Saturday, December 26, 2009

Is cable worth it?

Every six months I have to get into it with Comcast, my cable company who doubles or this month almost tripled my bill when a "promotion" ran out. I have been calling and getting the promotions for over 4 years now but this time pretty much ran into a brick wall when the customer service representative just kind of shrugged and gave me simply a ridiculous number instead of an over-the-top one.

One thing I really hate about Comcast in Knoxville is that if you want to quit, they will not cut your bill off immediately. Instead, you have to pack up the equipment and drive it across town to some out of the way building in a far away location. I assume they do this on purpose-- knowing full well that many people do not have the time to get the equipment back quickly and either forget it or take weeks to return it. What do you do if you are a single person who is disabled and wants to cut off service? Perhaps you have no way to get the equipment back.

I hate to quit cable altogether as I use it for work, ideas for blogging, and I like HGTV. But I can't stand the stress of wheeling and dealing with Comcast.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Update: Comcast Customer Service responds in the comments:

Hello all!

I just wanted to drop a line here for Dr. Helen and anyone else who may be interested in our team's assistance. Feel free to email our team at the address below with your billing or service concerns. Our team is always happy to help.

Kind Regards,
Melissa Mendoza
Comcast Customer Connect
National Customer Operations

Update II: I emailed Melissa Mendoza to tell her my complaints and she said she would have someone call me from the local Comcast office to see what can be done. My phone rang and a professional Comcast customer service person listened to my complaints but said that I would have to pay the extra charges, downgrade my service, or bundle all my services together to get a reduction in price. Nice gesture, but nothing was accomplished.


Blogger MarkyMark said...

Can you move to DirecTV or Dish Network? You can still get the cable channels on satellite TV. The only thing you can't get is any special local channels that Comcast might run, e.g. a local news, traffic, and weather channel.

7:55 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...


I had Direct TV some years ago and found the slight delay irritating and it seemed to go out often in bad weather. The boxes and all the equipment were a bit overwhelming but perhaps they have improved more recently. Thanks for the suggestion!

7:59 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Dan said...

We solved the problem about 3 years ago by canceling the TV cable service. Don't miss it a bit.

8:40 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Dr. Helen, et al.
RE: Cable? Who Needs It?

I killed my television-cable back in 1997 when the provider called up and said I was six-months in arrears on my bill.

I was looking at a handful of processed checks and asking them, "How's that possible?"

They said, "This is XXXX SomethingOrOther Street. Right?"

I replied, "No. This is XXXX SOUTH SomethingOrOther Street."

"Wait a moment, please.

OH! We're sorry Mr. Pelto. You're account is up to date."

I said, "Well. Since you've come before me. It seems that the only thing we're watching on a regular basis is the Weather Channel. And we can get IT from the Web.

Let's cancel this service."

"OH! PLEASE! NO!!!!"

"Oh. Yes. Effective immediately."

We've been the happier EVER SINCE!!!! Who needs that trash being dumped in our living room every day?

Since then we've invested in movies and television shows we've identified as being entertaining. And without commercial interruptions.


[Save yourselves. Kill your television.]

9:14 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger The Dude said...

I have never had cable - if I pay for something I feel obliged to use it. I don't want to feel obliged to watch television, so I don't pay for it.

Plus, since the transition to digital tv, I get close to 20 channels over the air, free. Which I can ignore, since they cost me nothing.

Now to work on reducing my time on the internet...

9:19 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Topher said...

As soon as I get back home from Christmas vacation and the college football season is over I am straight out dumping cable and upping my NetFlix to three DVDs at a time. There is so little I find worth watching on cable TV it's not worth the ~$80 I'm paying a month. I've already mentally allocated that money elsewhere, it will be liberating to dump that stuff!

9:52 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Eric said...

I have had DSL for over a decade and while there have been a few problems (most of which I have fixed myself), it's been fairly consistent. I have heard about many more problems with Comcast than with ATT, and certainly haven't heard anything would incline me to switch.

(I have heard that if you threaten to go the DSL route, they'll keep extending your low rate.)

9:54 AM, December 26, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We dumped Dish around a year ago, and never looked back. Netflix has instant streaming, so Number One Son's XBox 360 and PS3 both get it, and supposedly Little Miss' Wii is next. If not, you can buy a box from Roku that can hook directly to your TV. And of course, the public channels are still accessible by antenna.

