It has been a long time since having high-speed broadband Internet service went from being a point of geeky pride to an essential utility.
And like all utility providers, Internet service providers will do everything they can to extract the most revenue from each of their customers.
Fortunately, there are six tactics savvy customers can employ to enjoy broadband service at the lowest possible price.
1. Don’t Accept Any Offer Unless It Is in Writing
Broadband services have become a highly competitive market in areas where there are multiple providers. My friends and I have been offered discounted plans only to find the savings evaporate when we received our first bill. Eventually, we learned that the sales departments will say anything to sign you up, while their billing departments will always claim ignorance.
The last time I switched my service to a different provider, I conducted the transaction via a web chat. When a promised rebate was denied I was able to email a transcript of the chat to a customer service agent showing the rebate I was promised. I quickly received a statement credit.
2. Ask for the Economy Service
For almost all users, paying extra for a higher speed of broadband Internet service is as beneficial as ordering high speed water or electricity. What most people don’t realize is that broadband is always on and is always much faster than dial-up service, so there’s rarely a need to upgrade. In fact, your provider may offer a slightly slower speed of broadband for a much lower price. Providers rarely advertise their lower priced services because they usually only exist due to complex regulatory agreements.
I switched my service from the basic plan to the economy tier and saved $10 a month. I never noticed a speed difference and I could still stream videos. You have nothing to lose by trying since you can easily switch back if you are not satisfied.
3. Do Not Pay for Installation
Cable and phone companies love to sell their installation services, yet they are rarely necessary. Even if you have never had phone or cable service, the company will do the outside wiring for free. The last thing you really want is the phone or cable technician working on your inside wiring, as they’re typically not trained for that, it can be a recipe for disaster.
If you need inside wiring work you are better off doing it yourself. Since your provider cannot start billing you until the service is working you can expect fairly good telephone technical support that can walk you through the set-up process.
4. Do Not Rent Your Modem
Years ago, I read an article about an elderly woman who had paid thousands of dollars over two decades to rent an old rotary telephone. If you think this sad situation could not happen to you, check your Internet bill and you may find an equipment rental fee. These fees are only increasing.
For example, in 2009 Comcast increased it’s modem rental fee 66% from $3 a month to $5 a month. In December of 2010, they increased it again by another 40% to $7 a month! Who knew that there was a worldwide shortage of modems? Certainly not all of the people on eBay who are selling their modems for $10-$20.
If you are renting a modem, turn it over and write down the model number. Enter that number into a product search on eBay or Amazon, or one of your favorite online shopping sites. You can even ask your provider for a list of compatible modems so that you can purchase a different model. You will almost certainly be able to purchase your own modem for the cost of a few months of rental fees. Then you can tell your Internet provider they can keep their modem and the hefty fees.
5. Perpetually Take Advantage Of Promotions
Internet providers will offer you some great prices but only for an introductory time period. Just because your time is up doesn’t mean your prices should go up as well. As long as you are not in a contract you should be able to contact your provider and inform them that you are considering canceling your service. You will be surprised how quickly you become eligible for another promotion.
If you are not eligible for a promotion you may just decide to switch to a different provider anyways. (This also works for your cable provider, if you’ve still yet to cancel cable and stop watching TV.)
6. Complain Regularly
Unless your service is perfect, it will probably go down from time to time. Don’t accept these outages without receiving something in return. Like most other companies, you can save money by complaining to your Internet service provider. Keep a log of your problems and ask for a statement credit every time you notice a service outage or even a slowdown.
You do not have to pay an outrageous price in order to receive quality Internet service. How do you save money to get online?
(photo credit: Shutterstock)