How to get the best deal when you renew your cable or FiOS subscription

It isn't a walk in the park, but it might be worth the hassle

Cable companies and DSL and FiOS providers want to keep you as a customer, and so, when your contract is up, they'll offer lucrative incentives. What you might not know, however, is that there are tiers of incentives, and unless you look for them specifically, you might be getting less of an offer than you could be.

My two-year triple play agreement with Verizon is up this month, and so I've received in the mail a few letters reminding me of this big occasion and offering an "early bird" discount of $15 a month to renew the contract. Sounded good, but I decided to check the website as well before making the call.

Online, the "renewal bonus" link told me that at checkout I could choose from a variety of incentives, like free HBO for a year ($14.99/month value), a gift card (I think it was $250), or monthly discounts of $10, $15, or $20. Why would anyone choose the $10 discount over the $20 one?

Something went wrong with the online ordering system, though, so I had to call a representative. She told me I could save about $35 a month compared to my current plan if I renewed, and so I did.

Here's the tip you've been waiting for: Ask for a preview of the order to be sent to you via email so you can check the numbers yourself. Saying you're saving $35 a month doesn't add up all the time if you look at the details.

In my case, the phone rep applied the $10 renewal incentive, not the $20 or even the $15 one I got in the mail. (The price gets muddled when you add in equipment fees, taxes, and so on, so you want to look specifically for the amount of the incentive.) I guess I should've asked the rep if that was the best she could do, but, silly me, I thought that was what they're offering all customers.

After calling back and dealing with nearly an hour of gruesome sales pitches ("you sure you don't want line maintenance insurance, which we highly recommend, for just $90?"), the next customer rep was able to apply the $20/month discount for me.

Maybe there's a $25 or $30 per month incentive I'm missing out on too. I'll never know, but I'm now saving $480 for the two years--$240 more than the original rep pitched me.

Tl;dr: Find the best available incentive yourself and check to make sure it's applied when you order. 

Read more of Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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