Ways to reduce your phone, cable and Internet bills

You might hate the bills, but many of us can't live without our TV, Internet connection, and home phone. Could you be paying less for these services? After surveying its readers and talking to industry experts, Consumer Reports says the answer just might be yes.

If you're not bundling your TV, Internet, and phone service and getting all three as a discount package, you could be missing out on big savings.

And the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that there are other ways to cut your telecom bill. A survey of 69,000 readers reveals that bargaining can really pay off.

Of readers who bundle their services, seven out of 10 polled didn't bargain before signing up. But of those who did, more than 90 percent got some sort of deal.

Of those who negotiated for telecom services, 40 percent got their bill reduced as much as $50 a month. Others got fees waived for activation and installation or were offered free premium services for a period. But remember to cancel those services before companies start charging you.

Some companies are now tracking what discounts you have already received, so you may have to press harder. If asking for a lower rate doesn't work, let them know you're thinking of cutting some services or switching providers.

Consumer Reports says that providers may be more willing to deal once it's clear that you're serious about dropping them. A Consumer Reports staffer called and asked how to disconnect her service. She got $30 knocked off her monthly bill and an upgrade as well.

You might think that dropping a service like a home phone line will cut your bill significantly, but Consumer Reports says that's not necessarily the case. Before you drop a bundled service, check with your provider to see what your new rate will be because the savings you expect often evaporate.

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