Our solution downstairs is to hook my laptop up to the new TV my mother got us. Eventually, we will get a Mac Mini and make it double as both the home entertainment hub (DVD player, TV tuner, etc.) and the primary house computer. Not bad for such a small package.

10:32 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I pay $11.47/month for Comcast Limited Basic cable service. This is the service that Comcast provides in many areas but doesn't advertise or promote. I get over 60 channels including HGTV. You have to call up and specifically ask for it, otherwise Comcast is NOT going to tell you about it.

11:08 AM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger newton said...

I could have stuck to Extended Basic service on Comcast, except that we also get Internet (with wireless router for the house) and phone service with it. Then, we had to add more to the cable service when we heard those two words coming from our three-year-old daughter's mouth - "Sprout, Please!"

12:32 PM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Since you use cable for work, can you take it as a tax deduction?

1:35 PM, December 26, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get cable along with internet and phone service. a bit expensive but the service outstanding and tech support great. I love it!

2:36 PM, December 26, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could just stop paying the bill. If it's on a card, report the card lost and get a new one. When they start calling you about it, just explain that their cancellation procedures are bunk, and they can either come get the equipment or sue you. No way they'll do that over such a paltry amount.

5:04 PM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger D. said...

I'm in the process of getting rid of my comcast tv service. The reason: I moved a few miles to a different town and the standard package didn't include fox news amc and tcm. I decided to buy a dedicated computer (faster processor and more ram) as I can watch fox news streaming as well as cspan and I have signed up with Netflix. I also bought a magic jack telephone device. My internet - phone - tv should be about 50/month.

7:23 PM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger D. said...

you also might want to check hgtv web site. they stream many of their shows.

7:35 PM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger NerdMom said...

We have decided to cancel our Dish service. It is fine but we watch to much tv and so much of it is out there for free. Between hulu, fancast and aol a lot of the big stuff is free along with good oldies. We are waiting until the 3 special series of Doctor Who is over because BBCA is one of the things that isn't on the internet(next Saturday is the end).

Oh, as far as Food Network and HGTV... they both have some programming on their site, hulu and on fancast. About a year ago I also stumbled upon programming on both channels' Canadian sites too.

8:13 PM, December 26, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...

Thanks to all for the good suggestions.


That is a good question, I'll talk to my accountant about it.

5:09 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: ANOTHER Reason....

....I don't watch television....

Recent episodes of the popular show have inverted reality with Christian terrorists and honor murders. -- David Solway

It's full of THIS sort of c---. Can't seem to get the 'story line' right. Despite Christmas Day's little incident being perpetrated by a Muslim.


[Keep it confused. Feed it with useless information. I wonder if I have a television set handy? -- Doctor Who]

6:12 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Eating Purple Dragon Toes. said...

My opinion.
Netflix is not all that and a bag of chips. Yes you get shows and all but what you can stream on the computer should take you a week or two to get through at just a movie a night. Ok a moth may be more realistic. As for their old TV shows well that is a bonus, yet I do find that they have something I want but I have to have it shipped to me. Ok still beats block buster.
DISH etc. Much better than it was a few years back and you get loads of channels and all the rooms you can fill if you look for the right deal. Still it does not offer internet and if it does it is <$$$$$$$

Dr. Helen- You use cable for a reason. Speed. That is my guess. I want away from comcast but in the end they have the speed I want and I have to pay for it. Right now you can get a very basic cable for little to nothing plus a 6 gig I think it is ( 2up and 4 down) for an almost reasonable amount.
I too had the great deals and even the personal cell # to a mgr there that made sure I got a good deal since I was a (forever) student but even that ended in time. Comcast is ready to take all the money they can.
If you want to blog and all the internet stuff but you want rid of the bill than I suggest that you go to the Uni and spend the day there. Do the work you do normally and then get the internet stuff out of the way. Then come back the next day and do it all over again. Walk from the TV and spend more time with the family or just for yourself. Trust me when I say you will get even more stuff done and will miss nothing but bad drama from the TV set.

7:08 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Ryan Haag said...

