The Month That I Had Cable TV

For some reason, there seems to be this impenetrable wall between myself and accumulated money (this wall may be made up solely of beer and video games, but it is a wall none the less). Because of this unfortunate, seemingly impossible-to-avoid situation, I constantly find myself in, I find that I must cut back in other areas in my life to keep my head above water. My last big endeavor (and one seeming to rise in popularity) was to say good bye to cable television.

That was some time ago, probably around March or April, and it was hardly even missed, especially in summer when I moved out and my roommate spent most his time working. But, since school is back in session and more importantly the NFL season started back up, we decided we wouldn’t mind spending a few bucks a month extra to be able to watch football and Weeds every week.

So we scoured the mail looking for a promotion we could jump on to save a few bucks and make the switch back to cable. When we found it: the deal was DVR theatre suite and internet for $79.00 for 6 months (I’m not even going to get started with the $123/month it was after the 6 months were up). My roommate and I both decided that after the 6 months were up (around May 2011) we would cancel it because summer would be upon us again. Sounded like a pretty good deal.

Then we got the first bill.  We had been getting internet from this company for quite some time so we took a look to see how much more each of us had to pay from what we already were. What was the grand total of our first month’s bill? $79.00? No, that would be pretty hard to expect. Try $133.34. I actually found that a little harder to believe, especially because free installation was part of the deal!

We promptly did some digging.

There was:

  • $79.00 for the Bundled Services
  • $3.00 for Additional Cable Services
  • $9.95 for Other Charges & Adjustments (AKA Installation)
  • $12.23 for Taxes, Surcharges & Fees

Oh yeah.. and $29.16 for Partial Month Services.

$29.16 for 8 days? Oh and free installation.. Except for the $9.95 they charged for installation.

Now I usually wouldn’t gripe about all these extra fees because everyone expects them by now. But, the part that got me was the “Partial Month Services” because we specifically waited until the end of the month to get it. So after looking a little deeper we found the “partial month” was from Oct. 29 to Nov. 7.

$29.16 for 8 days of cable TV

To me that was a little ridiculous. Never mind that $29.16 is 37% of the $79.00 advertised price, but add on top of it the fact that we had already paid for internet for that month, and yeah I felt it was a little much (especially because we couldn’t even watch it for the first few days as we were rounding up an HDMI cable to run to our projector from the DVR).

I suggested a call to the cable company. We had been long time customers for internet and the circumstances did (I thought) warrant some kind of change or even a pro-rate of our last month’s internet bill. They would probably be willing to work with us.

They didn’t. And because of that, we no longer have cable TV.

Now, I don’t honestly believe that anyone at the cable company really lost sleep over their loss of 5 months of service from one customer. But, maybe they should. My roommate and I are both young guys and could quite possibly live in the area for years to come. Maybe after college, when I have money and the beer/video game wall is slightly smaller, I wouldn’t mind spending $100 a month on TV. But, after this, it definitely won’t be with that company. And, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of people canceling for reasons just like this.

In some areas there aren’t much else for options. There’s always Dish, but that has contracts of usually 2 years. Personally, I’ve gone to watching a lot of streaming movies/TV series on Netflix and that’s not bad. I’ve been pretty interested in checking out Hulu Plus and I’m excited about the rumors that Xbox Live will get a subscription based, cable-esque service. Hopefully in time options like these can make a big enough impact to see a change in the way cable companies treat their customers.

What about the rest of you? Have any of you had enough with your cable/satellite/internet provider and given them the boot? What’s your story, and what options are you utilizing instead? Let us know in the comments.

(Update: As I’m posting this article I feel like I must include the fact that since we canceled the Bundled Services and switched back to just internet, they insisted they needed to send a guy out to physically install the internet at our apt.. for $35. Even though we own our own modem and router and the entire setup has not changed since the Bundled Services were canceled. Apparently it is possible to disconnect services remotely, but not so much to turn them on?)

Image Courtesy of Collin Anderson





6 responses to “The Month That I Had Cable TV”

  1. antilight Avatar

    My favorite is the local cable company actually charges you for NOT having TV when you just want internet. How does that make sense? Not to mention one time an “install” was the guy refusing to go into the crawl space under my house and instead just dragged a 20 foot section of coax across the middle of my living room.

  2. Nick Post Avatar

    Partial month fees: I see by the bill you had midcontinent. and they do not bill on the first. I have argued with them many times. but I agree 130 a month is redic. Over the air TV and netflix are what get me though my TV needs.

  3. Evan Wondrasek Avatar

    I gave up cable about 3 years ago and, to be honest, I haven’t missed it much. I use OTA high definition antenna to get the major networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX, then Netflix to get all the series I enjoy (Nip/Tuck right now) and I just got Hulu Plus via Roku player for new content.

    Total cost? About $20/mo.

    When I moved to Minneapolis, we were seriously considering getting cable because now that we were out of school we could afford non-necessities. After shopping around though, nothing was very appealing. Incredibly overpriced, near-mandatory upgrades to get functionality we would enjoy, and most of the stuff we’d pay for wasn’t anything we’d actually use.

    We did seriously consider going to DirecTV because of the price, but the inflexibility of the 2-year contract is what ultimately canned that idea for me. There is no way I’m going to enter into another multi-year agreement (my contract with Verizon is more than enough already), and their pricing was tiered as such: 1st year: about $30/mo, 2nd year: about $50-60/mo, after that: regular price. Which was high.

    So good riddance cable, I’ve mostly replaced you. I still miss the Discovery and History channels, so here’s to hoping that they eventually make their way to a platform like Roku.

    And let’s keep our fingers crossed that cable companies don’t interfere with internet distribution of media any more than they already have.

  4. Steve Drees Avatar

    The only cable company I have ever worked with that wasn’t run by complete douchebags was the one I worked at for 8 years. And I still had to fight off all the douchebag ideas every day. Interestingly, I was able to show that providing a quality service at a fair and honest price meant longer customer retention periods. Sadly, I only had influence on the data portion of the business. The main reason Cable companies screw the customers is because they are getting screwed by the government and the content providers and they feel that they have to pass on the pain to the customers. At the time 20% of the Basic Cable price went to ESPN. Per Customer.

  5. Phil Avatar

    I read most of the articles from this blog but don’t comment – today is an exception.
    Been there done that with the cable company. Turns out my parents and everyoone else who’ve used them have been through the same thing or just about. If you have plenty of $$$$ to spend it’s no biggie but that’s just not the case for most folks these days. My conclusion, and my father came to a similar decision, was that since the onlly part of the cable service I really enjoyed enough to use it frequently, was the digital on-demand part, there was no real point to having the service at all. If I want to watch something that badly I can do so online, where it’s not nearly as expensive and there’s a better selection of shows/movies to choose from.
    We both also dropped our cable internet service in favor of a wireless one that cost less. It’s not quite as fast but to be honest, it’s just as reliable and it’s enough for most online games.

    Fare thee as thou will o Cable Company. I’ll not miss thy unreliable presence, hidden fees, and uncouth, not-very-helpful service men.

  6. Jonathan Paul Avatar

    I started typing a massive reply to the comments here, then thought better of it.Suffices to say, we have had great service from our cable provider. Haven’t been bothered by the price, which we knew going in; haven’t noticed any hidden fees (they must be really hidden) and service when we have needed it has been acceptable if not exceptional.Not saying we wouldn’t be better served by using different services and saving some money, but we have been content with our provider. I’m sure my experience seems as strange to you as all of yours do to me 🙂

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