I remember when the first "digital tv is coming" ads showed up, and I remember thinking that I had like two years before I had to deal with that thing...though I would have to deal because The Girl and I live in a cable-less world with a tv that (shockingly) isn't flat panel or anything. We bought it for the first Dinner & a Movie (a tale for another day, that gathering) which must be about five years ago now, so it's also clearly not digital-ready.
After a perusal of Consumer Reports's ratings and overview, we headed to Buy More with our soon-to-expire $40 government coupon. It took a couple of tries to get the Insignia model that we wanted and hooked things up on the home front and hit autoconfigure.
Previously, we got a decent selection of channels (5 NBC, 9 CBS, 12 ABC, 16 PBS, 19 FOX, 22 NBC, 45 FOX, 48 PBS, 54 PBS, 64 kinda-WB) all with varying levels of fuzziness. We've got a smaller pair of plug-in rabbit ears that helped make things clear enough...I generally watched tennis by gauging the reactions and movements of the players rather than by watching the ball. Things were kinda fuzzy.
But they got much clearer with the digital converter plugged in. And we got a few stations we hadn't gotten before. Second versions of 5 & 9 - both weather-only versions showed up as did a second 12 WB and another 48 PBS. But we lost 16, 19, 45, and 54. That's two PBS's gone, man, and the entirety of FOX.
So we broke down.
We called Time-Warner.
And we asked 'em how much it would cost to add cable in The Homestead. We already get our interwebs through them (7.0 mbps, who knew?) for $46.95 (rates went up by $2 this month). The Girl took the first try with customer service and - after a whole lot of questions - got told that standard cable (with like seventy stations or something - including ESPN) would move us up to $82 per month, but if we went with basic cable (like twenty-six stations - including all our missing PBS and a few more) it would only cost us either $33 or $41 a month.
Wait, we already pay $47 a month for the inernets only. If we add services - admittedly, the crappiest of services that they offer and a service that most people I know would laugh at but a service none the less - we'll pay less?
That didn't sound right.
So I called back and tried again. I asked roughly the same questions but of a different customer service operator.
Basic cable plus our 7.0 mbps intertubes connection...yes...Two calls, two very different answers.
No, not standard cable - we don't want to watch more tv.
Seriously, only twenty-six channels. Right.
$55.08 per month with tax included? (It's within the $15 extra dollars per month limit that The Girl and I had informally set.)
Ok...installation's a one-time $20 fee? Ok...
But you'll give us a six-month introductory rate of $40.08 combined?
Okay...lemme talk to The Girl, and we might be calling back. Thanks.
So we headed down to their store in the mall. Might as well talk to somebody in person.
He opened with the "well, all prices are on this sheet now...standardized...nothing we can do to offer deals anymore" shtick to start things off. After we answered the "seriously, we mean basic not standard" bit, we got the same $55.08 price tage but without the installation fee and without the lower first six months pricing.
We explained that we'd gotten different prices online, and he stuck to his guns - $55.08 monthly, no intro offer, waive the installation fee.
Homeward we went to call back and take the $40.08 intro offer.
But when I called, I couldn't find that offer anymore. Instead, I got the $33.08 price locked in for the next two years.
You're sure?And that's how we left the world of the cableless households.
For basic cable - twenty-some-odd channels - with the same 7.0 mbps interwebs that we already have?
That's less than we're already paying per month?
Locked in for two years?
For more services, we'll be paying less?
Can we get your name, please, because this sounds too good.
Really, depends on which department we get connected to as to which offer we get, huh? That's weird.
Really, $33.08 per month - about $20 installation, ok - you promise this price, right?
Ok, we'll take it.
Can't install until August? Not a problem...
Or at least how we will be leaving it.
Stay tuned for my report on having to yell at Time Warner when we get charged $55.08 per month somehow.
This'll be better than the time that $200+ of magic payments (that we certainly hadn't made) showed up to our account and I got told "I guess you got lucky, don't worry about it" by one of their customer service reps.
Is it any wonder that businesses like cable tv, airlines, cell service providers, and car dealerships are so totally untrusted when they seem to offer a bizillion different pricing schemes depending on a bizillion options and salespeople?
You can see the option we've chosen on the right.