25 Tips that can save you money when comparing cable TV providers.

Signing a cable TV contract is not as simple as it once was. Years ago, you had very limited cable providers and only a few channel options. Customers could add services such as movie packages, sports channels or kid-friendly television for additional fees. It was easy, but the selections were limited.

Today there are multiple cable companies available in most communities. Companies like Time Warner cableCharter Communication and DirectTV all vie for a spot in the American home. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. It is important to choose wisely when deciding between cable or satellite, internet services and all of the packages that are contained within each offer. 

There is no reason to rush a decision when you compare cable TV providers. Contrarily, choosing to compare cable TV providers should take serious time and care. As a customer, it is your right to ask as many questions as you wish. You should expect to receive clear answers that help you to make the most informed decision possible. 

1. Is service available in your area?

It should go without saying that you need to ensure that service is available in your zip code. Unfortunately, some communities, especially those in rural areas, do not have service by all providers. While a cable provider may market to you, there is no guarantee you will receive service. Make this your first question when you choose to compare cable TV providers. If the answer is no, you will save yourself a lot of time. 

2. Do you offer cable and internet service? 

Many cable companies offer both TV and internet service. It can be greatly beneficial to consolidate these services. Having only one bill is easier for you. The cable company may also offer a bundling package that will save you money if your internet connection is purchased with your traditional cable plan. 

3. Are they running any current promotions or specials?

Promotions are the bread and butter of the cable industry. If a customer is lucky enough to compare cable TV providers while multiple promotions are being run, there may be significant savings to be found. Make sure to question all promotions, including the length that the promotion lasts and any contract lengths that are required as part of said promotion. This is the most basic, yet most important step in comparing cable providers.

4. What makes them better than the competition?

It is a subjective question, but it is a good one to ask. As you compare cable TV providers, you will want to know what their salespeople think about the company’s unique services. Look for answers that focus on customer service, variety of TV plans and low cost. 

5. Do they have friendly customer service?

Customer service is vital with cable providers. You will undoubtedly face a situation in which you have to call your cable TV service provider. Working with customer service agents who are rude or unhelpful can be much worse than paying a slightly higher price. 

friendly customer service

6. Do they offer discounts for new customers?

Many television service providers offer incentives to new customers. When you compare cable TV providers, ask if they have a phone, internet or TV offer. Some will not advertise their specials. This is one of the reasons it is important to ask. 

7. Do they offer fixed price guarantees?

Satellite dish and cable providers often have packages that start at a great deal and increase over time. Likewise, if there is not a fixed price guarantee, prices can creep up to large amounts before the end of your contract. Compare cable TV providers the smart way by asking if prices remain static or if they may fluctuate. 

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8. Do they offer voice remotes for free? 

Remotes and other devices often require either a purchase or rental agreement. The cable providers you are comparing may offer voice remotes for free as a part of the TV package. As you compare cable TV providers, be sure to find out what, if any, hardware is included. 

free voice remote

9. Can you order service online or via phone? 

Few cable TV providers require you to visit them in person to pay for paperwork and exchange devices. Most allow you to place orders over the phone. They will set up an appointment for the cable box(es) or satellite to be installed. It is even more convenient if you can place orders and make these arrangements online. As you compare cable TV providers, ask if any changes to the account can be made through a website. This might include one time purchases of movies, the addition of internet or phone service or adding packages. 

 

10. What are their different channel packages? 

You may have a specific station that is a must. That station might not be covered by all cable providers. Before you call, make a list of those must-have stations so you can insure they are offered. Don’t forget to ask each company about that list when you compare cable TV providers. Ask for a website or other documentation that includes all of the channel packages. Ask about HD channels as well. 

11. Do they offer free trials on premium channels? 

Premium channels are those stations that provide newer movies and specialized content at an additional cost. You may subscribe to a premium channel only to find you do not care for the content. A free trial can keep you from wasting money on a channel that you don’t watch.  Depending on how much TV you watch, this can be a make-or-break  deal as you’re comparing cable TV providers.

