If you've ever wondered why your internet bill is so high, you're not alone! Depending on what kind of broadband plan you have, that bill may be higher than any of your other utilities. The bad news is that internet service providers are free to change the prices of their existing packages and phase in new, more expensive packages as often as they want. The good news is that because there's finally more competition among internet providers, it's possible to negotiate a lower bill with just a little research and a quick phone call. Plus, if your current broadband provider isn't willing to work with you, there are probably other internet providers in your area that will give you a deal if you commit to switching providers.
Why Your Internet Bill Keeps Changing
Finding new fees on your broadband bill is probably no longer all that shocking. In the US, competition between internet providers is only just now heating up as smaller players enter the field. That's why we tend to pay more money for slower speeds here in the United States compared to customers in Europe and Asia.
The cord-cutting trend has also had a negative effect on broadband pricing because cable and telephone companies who are losing money to streaming video and mobile contracts are trying to recoup that cash anywhere they can. That's why internet-only plans tend to be more expensive than the cost of the internet portion of bundled plans. Providers are trying to entice people to keep their cable subscriptions and their landlines.
So will internet providers ever start voluntarily lowering the price of their internet only plans? Not likely! That's why it's so important that customers put in the time it takes to negotiate bills or to switch to providers with packages that are budget friendly. Here's what you need to do:
Negotiating Directly with Internet Providers
Negotiating with internet providers is all about research and prep. You need to know what other providers are charging for similar services, what you need and don't need, and what your broadband provider is actually charging you for.
Do You Need Everything On Your Bill?
The first thing to look at is whether you really need (or want) all the things you're being charged for. Is your ISP also your cable or telephone provider? Do you currently get extras like a video package or access to sports broadcasts? Bundles always seem like a great deal until you realize you're barely using the services in your package. In that case, lowering your monthly bill may just be a matter of switching bundles or moving to an internet only package.
Have You Gotten What You Pay For?
You may be able to get a better deal if you can show that your service is spotty or slow. When your service goes out or is particularly slow, make a note of the date, time, and issue. Being able to show that you're not getting the service or the bandwidth you're paying for can give you some leverage when you're trying to lower your bill.
Are You a Great Customer?
Consider how long you've been with your ISP and your payment history before you call and speak with a customer service rep. Internet providers are much more likely to offer deals and discounts to long-term customers who've consistently paid their bills on time. That's because these are the customers they really want to keep.
Do You See Extra Fees?
Make sure you're reviewing your broadband bills each month and comparing each new bill to the bill from the previous month. If you're not sure what a specific fee is or why you're paying it, Google it. Many internet providers have installation and activation fees (which are largely unavoidable) and equipment rental fees (which you shouldn't see on your bill unless you're using your ISP's modem). Do you see an FCC Recovery Fee? Ask to have it removed, as these are not real government fees. Know what you're paying for and what you shouldn't be paying at all.
Talk the Talk: Negotiation Basics
Even if you feel angry at your broadband provider for their high prices or the fact that they've been adding extra fees to your bill, you should always keep your cool when talking to a representative. Remember, they don't make the policies, and they don't set the prices! More importantly, people who work in customer service are usually so used to dealing with irate customers that a little kindness can go a long way.
It never hurts to start the negotiations with an apology. You need help with your bill, and saying that you're sorry about the confusion or the inconvenience may inspire the rep to want to help you. Let them know that you know that your bill being so high isn't their fault. Then thank them for the value they do provide, whatever that may be. Make it clear that you want a better deal specifically because you like the service and would like to stick with the company instead of switching. This is also a good time to bring up the fact that you've been a stellar customer and have always paid your bill on time. If you know for a fact that new customers are getting a better deal than you're getting, bring that up, too. Then ask what they can do for you. Don't talking about switching internet providers unless you've tried every other strategy first.
If the rep can't do anything for you, keep in mind that customer service representatives are only human. Maybe they really can't give you a better deal, or maybe they just feel like they don't have that power. Perhaps they were giving out discounts like candy not that long ago and were reprimanded for being too liberal with deals. The point is that it doesn't matter why they said no since the rep you talk to tomorrow may very well say yes. It's always worth calling back and talking to someone else.
Let Someone Else Do the Negotiation for You
Calling customer service to request a discount is no big deal for a lot of people, but some folks get anxious just thinking about making that call. Nowadays there are services and apps that will negotiate your broadband bill on your behalf - usually in return for a cut of your savings. BillCutterz or BillFixers will negotiate with tough service providers on your behalf, and if they don't get results you don't have to pay. Trim is an automated personal assistant that can negotiate your bill via a chatbot. The best thing about Trim is that it will continue to ask for discounts, which means your bill may go down more than once.
Or You Could Just Change Your Package
Have you ever asked yourself how much internet you really need? Internet providers market their lightning fast plans as necessary for keeping up with the pace of modern life, but you may be able to get by with a less expensive lower bandwidth plan. Browsing, checking email, and shopping online don't require as much bandwidth as playing online games or logging into a remote computer. Even if there are multiple people in your household using multiple devices, you may not need a top tier broadband plan.
The average household can typically get away with plans that have 20 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload speeds, but there's no one size fits all solution. Anything from 25 to 50+ Mbps should be more than enough, but if you downgrade your plan and find you're experiencing laggy broadband, you can always switch back to a higher bandwidth package.
When All Else Fails, Change Providers
Let's say you've tried simply asking for a better deal on your broadband bill and the rep wouldn't budge. When your convincing arguments fell on deaf ears, you asked about changing your plan but the cheaper plans don't give you enough bandwidth. You got nowhere with services like BillCutterz. The only option left is taking your business elsewhere, and that means it's time to shop internet providers in your area.
Before you look at what those internet providers are offering, familiarize yourself with the terminology ISPs use in their marketing and the different types of broadband. Make sure you look at lots of different providers so you can get a sense of what local ISPs are charging. Then read customer reviews and check out how different providers stack up on unbiased sites like BroadbandSearch. You'll have everything you need to know to make a smart choice that will save you money on your broadband bills.
But What If There's Only One Internet Provider Near You?
It can happen! You're all ready to make a change and you discover that there's only one ISP that services your area. While smaller internet providers are stepping up to fill in the gaps left behind by big broadband providers, it's not uncommon for a neighborhood to be serviced by a single provider. If that's your situation, you have two options. One, look into satellite internet. It has a reputation for being less reliable than wired broadband, but modern satellite service is actually very good. Or two, get on the phone with another rep and plead your case again. Emphasize how good of a customer you've been, let them know that you're looking into alternatives, and ask if there are any new customer deals you can tap into. Be insistent, but polite.
In the end, you may need to be patient. Your next phone call might be the one where you connect with a rep who's willing to listen to your reasoning and give you a deal. New internet providers are entering the market and may expand into your area. And ISPs that once bundled everything under the sun are offering more broadband only packages at lower prices to entice customers who couldn't afford or didn't want bundles. Simply asking for a deal will usually work out in the end but if it doesn't, there are plenty of other ways to lower your bill.
Ready to switch internet providers? Start comparing ISPs in your area.