Around 90 percent of American households have cable. It’s so common that’s it almost considered a necessity–up there with food, clothes, and shelter. Cable used to be only for TV, but in the 21st century, it’s expanded to offer phone and internet. Whether you’re just now considering getting cable or you’ve had cable for years, you may get lucky if you try a few insider tips to scoring a deal with your cable provider.

Bargain

Just like a seasoned Mexican street vendor, you too can become an expert bargainer. Ever since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, when phone companies were given the freedom to compete with cable companies, cable providers have had to get more savvy to secure and retain customers. And now, with internet TV competing for a slice of the pie, your cable provider has to work harder than ever to keep your business. Being armed with this knowledge and some strategic information from competing companies, you may be able to talk your way into scoring a deal with your new or current provider.

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Undo the Package

Perhaps you started in with a triple-deal–a package that bundled phone, internet, and television and worked well in the past, but now you want less phone and more TV. In order to get more of what you want, see what your price would be if you restructured your services. If you downgrade one or more services, your provider just might offer you a deal to keep you coming back. Evaluate what you have and what you actually use or need. Maybe it’s time you dropped the landline and increased your internet speed.

Stay in Touch

Don’t expect your deal to stay put once you’ve negotiated that initial screaming deal. Cable companies regularly use advertised deals to lure customers into biting–whether it’s getting them to switch providers or getting them to commit to a certain period of time. They’re banking on the probability that you’ll forget when your deal expires and never notice when they slowly increase your bill to twice the amount it was before! Don’t call every month (you might get tagged as “whiny Wayne”). But do call just before your deal expires or when you see an increase on your bill. If they say no, try again another day. Another rep might be feeling philanthropic that day and pull a deal out of his hat.

Play Nice

Don’t become the customer that whines or shouts their way through every call with the cable company. If you get tagged as “that guy”, you may never see a deal again. Even large companies like to reward good customers that show loyalty and good manners. You can, however, mention a great deal you saw on their competitor’s website. If you let them know that you’re genuinely thinking of switching, they will do their best to provide you with a comparable product. They know it’s easier to keep you than to get you back. Stay on friendly terms with your cable provider. You never know when that will pay off.

Do your research. Then talk to your cable provider. While getting a deal isn’t guaranteed, it never hurts to try. You never know when the next representative you talk to might be feeling generous.