Saving money: I'm part of the 1% to ditch pay TV
In July, I made some big financial moves in the name of saving money.
In August, I went a step further: I canceled my cable TV.
This, after I already haggled with the cable company once. I initially contacted Comcast to ask about the "HD Technology Fee," and the customer service rep agreed to remove the charge.
On the next bill, the fee had been removed — then added right back.
When I complained, I was told no one had promised to remove the fee, but they'd put the dispute in review. Comcast's answer: The company had been undercharging me all along and planned to raise my bill.
At the time, I paid $65 a month for both cable and Internet, a price that was set to increase in September after a six-month promotion expired.
I didn't wait to figure out if I could live without cable. I canceled that day, becoming one of the few to follow through on the threats of the many.
Cutting the cord
The firm Moffett Research found a small, but growing percentage of cable TV subscribers have cancelled their subscriptions. Other pay services, like satellite TV, have added subscribers.
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Earlier this year, consulting firm Deloitte predicted less than 1% of North American cable and satellite subscribers would quit in 2013. The company believes the roughly one-third of subscribers who say they planned or seriously considered canceling in a recent survey simply won't follow through.
Subscribers say they plan to quit for many reasons, including cost, poor program choices and the rise of online streaming opportunities.
Whatever your reason for contemplating the end of cable, I say cut the cord.
Now here's the tricky part: When you call and say you just want Internet, most customer service reps will say that it's cheaper to get both cable and internet.
That's not always true.
It can be cheaper to get a certain type of Internet bundled with cable. The bundle they were pushing on me included something called Blast! High-Speed Internet.
But Comcast's Economy Plus plan is much cheaper: $39.95 a month.
On my first call, I got the scripted line: It's cheaper if you buy Blast! bundled with cable. I asked about the cost of Economy Plus, which I had researched online.
The rep denied it existed.
So I hung up and called again. This time, I said, "I want Economy Plus Internet. No cable. Is that possible?" When the rep started in about the bundled services, I said "No, thank you. Economy Plus only, please." And she complied.
Now, because I did this on the spur of the moment in a bit of a rage, I didn't plan out what I'd do to cut cable. I didn't go out and buy an Apple TV or a Roku or a DVD player or Blu-ray that can also get Wi-Fi. I already subscribe to Netflix's streaming service, so that’s where I started.
And that's, ultimately, where I ended.
Despite dropping to a lower Internet speed, I've never had a problem streaming shows or movies and using my laptop at the same time. (Be sure to check whether your Internet provider has monthly data transfer caps; this could limit how much streaming you can do.)
I thought I'd miss cable, especially when the new crop of fall shows came around.
But guess what?
I don't miss it at all. I've just changed my mind-set.
If I want to watch something, my options are what's free online and what's on Netflix. If I want to watch sports, I go to a bar or listen to the game on the radio. That's it.
If I don't like my viewing selections, I can read a book, which is something I've been doing more often.
I've also been sleeping more without the temptation to put on the TV to find something or stay up to watch just one more show. I can't remember the last time I've had this many nights of eight hours of sleep in a row.
I'd toyed around with the idea of killing cable for a while, so I should thank Comcast's terrible customer service for pushing me over the edge into making the choice.
And now that it's gone? I can't imagine wanting it back. I like sleep too much.