Portland, Ore.— Paying too much for cable? You’re not alone. Many customers say they’d like to lower their cable bill.

We turned to an industry insider for advice, along with two men who’ve made lowering cable bills their business.

“We’ve got it down to a science,” said Julian Kurland.

Kurland and his brother, Ben, run BillFixers. The Tennessee-based company helps customers negotiate their cable bills.

Chris Johnsen spent four years as a customer account executive for Comcast. He knows who to dial and what to say.

Here’s some advice from the experts:

“Cancel My Service”

When calling the cable company, start by choosing “cancel my service.” This option on the automated phone tree will take you directly to customer retention.

It is their job to try and keep you from leaving for a competitor.

Call Weekday Mornings

To avoid long wait times, it is best to call Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Weekends can be very busy.

Be Polite, Patient

Think about it. These people deal with angry customers all day. If you are polite and friendly, the representative will be more likely to help you save.

Don’t Ask for a Manager

The person answering the phone holds a lot of power. They can offer promotions and credits.

“When I worked there, if they wanted to speak with a manager or supervisor we just had to transfer them to their voicemail,” said Johnsen, the former Comcast account executive.

Come Prepared

Tell your cable company what kind of offers you are seeing advertised elsewhere. Let them know if you are being solicited from competitors. Check the internet for the latest offers and promotions. Know exactly what kind of service you want. Don’t pay for services you don’t need.

Ask About Promotions

Many cable companies offer six month or one year introductory offers. After the promotion ends, the price will jump to the regular price.

“You don’t get any notification ahead of time, so you have to be wary of knowing when that is going to end or else you are going to get that surprise at the end of your bill,” explained Johnsen.

Avoid Auto Bill Pay

While it may be convenient, many people forget to check their monthly bill. You are more likely to ignore an unexpected jump in pricing if you use an automatic bill pay feature.

Avoid Contracts

You don’t want to be locked into a contract or commitment. You want the freedom to negotiate.

Negotiate Every Year

Mark it on your calendar. Set up an alert on your cell phone. It is worth calling your cable company once a year to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.

Ask For Discounts, Credits and Upgrades

Customer account executives have the ability to hand out one-time credits. They can also offer faster Internet speeds and upgrades in equipment. The important thing is to ask.

If requested, they can even mail you coupons for free On-Demand movies. Also, make sure to ask that installation charges are waived.

Call back. Then, call back again.

It is not uncommon to get different offers from different customer service operators. They can make mistakes, forget to add a discount or provide different credits. Make sure the price you are quoted can be repeated by another representative.

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