At first glance, it sure seems Comcast doesn’t have a clue about the new disruption to it’s legacy cable service, but maybe not? Maybe it’s us, the customer who needs to wake up?
I convinced my significant other to cut the cord this year. Finally, I’m free from the shackles of the monster cable company and their increasing bills. It feels great! For now… Of course, we’re still reliant on Comcast for our Internet connection and, interestingly enough, when I went to cancel (and rejected any offers to keep cable) they offered me $10.00 off the monthly price for the year for Internet. Then when I went to return my cable boxes they gave me a better modem/router (dual band) that has fixed numerous streaming interruptions. It almost was like they made it easier for me to cut the cord and just shrugged their shoulders at the loss.
I thought I might miss access to cable, but honestly I don’t. I hooked up an old Radio Shack antenna that is able to lock on to over the air digital signals (wasn’t sure that would be possible with an old antenna since it was meant for analog but I guess it works when your TV has a digital tuner) and I get the basic channels and even a couple I wasn’t aware of. My only regret is I can’t get a lock on the MeTV signal to watch Svengoolie (cheezy horror/monster movies late show) on Saturday nights.
What gave me the impression that Comcast is clueless is the offer I just received in the mail to upgrade to X1 Premier Quad Play for $219.95. Over 200 bucks? Are you crazy?! It includes all the premium movie channels, a DVR service and their Streampix movie selections (many of the same movies you can get through Netflix or Amazon). Mind you, $219.95 is before all of the cable fees and rental fees and taxes. This is why I rejected an offer I got over the phone when canceling cable. The offer was to keep the basic channels for $13.00 per month, but then it’s not really that price because with cable fees and taxes it bumps it up to more like $30.00 per month. I was going to give Comcast the benefit of the doubt on some of these fees as I thought they may be government regulated–however, according to The Consumerist, this IS Comcast regarding such fees as The Broadcast Fee, The Regional Sports Fee and franchise fees. Add to that other fees like The Regulatory Recovery Fee, The Universal Connectivity Charge as well as taxes and rental costs for your extra digital TV adaptors and your cable bill ends up being something like $30.00 or more over the initial offer.
It’s ridiculous in a time where you can get premium content from Netflix for $10.00 a month or Amazon for less than $10.00 per month (plus free shipping, music streaming and special Kindle book offers). You can also choose to subscribe to a single premium channel like HBO Now if all you want is Game of Thrones. Or you can just not subscribe to any premium service and stream free movies and content on YouTube, PBS (and other channels that offer free episodes) and several free TV and movie apps.
But according to a Fortune Magazine article earlier in 2016, Comcast added 53,000 subscribers despite cord cutting. This makes no sense and you begin to wonder where people’s priorities are when the cable bill increases while the free or low cost entertainment options also increase. Or is it that Comcast isn’t seeing the losses yet and it will take more time?
What has Comcast done to keep its customers? They added the Netflix app to Xfinity. That helps Netflix broaden it’s reach, but I don’t see how it helps Comcast? They have also launched Stream TV for $15 per month in select markets which may account for some of the subscriber growth mentioned earlier (as apparently those subscribers could be included in the growth numbers which can be misleading)–question is, does streaming channels in a Comcast channel bundle include the fees or not? Or are they delaying the fees on Stream TV and they’ll be snuck in just like cable fees as time goes on?
I’m an example of a delayed cord cutter because for the last 3 years I called every January and renegotiated my monthly cost. We were hesitant to cut the cord due to constant streaming interruptions with the Internet (due of course, to Comcast). But Comcast fees kept bumping up the bill so I could no longer justify the waste of money. I also know Comcast likes to make the cable portion of your bill seem negligible when it’s bundled with Internet–but remember the fees are primarily on the cable side. Over the phone they will tell you the difference to drop cable is $10 to $20 so that it sounds inexpensive–but you have to remember the fees on top of it!
As to the Quad Play, if you are paying over $200.00 for cable in the time of Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and free TV streaming apps, you are crazy. Comcast is not crazy for suckering people into buying such exorbitant bundles if people don’t protest. Unless you have money to burn, why would you pay that much for entertainment you can’t possibly have time to watch? Considering the national savings rate, cut the cord and open a Roth IRA to pocket the difference in costs.
Hopefully Comcast customers will wake up and revolt. The add on fees being charged are an insult. The problem is the next revolt will be when Comcast starts adding fees to its Internet service to make up the difference in loss from customers cutting the cord. We need more providers competing for this space to lower the pricing.