Cable | Streaming
Cable fees typically range from $50-$200/mo or $600-$2,400/yr which could include internet and/or a land line. Streaming services, which may be supplemental, are often $5-$15/mo or $60-$180/yr. That’s a lot of money and it’s a 100% discretionary expense decision, you have complete control over reducing or eliminating these automatically reoccurring fees.
There’s intense competition in this market with several new rivals challenging the incumbents. Streaming services from Amazon, AT&T, Disney, Discovery, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, Quibi, and Apple are jockeying for position and pushing towards the $0/month threshold.
The rapid growth of options equates to negotiating leverage for better service and lower costs. Providers are advertising lower and lower rates to gain consumer business only to surprise most of them with higher fees later.
Automatically reoccurring subscription services are bills that tend to go under the radar over time. Complacency leads many of us to trust the invoices if we even think about the invoices. And if you do look at an invoice, good luck decoding the fees and their accuracy.
You may look at your invoice every so often and recognize a fee being overpaid for a duration of time. These are more difficult to challenge but if there is a legitimate case it is worth the time. The sooner the issue is found and addressed, the more likely you are to get your money back or some form of compensation.
Waits can be lengthy when trying to contact your provider; be prepared with documentation, questions, and explanations prior to making the call or visiting a location. If you plan to threaten to cancel in order to lure a special offer from customer service, they might say “no” so be prepared and there may be cancellation fees. If you’re unsure about cancelling, a possible approach is to mention other competitor offers and rates and express interest in remaining with your carrier but you need help in lowering the total costs.
Invoices are prone to human and technical errors too. It’s tough to find errors unless you’re on familiar with the fees and monitoring your invoices month over month. Once you get through deciphering the invoice and you feel that you’ve been overcharged prepare to effectively complain. See the section on ‘Effective Complaining‘.
Customer service is more likely to provide you a refund or correction if there is a respectful approach from the customer. They often have standard operating procedures to follow but may have authority to make changes on the spot. Complaints with FCC can be file at the link below or call 1-800-225-5322.
Filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau® (BBB®) is another means of getting attention. Companies registered with the BBB usually take their rating very seriously and strive to remedy problems posted on the site. Again, being assertive, professional, yet firm is likely to get the best result.
Sometimes it feels like the more advanced the technology, the more things that can go wrong. Some are the fault of the user, some are the provider. If you’re service is interrupted regularly and it seems excessive, you should complain sooner than later.
Get a data point on the chart because if it becomes a trend, you’ll have more evidence to get compensation. Most providers will reach out to help fix the problem when initially notified but trying to go after service interruptions from months ago is harder to win.
Problems related to natural causes or other reasons beyond the providers control are more difficult to win but if you can show that your neighbors service works fine or otherwise show that your situation is unique and separate from those uncontrollable causes, then you have a better chance. If you’re provider uses these types of reasons against your case, you may be compelled to verify their claim.
Providers are not supposed to charge you for additional features that you haven’t agreed too. That sounds logical but they can be savvy with their words to lure you into agreeing to something that isn’t what you perceived. But in the event you have agreed, or decided to make a purchase, these are areas of which you can control your costs.
Most of the popular series and movies are on premium channels. You may be able to negotiate a free period of time to test the channels. But be prepared to cancel them if you’re not interested and this may require another phone call and the hassles that come along with that…and be ready for a tempting counteroffer.
Renting a show, series, or movie can range from free to near $20. This convenience comes at price and these are completely under your control.
Eliminating cable boxes/dishes can reduce your reoccurring fees.
If you are renting any equipment from routers to cable boxes, in some cases you may be able to purchase the equipment and save money over the long term.
Credit Card Points
Many providers accept payments from credit cards. If this is the case AND there isn’t a fee, you may be able to get reward points (such as 1% back) through your bank/credit card to offset some of the fees.
Be aware of the possibility of fees for early termination. These can be substantial fees so it may be a better option to reduce the extra features and go with a skeleton package if allowed. It’s a math equation to figure out the costs of cancellation versus waiting until the contract ends.
At the time of termination there may be a need to return certain pieces of equipment or an arrangement where it doesn’t need to be returned. Make sure these arrangements are documented to protect you in the event the company tries to bill you later. They may try to make one money grab once they realize there isn’t a chance at retaining your business.
A list of other fees that could exist that are largely out of your control to dispute. Some of these fees depend on how many services how have bundled through your carrier. Keep in mind, most taxes are based on a percentage of purchased good/services, so while you may not be able to lower the tax rate, you could lower the tax amount you pay by reducing the taxable amount.
Regulatory Recovery Fee
Broadcast TV Fee
Regional Sports Fee
FCC Regulatory Fee
State Regulatory Fee
Take a look at this laundry list of fees, taxes, and surcharges as of September 2020. You can view the details by clicking on the button at the bottom as this list could change.
Broadcast TV Fee
Regional Sports Fee
Regulatory Cost Recovery
Public, Educ & Govt Fee
Federal Excise Tax
Voice Network Investment
Directory Listing Management Fee
State Communications Tax
Gross Receipts Tax
Federal Universal Service Fund (FUSF)