We’ve always known you can reduce your bills by just asking, but lots of companies will give you an immediate discount if you say you’re going to cancel—even if you don’t talk to someone on the phone. Here are our favorite services you can get discounts on right now just by pretending to cancel your account.
It works a little differently for every service, and this is hardly an exhaustive list. In general, though, a lot of services will offer you discounts immediately if you threaten to cancel—many of them will even do so if you cancel through their web site. We asked you what your favorite discounted services were, and here are some of the best results, along with any tips you should know for each individual service.
Video Rental Services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Blockbuster: Quite a few of you noted that these three services would offer you discounts as soon as you cancelled. Reader Lazyrivr notes that this often comes in handy as your original free trial is expiring:
I did a Hulu Plus trial this summer, and canceled it, but when the fall seasons started they offered me another full-month trial. I was happy to take it so I could watch through an Xbox.
Reader Scott said Blockbuster gave these discounts repeatedly:
Blockbuster delivery does this. I canceled and they gave me 2 months free. Canceled again at the end of that and they gave me another month free.
The discounts could differ slightly between services, but in general, it should be pretty easy to get a free month or two out of them for hitting that cancel button. These should all work through their web sites as well; no need to call up customer service.
Sirius and XM Satellite Radio: Sirius and XM are some of the best examples of this. Supposedly they’re awful about letting you cancel, but they’re great about constantly offering you discounts, so says MaxellDVD1:
My car came with a 6 month trial of Sirius. Towards the end they offered 6 months for $5/mth, so I took it. Towards the end of that they sent the letter for the full subscription ($15/mth or whatever), so I called to cancel citing “price was too high”, without a hesitation she offered me 4 months for $20, so I took it.
Hackett.Christine notes that if you push harder, they’ll extend your free trial:
Xm/sirius offered me 6 months free when i threatened to cancel, both in car devices and home ones.
And Andrew Diaz says keep pushing for even more:
Sign up, use a month or so, cancel it They WILL call you offering you to come back Say no until they offer you the free year
Your mileage may vary with this one, but we got tons of comments about how Sirius and XM will keep giving you free trials—so keep trying!
Audible: Audible is another one you can do online, though the deals can change if you call or email:
If you try to cancel with Audible they give you 20 Dollars to stay on. Then the second time they offer a yearly plan.
Sometimes, says Hillshum1, they’ll also offer you half price of the more premium memberships as well:
If you threaten to quit an Audible membership (I had just barely joined a two-week free trial of the Platinum version), you should get an offer of the Gold plan for half price (just $7.49 a month). I had to click the cancel link on the Account Details page, then go through a screen about why I was quitting (gave “Reduce Expenses”), then one more page, then got the offer.
Gamefly: Reader Craig Lloyd tells us that Gamefly will start off with some pretty great discounts, and only get steeper as you continue to cancel:
GameFly offered me a month for $11.95 (normally $22.95) when I was about to cancel. I canceled again after that month and got an email a couple weeks later offering a month for only $1.00! I’ll cancel again after that, so who knows what I’ll get offered next.
Reader Jason says he got a free month:
I have the 3 games out at a time for 29.95 and hit cancel and it automatically gave me a free month.
Amazon Prime: Amazon Prime’s is a bit different, depending on what you’re cancelling. Reader Skeeve got a great discount after his Student account was up (and so did I, incidentally):
I had a free year of amazon prime with my student email address (but not amazon instant, etc) After that ran out I let it lapse as I was unemployed. When I got a job, I decided to renew it and I found an email offering me 50% off ($35 for the year) to rejoin.
Xbox Live: Lots of you found that box Live was pretty open to giving out discounts:
We called Xbox live to cancel and they gave us 2 months for a dollar. And after that for a year at a discount (cant remember the exact number but it was significantly lower).
Match.com offers a big discount if you cancel before the 30 days is up. Then on day 31, the price triples and they tell you about all of the wonderful matches that JUST picked you, but you have to pay the full price to see them.
TiVo: Reader Mobycat says even TiVo offers some good discounts for cancelling:
I’m surprised nobody has mentioned Tivo. I was only paying $12.95/month. They offered me my current service for only $6/month indefinitely.
Newspapers: This one’s a bit more up in the air, as none of you have done this especially recently, but a few of you mentioned the New York Times was good about offering lower prices:
My old boss had a “cancel New York Times” day every six weeks (or whatever it was) in the calendar and one of us assistants would have to cancel, then restart the subscription under the boss’ husband’s name to get the “half off new subscriptions.” At some point, we would call to cancel and they would just offer to continue the subscription at the reduced price. It must have been going on like that for two years when I left and I doubt they stopped.
Cable TV: We’ve talked about this one before, and you guys shared a ton of experiences. In general, the consensus was to call them, ask for the retention or loyalty department, and keep asking them what offers they can give you. In general, they’ll usually offer you either a discounted price, free premium channels like HBO, or a combination of both, depending on who your provider is. It also depends on who you talk to; sometimes you’ll get great discounts while other times you’ll get nothing.
Phone Service: Phone companies are much like cable companies: what you get can differ a lot, but call and ask to speak to the retention department, and often you can get some pretty great deals—whether it’s discounted service, new phones for free, or better plans you might not otherwise had a choice of.
Use Social Media: One of the more general tips we got was, surprisingly: Use Twitter for customer service. Tweeting @ComcastCares, @ATTCustomerCare, and others will garner you a fantastic response rate, and they’re usually very helpful. Outtacontext explains his experience:
If you are having problems with ATT, tweet to their @ATTCustomerCare people. Now THEY have all the power. I recently had a problem that even the Retention department refused to deal with. Had a long talk with ATT’s social media team and not only got it sorted out but was able to tell them how they could improve their customer support. The guy told me that they see the wide breath of issues and have a direct line to upper management. They once connected me to ATT’s President office. That’s how good they are.
As we said, your mileage could vary on any of these, but these are the companies you guys said were the most reliable in terms of getting good discounts. Got one that we didn’t mention? Be sure to add it in the comments below.
Image by Sebastian Tomus/Shutterstock.
You can contact Whitson Gordon, the author of this post, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.