Like Congress and Obama negotiating the debt ceiling, I have been deadlocked in a staring contest with Comcast since their conversion to digital. My contentious relationship with America’s largest cable company dates back over a decade. As a college student who required a high speed internet connection, to work remotely on technology projects and grade assignments, I had to choose between DSL and Cable. I picked the cable connection because of the poor service my employer received from the DSL provider (insert name of telecom broken up by U.S. Department of Justice) and the lack of a yearly contract offered by Comcast. The relationship was all quick downloads, pirated music and streaming video for six months until I received a courtesy call from the sales department at Comcast. The sales rep called to inform me that my bill was going up by $15 a month unless I added cable TV to my high speed Internet service. As a full-time student who also worked full-time I had no need for the eight channels I received over the air, let alone another 20 channels. The sales rep informed me that if I added a basic cable TV package my bill would only be increased by $3 per-month. I applied my recently acquired Managerial Accounting skills and made the the wise, but what seemed totally absurd decision to add basic cable to my services and receive a net savings of $12.
The absurdities have never stopped. First Comcast takes over my local Fox Sports Net and moves my baseball games to a higher tier, I blinked and paid more money to watch America’s pastime. Next Comcast raises rates again, I call to complain, get transferred to a local office and receive “loyalty” discount for 12 months (my single slim victory in this ongoing war) after which I downgrade service to basic cable since baseball season is over. My latest standoff begins when Comcast goes “digital” and my already limited offering of channels is cut in half. When trying to access channels above 14, my TV tells me I need to call Comcast and get a cable box in order to keep receiving these channels. Keep in mind my bill was not cut in half when I lost half the channels I was receiving. Not wanting a cable box when I already have a digital TV put me in my current gridlock.
So why surrender? First of all the San Francisco Giants emerged from their post Barry Bonds slumber and won the World Series for the first time in 58 years. Not watching a losing team was easy, not watching the defending World Champions from my couch was costing me hundreds at the MLB Network equipped pizza joint down the street. Second, thanks to Netflix streaming, my wife and I are hooked on watching Showtimes lovable serial killer ‘Dexter.’ The final blow to my current battle plan arrived via a webpage advertisement for a full episode preview of ‘The Franchise’ (read my post about it here). The inside access and genuine story line had me hooked. Damn you again Showtime!
So I blinked and lost the contest. It’s been an agonizing three days waiting for the Comcast installer, but at least they are now working on two hour install windows. At least something has gotten smaller since I became a customer.
I know there are other options, so why do I stay with them?
I hate renting/leasing equipment from telecom companies. (Wasn’t this on of the reasons AT&T we dismantled?) Every time I price out either of the satellite companies, the equipment charges erode what little price advantage they were offering.
My home is surrounded by 50 year-old trees that I am not willing to hack down for satellite reception. I prefer to have shade and oxygen over television.
Comcast’s Internet service is truly exceptional. The download and upload speeds are as fast as they get. There is still no contract and I own the cable modem, that I installed.
So for the remainder of my new promotional pricing period, I will enjoy my Giants, try not to get too hooked on Showtime original programming and plan my next battle strategy.