I say dump it. I was watching History and Military channel religiously, but I had to dump it to save money when my wife stopped working to stay home and watch our daughter. I bought a digital antenna so we could get the very basics. I find that I spend more time playing with my daughter and dog, and no time wasted flipping through the channels.

I won't go back until I can get regular cable for 50/month that's non-promotional.

7:09 AM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Rob said...

AT&T's Uverse service (phone, tv and internet all over one pair) has worked nicely for us. It's not available everywhere (they lay fiber to your neighborhood, with just the last few hundred yards being copper).

4:59 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger tim maguire said...

The fact that you find it useful for work ties your hands. Like many others here, I usually recommend getting rid of it--most people are surprised at how little they miss cable, or even TV. I like cable during college football season because I root for out of town teams, but other than that it's pure waste.

5:04 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger jill said...

We got rid of the cable for good 5 years ago. I know my kids have benefited, and it only hurts me once in a while (like last week when Mark Steyn filled in for Sean Hannity on FOX). The absence of cable keeps me from compulsive news-watching and diverts a river of garbage from running through our home.

5:04 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm switching to ATT too. Only because I hate cable (another freakish offspring of the government plus business marriage) so much. The DVR is second rate, so is the remote. Basic stuff. HGTV and Foodnetwork have gone down in programming, so why bother?

What is a digital antenna? Sounds interesting.

5:05 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger g2loq said...

Cancelled cable in 2003..
Everything is fine if you have the internet.
All local news that matter are on line ...

5:05 PM, December 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God whatever you do DO NOT GET SATELLITE.

They are rip-off artists of the first order.

If you think Comcast is bad, get in bad with DirectTV. You will come away with AIDS.

5:06 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Mailanka said...

YouTube, Hulu, other forms of internet TV. My wife and I simply don't use the TV anymore, and get all our entertainment from the internet.

5:06 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

We just dumped Dish Network, which provided good service, but no one was watching it anymore. We added a cable modem -- internet only, no cable and went to Radio Shack to pick up a digital converter box for our old TV's. It took about a week for everyone to quit whining and now they get everything off Hulu, You Tube, etc.

You won't miss all the junk on those 500 channels of garbage.

5:07 PM, December 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and Glenn are tech-savvy people.

Deploy a home server with Media Center capabilities and download shows from Hulu.

It's much cheaper than cable. I bought a house a few years ago and Comcast had been pumping free channels into my house (you know, like drug dealers do ... they give you the first few hits free).

Then, they cut it off thinking I'd panic and buy their crap.

No dice.

Yea the first few days there was some withdrawl ... but once I figured out how useful my internet connection was, I never looked back.

My cable bill is $9.00 a month.

5:08 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Rob Sama ditched his cable and wrote about it:

5:10 PM, December 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little off topic, but I have to agree with Chuck Pelto as to content. The power we vest in Hollywood to invert reality is disgusting.

I watched my final episode of NCIS when, for their Christmas episode...the CHRISTMAS episode!...they invented a Christian Marine (son of a pastor, natch) who "honor" kills his brother for converting to Islam.

Inversion of reality does not begin to describe the evil that is Hollywood.

This, while actual Muslim terrorists attempt to blow up airplanes full of civilians and actual Muslim fathers and brothers kill their daughters and sisters in a perverted "honor" and an actual Muslim mass murders and wounds dozens of his Army "brothers."

That said, we have Verizon FiOS, sending very high quality HD video content, very fast internet and clean phone down a fiber optic cable.

FiOS is quite amazing. Difficult to work with Verizon, though.

Hard to get through to the phone company. Seems the people you try to contact are never there to pick up

5:14 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger mickey said...
not sure there is much of anything provided by the cable and satellite TV folks that you can't get online.
think of what you want to watch, then find it and watch it, when you want, and how you want, HDMI to the big TV and surround sound if you're so inclined.
now if you're into schedules and commercials and home shopping and disruption of service and creative billing, cable and satellite TV will provide.

5:17 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Will Cate said...

Just to add to the chorus above, consider dropping satellite/cable altogether and just get all your video through the internet. Our internet in AT&T DSL, which, while not exactly a speed demon, is very reliable and never goes down (unlike cable).

5:23 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Coach Kirit said...

