Demand a discount from your cable/DSL/phone provider

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Before I moved last year, I was paying $150 monthly for phone, cable TV and Internet. I grumbled every time I got the bill but was too lazy to do anything about it. Now I've moved into a new home and cut out the phone and downgraded to basic DSL for $25. However, if you're staying put and want a better deal on your telecom and TV rates, just call up your provider and threaten to take your business elsewhere. That's what a guy named Alan Weinkrantz did -- in his blog last month, he explains how he saved nearly 50 percent on his AT&T phone/TV bill just by calling the company up. He was expecting a 10% discount, but his bill went from $164 to $94, just by asking.

A related Wall Street Journal article said that carriers are officially continuing to boost prices -- Comcast and Time Warner Cable raised prices by 6 percent for TV services last month -- but behind the scenes, they're offering steep discounts to keep, win or get back customers. However, threats work better when you live in an area that offers plenty of choices and competition.

GigaOM blogger Stacey Higginbotham said she lives in an area where there's no comparable service to switch to. Time Warner Cable "basically laughed" at her and said to go ahead with AT&T's plain DSL service because its triple play U-verse offering wasn't available in her area. "My threats to drop my 7 Mbps downlink service for an AT&T DSL connection rang pretty hollow. Plus, I would then have to go to satellite for cable if I dropped Time Warner completely. Time Warner (was that a snicker I heard?) asked if I'd like to move to a lower tier instead."

I''m missing cable and while Comcast isn't offering any deals, DirecTV is offering $24.99 a month for the 200-channel service, fixed for the first year of a two-year contract. I'm thinking about it, and if I take it, I'll follow Weinkrantz's advice and call back when the rate expires to see if they can offer me an even better deal -- or else.

Read about another alternative-- Internet television

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