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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 11/15/2010

PostPoints tip: Have you bargained over your TV bill lately?

By Rob Pegoraro

A lot of the telecom costs we pay are fixed. Unless your wireless carrier or Internet provider inflicts an extended outage or bill you in error, you probably won't be able to talk them into lowering your bill for one month, let alone for the remainder of your contract. (If you've had better luck, please tell me about it.) TV service, however, can be different. If you have a choice of TV providers--say, between Comcast and Verizon's Fios, or between Cox and satellite providers Dish Network and DirecTV--threatening to walk can yield a decent discount. You may be able to keep the promotional rate that was supposed to expire after six months or a year; canny negotiators have been able to do much better.

All that said, your own TV provider may not be interested in bargaining. But if you have good over-the-air digital-TV reception and a fast Internet connection, dropping pay-TV service entirely is another option--one taken by an estimated 108,000 cable and satellite subscribers in the last quarter.

(For those confused by the "PostPoints tip" title: I archive each tip-of-the-week e-mail we send to members of the paper's PostPoints program under the "Tips" category here. Today's item went out on Nov. 9--and within hours, I'd heard from multiple readers who had bargained successfully with their TV providers. One noted the tutorial he'd written on the Slickdeals site, and another shared an extra tip: Comcast offers a small discount to Medicare-eligible seniors, though it may take some time on the phone to get it applied to your account.)

By Rob Pegoraro  | November 15, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Tips  
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I've found myself in what you'd think would be a very good negotiating position. Comcast and Verizon (Fios) both have cables running through my front yard. Surprisingly, Verizon isn't willing to negotiate on price (they want to sell bundles of services I don't use) and Comcast keeps edging the price upward every few months. Recently however, Clear put a WiMax tower about a quarter-mile away and they're significantly cheaper. So I'm experimenting with over-the-air TV and wireless broadband. So far, I've been fairly happy with the results, but it may be interesting to see what happens during heavy rain or snow.

Posted by: dactyl | November 15, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Checked out Comcast's "senior discount." It only applies to expanded basic service,
certain markets, and is $2. Needless to say, I didn't qualify for all the reasons.

Posted by: Barbara100463 | November 15, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Rob's suggestion to drop cable tv , if you have access to over-the-air broadcasts is good. Another alternative is to drop the TV part of your bill and keep the internet access only. You can then use online tv services like Netflix or , or some other service that allows you to easily watch tv or movies.
The savings can be substantial, but there are trade offs.

Posted by: meganbrod | November 15, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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