Forever War

Andrew Forsythe

THE ABOVE HEADLINE doesn’t refer to Afghanistan. Even that 20-year struggle has finally come to an end. This is about an even more relentless campaign—against the cable company. In my case, that means Spectrum, part of Charter Communications.

The first question is, why haven’t I cut the cord? The short answer: My wife loves sports on TV and cable seems to be the only way to get all her favorites.

As cable victims know, after those enticing “new customer” deals expire, you’re subject to a constant series of escalating fees, which can quickly have your monthly bill skyrocketing. There’s only one remedy, I’ve found, and that’s constant negotiating.

As soon as I see an increase in my bill, I examine it. If it’s just an increase in the cost of a standard component, I’m probably stuck with it. But the more substantial increases come from the expiration of whatever promotions I currently have.

The next step is calling Spectrum and telling the robot I want to cancel service, which gets me to “Customer Retention.” Once there, I explain to the rep that I’m willing to remain a customer, but only with enough new promos to get my bill back to where it was.

I’ve found that some reps really try to help and others have a bad attitude from the get-go. When I get the latter, I usually just claim a bad connection and spin the wheel with another call.

It takes time on the phone and persistence, but I can usually get my bill back close to where it was—and occasionally even a little less. It’s crucial to take good notes, including the name of the rep, because often my next bill doesn’t jibe with the new discounts I’d been promised. That means yet another phone call is needed.

Not long ago, I spoke with a friend who didn’t know negotiation was even possible, and probably wouldn’t bother with it anyway. His monthly Spectrum bill was $75 higher than mine for the same services.

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