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How I saved $150 a year on my cable bill without even trying

This service can help you score lower rates on cable, phone and more. It works, but there's a catch.

Tired of paying a small fortune every month for cable TV and Internet? Of course you are. Everybody is. The rates are ridiculous.

Enter BillFixers, a service that promises to negotiate those rates on your behalf. I took it for a test-drive last week and was pretty surprised by the outcome.

How it works

I pay around $135 per month for a basic cable-TV plan and high-speed Internet. It's my single most hated monthly bill, in part because it's always creeping up a few dollars (for no explicable reason), and in part because I don't watch 93 percent of the channels I'm paying for.

So I wanted to see if BillFixers could lower my bill.

billfixers-bills.jpg

BillFixers claims to lower 95 percent of the bills it receives. Just be prepared to share 50 percent of the savings.

BillFixers

Here's how it works with BillFixers: You give them your name, email address, phone number and at least one monthly bill from the company in question. Then, BillFixers will use their ways to lower your bill as much as possible. If they're successful, they'll take a 50% cut of the savings.

Interestingly -- and a little annoyingly -- uploading a bill on the website doesn't result in the creation of a BillFixers account. You're just kind of sending your info into the void, meaning there's no way to follow up or track your progress.

I did receive a confirmation email about a day later, one that apologized for the delay and explained a "surge in signups." And then... nothing.

The (bill)fix is in

One week later, right around the time I was going to send a follow-up "Ahem!" message, I received this email:

"We negotiated that Comcast bill down $25.41/mo for the next 12 months--you won't be losing any services and there's no new contract!"

Shut the front door! So in exchange for about two minutes of my time, BillFixers saved me $304.92 over the next year. To say that exceeded my expectations is a huge understatement.

The catch(es)

Now for the wrinkles. Other than the e-mail I received from BillFixers, I have no confirmation that my cable rate has been lowered. I checked my account that same day and found nothing to indicate any change.

A few days after that, however, it showed both a zero balance and a credit -- one that's slightly higher than the amount I'd normally be paying next month. (I'm guessing my negotiated discount was pro-rated to include the current month?)

Ultimately, I'll have to wait until next month's actual bill to see where things stand. In the meantime, time to pay the piper: There's no cost up front, but BillFixers charges 50 percent of whatever it manages to save you -- in my case $12.70 per month.

As I mentioned previously, there's no account system in place, no credit card or other form of payment on file. Instead, BillFixers uses invoicing software Freshbooks to bill me either monthly or all at once. (I'm going monthly.)

Company co-founder Julian Kurland told me they're working to get both dashboard and payment systems in place, but for now this is how they roll.

Why not just pick up the phone yourself?

Fifty percent?! Hey, why not just call the company yourself and keep all the savings? For starters, the BillFixers folks know what they're doing. The last time I called Comcast to ask for a better rate, I was offered a lower tier of service -- but no discount.

Plus, there's time navigating menus, time on hold, time dealing with consumer-weary (or outright hostile) reps, time getting transferred to a retention department if I threaten to cancel, and so on.

No. Thank. You.

To me, it's totally worth it to let someone else do this heavy lifting. As I said before, I invested about two minutes of my time, and in return I'll be $12.70 richer every month. I feel 100 percent satisfied with my 50 percent savings.

I do think BillFixers needs that dashboard so users can track their accounts, payments, etc. The way it's set up right now, it feels a little iffy -- even though I have no qualms about recommending it.

Your thoughts?