Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cable Pricing

When I bought the new TV earlier this week, one of the promotions was $100 off if I signed up for HDTV cable service. Since we had analog cable, and I was already worried about how that was going to look when blown up to relatively gargantuan proportions, it seemed like a good deal.

The strange part was that you couldn't really buy anything in the store. You just picked out what you thought looked good and then Charter would call and set everything up for real. Today they finally called when I was around, and so I spent about 30 minutes on the phone haggling over exactly what was going to be the best deal.

Having been well-versed in the craziness that is cable pricing, I was prepared that this would be more complicated then saying "Please add HDTV service to my existing service". First of all, there was confusion over whether I already had cable service, or had just gotten it installed yesterday (?). Then we started talking over exactly what the different options were and things started going downhill. Fast.

First of all there were two separate HD pacakges, a $3.00 HD Box rental and a mysterious $6.99 a month "HD Tier". Initially it sounded like you had to get both in order to get HD service (i.e. the $3 was for the rental of the box, and the $6.99 was for the actual programming). The sales lady had no idea and referred me to their website, which was confusing but implied that the $3.00 fee included a box AND programming, and made no mention of an HD Tier. Eventually the lady concluded that you got 'some movie options' with the HD Tier, but couldn't elaborate. So I tossed that from the list of things to buy.

Things only got worse from there, as we started talking about the actual programming bundles available. There were several options available, each that included different options for different prices, and only some of which were available to me as an existing customer and internet subscriber. The one that was notably not applicable to me (but available according to the internet site) was one that included digital cable and internet for $69.98 a month. With HD service thrown in, it would have been $72.98, versus the $74.99 we pay now for just analog and internet.

But they wouldn't sell me that one, and were pushing the 'biggest value' package which was $39.99 a month for 6 months. When they actually added everything up though, it turned out to be only $71.99 a month for cable, internet, and HD because they were still honoring a 20-month promotion on Internet service that I signed up for back in 2005 (which I assumed would be canceled as part of the new deal)

So, if you followed all that, we will be paying $3 a month less then we do now (and a dollar less then the lesser package I originally wanted). Except now we'll be getting every movie channel available (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz, Encore, etc), HD service, and 3mps Internet. I would have been perfectly happy to pay another $3 a month on top of what we were paying, just for HD service. But I guess if they don't want my money, who am I to argue?


Moe said...

That's a really good deal. Wonder if I can convince the other half to get a new... ah who am I kidding!

Shawn said...

Are you Charter or Comcast? Those prices sound like Charter... and I just called them yesterday to find a better deal, because I'm currently paying $120 bucks a month, which is friggen retarded.

Steve Eck said...

We have Charter. The key with them is that you have to be upgrading in order to qualify for any of the special bundle deals. So once we've worked our way up to the biggest package and that deal has expired, we go back to analog cable for a month and then start over.

It's pretty unecessarily convoluted.