Last year, I had cable for the first time in my life. And not just cable, HBO. I got up to date on every prestige drama I could. I binge-watched Silicon Valley, streamed Girls whenever I took a bath, and caught up on my mumblecore-boyfriend Mark Duplass’s show Togetherness. It was kind of great, but also totally unnecessary and not something I even really wanted. So how did it happen?
When we moved to town three years ago, we got an introductory rate from Comcast for our Internet. I think it was about $40 a month. Two years later, the rate went up, but it was still less than the standard rate, so I put off an unpleasant call to Comcast customer service with the rationalization that we were still saving money. But then last summer our rate was about to go up to $80 a month for Internet alone. And not even fast internet. We were surfing the Web at a crawl and Netflix was constantly buffering in the middle of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
So I girded my loins and called Comcast, certain that I’d be able to get a better rate if I threatened to leave, something I was fully prepared to do. Unfortunately, I lost the customer service representative lottery. I asked about alternatives and she told me in no uncertain terms that there was nothing she or anyone else would do to reduce my internet costs. Exasperated, I said, “Fine, I’ll switch to DSL.” She basically told me not to let the door hit me on the way out.
But pride goes before a fall. When I called our local DSL company, I discovered that they would charge me an even more exorbitant rate for even crappier internet service. Tail between my legs, I called Comcast back and negotiated an introductory rate for a faster internet plus cable and HBO package. The price was the same as my previous internet rate, but the download speed was several times faster. All was more or less well for a year, though I still resented paying $80 a month for internet and cable service that I didn’t even want.
This is a downright evil business model. Your introductory rate runs out, but the next tier of service has an introductory rate that’s basically the same as your new rate, so you upgrade. And then that introductory rate runs out and you’re forced to do it all again.
This summer, with my introductory rate about to go up, I was all set to call Comcast and walk through all of their unappealing alternatives. But first I checked back with the DSL company. In the intervening year, they’d significantly improved their web site, allowing me to get an online quote rather than call in and talk to a representative. And that quote was much better than the one last year, and much, much better than what Comcast was offering for standalone internet. It wasn’t as fast, but it was fast enough. It required a 12-month contract, but that’s not a problem. I’d have to buy a new modem (because renting a modem is a sucker’s game), but I’d make up the cost of the modem in just two months, and I’d be out of Comcast’s evil clutches.
This time, I waited until I’d gotten DSL installed before I called Comcast to cancel. My customer service representative was considerably more motivated than the previous one, but I was equally motivated to leave. He offered me lots of deals, but they all involved cable and add-on channels and cost more than my new plan. Even he admitted that he couldn’t get me a deal on standalone internet that came close to what DSL offered.
So after signing up for auto-billing, my new monthly internet charge is $33.53, plus about $3.50 in taxes and fees. Call it $38, for a savings of $42 off my previous bill. Plus the satisfaction of no longer putting money in Comcast’s greedy coffers every month.
High speed internet: $38/savings of $42