When Leta Pegram saw a jump in her monthly telecom bill, she took action.
"Once I did see that my cable bill was too high, I picked up the phone," she says.
She asked her cable company about dropping some TV channels as a way to save.
"They said, 'Oh, no, no, no, we have a special going on where you can get the premium channels, the HBO.' I said, 'Listen, I'm trying to save, I'm not trying to go up, I'm trying to go down!'"
In the end, Leta managed to add HBO and other premium channels and still save $20 a month. Consumer Reports' annual survey of subscribers shows you may be able to save even more.
Forty-four percent of those who bargained got up to $50 a month off their bill," says Rosalind Tordesillas of Consumer Reports. "Seven percent got an even bigger discount."
If you use your cell phone more than your home phone, some companies are letting you make a triple play with your cell phone instead of a landline. If you want to keep both, several major providers are offering "quad plays" that let you add your cell-phone service, too.
"Don't stick with the plan you've always had," Tordesillas advises. "Explore new options. Your situation changes, and you might be paying for services you don't even use all that much."
Leta Pegram tries to negotiate every time she gets an increase.
"If I see that it's getting to a point where I can't handle the cost, I'm gonna make a phone call," Pegram says.
Here's a negotiating tip: If you don't get what you want from a regular customer-service rep, ask to speak with customer-retention. That department may be more willing to negotiate as long as you're an existing subscriber.