Cable TV Caller – Perfect Part-Time / Summer Job

save money on cable TVThis idea was a simple “add one and one together” and you have a creative job with little to no start-up costs where you can make quite a bit of money. In fact, this would be an excellent part-time job or a fantastic job for any high school / college students this summer. I’m really surprised that there aren’t a lot of people doing this considering how easy it was and someone could probably take this idea and turn it into a fairly large business if they wanted – don’t forget where you got the idea 😉 .

As I mentioned before, my mom doesn’t like to call the cable TV people to negotiate her monthly payments so I had to do it for her. After I made the post, I told a number of my friends about it and how simple it was for them to save money. I started to think about it and I wondered how many of them actually followed through with my advice. Out of the eight I called, only 2 had done so.

I talked with all those that hadn’t made the call and inquired what was keeping them from doing so. Their answers ranged from they couldn’t believe it would be so easy to do so to they were afraid that their cable would be turned off if they tried it. It was plainly obvious that for a lot of people, making that call to ask for the discount was difficult and they weren’t willing to do it themselves.

Something easy to do and people weren’t willing to do it for a variety of reasons meant that there was an opportunity to make money with little effort. I made the following deal with each of them. I would get them a discount on the exact same cable TV services they currently had and they would pay me the first month’s savings of anything I could get. I’m sure I could have charged more if I wanted to, but they were my friends and this seemed to be the easiest and most straight forward way to charge for the service.

It wasn’t too difficult to convince them to pay the charges, but they were friends so I imagine it would take a bit more work to convince people you didn’t know. Still, I think that doing so wouldn’t be extremely difficult, especially since I believe word of mouth would get around fairly quickly and you would get referrals (something that has already happened to me). For the six friends, this is the amounts I was able to save them:

  • $19.95
  • $24.95
  • $36.25
  • $39.25
  • $42.50
  • $42.50

    That makes for just over $200 ($205.40) for under an hour on the phone. Even if you include the time it took convincing the friends, I didn’t spend more than 3 hours. If you decided to do this, some hints that I learned with my experience.

  • Don’t call with them in the room with you – if they see how easy it is to get the discount, they may not want to pay.
  • Once you have gotten the discount, you will want to have them call back to confirm the price changes have been made. I got off the phone with one friend, told him the discount and he wouldn’t believe me until he called and confirmed himself.
  • Have all the needed information in front of you. They will ask questions to confirm you are the person you claim to be including name, partial account number and address (at least when I called)

    Not only is this a good way to make money, it can be a recurring revenue generator. The specials last only 3 or 6 months. Make a note of how long the special lasts so you can contact them when their discount rate is set to expire and get another discount for them and another payday for you…

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    5 Responses to Cable TV Caller – Perfect Part-Time / Summer Job

    1. Marco Arment says:

      It might be a reasonable job, but you’d probably get a pitiful sales volume.

      The problem is that most utility companies will ask for some personal information before making any changes to the account, such as a portion of the SSN. Considering your point about keeping the person out of the room, you’d essentially need to convince someone to give you (a stranger) their personal information and a lump of cash while you do something “secret” with it that *might* save them some money.

      Sounds fishy. Would you do it? I certainly wouldn’t.

      The only way you’re likely to get business is with direct friends and family members, so you’re not a stranger – but that’s an easily-exhausted client pool, and using it for profit is morally questionable for many (myself included). Most family members or friends will feel obligated to support you in your small business venture, so they’ll buy your service even if they don’t really need or want it. (The Cutco/Tupperware/Longaberger business model.)

      This business is a decent idea in theory, but the practical execution of it is too problematic to be successful.

    2. pfadvice says:

      I’d have to agree and disagree on your analysis.

      Disagree: Unlike MLM where the person is forced to purchase something they don’t need and spend extra money, you are saving the person money in this instance. In my case my friends will end up saving $99.75, $124.75, $181.25, $196.25, $212.50 and $212.50 over the next six months even after paying me. They are simply getting the exact same service they are already receiving for a less expensive price (which in this case they weren’t willing to get on their own)

      Agree (but with an easy solution) I may have been wrong in advising to go to another room. It was just when my friends saw how easy it was, they were in a bit of shock and one commented “I’m paying you for that?” with a laugh. In fact, now that I think about it, probably the best way to approach it is to encourage the person to watch you do it and explain how to do it step by step. While this may mean you’ll lose some repeat customers in the future because they will do it on their own in the future, my guess is that some still are not going to want to do it and you will get more referrals.

      While I have started a number of businesses, the “problematic” issues on this one seem far less than the others, but I guess that just means I’ll have to take a few days next week with this plan and see how well I can do with strangers :)

    3. Dawn says:

      Aren’t all business ideas a little risky? Atleast you are taking your creativity and making it work for you whether you do it only once or 10 times or make millions from it.

    4. mimi says:

      i listened to your advice and went from paying $79.99 to $39.99. I was so happy…this even included a premium channel! right now i am also trying out prosper as you had mentioned earlier this year….thanks for helpful information. i am spreading your wisdom.

    5. Champion Cheapsakte says:

      Why not extend this to other shopping areas, including grocery shopping and coupons? You could become known as “the” frugal negotiator :)

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