My wife and I decided to cancel our TV service and remove the TV from our home. We just werent comfortable with how much it was on around our young children. BEST decision, ever. I'd encourage you to do the same, you will rediscover your family as we did.

5:23 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Gregg Pruitt said...

I've just signed up for AT&T's Uverse service. After the first free month with all available programming, It will save us around $25 a month on comparable service.

5:27 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Menahem Globus said...

I moved back to Georgia in January 2007 and they wanted $75 to install my $130 a month cable/internet package(It was only a $10 install in Seattle the previous year). Upset by the installation costs I got a DSL line from AT&T and was going to wait a month or two before getting satellite TV. In the interim I would get the occasional TV series on DVD by season from the local library. Almost three years later and no cable or satellite and I don't miss them. If I hear about a new show I can always catch it online or get the DVD from the library. Most of them turn out to not be worth the time or effort.

5:28 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger george said...

I live in Knoxville. I am lucky that I am in one of the areas that has Knology cable service. Their internet service seems to be consistently faster than the Comcast my mother has but the business class internet from Comcast we have at work is the best. Knology's prices are also better and they bundle phone, internet and cable.

I had HBO for a while but when they canceled Deadwood in favor of a show about surfing I decided I could get anything they offered through Blockbuster's plan that is equivalent to Netflix and have more variety and flexibility for the same price. We ship our movies back on Monday and usually have our next batch here by Thursday so we even have a couple of day's leeway to get movies back for the next weekend.

I have never understood the hostility towards television. I suspect much of it is just sheer snobbery. "Oh, I only watch it occasionally and even then it is only ** insert politically correct, left wing propaganda organ here, preferably one that is state run **." It is a cliche. It smacks of the same sort of elitism that causes people to look down on SUV's or handguns.

5:29 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger mickey said...

and hulu and youtube and TV guide are easy to use, though not real specific, once you spend a while surfing for content you want to see, you'll discover things like for instance, the weather, when and where and how you want to see it, radar, forecasts, whatever.
or maybe you're a southpark fan, southpark studios have all the episodes, there for the watching.
same principles for literally thousands of feeds.
and don't get me started on movies, free downloads, live streams, P2P shares, on and on.

5:29 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Zerosumgame said...

I've found Comcast reliable and the customer service good.

And I loved tying my phone into them, and getting the email notification of phone messages on my Blackberry - it has been helpful.

But the whole package is not that cheap. Verizon Fios packages are cheaper around here, even when the promotion expires, and you can have it all on one bill, including your cell phone.

Has anybody tried Magic Jack or something similar, and how do you like it?

5:32 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger mickey said...

and HBO's Deadwood, a series it looks like...episodes right here..

5:33 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Bill Peschel said...

I just talked last night to a co-worker who went from Comcast to DirectTV, so he's happy with it.

I haven't had cable since '97 and don't miss it a bit. My blog reading keeps me up to date on the news, Hulu gives me quick fixes on some shows, and we either buy DVDs or get them from the library.

This does lead to some time lag behind the culture, however. We're up to our second season on "Project Runway" and season 12 on "The Simpsons." :)

But I would suggest checking your last six months of work and see just how much was inspired from your cable TV. I'll bet it's less than you think. (We humans are such bad estimators).

5:39 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger kight said...

Right now, I live too far out to pick up any over the air channels. Sooner or later, I will move closer in, and when I do, I am going to go without cable.

I will set up a PC as a media center and get HD channels over the air with a tuner card plus antenna.

5:43 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger I'm Full of Soup said...

I avoid making these decisions for myself.Sure I pay Comcast about $175/month to get cable, wifi and landline phone service.

But I like the HD service, HBO, NFL Network.The Hi-def picture is great. It gives me super-reliable wireless for my computer.

The downside is I have 300 or so channels but tend to only watch about 20 or so.

5:47 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Randy said...

We dropped dish when we bought our house 3 months ago. The service was fine but we were paying $65 or $70 a month. I just built a computer with an HDMI out video card and hooked it to our big screen. Our favorite shows are online and most sports can be found online also.

5:48 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Al Johnson said...

