Me love hockey!
September 24, 2012 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I just called TWC to see if they'd offer some sort of retention deal - instead, right after saying "I'd like to cancel" the rep followed with "What day would you like us to pick up the equipment?" Crap. So right now we have someone scheduled to come out in a week, and we have to decide if we're going to call back and keep the cable service or really go through with this. (Or try this again?) We wouldn't even have cable were it not for our need of NHL coverage.

I really have no idea where else we could get decent coverage of the NHL games and playoffs, but I get the feeling we're stuck with cable and the goddamn "Sports Tier" on top of it. Everything else, every other show we love, we're not worried about either getting through another source or waiting for DVDs.

Any ideas on this one, MetaFilter? NHL GameCenter will blackout the Kings games for us and that's just no good.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird to Technology (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In all likelihood, you will get a call from their retention department sometime in the next week offering you a better deal.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:41 AM on September 24, 2012

Well, there may not be any NHL coverage this year anyway...

Since you said "we", could you wait a while to see if the season actually happens and then have whatever person didn't have their name on the service before sign up as a "new" customer and see if there are any startup deals?

I've heard that you can access gamecenter through a proxy server and beat the blackouts but they will close your account if they catch you.
posted by ghharr at 9:41 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you can get satellite, DirecTV has pretty much the best sports packages, including NHL Center Ice.

They have pretty sweet deals for new subscribers, too, and a very nice TiVo-based multi-room DVR (you need just one DVR and can watch it in any room that has a regular receiver). It records two programs at once.

If you know someone who has DirecTV, get a referral code from them and you will both get $100 back as a monthly bill credit spread over 10 months. (If you don't know anyone with DirecTV, well, I have it, MeMail me for a code.) If you have CenturyLink or AT&T phone service or Internet, there's an additional discount for bundling that with DirecTV.

You do get locked into a two-year contract, but after that's up, DirecTV is generally very amenable to giving you new deals to retain you as a customer.
posted by kindall at 9:43 AM on September 24, 2012

If you actually say something like, "We really can't afford to pay so much for cable, do you have any deals I could get?", this might work well, especially if you've been a customer for some time or have other equipment through them, i.e. internet.

They offered me a much cheaper option when I wanted to cancel, but I still gave up cable. Am bummed to have missed tennis tournaments, though.
posted by wens at 9:47 AM on September 24, 2012

NHL Gamecenter and a $10 a month VPN account so that you can watch Kings games?
posted by COD at 9:49 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've gotten Time Warner to drop my monthly bill several times without outright threatening to cancel. Once I was sneaky--I called to "ask a question" about whether I had to do anything personally in order to keep the same phone number when switching to Verizon. I got my bill dropped from 120 to the current deal offered to new customers ($89 at the time.) Other times I was just honest. I'd simply ask what I could do to lower my monthly bill, and I would generally get the new customer deal. Once or twice I managed to get my bill lowered when calling about a technical problem--broken internet, phone outages, etc. My cousin got her bill cut by about 30% when she actually *had* an appointment with Verizon and called to cancel her service.

Time Warner is pretty bullshit with billing. My parents have the full package--phone, internet, cable with DVR--and they're paying *more than twice* the current new customer deal. Recently, when they had a guy out to fix their internet service, he told them to call and ask for "retention services." They never bothered, but that might be an idea.
posted by xyzzy at 9:50 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

TWC and such companies have "retention trackers" to catch bluffs. That's what may have caught you.

You can always cancel within 24 hours (check their penalty policy). I would wait until the week is almost over (unless you ARE a habitual canceled, coupon redeemed, etc.
posted by Kruger5 at 10:01 AM on September 24, 2012

I'm pretty much in exactly your situation. Don't watch much TV and can stream plenty enough via Netflix and Hulu+. I'd drop DirecTV in a second if not for the LA Kings.

The cable cos know this, of course, and have fought hard to maintain their position in the sports entertainment distribution chain*. I wouldn't expect viable alternatives to arrive any time soon.

*And working toward extending their grip with premuim pricing for NCAA Conference networks, such as the Pac-12 Network, among others.
posted by notyou at 10:25 AM on September 24, 2012

Why don't you cancel now and then re-subscribe if/when hockey season begins this year (AFAIK, we're still looking at a lock out). Then when you re-subscribe, you should get the new subscriber deal.
posted by amro at 10:27 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

See, this is the kind of thing that gets you in trouble. A better approach might have been, and still maybe:

Hi, I love hockey and I want the NHL package, but this bill is already so high. Here is what's important to me, how can we jigger this so that I get what I want but still save money.

Then you can let the CSR help you get your bill where you want it. You might come out ahead, or you might decide to cancel, but at least you can explore packages, term agreements or other things that would decrease your bill.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:28 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I called TWC and just asked to have my bill lowered to the current new customer amount. I didn't threaten to cancel or anything, I just asked if it was possible. Got the new lower amount starting the next month. Maybe I just got a nice person.
posted by magnetsphere at 1:09 PM on September 24, 2012

Find some friends and/or neighbors and suggest organizing a game-watching party at their house?

Find a local sports bar that is showing the particular hockey game you're interested in?

Like an earlier poster, I have Direct TV (and would be willing to offer the same referral code), but I can't speak to their sports coverage as neither my wife nor I have any interest whatsoever in televised sports of any kind. (I only got NFL Sunday Ticket the first year because they threw it in for free for the first year; I never even tuned to the channels to take a look.)

I have found that their customer service is very hit-or-miss. We had such a horrid experience with the initial set up and installation that I'm not sure it was worth the hassle. Plus, we had several problems later on when we bought a used receiver for the guest bedroom and tried to set it up on our account. On the other hand, we threatened to cancel during the recent Viacom debacle, and, no questions asked, they took $25 off our bill per month for six months before my wife even got the word "cancel" out of her mouth. We're in a rural area and therefore can't get cable -- the previous homeowners left their dish and my employer offers a small Direct TV discount; otherwise I'd have looked further into Dish Network.

That all said, I've been happier with Direct TV than I've been with all cable companies I've had except for Cox. (I've moved around a lot and have therefore been a customer of TWC, RCN, Comcrap, Charter, and Cox.)
posted by tckma at 3:15 PM on September 24, 2012

"Why don't you cancel now and then re-subscribe if/when hockey season begins this year (AFAIK, we're still looking at a lock out). Then when you re-subscribe, you should get the new subscriber deal."

At least around here, you're locked out of the new customer deal for 6 mos. after cancelling.
posted by xyzzy at 5:36 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I always have look with the "here's the product I want, and I'd like to pay less than $100/month" approach. Just cut $35ish/month off my AT&T U-Verse monthly bill (compared to the full retail price) as of yesterday. The downside, I have to call back and do this dance every six months, but at least I'm not under contract.
posted by cp7 at 7:06 AM on September 25, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for everyone's responses! We were about to call DirectTV and set something up when we needed clarification from TWC about something, and during that call they offered us the deal we wanted. (The entire call was like pulling teeth out of the most disinterested rep in the world, but eh.)

On another note, demanding something over the phone is super hard..! Oh how I hate phones.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 5:59 PM on September 26, 2012

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