Do I Have to Pay for Cable I Don't Use?

Do I Have to Pay for Cable I Don't Use?

Taryn Williford
Oct 8, 2010

Q: I just moved into a new apartment and we have a pretty pricey cable package, including our internet and DVR. I turn on the TV, at max, once a week and don't even really know how to use the DVR. I'm not a sports fan and definitely don't take advantage of the fancy ESPN cable package my roommate has, either. Is there a tactful way to ask if I get a break from the bill?

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A: Without specific information on your living situation, it's tough to say what you should do from here on out.

You need to answer a few questions for yourself:

  • Was I a part of the decision to buy premium cable? If your roommate discussed it with you and you didn't oppose, you basically gave a verbal commitment to help with this bill. If not, you might have a starting point for negotiations.

  • Was I aware of this added expense before I signed the lease and moved in? It reasonable (and smart!) to ask, before you move in, about all of the utilities you'll be responsible for paying. Did you ask about cable? Did your now-roommate conveniently leave the it out of the discussion? If you were blindsided, bring this up to your roommate.

  • Do I use an unequal share of any other utilities? If you're known for long showers or love turning the A/C on blast, you're getting more use out of your water and electric bills than your roommate. Would you expect to pay more? If this is the case, it's best to chalk the cable up as a loss and keep your mouth shut.

If you answered "no" t the questions above, than you might have a case for talking to your roommate about the cable bill. But in the interest of roommate peace, keep an open mind and be willing to compromise.

Since you don't watch sports or use the DVR, ask your roommate to take over the added costs for those services (check the bill to see how much it's really costing you); but continue to pay your share of the basic cable. Like water and electricity, it's an expected household utility in this day and age.

Have more advice, readers? Tell us in the comments!

(Images: Flickr user sfxeric under license from Creative Commons, Flickr user Guanatos Gwyn under license from Creative Commons)

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