Dr. Helen,can you manage a digital antenna? We had marginal reception with rabbit ears in the pre-digital era, but now we get twice the channels in stunning clarity-- and we haven't even mounted the antennas outside. Won't get you HGTV, but we get Fox, which we barely could see at all before the switch. Less than a hundred bucks (maybe way less) and no monthly charges. Check your address on to gauge signal strength, then check for advice on what to buy--

5:52 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger MossyMo said...

I "canceled" cable when I moved houses in 1999. I have not missed it since.

Netflix pretty much takes care of all I want to see.
For the rest there are various internet alternatives (Hulu, etc.)

When I go back to my parents' house I am infuriated by these things called commercials.

BTW, all TV news is anymore is talking heads screaming at each other.
Sports (MLB, NHL) are available via the Internet for a semi-reasonable fee.

6:04 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have had Dish Network for over 10 years and they are great. We hardly ever lose the signal except for really nasty storms and the prices have remained pretty much steady in all that time.

6:13 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger ic said...

I have Comcast internet and basic cable, i.e. only channels such as ABC, and public TVs. My bill is $35 per month. Since sometime last month, they gave me all cable channels including CNN, TNT, and such craps for free. Seems they either can't separate internet and cable TVs or they have to sell advertisings (same as getting free NYT). Frankly, there are nothing to watch even for free. I spend most my TV watching time watching pre-1960 movies on Youtube. Currently, I'm addicted to watching Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. They were absolutely gorgeous.

Try this one:

6:14 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Corky Boyd said...

Any company that gives bad service and has horrible customer service doeesn't deserve your patronage.

I was worried when I cut my ties to Comast 18 months ago that my service level would drop. I opted for 3 meg DSL internet service vs. 4 from Comcast, and barely notice the difference (5 and 10 meg service are availble if I want it). And Direct TV is far superior. The new 4 feed antennas are far larger (40 inches vs 18)and far less susceptible to thunderstorm outages. And I live in thunderstorm heaven -- Southwest Florida. I have only one or two outages a year. The biggest delay, about 5 minutes, is the reboot procedure. That's far quicker than the 3 day delay I experienced from Comcast to fix their problems.

I would have changed sooner but I was afraid to change my email address. But this was minor inconvenience compared to the downtime I had from 3 multi day outages in 5 weeks from comcast. So I made the switch.

Comcast's terrible customer service and the frustration of listening to inept, ill trained and unresponsive reps simply isn't worth it. There is even a website called Comcast must die where customers document thier horror stories.

Life's too short to live with Comcast.

6:14 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger caseym54 said...


I've had DirecTV since it came out in '94 and there have been ups and downs. It has really good HD (both in quality and channels) and a pretty good DVR (after 3 years of steady improvement). It has pretty awful standard def, due to overcompression. Since I don't watch SD anymore, this doesn't bother me; it may bother you.

Two major changes in the last few years: the DirecTV antenna is somewhat smaller since all the satellites are now between 99 and 103 degrees latitude, and only one cable needs to go to any given room. You still need a view to the south.

6:16 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Ameryx said...

Others have mentioned AT&T's u-verse, which was recently rolled out in Knoxville. I have a friend in CT who has u-verse and likes it. If you bundle phone, TV and internet with AT&T, I believe you also get free access to AT&T wi-fi hotspots nationwide.

6:29 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Menahem Globus said...

Zerosumgame, I tried a Magic Jack 2 years ago and it was a nightmare. Voice mail broken for months and no notification or status updates from the company. Incoming calls usually never came in. Outgoing call quality was awful. Maybe they've improved since then but at $20 a year it was a waste of money for me. Mine went to Goodwill with 9 months service left on it.

6:36 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

If you have FiOS or similarly-competitive service in your area, you can threaten to defect, and you may be able to take advantage of 'customer retention' packages or deals.

I've been twisting Comcast's nuts over this since FiOS came into my development, so far so good.

As far as cutting the cord? You may be able to get 'dry-pair' DSL service from an independent for minimal cost, and say 6-10mbps would be fine for online TV. My 25mbps or so Comcast is a bit overkill but it does make torrents wicked fast.

6:50 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger edgelady said...

Dr. Helen, I live way out in the country (I could dance nekked in my front yard) in Texas. Verizon laughed when I asked when dsl was coming, satellite internet wouldn't work - finally found a new wifi service that is heavenly fast.

