Congress discovers cable companies maintain secret rates that are never advertised


How to get the best price for broadband & access secret rates from cable companies

Cable executives had to acknowledge that they keep secret rate charts that are never disclosed to customers.

The revelation came under questioning by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) while a number of cable executives appeared before the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

A common assumption by millions of Americans is that cable and broadband prices are limited to what’s advertised. 

But the committee discovered that local cable providers actually have “secret rates” that they don’t ever advertise. The secret rate chart is used by retention specialists when customers are looking to drop and cut off their service. 

Check out the deafening silence by all the cable executives in the room when they were asked to refute whether secret rates exist.

How to get best possible deal on cable or just Internet

A lot of people threaten to cancel their service to see if they can get a better price, but won’t follow through by setting a date to cancel. Cable executives know that. Their customer service staff which handles thousands of calls a day knows it ever better. 

Making an idle threat to cancel gets you nowhere. If you want your cable provider to take you seriously and come to the bargaining table, you need to begin your conversation by giving an exact date when you’re canceling everything.

I mean EVERYTHING. Cable, Internet – all of it.

If they ask you if you’re going to a competitor, say you probably will. But for now, you’re just getting rid of all your service. Play coy, my friend. Be willing to hang up the phone with no deal in sight.

Cables companies know that most people don’t want to go through the pain (yes, it’s a first-world pain) of going without cable or Internet for a few days to make their point. (The secret is you probably don’t have to if you’re willing to portray yourself as someone wanting to completely dump their service.) The other secret is that the person you are speaking with on the phone has been trained to scare you a little bit.

FURTHER READING: Congress discovers cable & satellite TV employees trained to create fear, doubts in customers

If you do hang up the phone without a better deal, a retention specialist will call in the next day or two (while your household is still connected to their service). These are the people with the juice to give you something closer to a reasonable rate. I didn’t have to get that far. After I had set up a date for cancelling service, I was asked flat out what they could do to keep me as a customer. I quoted them their introductory rate for Internet service ($34.99 per month for 50 Mbps). They came back with an offer of $44 per month. I accepted, turned in my router and cable modem and got the $34.99 rate locked in for 12 months.

With my current setup of PlayStation Vue for $45 per month and $35 for cable, I’m saving $66 per month, or $792 a year.

My good deal for Internet won’t last forever. It will incrementally increase $10 next year and another $10 the year after that. By then, I may have to shop around again if I don’t move out of the service area of my provider. For now, when I spend a little cash to indulge in a guilty pleasure, (like paying for this hosting service) or buying a used Xbox game, I remind myself that I’m giving less of my money to someone else without having to sacrifice what I watch.

Check out Cord Cutting: The Definitive Guide for more free battle-tested methods and info on how you can lower bills for Internet and TV. Join us on Facebook and Twitter to get regular updates from The Cord Cutting Report.

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1 Comment

  1. The thing that people really need to understand is that you’re not “saving” if you’re spending. Saving is not spending, but by simply keeping your money in the bank, unspent. Spending less is not the same as saving, but people have been using that term for a while because corporate everything has advertised that.

    If you’re still stating things in that manner, you’re still being taken advantage of by them, even if it’s less than before.

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