Americans don’t believe they’re getting good value from their in-home telecom services, Internet and TV services in particular, despite the fact they spend an average $1,848 a year on them, according to a new market report from Consumer Reports National Research Center.
Even bundled service subscribers don’t see their service packages as any great value. Though they rated highly for service satisfaction, Verizon FiOS and regional cable telecom services provider WOW, both received “middling or lower” grades for value.
“Our latest report on telecom services revealed that very few consumers think they’re getting a great deal, in part because of soaring prices and confusing bills,” Consumer Reports’ electronics editor Glenn Derene was quoted in a press release. “But the last thing consumers should do is be passive. Even though some companies are cracking down on serial negotiators, there’s really no downside to haggling.”
When it comes to overall customer satisfaction among bundled service subscribers (Internet, TV and phone), Verizon FiOS took top honors. Verizon FiOS received the highest ratings for reliability across all three services, though it did receive more billing complaints than average, Consumer Reports noted.
WOW scored highest overall among bundled telecom providers and received high marks for all services as well. SuddenLink and Bright House Networks also received higher-than-average satisfaction scores for bundled services.
Consumers are getting better at negotiating deals with telecom service providers, Consumer Reports found. Ninety-two percent of survey respondents who reported trying to negotiate a better deal with their providers said they got one. Forty-six percent of those said they received a discounted price as much as $50 lower per month, 44 percent received a new or extended promotional rate, 33 percent received additional channels, and 16% got equipment free or at a discounted rate.
Consumer Reports offers some recommendations for consumers looking to haggle successfully with their telecom service providers, though it also points out that managements are trying to discourage the practice.
- Ask for a better deal. It might sound obvious, but the first step is to call customer service and say your bill is too high.
- Fight price hikes. Even if your promotion has expired, ask whether you qualify for a new one. Forty-three percent of Consumer Reports subscribers in that situation negotiated a new discount.
- Check out the competition. If your requests fall on deaf ears, see what other local providers are offering new customers, then ask your current provider to match it.
- Threaten to disconnect. Still no luck? Call to say you’re planning to cancel your service because it costs too much.
- Be ready to walk. At some point, you may have to switch if you can’t get what you want.