How to Get Cable TV With No Activation Fees

By Irene A. Blake

Cable service providers charge various fees at the time of installation. Activation fees, as their name suggests, cover the cost of turning on services. Not every cable service provider charges "activation fees" or, if charged, bundle the cost of the fee under the generic label of "installation fees." With research and bold negotiating that includes using reverse sales tactics on cable service sales agents, you can easily get cable TV with no activation fees.

Things You'll Need

  • File folder

Step 1

Collect cable service offers that interest you into a file. In addition, collect information on offers similar to or better than any packages you've already considered or reviewed with your primary local or "preferred" cable provider. Given the competitive nature of the television services market---especially between cable service providers and dish/satellite/telephone television services providers and the many free services offered on the Internet---it is a buyer's market.

Step 2

Call each cable provider, in reverse order from last consideration to the first, and ask if any package promotions exist that do not include activation fees. Often all you need to do to have activation fees waived is ask.

Step 3

Ask for a reduction of services in exchange for waiving the activation fees. Sales agents can "package" service ala carte to match a similar pre-packaged offer without whatever service you gave up in trade.

Step 4

Request to have activation fees waived because of a life event. A positive or negative life event can negatively impact your finances. Whether you switched jobs, got married, moved, expect a baby or just welcomed a new child into the world, your life event may make it incredibly difficult to pay additional fees. Sales agents receive training in "befriending" customers. Use this concept to your advantage during negotiations to create empathy to your situation.

Step 5

Agree to sign a contract in exchange. Although a binding agreement, a contract can actually serve you better than short-term introductory offers as it can "lock in" pricing during a set period protecting you from inflation.

Step 6

Pull out your competitive offers and advise the sales agent that you must go to another provider unless your package includes waived activation fees. Sales agents make commission from sales and have no desire to lose a customer after working hard to "sell" and "befriend."

Tips & Warnings

  • If you can't persuade a sales agent to waive activation fees, try to negotiate for additional promotions or additional services to offset the cost. For example, ask for a service credit for five Pay-Per-View movies or a year of one or more free premium services such as HBO or Showtime.
  • If you can't afford upfront activation fees (financial hardship) and an agent refuses, ask the agent to add it to your first month's bill or break into payments over a period of three month. If the sales agent still refuses to assist, ask to speak with the sales manager for a manager's special waiver.
  • If a college student with cable in your dorm, check with your university---many waive activation fees based on when you begin/end service or return the activation fees, like a deposit, after a set period of use.
  • Cable service providers don't use the same terms to describe the fees at installation. The term "activation" isn't always synonymous with "installation." Always use the correct terms to have correct fees waived.
  • Always request the quoted package pricing including waived activation fees in writing signed by the sales agent with a sales agent ID and direct phone number. If unavailable in writing, ask for the full name of the agent, agent ID, call center location, the name of the agent's manager and the manager's phone number in case a your fee accidentally billed or some other miscommunication occurs.