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Do you love the options cable television offers you, but hate paying a small fortune for it?
The Star asked Stephen Weyman, founder of HowToSaveMoney.ca, a site dedicated to helping Canadians maximize their dollars, for his thoughts on the cable dilemma.
Here are his top tips on reducing – or even eliminating – your cable bill.
• Know your options: There are plenty of TV and cable providers out there, and doing your research on the best one for you can really pay off. Don’t limit yourself to just cable companies either, Weyman notes, as there are plenty of satellite providers and internet companies that also offer television service – and don’t be afraid to swap providers if you feel you’re currently paying too much.
“Do a package comparison with numerous companies and look for long-term new customer promotions that give you heavily discounted prices for up to three years,” Weyman suggest. “Switching providers once every three years isn’t that hard.”
• Play your cards right: If you don’t want the hassle of switching companies, Weyman recommends playing the loyalty card.
“Keep your eyes and ears open for new customer promotions from competitors, and call up customer service [in your current provider] to tell them about it,” he says. “Be pleasant, and emphasize how you’ve been a loyal customer and try to get them to match or beat the competitor’s offer.”
Saving up to 30 per cent or even more off your bill isn’t unheard of – it just might take a few tries, and you may have to call back annually to renew the discount.
• Cut down: Do you have a lot of extras you subscribe too? Are you really using them all? Periodically review your package and see if you’re still making use of the extra $ 15 to $ 25 a month you’re paying to watch just one show or channel.
“Deciding if you can live without that one channel, or if you can subscribe to that channel online or by itself for less money,” says Weyman. “You could even just purchase that one show on demand and get rid of the [pricier] monthly cost.”
• Bundle up: Cable prices can be quite marked up, and Weyman says companies are often willing to toss in internet and a home phone service for just a little bit more. Be extra savvy and use this as a negotiating tactic when dealing with customer service reps – and remember, providers ultimately want your business.
• Cut the cord: Believe it or not, there are (legal) options to stream television shows for free on the internet – provided you have high-speed internet. More than 30 different Canadian networks such as CityTV, CBC, and HGTV, stream full episodes of their shows online – something you may not know unless you go looking for it. Weyman has compiled a full list on his website, or you can do some searching on your own. Just make sure your internet is high-speed to get the best possible quality streaming before you cancel your current cable subscription.
Invest in an HDMI cable that will connect your computer to your television and watch your (free) TV on the big screen.
• Pick ’n’ pay: If internet TV doesn’t provide enough free content for you, Weyman suggests purchasing the extra television shows and movies on demand through iTunes, Google Play, or the Cineplex Store to watch on your device – or subscribe to Netflix for $ 10 a month.
“If you’re a sports nut, most of the major leagues also have annual internet subscriptions now where you get access to way more games and content for much less than the cost of cable,” he adds, noting this may also eliminate mindlessly channel surfing as you are choosing what you want to watch.