12. Do they offer DVR?

Busy lives mean that live TV is rarely an option. A DVR lets you record your favorite programs to watch at your leisure. Ask if a DVR is an option, if it is included with the cost of the contract and what variations are available. 

13. Do they offer high definition programming?

Nearly all televisions are optimized for HD. Programming that is in HD is also the norm. However, there are still some cable TV providers who do not offer HD channels. Make sure to ask if HD is available as well as which and how many HD channels are included as part of the package. In addition, find out if you are charged extra for HD. 

14. Can they provide price estimates before you sign a contract?

An affordable cable TV provider should be able to give you an exact price prior to signing a contract. If a precise dollar amount is not available, due to fluctuating prices in a non-static contract, they should at minimum be able to provide you with an estimate. 

15. Do they provide service to houses and apartments?

Not all buildings are optimized for cable and satellite. Some apartments restrict the use of satellite dishes on roofs and balconies. Before signing up for new cable TV service, be sure to check with your apartment manager to see what the rules are. Satellite dishes work well for homeowners because of the ability to mount the dish in nearly any location. 

 

16. Do they offer sports packages?

It may seem logical that your cable TV provider will offer sports packages. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Specifically, many do not offer packages for certain markets. You may find that you have access to a Major League Baseball package that blacks out your beloved home team. When you compare cable TV providers, be sure to ask about both teams and regions. 

sports packages

17. Do they offer movie packages?

All cable providers should have some type of movie package. Find out exactly which packages are available as well as their various charges. Most movie packages contain a conglomerate of networks. Don’t let the large number fool you. One package may have 10 channels you never see, while another might have five channels you find yourself regularly watching. 

18. Do they offer free installation?

The installation fee is one of those tricky things that you may not notice until it is too late. Your first bill is likely to arrive much higher than you expected thanks to additional fees like this one. Ask about free installation. Even if it isn’t advertise, you may find you can get a free installation offer.

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19. Do they offer Spanish programming?

If Spanish language channels are important to you, don’t neglect asking if Spanish language programming is an option. Many will include Spanish language channels as part of their standard package. However, this is not something that should be taken for granted. 

20. Is there a deposit needed to start service?

One of the more important questions to ask when you compare cable TV providers is about the deposit. Deposits can be small, very expensive or non-existent. When you find out about the deposit, get the answer in writing. Typically if you have a good credit history, your deposit will be $0. If you have blemishes on your credit report, or your score is less than 600, you may be asked for a deposit to begin your service.

21. What's the length of the contract?

More and more cable TV providers offer multiple contract terms. Some may require as long as three years. Others might have yearly contracts or even a month-to-month service option. Ask about the length of the contract as well as the change in fee that may occur once the contract expires. 

22. Do you offer auto-bill pay options?

As you compare cable TV providers, asking about how to pay is almost as important as asking how much. Auto pay is a very popular choice due to the ease of payment. Ask if there are any additional fees for auto-bill pay. An additional charge might cause you to continue looking for providers that offer this service for free. 

23. How often do you have service outages?

Cable TV service outages are annoying. Phone and internet outages can cause serious damage, especially to those people who work from home. When you compare cable TV providers, ask about their frequency of outages. Follow up their answer by doing your own investigation. There are many online entities that track outages. Along with asking about frequency of outages, find out how quick their turnaround time is for repairs. There are companies with a track record of resolving outages within hours. There are other companies with a history of not fixing problems for several days. Know which one you are signing up with before you make that first payment. 

24. Do they offer international TV packages?

You may want to find out a little more about the world around you. Viewing international television channels is a great way to learn a foreign language, experience a new kind of programming or simply tap into a different culture. If this is important to you, don’t be afraid to ask. 

24. Do they offer international TV packages?

Customization allows you to pick and choose which channels you wish to own. By customizing, you don’t have to pay for those stations you know you won’t watch. This not only saves you money, but it can also prevent you from having channels that you prefer remained un-watched by others in your family. For instance, families with young children may wish to limit adult stations. 

As you compare cable TV providers, make sure you have all of the information you need to make an informed decision. You may be signing a contract that lasts for years. Asking the right questions ensures that you will feel confident in your final decision. Get your Best Cable TV Package Today!

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