Cable and Satellite providers love to hook new customers with "teaser" rates. Usually these teaser rates come if you buy a bundled package of cable/phone/internet and are significantly below the regular rate.
Of course, as soon as the tease period is over- usually 6 months or a year, they will hit you with a bill that will probably knock you to the floor. Most people, not wanting to bother switching to a competitor, just grimace and pay the new rate.
However, you don't need to do that. The cable company makes a killing off the people who meekly accept their fate and pay whatever the cable guys demand.
Smart consumers can save a ton of money with a little effort- all it takes is one phone call a year.
Just call up your provider's customer support number and ask to speak to their CANCELLATION department- don't even mess with the "customer service" people as they generally don't have the ability to give you a really good rate.
Once you get the cancellation department, Tell them that you love the service, but just can't afford to pay the regular rate, especially given that their competitor (satellite company/phone company/competing cable company) is offering a great "new customer" rate.
If they try to get you to reconsider with some minor discount, don't fall for it. Hold firm until they offer to give you another 6-months to one year at the teaser rate. This will work every time- they still make money off of your account even at the teaser rate, and they don't make any money if you switch to a competitor. One 20-minute phone call every 6-months can save you $30 or more per month on your bill. That's a pretty good use of your time. I've been doing this for years, right up until last month (I'll explain why I'm no longer on the full bundle in my next installment).
A few pointers:
-- Be pleasant. The service representatives deal with angry customers all day long, they will be often bend over backwards to help someone who is rational, polite, and even friendly.
-- Use current conditions to your advantage. The economy is bad and everyone knows it. If you want to jazz up your story, tell them you can't afford to pay the full rate because you just got laid off. It can't hurt, and may garner some sympathy from the representative, enhancing your ability to keep your rates low.
-- Be prepared. When you tell them that you are going to switch to their competitor (even though you have no intention of doing so), you will sound a lot more convincing if you can quote the competitor's current teaser rate.
-- Be willing to walk. I've never needed to do this, and probably never will need to, but if they decide to call your bluff, you can always switch to the competitor.