February 5, 2007

Reducing Your Cable Bill in Less Than a Minute
Competition: It’s the American Way

Monopoly: A situation in which a single company owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. This would happen in the case that there is a barrier to entry into the industry that allows the single company to operate without competition (for example, vast economies of scale, barriers to entry, or governmental regulation).


Comcast verses Verizon

Comcast verses Verizon. Comcast won —this time.

When the letter from Verizon informed me that fiber-optic television was now available in our area, I knew exactly what that meant. Competition had finally arrived for our TV viewing dollars. Like most parts of the country the cable franchise, Comcast, has enjoyed a monopoly in our neighborhood for years. Oh, yes, there is satellite TV but with so many trees around here there is no clear shot skyward. And who wants to deal with a dish?

Real competition could only come from an alternate landline reception and government cooperation. When the county approved Verizon’s bid to offer its competing FIOS service I knew I had gained a bargaining chip.

Verizon’s brochure offered 200 digital channels, “tons of Hi-Def” (that should mean more than five, right?), and a “massive On Demand Library” all for $42.99/month. Their copywriters made their service sound, well, delicious. I wanted a bite!

We were paying Comcast $54 a month for their standard plan of 78 channels. Let’s see, 200 massive digital tons verses 78 standard ones. Which to choose?

But wait. Hooking up to Verizon’s TV service would require we exchange our $18/month DSL for their $40 fiber-optic internet connection (apparently copper wire and plastic fiber just don’t mix). The savings would be anything but.

And we really didn’t want, no, we really didn’t need more channels. We weren’t even watching the ones we had. We had just nixed Discovery’s Health Channel from our 8 year old’s TV lineup. Too many über-realistic birthing shows were stressing her out and leading to too many premature questions.

With little free time plus our time-shifting TiVo and Netflix (which we recently downgraded from three DVDs at a time to two after we discovered the same film waited patiently on our mantle for three months before we watched it) we were quite satisfied with our 78 channels. Except for the price.

So, today, I called Comcast’s retention department and, well, if you’re a loyal reader of Life Outtacontext, you know what came next. I told them of Verizon’s counter offer and asked them what they wanted to do to keep me their loyal customer.

Bam! They lowered my cable bill by $15 a month: a 26% savings. No haggling and it was over in less than a minute. Over the next year that will save us $180.

Competition: it’s the only way.

Update: Even though we have some competition for cable here, the Washington Post is reporting: Cable War Fails to Offer Rate Relief in Montgomery.

Related Article: An even better deal: Reader Plays Quitsies To Get Time Warner Bill Lowered (via Consumerist.com)

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Are you hiring yourself out? I could really use you :-)

Posted by: Nina Bunin on February 5, 2007 8:55 PM

The lack of competition in my Arlington neighborhood must explain why it took me from August until just a couple of weeks ago for Comcast to strike $276 from my bill for telephone and Internet service that I never got. That, and a series of increasingly longer and snottier hand-delivered letters.

Posted by: Matt on February 6, 2007 6:01 PM

I live in DC and as far as I know (and I have looked, though not recently), I have no good options other than Comcast for either TV or internet at my residence (I’m using “good” as a relative term—relative to nothing).

I don’t have land-line phone service so getting DSL would require shelling out additional money for a phone line. Threatening to leave Comcast worked once before in another area—and I’m probably going to try it now, even if it’s “I’d rather live without TV than pay you.”

Good going getting them to give you the discount…it’s still too dang much money.

Posted by: plangal on February 16, 2007 1:36 PM

Don’t tell my neighbors that I’m stealing their Comcast, okay? Thanks.

Posted by: Mist 1 on February 16, 2007 11:43 PM

Well, okay, Mist 1, I won’t tell. But be aware, they don’t let you write blog comments when you’ve been sentenced to life in the special cable-pilfering deep-freeze.

Posted by: Jeff on February 17, 2007 10:28 AM

I will be making this call to Comcast tomorrow.

By way of thanks, a song about DC (via YouTube). Love the garnish at the bottom of the screen by the way.

Posted by: Jack on February 18, 2007 9:38 AM

Comments are now closed for this post. But there are a few other entries which might provoke an opinion or two.

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