This is How to Actually Get Money Back for the Time Your Power Was Out

Lower Manhattan following Power Outage as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
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I recently experienced my first hurricane in Florida. Irma narrowly skirted the Tampa Bay area, so we were spared from the worst of this season’s damage.

But many of my friends, co-workers and neighbors were still without power for several days.

I’ve seen similar — usually less devastating — effects from winter storms in my home state of Wisconsin. Weather barrels in and takes out a few power lines, disconnecting full streets and neighborhoods for a day or two.

Or sometimes it’s a driver who skids off the street and hits something vital on the grid. Or a fallen tree. Or — you get the picture.

Lights out.

When these events happen, local power companies often step up to cut deals and offer discounts to affected residents. We appreciate that.

But what about other utilities you can’t use when the power’s out? You still pay full price for cable and internet, even though they rely on the electricity you don’t have.

Here’s how to get out of paying for those utilities when the power goes out.

How to Get a Discount on Cable and Internet for a Power Outage

Once you get the power back, you’ll probably need to get your home and life back in order. Don’t forget about your finances.

Call your cable or satellite company to explain the power outage. Ask for a discount on your bill to knock off the days you were without power — and, therefore, without cable or internet. You won’t likely get this discount without asking, but the companies don’t seem to have a problem with giving you the discount if you do ask.

To figure out how much of a discount you deserve, just divide your monthly bill by the number of days in the month. Multiply that by the number of days you were without service.

Do you start shaking when you think about calling customer service to ask for anything? Me, too. So we found an app that’ll do that for you.

Trim is a bot that lives in Facebook Messenger or your text messages, and it’ll negotiate your bills down for you.

It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other providers. It can also find cash-back deals for your purchases and cancel subscriptions you forgot about.

You can sign up for free with Facebook or your email address.

Then, upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work. If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money.

You can use Trim to negotiate bills anytime. It’ll negotiate the best deal it can.

When you experience an outage and want a specific refund, just submit your bill through Trim’s website, and email [email protected] to explain the refund you want.

Customer service replied to my email with this inquiry in 22 minutes — so you’re in better hands than with the cable company.

Trim is also free to use — it just keeps 25% of whatever it saves you on your bill.

How Much Money Can You Save From a Power Outage?

American households spend an average $106 a month on “pay-TV service,” according to the most recent report from Leichtman Research Group. In a 30-day month, that’s $3.53 a day.

If a hurricane knocks out your power for 10 days, that’s $35.30 you’re paying for cable you can’t use.

You could call the cable company and get that refund yourself. But in my opinion, waiting on hold with Comcast’s customer service isn’t worth $35.

Letting someone else wait on hold and do the work for me? That I’d do.

Let Trim handle the negotiations in this case, and you’d save $27 on your cable bill — with no work.

That softens the blow of the week you spent eating canned tuna and PB&J, right?

Dana Sitar ([email protected]) is a senior writer/newsletter editor at The Penny Hoarder. Say hi and tell her a good joke on Twitter @danasitar.