I use Direct TV, with the new digital set-up it doesn't flake out on me as much as before during bad weather; however I do admit that there is nothing to watch on TV any more!! Why am I paying this bill, which is bundled with my Verizon land line? I used to be an HGTV watcher, but they don't have many garden shows anymore, nor the crafty stuff (what I'm interested in). I've done all the damage that I can on the interior of my home!!

I'm unemployed right now -- if things get worse the first thing to go will be my land line and my satellite TV. Now that I have an Iphone I get better reception way out here and I can keep up with the dismal news via my MacBook and my $54/month WiFi!

6:57 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Peg C. said...

Talk about a timely post - we are switching tomorrow morning bright and early to Time-Warner Cable. We already have TWC RoadRunner internet and will be switching from DirecTV and Verizon phone to cable TV and VOIP phone (which I do not want/like but the package is cheap).

DirecTV *IS* a ripoff! We pay $60/mo. (down from >$100/mo. earlier this year) and get only 45 HD channels. We want more and better but have an older DVR and to upgrade it's a 1-time fee of $161!! That only gets us to ~60 HD channels; increasing our package to get more good stuff is back up over $100/mo. I'm now out of work so everything we are doing now is geared toward downsizing our bills.

Verizon for 2 land lines (1 was required for my work) is $70 with NO long distance. That is unacceptable. Our internet is fine though every 18 months I end up getting a new modem and shelling out for a better/faster router.

We have been the TWC TV route, then Dish, then DirecTV; now we are coming full circle and ditching the Verizon. The TV will give us 100 HD channels. (I never watch daytime TV - it is beyond dreadful, and we watch a handful of fave primetime shows and then hubby surfs HD.)

So right now we pay $180/mo. for all 3 individually and starting tomorrow will pay $100 for all 3 in a package from the same provider. Without all the storm interruptions of the satellite and crappy Verizon phone and with a top of the line DVR and 100 HD channels.

Just hoping TWC doesn't end up giving the Fox channels the boot or I'll be screaming. I can't live without "Fringe." (Yes, we watch a few things on the computer hooked up to TV via HDMI but don't want to rely on that.)

What a nightmare, really. All this really is still way too much $$ and energy to manage. I have been back and forth for weeks with DirecTV customer service and 3 of the reps told me I could have something that the 4th rep told me my old DVR will not support. Idiots!!

Incidentally, we wanted Verizon FIOS but despite the Verizon plant right down the road showing a huge sign with "FIOS IS HERE!!" on it, FIOS is nowhere near to coming to my development. Sigh.

7:01 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

the problem with dropping cable is sports programming--not only espn, but also regional sports channels which now carry the bulk of major college and mlb games. No way around cable.


7:33 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

"I hate to quit cable altogether as I use it for work, ideas for blogging, and I like HGTV"

My advice is quit anyway, and after a month if you still miss it, go back.

My household gave up TV 14 years ago for Lent, and never hooked it back up.

7:34 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Hayes said...

My only concern about dumping cable altogether would be the complete loss of HD content and no DVR. If you are not an HD snob, then get rid of it.

I live overseas (military), and opted for the Apple TV. It ain't the best, but it suits our needs just fine. We download the shows we want, and watch them when we want to. Our "bill" has never been more than $40 in one month (and usually is much lower).

With the Boxee hack, I can also stream stuff from Hulu (tho the SD quality is quite compressed).

8:03 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Keith Waters said...

Obviously, we have a lot of people here who care very little about sports and very much about watching movies. Let me know how I'm going to get ACC basketball, etc. and I'll get back at you.

8:30 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Skipper50 said...

Read a book.

8:38 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Colin said...

You should read this discussion thread:

Also see this article:

8:39 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Joe said...

I had Comcast from 2001 to about 2003, Dish from 2003 to 2008 and DirecTV since then. So far I vastly prefer DirecTV. The DVR is excellent and the channel lineup what I want. Unlike some people, I never had a single support problem with any of the providers, though I had an installation snafu with DirecTV--the installer was given the wrong instructions; he turned out to be a very nice guy and did a top notch job despite putting the dish in the wrong place [which I've learned to live with], but the sales team were complete jerks (and Qwest [phone] has always been very helpful.)

