When it comes to billing headaches, there are few industries that can rival the cable companies: from the dizzying array of channel packages to actually figuring out which services you can get at your house, ordering cable or satellite service is often a major pain (and you inevitably walk away from the experience feeling like you’re somehow getting ripped off). Now BillShrink is launching a new feature that looks to make these headaches a thing of the past, putting its cost-cutting engine against a huge database of television service options to help you pick out the best one.
Using the new feature is simple: enter your address and how much you currently pay for your television service. Next, tell BillShrink what categories of channels you’re interested in; options include entertainment, lifestyle, movies, and sports. If there are some channels you absolutely have to have, you can list those too (you can even enter the name of your favorite TV shows, and BillShrink will figure out what channel they air on).
Finally, you tell BillShrink how many TVs you will be hooking up (you can designate options like HDTV and whether or not you want that TV to have a DVR). The whole process takes around two minutes.
Once you’re done inputting your information, BillShrink will look through the TV services available in your area (including both cable and satellite) and tell you what the optimum plan is for you. BillShrink has data on 9 providers covering around 80% of the market, and plans to add more.
The site makes it easily to quickly look up which channels are included in each suggested package, and BillShrink shows you how much each option in the plan costs, both during your initial signup period (when the cable companies give you a steep discount) and once your rates jump up to the “normal” (read: gouging) prices. Once you find a plan you like, BillShink gives you a phone number to call and tells you what plan to ask for.
This is a great addition to the BillShrink lineup, but it’s still missing a few features. For one, the site doesn’t currently show the prices for bundle deals that cover multiple services (e.g. Television service + Internet). Fortunately it’s not hard to add Internet service to the packages BillShrink suggests — just ask for it when you call the cable/satellite company — and CEO Peter Pham says that bundles are on the way. He also says that the site will soon offer a way to sign up for these cable/satellite packages online, without having to call the companies.
This is BillShrink’s sixth vertical, and Pham says more are on the way — its other cost-cutting tools include support for savings accounts, gas stations, credit cards, and phone bills. The site also recently scored a deal with Walmart, which features Billshrink on its in-store cell phone kiosks.