More complications with the cable company


It seems to me that my complications with the “new” cable company are unending. I recently reported how I had gotten my bill from the “new” company and found it has increased considerably over what I had been paying the “old” company. We hadn’t changed services – we have a “desktop” cable box for one TV, one small “converter” device for a second (no “premium” channels on either), and Internet.

I called the company for an explanation and was told I had been paying a “bundling” price with the “old” company; the “new” company “packages” are not the same as those offered by their predecessor; and, the price I was being charged was the best the “new” company could offer for the same service. Sorry ‘bout that. In addition, my attempt to talk with a supervisor about this had failed.

I grudgingly paid the increased bill figuring I had little choice if I wanted to stay with the cable company although seeing the company’s ads featuring attractive prices for TV and Internet services are valid only for new customers kinda griped me. What about us longtime customers?

Well, I just got the next bill from the “new” cable company, and guess what? Another increase – with the same notation that my agreement with the “old” company was no longer valid. Naturally I called, got a customer service representative, and wanted to know why I had two consecutive increases in my bill. I spent the better part of an hour getting an explanation and here’s what I found out – as best I as I can put this story together.

The cable company charges for providing two general categories of service to a customer. One category involves making an agreed-upon selection of TV channels available via cable to the customer’s home or place of business. The cost for the TV varies according to the number and type of channels made available.

Also included in this general category is making access to the Internet available, by cable, to the customer’s home or business for which a fee is charged depending on speed, usage, and other factors. Although both the TV and the Internet may be carried to the customer by the same cable, the agreements and fees are separate. The cable company may, however, “bundle” the TV and Internet together into a single package making both available for a combined fee. Got that?

Well, just having an agreement with the cable company to get TV and Internet to a customer doesn’t make the service usable. Nope. This brings up the second category of service. Both the TV and the Internet services require some type of interface between the connector on the end of the cable and the TV or computer. And guess what? It just so happens that the cable company is the only place where such interface devices are available. Yep, to access the TV or Internet services the customer must “rent” the interface devices from the company although some or all of these fees may be waived with some “packages.”

Okay, so I was told the first increase in my bill was because my “package” for TV and Internet with the “old” cable company was no longer valid and so the price went up. The second increase was because my fee agreement with the “old” company for my interface devices is now also invalid so that price went up. From what I could gather the “new” company offers its own “packages” or “bundles” with its own pricing schedule and I got caught with about a 20 per cent cost increase which translates into my paying several hundred dollars a year more to keep the same service I’ve been having. How about them apples.

So what are my options if I want to keep cable? I was assured that by going to their web site, I could find a “package” for about the same price I had been paying. But (there’s always a BIG “but”): the number of TV channels would be reduced; the capability of the Internet interface would not be the same as my current one; and the offer would be valid for only one year after which the cost would revert to the then-current market price.

Further, if I were to agree to this option I would have to: remove both TV and Internet interface devices; take them to the company “store” and exchange them for “upgraded” devices; and, carry these home to physically install and electronically program them myself. The other option is to pay the additional hundreds of dollars a year and keep what I have now.

Well, as this is written I’m gonna pay up, sit tight, and see what the company has in store. After my lengthy conversations with those service reps, I wouldn’t be surprised if I get an offer I can’t refuse. At least that’s how it seems to me.

By Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor is a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident. He may be contacted at [email protected].

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