I've been considering getting Comcast for broadband and telephone. Problem is that their promotional prices are great but the price after that nearly impossible to figure out.

BTW, the irony of the TV is that I grew up without one but am a TV fanatic--heck, I even majored in Film (and have made movies) yet my kids don't watch that much TV; they vastly prefer video games.

9:24 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Joe said...

One more thing: if my DirecTV DVR supported Hulu, it would be perfect.

9:25 PM, December 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never had cable - heard too many horrible things, but we've had DISH network for 9 + years. Just upgraded to DVR so I don't have to miss any Glenn Beck episodes... We've never had any weather or other problems, and I see the Comcast truck out in the neighborhood ALL THE TIME! It's reasonable-cheaper than DirectTV for the same package, and MUCH cheaper than cable. I always bottom line price shop.

9:43 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Beating A Dead Horse said...

Cable is for teh internets. Satellite is for television programming. Telephone is wireless. Not perfect, making the best of a bad situation.

9:44 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Ryan Haag said...

PatCA (and others),

I hooked up a Terk digital antenna:

Despite living in the far reaches of Hampton Roads, I still get a decent number of channels. FIOS is coming, but is not in our area yet. I had them in San Diego, and loved it! Rates were reasonable and speed of the internet was astonishing.

I would switch to FIOS in a heart beat. Till then, I'll take whatever I get for free over the digital antenna.

10:08 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Brian said...

I am quite sympathetic with the people who dumped cable and wish I could do the same. However, because the only thing I watch regularly on TV is sports, I need cable. And, since I am a lifelong Eagles fan that moved from Philly 9 years ago, I have to have Direct TV for NFL Sunday Ticket.

In my view, the only channels worth anything on cable are the ESPNs, NFL, NHL, and MLB networks, AMC, A & E, History Channel, Biography Channel, and TNT. I don't think I ever watch anything else.

12:09 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Topher said...

Running through this thread is one of resistance to "pushed" mass media - too much crap, and when we take a good look at it, many of us decide we don't want to consume it and find other ways to spend our time and money. For many who read this blog, it starts with the laughably biased network news.

This goes beyond TV. With the Internet, smartphones, mailing lists, lots of blogs, websites, podcasts and YouTwittFace, it's easy to get bogged down sunup to sundown reading lots of stuff out of habit and not stopping to ask if it is the best use of your time.

This has psychological consequences (Dr Helen's comments are welcome). Where I live there are tons of yuppie types hooked on BlackBerries 24/7. They've gotten so habituated that they are constitutionally incapable of relaxing, or having a face-to-face conversation without deferring to the BB at least once within ten minutes. Don't know what Amy Alkon think, but I don't find it rude, I find it deeply disrespectful to my time.

Like the weight loss industry, a whole culture has sprung up of organizational experts helping people "get things done" amid this. However, in a parallel to dieting and get-thin-quick schemes that don't ask people to do the tough things, they don't seem to be adept at getting people to pare down their obligations to a manageable amount. I asked David Allen on a radio show how to remove obligations from my to-do list, and he had no answer. Of course not - his business is selling his system, which requires overscheduled customers.

I still find anecdotally that the best GTD'ers know how to shut the door regularly and shut the world out, and plow ahead on their priorities instead of getting distracted by frivolity. (That being said, I love lifehacks.)

Back to cable and media, I am in the camp of those saying "stop." I have no need to watch TLC, Bravo or The Hills. Sports is available elsewhere or in bars for the price of a tasty beer - and sports broadcasting quality is at an all-time low. I used to subscribe to Sports Illustrated and some political magazines, but I never made the time to read them. I have a big list of classic books I've wanted to read and I'm old enough to know if I want to do that something else has to go.

12:32 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Topher said...

Make no mistake though - when college football is back, I'll be hungrily searching for the best deal on cable sports, then probably eating the cancellation fee come January. We all have our insatiable loves.

12:34 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Skipper50, et al.
RE: Read a Book!


I got an iPod Touch 2G a month or so ago. And I've discovered Eucalyptus.

Now I've got a good part of the Library of Congress in my breast pocket. Currently reading Caesar's account of the war in Gaul.

Ten bucks for 20,000 titles.

Not a bad all.

And that's just the books!

There's head-to-head Monopoly, Scrabble, Go, JetFighter combat and scads more.


