A Step-by-Step Negotiation Guide to Lowering Your Cable Bill

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Anchor, nibble, crunch. They sorta sound like they could be yoga positions. But they’re actually part of a strategy to talk your way to lower cable bills—or to getting your way in any other business arrangement involving back-and-forth negotiations.

John Ogilvie, a University of Hartford management professor, is the main source called upon to offer negotiation tactics in a Hartford Courant story about ways consumers can reduce their cable bills and/or the price of bundled packages with TV, Internet, and/or phone.

So what’s up with “anchor, nibble, crunch”?

It’s a three-pronged approach that, if you’ve negotiated successfully in the past, you’ve probably employed without knowing it. The first tactic is:

Set an anchor: Know the price point you’re aiming for. This way, all discussions can center on that point. Be sure that you’re anchor is reasonable, though. Asking to pay $25 for cable service that normally costs $100 is just a waste of time.

The reason for establishing an anchor is obvious: Without a goal or some hoped-for price point, there’s no way to tell if you’ve negotiated successfully. What reasonable outcome do you want? That’s the anchor. To ensure the anchor is reasonable, it’s essential to do some homework and find out exactly what you get and what pay, and what the competition is offering for similar services.

Here’s tactic #2:

Throw in a nibble: If you’re close to reaching an agreement with your cable provider, ask them to throw in one last thing. Maybe that’s an extra DVR or an additional premium channel. Most of the time, if the person you’re negotiating with thinks that a deal is at hand, he or she will not likely walk away over one small thing.

On the other hand, be prepared for a customer service rep to call your bluff and turn you down. How can you cope if that happens? Don’t bluff. To make this work, you really must be prepared to walk away—meaning switching cable companies or canceling pay TV altogether.

Finally, it’s “crunch” time:

Toss out “The Crunch”: This is a demand. Something along the lines of “You’ve got to do better!” This isn’t the best tactic right out of the gate, but if you’ve got a stubborn person on the line, this may work best in the end. Still getting nowhere? Ask to speak to someone else, specifically a supervisor.

Again, throwing out ultimatums rarely works unless you’re willing to follow through on them. You have to be more willing to walk away from a deal than the folks you’re negotiating with.

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