A Quiet Conversation to Help Save a Few Bucks a Month

I've had some success as of late, and wanted to share with you what happened. On three separate occasions, I was helping clients or close friends with their computer tech issues. Happened to glance at their monthly Cable/Phone/Internet (CPI) bill. They all were paying a lot. One was about $230 a month, another was $190 a month. I asked how they would feel if I could save them a few bucks a month with their CPI stuff. Of course they wanted me to, so I offered to call their CPI customer service on their behalf, which they appreciated.

When we made it through the automated phone garbage and finally reached a live person, I wrote the first name of the customer service person on a piece of paper for later. I shared the last four of their SSN and their home address to clear the security questions. I said that I was their nephew, was a little more tech savvy than them, and Aunt/Uncle [name of my friend/client] was sitting next to me. We wanted to discuss their CPI bill. Here's how the conversation went...

Cust Serv: "Hello Chris, how may I help you two today?"

CP: "Well, my aunt/uncle has been happy with their service for the past [fill in the blank] years."

Cust Serv: "Oh, that's wonderful! We're very happy to hear this."

CP: "Us too! So the holiday season is coming up, and with gifts to buy and some other bills that have crept up, we were wondering if you have any promotions available that might help Aunt/Uncle [name] save a few bucks a month?"

Cust Serv: "Oh, I understand the holiday bills coming up! Let me put you on hold for a couple minutes and see what we have available."

CP: "That would be great [first name of customer service person]! We appreciate your help."

Cust Serv: "My pleasure! Just one moment."

This is where I smile smugly to my friend/client. We chat for a few minutes about something non-technical while on hold, and I sip some water. After about six minutes of waiting, customer service returns...

Cust Serv: "Thank you for holding, Chris."

CP: "No problem at all! We're not in a rush."

Cust Serv: "I did some checking, and I found a promotion that might help save some money."

Now the CPI company might be offering a lower cable TV package in which my friend/client could downgrade from the premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz, etc.) and go with the starter channel package, which is most of the cable channels we're used to; channels 2 through 100. My friends/clients didn't mind this. In fact, one of my friends in their 70s replied, "I don't watch those channels. They only show smutty movies."

CPI company may also be offering a decrease in home internet speed, from 150 mbps down to 75 mbps down. What this means: Unless you are a professional video editor, or operating a big website server out of your home, 150 megabits per second download throughput may be overkill for your needs. In my home, we have three mobile phones, two iPads, one laptop, one desktop, and one AppleTV. And lots of friends who come over with their devices. Our internet speed is 75 mbps, and we've never experienced slowdowns.

After hearing the technical details of the promotion, I usually repeat the promotion out loud to my friend/client. The savings per month normally ranges from $40-$50. In each case, my friend/client was happily nodding their head and giving me the thumbs up sign.

CP: "That seems like a great promotion [first name of CPI customer support person]. We'd like to take advantage of this."

Cust Serv: "Wonderful! Let me put you on hold for just a couple more minutes while I set up everything on my computer here."

CP: "That will be fine. Thank you for your help."

During this second time on hold, I grin widely at them, and they either hug me or slap me on the shoulder. And I take another sip of water. This wait period lasts about three minutes. CPI customer support returns to the call and reviews the terms with me, in which I listen carefully, making sure there are no gotchas or mistakes. Then I give the Captain Picard "Make it so," thank them for their time, and end the call.

With a 12-minute phone call, I've been able to save a few friends/clients approximately $500 a year on their CPI bill. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on your account situation with your CPI company. To review:

  • I'm nice to the customer support person on the phone.
  • I say their first name to make things more personal for them.
  • I tell them that I've been happy with the service.
  • I talk about the holiday season and bills coming up, and ask about any promotions that could help save some money.
  • I tell them that I'm not in a rush.
  • I wait patiently on the phone.
  • I do not threaten to cancel my service don't have a better deal available.
  • Did I mention I'm nice to the customer support person on the phone?

If you have an older family member, they may have a CPI package that includes features they may not need and may be paying more than they should. Perhaps you can help make their upcoming holiday season a happier one?