Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Comcast: You Can Blow Me

My last bill for the suite of services that I could almost certainly live just fine without - that is, cable television, internet, and my "land line," or IP phone, was $245.

That makes it officially the biggest single bill that I have ever received at my house, including gas in the dead of winter last year, despite having a house with windows that are older than Methuselah, a front door that seals so badly that I can clearly see the street when it's closed (and no, it has no windows), and no insulation.

Okay, technically it's three bills. But if you take out the phone ($40 a month, which I've been too lazy to cancel) and the internet ($35 a month, well worth it) we're still talking $170 a month for cable television.

ARE YOU F@&#($&*!ING INSANE?? I don't even have the full-on package! I've got HBO and Skinemax. That's all. Oh yeah, and I have such "services" as HDTV and DVR which used to be basically free. In six months there won't even be any non-HDTV, it's going the way of the dodo. The "teaser" price for this exact same set of services -- my first bill about 18 months ago -- was $105. In the intervening months, the price has gone up incrementally. I mutely accepted that, like a frog in a pot of water slowly coming to a boil. But last month, it went from the already outrageous $205 to $245. WTF? I haven't been paying the teaser rate for nearly a year now, so that's not it.

A regression analysis of the incredibly complex bill revealed that the rate for Skinemax and HBO was now $36 per month (up from $22) and the rate for my DVR service was $15.95 a month (up from $4.95 when this all began). The remainder I assume is bured among the various "screw you" fees.

Wow. That's a pretty big jump for one month. And frankly, no television is worth $170 a month. That's more than 5 bucks a day for Reno 911 and Alien versus Predator at 2 AM.

Comcast must have forgotten something very important.

YOU HAVE COMPETITION. Oh yeah, and it's a recession. When times get tough, ridiculously expensive luxuries like cable TV are the first things on the chopping block. Brilliant thinking - now that people are watching their spending, let's just jack the prices about 40 bucks for no good reason! Everyone else who didn't get their business degree from a cereal box is doing just the opposite- offering crazy deals to try to get their piece of the approximately seventeen dollars that the entire population the United States is willing to spend this year.

The resolution: DirectTV is being installed in two weeks. Their full-on package is $110 a month AFTER their teaser expires, and that includes about everything under the sun. Coincidentally, Verizon just mailed me an offer for their crappy DSL internet service for $9.99 a month for a year. So I'm going to get more channels and functional (if old-timey) internet service for exactly half the price of Comcast.


Unknown said...

D00d, even $110 per month for TV seems ridiculous to me. I think you have indeed been frog-in-hot-water-ized.
That may seem a lot better when you compare it to Comcast, but Jeebus! $110 a month for TV? Not even if they threw in a few free BJs each month.

And by "BJs," I mean "pints of Ben & Jerry's," of course. But no matter how you want to interpret it, A HUNDRED AND TEN FRICKIN' DOLLARS A MONTH FOR TV?!

Seriously, how much of what's on TV can you even tolerate? When I've gone back to the US to visit, it has looked to me like TV was mostly crappy "reality shows" and constant reruns of the Law & Order and CSI shows. I guess they must be making new eps of the various shows in those two franchises, but it would be hard for me to tell if a given ep is new or not, since I have seen very, very few.
When I was watching Heroes (I found the pre-strike half-of-a-second-season annoying and took the strike-induced hiatus as a great moment to quit), I watched a full episode -I think it was the penultimate ep of the first season- on the network's site, and it was an OK experience. There are also sites, not available to folks outside the USA, that somehow offer legitimate access to TV episodes. I find it easy to imagine that even if you have to pay to use such sites (and I suspect you don't), it could very easily come out WAY cheaper than $110 a month. So what I'm sayin' is that internet access and some way of watching whatever shows you need to see (and no, I'm not talking about Torrents; as I stated above, there appear to be non-piracy ways to watch a lot of shows) ought to make cable and satellite TV unnecessary, unless you really, really, really need access to some kind of sports events you can't see via internet. And come to think of it, I watched the 2005 baseball playoffs via internet, and it cost me $14.95 for the whole package. Well worth it to see the White Sox (Obama's team too) end their 88-year wait between World Series championships. And lets you see more regular season games than your cable company will ever offer. I'm guessing it's similar with other sports.

Not that $110 a month more will make you rich, or $110 less will bankrupt you, but JHFC! What has happened that has made people think $110 per month for TV is a good price? And for every Jamie that drops Comcast and its $170-ish per month "service" in favor of the $110 per month relative bargain from DirecTV, there must be numerous victims who just quietly let Comcast continue to pick their pockets every month.

I'm horrified. If that makes me out of touch, I don't want to be hip.

Jamie said...

I don't have a choice because I have tenants. If it was just myself, I'd probably go to over-the-air HD, but when you divide the cost of such services by 2 or 3 (depending on the house) it's not that much and tenants demand it.

Jamie said...

And I hate watching TV over the internet. The quality isn't there yet even when compared to conventional broadcasts. The extreme compression algorithms they use on internet broadcasts look like crap on a big screen.