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My intent was not to get a better price from Dish Network. My intent had always been to cancel, not because I was necessarily disappointed with service, but because I was unemployed. Not broke yet, but unemployed, and it seemed $70 a month was a lot to spend. That’s when the journey downward began. It just ended this month when I cancelled (mostly) for good, but I will take you through the process so that you can learn from my experiences and maybe save some money.

When I lost my job, I started cutting some spending. I obviously stopped the madness of buying items for my classroom (not every laid off teacher does this), but I also looked at what we had as bills and what we needed as services. I won’t get into all of the decisions, but one item I did not want to part with was my Dish. I’d been a customer over 10 years, and I enjoyed watching mostly movies in HD without having to wait for the internet to buffer because I buy the cheap internet (but that’s another article and political discussion).

Attempt #1 - Some savings

My first attempt to cancel Dish went something like this: they offered to cut my $70 down to about $50 for three months. Same channels, etc. OK, I was getting Unemployment Insurance and still getting my salary for time I’d worked as a teacher, so I figured maybe I’d have a job in three months, and then I’d have saved $60 just for calling. Of course, they love the fact that I was looking at how much I was about to save rather than how much I was still going to spend (or how much I’d spent over 10 years… OVER $7000!). Anyhow, I was happy enough not to quit at the time.

Would they have gone any lower right away? I didn't ask. You might want to, or you could take their offer now, and then keep it going later, as I did.

Attempt #2 - Same Savings and Less Service

Three or four months later, however, I was really no closer to finding a job, though I was still getting enough UI to at least make all of my bill payments. However, when the price went back up to $70, I remembered that I needed to cancel, so I called again. This time, they talked me down by offering to jump back down to $40 a month for a full year, even though I’d be giving up a few channels. I think I was still hopeful one of my more recent interviews was going to pan out, and it was Packers season, and I always appreciated clear picture quality for the games, so they got me again: saving $30 a month (but still owing about $500 for the year).

Again, could they have allowed me to keep my HD movie channels AND cut the rate? Obviously, yes, but I again am not sure if they are willing to do it right away, so maybe take another lower offer now so that you can try again later. Or cancel. Always be willing to walk away.

Attempt #3 - Slashed in Half

Then, well before the year was up, Unemployment Insurance ran out and I was starting my own business with no real safety net. It’s me and the world, and I want to BE the company that charges people $500 a year for the services I can offer, but can I really afford ANY from others as I try to get started, especially when I (not the wife or kids) watch the most TV out of anyone? Even if it’s background for while I work late into the night? This time, I told myself, it’s going to end, at least the next day after we use the free pay per view ticket. And so it did, but not without a fight. Dish’s last offer was its best, which seems almost counterintuitive, but I guess I had agreed to the other levels of charges, so they’re the ones who know sales.

So, what’s the lowest they will go, at least for a customer who has supported them for ten years? The offer I received was to get the same service I’d been getting, which is probably about a $55-$60 package, at $21 each month. I think someone must have decided the last-ditch save attempt is to cut the customer’s rate in half. And it darn near worked. That’s the introductory rate without having to deal with changing providers. Three TVs, 200 or so channels, DVR. Not too bad. But my goal this time was to cut off the serpent’s head, so to speak, and not to listen to its tantalizing offers, though it did have one more: become a dormant customer, and nine months later, I could still get the price we just negotiated. That’s cool, I thought. If my business is big by then, I’ll save all kinds of money and not have to enter into some long-term new contract. Sweet deal, and then the guy gets back on to finalize their offer, and mentions the fee would be $5 per month to remain a customer and keep the deal later. $5 for nothing? I asked him. He tried to explain why it was worthwhile, but he also realized quickly I was not hearing any of it, especially since he’d just offered a full TV package for a mere $15 more a month. He pretended to need to discuss it with someone to wave the $5 monthly charge, and then he did just that.

He knew I was ready to walk away completely and that I'd made up my mind, so he did the best he could to keep me on the roster.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I do not know at what point they’re willing to offer which price. The main idea here is to be willing to quit the service and ask. I don’t think you need to be unemployed, but I’d go with a story of relative hardship rather than anger over Fox News being turned off during contract negotiations. Of course, you can always float back and forth between service providers, always getting the best deals before you get roped into an extra year at the regular rate, but you don’t really need another dozen holes drilled into your home, and cable and satellite companies are looking to do just about anything to keep you away from Netflix, so go in with guns ablaze. And always remind yourself that it doesn’t matter how much you’re saving but how much you’re spending, so don’t make the mistake (and I’ve done this) of UPGRADING when you’re looking to downgrade. Sure, they’ll give you every channel in the repertoire for three months at the same rate as now, but when you forget to call, suddenly you’re paying twice as much as before. SAVE some money on television this year. Now I get to watch Perry Mason and The Rockford Files reruns just like I used to back in the 80s when I visited Grandma and Grandpa Ost. It'll be like a mini-vacation from mind-numbing reality shows.

Written by Brian Jaeger, owner of Satisfamily, McNewsy, PassivNinja, Educabana, RealWisconsinNews, ManCrushFanClub, WildWestAllis, SitcomLifeLessons, and VoucherSchool.