for getting HD service. The offered me a package (HD Premier XF) for $160/month for one year, increasing to $180/month for the 2nd year, then going up to the regular price of $205/month after that. Being that my first two years are up, the bill that arrived the other day reflected the $205 price.

    So today I called Comcast and asked the first agent I spoke to if I could talk to the retention department. I explained to the retention department that I was exploring options for reducing the cost of my service, and was considering going to a lower-priced package or going to a different service provider. The guy asked me a few questions about my use of Comcast’s cable, internet and phone service. Then he said being that I’m a long-time customer, he could offer me a promotion where I could keep the same package I currently have for a price of $160/month, which would increase to $180/month after 1 year, then increase to the regular price (currently $205) after that. I asked if there were termination fees and he said not with that deal, but he said if I wanted the $160 price for two years, I would have to agree to a contract with a certain termination fee – that deal goes up to $180 for the 3rd year, and then to the regular price after that. I basically jumped at that deal. A savings of $45/month for the next two years = $1080!! Plus another $25/month savings for another year after that! It’s still overpriced, but at least I get some savings over what I could be paying.

    All of this took about 15 minutes, and there wasn’t any haggling or begging the rep for a better deal (maybe I could ahve gotten one if I tried?)

    Regardless I’m very happy with what I got. Thanks again!

    • Aaron permalink*
      January 4, 2013

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing your success with us!

  3. Katherine permalink
    January 7, 2013

    Want to save a lot of money? Just don’t have cable! When we turned off our cable, it was a huge leap of faith for us, but now that our lives have adjusted to it, we don’t know how we had time to watch it in the first place. Also, our children aren’t influenced by the advertisements for toys and junk food (more savings!). It’s been awesome.

    • Aaron permalink*
      January 7, 2013

      Even better Katherine – just don’t have it! I commend you for it.

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