Haggling for a lower telecom bill really works, says one CR editor

Consumer Reports News: May 17, 2012 10:38 AM

In our most recent telecom survey, seven out of 10 respondents with a triple-play service bundle didn't even try to bargain their bills down. But of those who did, more than 90 percent got some accommodation from their provider. We've been reporting for years that haggling with your telecom company can pay off—and now, one of our staffers can also testify that it does.

A Consumer Reports editor recently received a letter from Verizon, his home telecom provider, that offered him a $250 prepaid Visa card if he renewed his triple-play FiOS service a couple months early. He thought that was a great idea, but before he renewed, he decided to examine the myriad small charges on his current monthly bill.

Two items in particular stuck out: Star Play and Games on Demand/Quick Pack. He wasn't even aware he had those two services; it turns out that he hadn't remembered to opt out of them when the free trial periods expired. (As we advise in our telecom story, be sure to cancel freebie channels and services after their trial periods end, or they'll continue with a monthly fee on your bill.)

When our editor called Verizon, he expressed his interest in staying with the service but also hinted that he was not averse to checking out other options to provide his TV, Internet, and home phone. The company removed the two unwanted services, saving him $10.98 a month—and also gave him a $152.49 credit, since he had not been using them.

Verizon upgraded his Internet service to 50/20—that's 50 Mbps download/20 Mbps upload speeds—from 35/35. (Our telecom story provides guidelines to determine how much speed you really need.) Our editor also dropped an unneeded security and backup bundle from his bill, saving another $10 a month, and bundled his three home DVRs to save $3.98 a month.

And he still got the $250 Visa card. (By the way, this generous offer may be a result of the fact that he has a choice of telecom services in his neighborhood, instead of just one. Another of our staffers was also offered a pre-paid Visa card to retain Verizon FiOS—for $500!)

Our editor's monthly payment—for improved service—is now $179.98, down from $198.94 (both figures not including taxes).

For lots of tips and advice regarding home telecom services, see our story Cut your telecom bill. And for tips on how to negotiate better prices, see Get your haggle on.

Carol Mangis

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