Here’s something to tell all of your customer service representatives to be prepared for…some 4 million paying subscribers and the two-plus per subscribers who read the pass-along copies of the "HD Made Easy" March 2007 edition of Consumer Reports…on the cover is:

"Time to DITCH CABLE? Page 22"

And, they might just have read this on page 24:

"Want to pay less? Just ask."

"If you’re tired of seeing your cable or satellite bill climb, try asking for a better deal."

The venerable voice of the put-upon and self-appointed arbitrator of all things commercial, Consumer Reports has some good advice for active consumers…and cable operators should pay close attention to what consumers might do.

"It costs companies more to acquire customers," the magazine notes, "than to retain them, so you might be able to get lower rates by threatening to leave. Many companies have customer-retention specialists to deal with just that situation. They’re more empowered than regular customer-service reps to work out a deal that might include additional channels, a lower rate, fee waivers or some combination of the three."

So, you folks who run those customer service departments had better learn quickly how to counter these "Negotiating 101" suggestions:

  • "Stress being a good customer."

  • "Ask for something specific, within reason."

  • "Don’t issue ultimatums about canceling unless you really mean it."

  • "Consider a bundle."

  • "Strip down. A little-known law prevents cable companies from forcing you into buying a package beyond the most basic."

  • "Check the Web. At least every few months, call your service provider or check its Web site for the latest offers."

OK, the fourth sounds like opportunity…a better package means less churn and better ARPU.

And, to give the printed nanny credit, CR does admit cable is a better bet when combining services into a bundle: "Here, cable rules," says CR. It also gives cable the "advantage" when it comes to VOD. But, when it comes to sports, "Satellite has the ultimate football fix."

And, following the theme of the issue, cable and satellite tie for hi-def honors…at least until DirecTV adds its promised 100-plus channels.

It’s always interesting to note what others think about cable…never happy with the fact that programming costs…so does delivering a good signal to the home.

So, one thing all CSRs should know is what they’re saying at…the Consumers Union website about communications matters. Otherwise known as Federal Confusion Commission Chairman Kevin Martin(et)’s favorite cable bashing site.

The Daily


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