Although millions of Americans continue to use and enjoy cable TV day in and day out, more people than ever before are starting to cut the cord, thanks in large part to the ever-increasing variety of content available on various streaming platforms.
If you’re part of this growing group of technology-savvy consumers, you’ve likely come to this page looking for actionable advice on how to get rid of that pesky cable bill once and for all. Unfortunately, depending on what provider you are currently using, cancelling might not be as simple it seems.
Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons cancelling cable TV service can be a real hassle. Afterwards, we’ll explore a few of your options for getting it done anyways.
Why cancelling can be so difficult for many cable users
Depending on who you currently get your cable TV from, you may or may not be engaged in a service contract. Sometimes, it isn’t even made clear that you’ll be entering into a one or two-year commitment when you sign up. Nonetheless, if you discover that you’re bound by one of these contracts, here’s the bad news; you’ll likely have to pay some sort of early termination fee.
These fees can sometimes be negotiated–and even eliminated in certain cases–but it truly depends upon the company, and occasionally, the specific customer service agent you go through. In some cases, you can even get a competing provider to help pay for it if you sign up for service with them instead. Either way, this brings us to the other hassle when it comes to cutting the cable out of your TV diet; retention agents.
Retention agents have one purpose, and it’s right there in the name; these employees are on staff to retain your business and keep you subscribed to your cable TV service. Occasionally, these agents will go to extreme lengths in order to get you to stay, though again, the entire experience can vary wildly from company to company.
The good news here is, this is the perfect time to decide whether or not you truly are 100 percent committed to leaving the company or not. Why? Simply put, these agents will often go to whatever length necessary in order to keep you as a customer. In fact, former retention agents for several popular cable TV providers have spoken out on various tech blogs in the past about the incredibly high stakes their roles often come along with. Losing your business, in some cases, can mean money directly taken out of their paychecks at the end of the month.
If you aren’t totally convinced that you’re over cable, you can use this information to your advantage, requesting that the agent make you his or her best offer, should you choose to stay. If, however, you’ve made up your mind about leaving the service behind, it’s extremely important to be firm and stay committed to it, no matter what sort of offer they throw your way.
So, if you’re ready to give this a shot, here’s what to do next.
Your options for cancellation: use a bot, or get on the phone
Just a few short years ago, you were the only one who could cancel your own cable TV bill; if you wanted it done, you had to just roll up your sleeves and do it. However, in our modern, Internet-fueled world, there are now multiple different services that will offer to handle this entire process for you, from beginning to end. If you’re interested in using one of these services, here’s what you need to know:
3 steps for using a bot or service to cancel your cable bill:
Choose the service you’d like to use. Our top recommendations for third-party services are BillFixers and BillSharks. Both of these companies will negotiate on your behalf, in exchange for a percentage of what they save you. Since they’re experts at phone negotiations and call center practices, the amount they save is often much more than what you could manage yourself, so it ultimately saves you more cash. Among bots, the most popular option out there currently seems to be Trim, and it can do more than just cancel the bill; it can also save you money if you’re just trying to go that route. Other options are also available, such as GetHuman, a service that uses — you guessed it – actual humans.
Create an account and hand over any necessary information. All of these services will need access to your account information in order to cancel them. Once you’ve connected your accounts and have given the service everything they need to get moving, it’s time for step three.
Sit back, and let the service go to work. One of the absolute best parts of using a third-party service like Trim is that other than entering in some account information on the website (and possibly returning some equipment, if you’re renting), it’s completely hands-off. This allows you to focus on other, more important aspect of your day, like deciding where you’ll get your TV entertainment from now that you’re a free agent.
If you prefer to go about things the old-fashioned way and handle the cancellation yourself, there’s nothing wrong with that approach. Here’s what you’ll need to know.
3 steps for cancelling your cable bill yourself:
Call customer support and let them know that you’d like to cancel your service. You’ll likely be transferred immediately over to customer retention if you didn’t already arrive there by using the company’s automated menu system.
Be committed to cancel, or be ready to haggle. As we mentioned above, these retention specialists will often do whatever it takes to try and get you to stay–including and up to pestering, bribing you with discounts, or talking down other services in your area. This can be an awkward and unpleasant process for most of us (let’s be honest, all of us), so stick to your guns, and politely let them know that you’ve made up your mind about leaving. If you haven’t committed, then by all means, this is the time to haggle like there’s no tomorrow.
Confirm your cancellation, pay any fees and return your equipment.Don’t hang up without some sort of confirmation that your service has actually been canceled, and that there will be no more fees involved on your end. The Internet is filled to the brim with horror stories of unsuspecting customers who got hit with additional charges and fees due to an unreturned set-top box or wireless router, so always be sure you’ve checked your bases before putting the issue behind you.
Cancelling is a drag, but you’ll feel great afterwards
Cancelling your cable TV service is almost never an enjoyable task, but by following these steps, we’ve hopefully made it about as pain-free as it can possibly be.
References and Footnotes
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Tyler Cooper is a former networking consultant and current technical writer in the IT industry. He enjoys sharing his expertise through articles about topics like PC gaming, cord cutting, and technology trends.
James Webb is a tech and gadgets expert with a focus on educational content development. He draws on his background in the startup world to make complicated technologies and topics easy to understand for normal folks.
Questions & Answers
6 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
After signing up for a new service, how many days do I have to cancel service? What if I upgrade with the same provider? Do I still have a window for cancellation?
Most internet providers have a 30-day cancellation policy after setting up new service. If you have upgraded your internet service, you should be able to downgrade anytime, but as far as cancellation goes, we’d advise you to check with your internet provider directly, and to do so before the 30 days are over.
If I cancel my service within 30 days, is my cable provider legally obligated to reimburse me in full?
Most Internet providers offer 30-day satisfaction guarantees. These are not required by state or federal law, they are just a common tactic used to entice customers to sign up.
Why is the "new customer rate" only available for new customers? Is this legal?
Yes, it is legal for providers to offer discount rates as an incentive for new customers to try their service, even if they are the only wired option at your address. This can be frustrating for long-term customers, but some customers have success negotiating lower rates over the phone.
Is it legal to negotiate a cable bill on behalf of someone else? Or does it have to be someone whose name is on the bill?
In general, cable and Internet providers will allow a third party to negotiate or speak with them on your behalf if they are authorized to do so.
For example, third-party negotiation services such as BillFixers will often make a three-way call where they get a company representative to verify your identity and record your verbal agreement that they may adjust services on your behalf.
That said, Internet providers are usually fine with addressing technical or support questions to a family member or roommate who isn’t on the bill, but when it comes to dealing with service level, pricing, or personal/payment information they will only deal directly with the customer whose name is on the contract for legal reasons.
I want to cancel my cable service without any hassles. How do I do that?
Hi, great question. The simplest tool I’ve tried that will cancel services for you is Trim. If you want someone to negotiate the monthly price down on your behalf, we’ve seen the best success with human-powered services like BillShark and billFixers. Keep in mind that all of these services will charge a percentage of what they save you for their effort.
I called to cancel my service (no contract) and was told I had to wait until the end of the billing cycle. Eventually they agreed to turn it off, but they said they will still bill me for the full month. How can they charge me for a service I don’t have?
Most providers charge up-front for each month, whether you’re on a month-to-month plan or year contract. If this is not clarified in the fine print of your agreement, however, you may be able to submit a complaint to your local cable franchise. More information on that process is available in our guide to filing effective complaints.