Were we stealing cable accidentally, or was Comcast upselling?
Way back in 2007, we “made a deal with the devil” and got cable TV. This was before the analog to digital cutover and when we only had $20 per month basic cable (just enough to have cheaper internet service). While I wrote that Comcast was “tempting us to spend more”, what I never got around to writing was that we took them up on their $10/mth upsell and got the “Digital Starter Package”. I also never told you we got an LCD HDTV last year (until recently) and an HD DVR box from Comcast sometime this past year.
Anywho, we got a letter a few weeks ago from Comcast stating basically that we were receiving channels we shouldn’t have and they’re cutting us off. Now, I can’t quite recall the conversation about the deal for the Digital Starter Package (whether it was for just a year, etc.), and perhaps I just took for granted the additional channels we got for so much less than our friends and coworkers paid, but I didn’t think we were doing anything wrong.
So, I called up Comcast wondering what they meant and here’s the lowdown on what happened:
- They were coming out to cut our service on the 17th back down to basic cable. It was an error on their side that they didn’t catch, so they were being gracious in “not back-charging us for the channels we received during this time”. Oh, well, thanks, I guess.
- They offered to “give us back the channels we currently had for the going rate of about $65/mth“. This would have basically doubled our cable bill.
- I told him I would only be comfortable with increasing $30 a month and no more because that used to be the difference in costs when it was still analog service.
- I negotiated for the next hour, with threats to switch to Fios (which they’re getting good at counteracting) because I have the option in my neighborhood, and then finally just telling him I’d switch just to spite Comcast.
- It was then that he pulled out the final offer. They would honor my $30/mth demand. We finished up the call and I was relatively satisfied, even though I felt cheated that I’m paying more than I thought I should be paying in the first place.
- On the 17th, when the wife was home for a relaxing vacation day, the cable went out right as she was going to watch a movie. Yep, they shut off our cable anyway.
- The wife spent at least an hour on the phone sorting things out, but it ended up screwing up all our scheduled show recordings. Luckily, we can manage our DVR online, so it wasn’t difficult to delete and add them back.
I should admit that Comcast definitely lured us in with their original cable deal and got us hooked on a number of cable shows that would be hard to find online. We’ve become lazy and justified it by not having debt (other than our mortgage). Eh, you’ll learn to justify anything once you get lazy enough.
So in the end, instead of paying about $170/mth for cable and internet, we’ll be paying about $100, give or take. We don’t have a home phone, so we don’t get any ‘Triple Play” deals. Overall, we’ve gotten used to paying for and watching cable TV, but we went years being happy with just basic cable. We do still have Netflix, but as you know, we just reduced our Netflix plan. Spend some here, save some there.
Anyone else get caught in a similar predicament? Was yours an actual “bait-and-switch” (i.e. they offer something and switch it out on you when you go to claim it) or an upsell (i.e. they get you to call for some reason, then tempt you to upgrade your plan without taking time to think it through)? Who else has gotten lazy and stopped caring about being frugal? Is it because you don’t have debt or because you just gave up?