How to save on phone, cable and internet

April 8, 2013 2:29:01 PM PDT
When Leta Pegram saw a jump in her monthly telecom bill, she took action.

"Once I did see that my cable bill was too high, I picked up the phone," she said.

She asked her cable company about dropping some TV channels as a way to save.

"And they said, 'Oh, no, no, no, we have a special going on where you can get the premium channels, the HBO.' And I said, 'Listen, I'm trying to save. I'm not trying to go up. I'm trying to go down," Pegram said.

In the end, Leta managed to add HBO and other premium channels and still save 20 dollars a month.

Consumer Reports' annual survey of subscribers shows you may be able to save even more.

"44 percent of those who bargained got up to 50 dollars a month off their bill, and seven percent got an even bigger discount," Rosalind Tordesillas of Consumer Reports said.

If you use your cell phone more than your home phone, some companies are letting you make a triple play with your cell phone instead of a landline.

And if you want to keep both, several major providers are offering "quad plays" that let you add your cell-phone service, too.

"Don't stick with the plan you've always had. Explore new options. Your situation changes, and you might be paying for services you don't even use all that much," Tordesillas said.

Pegram tries to negotiate every time she gets an increase.

"If I see that it's getting to a point where I can't handle the cost, I'm gonna make a phone call," she said.

Here's a negotiating tip from Consumer Reports: If you fail to get what you want from the regular customer-service representative, ask to speak with the customer-retention department instead. They may be more willing to negotiate as long as you're an existing subscriber.