Shopping around for home internet can be frustrating. You might feel like the providers in your area are purposefully making the experience difficult. There’s some truth to that, but there are tricks you can use to get the best deal.
Something even as basic as simply browsing the available plans in your area is not as straightforward as you might think. Some internet providers won’t show you all of the options. They make you do the legwork to get the best plan available.
More Than Meets the Eye
Similar to mobile carriers, home internet providers do a lot to get new customers. They roll out the red carpet at first, but once they have you, they’re not as interested in giving incentives.
You’ll find some pretty amazing deals if you browse offers for new customers. It can be surprisingly difficult to see these plans if you’re an existing customer. Comcast, for example, straight up won’t show these offers if you’re signed in.
Here’s one of the plans that I see when I sign in to my Comcast account. The “Performance Starter” plan is listed for $46 per month.
Now, here’s the same plan when I’m not signed in to my account. If I were a new customer, I could get the same plan for only $25 per month. They’ll even throw in a free 4K streaming TV box.
Comcast offers a bunch of discounts in order to appeal to new customers, but once you get past that introductory period, you’re just another customer. Thankfully, I can see all of the same internet plans when signed in and not signed in, although that wasn’t always the case.
What’s even more annoying than these price discrepancies is when providers don’t show the same plans to everyone. For years, I was suckered into internet+TV bundles that Comcast told me were cheaper than internet-only plans, but I could see cheaper internet-only plans when I would access the website from an Incognito window.
I had to do the work to find the best deal. Comcast was actively trying to keep me on the internet+TV bundle. When I mentioned the plan that I saw online, they were able to put me on it. However, had I not known about it, they’d never have offered it to me.
How to Get the Best Internet Deals
There are a few tricks that you can use to find the deals that your provider isn’t showing you. First, as mentioned above, browse their website in Incognito mode or simply sign out.
Some companies make it difficult to do this. You might need to enter a home address, but if you’re an existing customer, they’ll recognize your address. One trick that you can try is to enter a random address near your home.
Another tried-and-true trick is to call your provider every year around the time that your plan is set to renew—assuming that you’re on a yearly cycle. Typically, plans will increase after a year because you lose promotional offers and other discounts.
If you call every year, it’s usually pretty easy to avoid the price increase. Simply tell the support line that you don’t want to pay the new price and they’ll offer you some new deals. Sometimes, these are deals that you won’t find on the provider’s website, so the only way to get them is to essentially complain.
Similarly, you can call and threaten to cancel your service. This works best if there’s another provider in your area offering better plans. You’ll be transferred to the company’s “retention” department and they’ll roll out the red carpet to keep you as a paying customer.
The last trick is a little more out of the box. Facebook allows you to view all of the ads that a Page has posted. You can use this feature to see whether your provider is currently offering any good deals and then mention the ads when you call.
To do this, go to the provider’s Facebook Page in a desktop browser and scroll down to the “Page Transparency” box. Click “See All,” and then, under “Ads From This Page,” select “Go to Ad Library.”
Now, you can scroll through all of the ads that have been posted by the page.
Targeted ads are extremely prominent on Facebook, so if you’ve signed in to your provider’s website in the same browser, there’s a good chance that the company isn’t showing you ads for new customers.
The way that internet providers do business in the U.S. isn’t very consumer-friendly. Unfortunately, it’s quite easy to end up paying more than you should. The responsibility is on you to find the best deals, sadly. But with a little know-how and some tricks, you can save a lot of money.