In this day and age, the Internet is an essential utility in most homes. Rates and speeds vary by location, but the average monthly Internet bill per household is between $60 and $66 in the United States.

Like all companies, Internet service providers want to make a profit. They may include hidden fees in your bill, not deliver the high speeds they promised, or simply overcharge you for their service. Fortunately, it’s possible to negotiate with your ISP to get a better deal. Here are some tips for convincing your provider to lower your bill.

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Do Your Research

Your first step in negotiating a better deal is to gather all the information you can on your history with your ISP. Before you call them, take notes on the following information:

  1. Your payment history with exact dates
  2. The amount you pay annually
  3. Promotions or bonuses attached to your account
  4. Billing or service issues you’ve experienced

If you can explain your situation with specific facts, dates, and numbers, it will be much more difficult for the call center representative to deny you a lower rate.

When you speak to your representative, make sure to mention anything that proves you’re a loyal customer. If you’ve always paid your bill on time, include that information in the conversation.

Then, you should explain any issues you’ve experienced with your service. This includes lower speeds than promised, interruptions in your service, or mistakes on your bill. Any problems at all with your ISP can help back up your argument for a lower rate.

Know When to Negotiate

The best time to negotiate is typically when you’re near the end of your contract. Your representative knows that you can change providers if you’re unhappy with your service, so they’ll be more likely to accommodate you.

When you’re in the middle of your contract, you don’t have as much negotiating power. Your representative knows that you’ll have to pay a fee if you want to break the contract. This doesn’t mean that you have to wait until the end of your contract to negotiate, though. Even with the fee, you may save money by breaking your contract and switching to another provider.

If you don’t have a contract, the best time to contact your ISP is at the beginning of the month. Let them know that this will be your last month and that you plan to return your modem or other equipment. Then, they’ll have the rest of the month to contact you and offer you a better rate.

Get to Know the Competition

You should find out which ISPs are available in your area and what their average rates are. With this information, you can choose to switch providers or you can quote other providers’ rates to your ISP representative to convince them to lower your bill.

Visit each ISP’s website to find details on each of their packages. Pay close attention to their upload and download speeds and see how they compare to your current speeds. Keep in mind that ISPs usually advertise plans with “up to” certain speeds, so you won’t always get the speed listed. For a more accurate understanding of the fastest ISPs in your area, you can use a tool like Speedtest.net, which lets you compare the average speeds of different providers.

The ISP’s contract and terms of service are important considerations, too. Some ISPs require you to rent a modem from them, which is an extra monthly cost. Some advertise great prices but try to hide the fact that those deals are only available with multi-year contracts.

Be Prepared to Switch to Another Company

Your ISP representative may offer you a better deal if you inform them that other providers offer lower rates. However, they may not be able to offer you as good of a deal as their competitor.

Make it clear to your representative that you plan to switch providers and follow through if your current ISP can’t lower your bill. It may take more time and effort to switch companies, but it’s worth it for the lower rate. Also, at the very last minute, your current ISP may finally decide to give you a better deal.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want

ISPs understand your value as a customer, and they’ll go to great lengths to keep your business. If you tell them that you want a better rate, they’ll probably listen to you, especially if you’re near the end of your contract.

It’s essential to be polite, though. Call center employees get yelled at all day by angry customers, and they’ll be much more likely to help you out if you treat them with respect. Even if you’re on the phone for a long time and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, you should stay calm and kind.

Stand Your Ground

Your ISP wants you to be happy, so you’ll remain a loyal customer. However, they also want to get as much of your money as they can. Their representatives are trained to sell you extra products and services whenever you call. They may offer you a deal on a cable package, or they may promise to increase your Internet speeds without raising your bill.

It’s important for you to remember why you called and to stand your ground when they try to upsell you. The “deal” they offer you on extra TV channels or faster speeds probably won’t actually save you money. You should remain polite, but you should also remain focused on your goal. If you do careful research, firmly but kindly present the facts to your representative, and take your time negotiating, it’s highly likely that you’ll succeed in getting a better deal.