A friend of mine who was paying $235 a month for cable TV, internet and phone from Comcast recently asked me to help him lower his bill. With very little negotiating on my part, Comcast slashed his monthly bill by half, but only after my friend had canceled his account. My advice if you really want to get a great deal from Comcast is you have to be able to go cold turkey (no Comcast TV, cable or phone) for a day or two. Can you endure an internet and TV-free day at home? (C'mon, a smartphone can pull you through.)

Here's how it went down.

My friend used to try to negotiate for a better deal on his own, but the customer service reps usually wore him down. He ended up extending his service, often with a new bell or whistle that he didn't know he needed.

John Brillhart of Cable Alternatives in Fridley helped my friend lower the overall cost with streaming services while I negotiated with Comcast as my friend's authorized user. Between the two of us we cut my friend's bill from $235 a month with Comcast to $95 ($65 for internet w/ Comcast and $25 for Sling and $5 for Ooma VoIP). That's a savings of nearly $1,700 per year, but he will only save about $1,300 the first year.

Cable Alternatives charged $200 to buy a modem instead of renting from Comcast at $10 a month, plus $70 for an antenna for local channels in HD, $100 for a Roku box for streaming and $100 for a consultation fee and tax. Total out of pocket for the switch equals about $470.

We canceled my friend's cable and phone service with Comcast and then the "fun" began. With my friend no longer in bundled service, I called to negotiate the price of Comcast's Performance 25 internet. (You can still get internet service from Comcast even if you cancel cable.) I wanted to get the promotional rate of $40 a month. The rep would only offer $60 a month so I settled on that. I was told that in 90 days he might be eligible for the $40 a month promo rate.

The next day my friend returned his rented modem and cable boxes to a Comcast store. The person at the desk also canceled my friend's internet service by mistake.

I called Comcast to reconnect the internet service. Since my friend was now technically a new internet customer because the service was mistakenly disconnected, he was eligible for the promotional rate of $40 a month. But then things got interesting. The rep said that he could get the bundled price down from $235 to $139 a month for the same TV/internet/phone service. "No thanks" I said but he kept pushing. The two year guaranteed price went down to $129 a month and then $99 a month. I'm assuming that tax was not included so it might have been about $120 with tax.

By canceling his service, my friend was offered a deal that would have saved him almost $3,000 in two years. He didn't accept Comcast's deal, but he was tempted during the two days it took to get his internet service back. Brillhart and I spent hours on the phone with Comcast to get internet service restored, including getting the Media Access Control (MAC) numbers and serial numbers relayed. When Comcast finally got the numbers they needed, we were told it could take 48 hours for service to be reconnected. Fortunately, it was reconnected within hours.

Jill Hornbacher, a Comcast spokeswoman in the Twin Cities, said in an email, "My apologies for the experience with your friend’s account and service. We are striving to do better. We have rolled out many new tools and technologies this past year to better serve our customers."

My friend is happy to be Comcast-free. He loves Sling and Roku. If you don't think that you can make the switch to streaming/antenna service on your own, ask Brillhart to do it for you. A consultation is $75. For more information about why it's difficult for people to cut the cord, here's more.

One more thing: I suspect this works with satellite or cable service, but only if you're not under contract. You may not be allowed to cancel until your contract is up. However, check the details. Some satellite providers have a standard contract canellation rate of $20 multiplied by each month remaining on the contract.If you have 6 months left, your cancel rate is $120.

Also, don't confuse a locked-in rate with a contract. Satellite providers often have contracts that may be difficult to cancel, but Comcast's locked-in rates are generally cancellable at any time.

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