[Television is educational. Every time someone turns one on, I go read a good book. -- Groucho Marx]

1:07 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger rhhardin said...

DSL works fine for me, though I threw out the TV in 1971 and so never tried cable either.

DSL speed depends among other things on how close you are to the appropriate server.

3:13 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

A psychiatrist married to a law professor is whining about the cost of cable TV!?!

Just man up and pay the frakking thing.


4:34 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger pockosmum said...

However much money you have, it's never good to waste it.

4:56 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...


I very much agree. Being ripped off is never a good idea, no matter what your income. If more people watched their finances, we wouldn't have some of the problems we are dealing with now.

5:01 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

We cancelled our Comcast TV (we kept the Internet) a few days before Christmas, and bought a Playstation 3, through which we stream Netflix, as well as having a 3-dvd subscribtion. So far, it's working out well.

We also like being able to watch our TV seasons all at once, especially shows such as Lost with convoluted plots that might be difficult to remember through a 6-month season.

We'll save about $800 our first year, even after the price of the PS3!

10:26 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Customer.Connect.Melissa said...

Hello all!

I just wanted to drop a line here for Dr. Helen and anyone else who may be interested in our team's assistance. Feel free to email our team at the address below with your billing or service concerns. Our team is always happy to help.

Kind Regards,
Melissa Mendoza
Comcast Customer Connect
National Customer Operations

3:13 PM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Mike said...

I've actually had decent luck with comcast. I called them up several months ago and it went something like this:

"Hey, I've been getting these mailings from direct TV offering close to what you offer for half the price. Give me a reason to NOT look into it."

Rep:" Hold on just a moment sir"

(Two minutes elapse)

Rep:" How about a two year contract, $60 off per month the first year, $50 dollars off the second year"

Me: "Sounds good"

So right now I'm getting high speed internet, a dual tuner HDTV DVR,a couple HBO channels, and pretty much everything but the premium channels for about $95 a month. It'll be $105 a month next year. I think I was paying around $170 a month before I called.

As for the trips to the office for equipment, I'm lucky that it's two miles from the house, and they've always been good to me when I've swapped stuff out.

The service has been pretty reliable too. The few times I've had to call the techs everything has been straightened out pretty quick. I've been a customer for six years at four different locations.

Maybe I've just been lucky, or maybe the New Hampshire Comcast folks run a pretty tight ship. I don't have anything to complain about.

8:22 PM, December 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that Comcast is monitoring blogs for customer service issues. Please let us know what @ComcastMelissa has to say if you speak with her!

12:47 AM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks for commenting and letting us know that there is a place to go to voice concerns. I will be in touch.


I will let readers know if I get anything resolved about my bill.

6:17 AM, December 29, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to add to the chorus of voices that have cut off cable tv in favor os internet content. Between Hulu, Netflix and all of the network stations streaming video, there is no need for cable or DVRs. Add to that no need to ever buy another DVD.

9:01 AM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Customer.Connect.Melissa said...

Hi again,

We've been looking for our customers for quiet some time now in social media - blogs, twitter, facebook, etc. It's the way of the world - in today's digital age, many people will blog or tweet about their concerns/troubles, before they write a letter or reach a supervisor. We're trying to meet customers where they are. :) You can always reach our team at the below address and we're on Twitter, too. If your a tweeter, you can check out @comcastcares (my boss)'s page for a listing of the whole team and a peak at what we do. :) Happy New Years All!

Kind Regards,
Melissa Mendoza
Comcast Customer Connect
National Customer Operations

11:56 AM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Customer.Connect.Melissa said...

please excuse my typo - quite some time. :)

11:57 AM, December 29, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who works with social media, I had read that Comcast's Customer Service group was a pioneer in its use of Twitter to achieve outstanding customer support results. Looks like they are proactively extending that success deeper into the social media realm with this sort of activity. The proof will be in the pudding, though, which is whether Helen's problem is resolved to her satisfaction. Still you have to give Comcast credit for seeking out the problems that they otherwise would not hear about.

12:05 PM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Prosqtor said...

My beef with Comcast is that my parents spent a considerable amount for an HD TV and then were told that Comcast did NOT offer HD in their small town. They were told this AFTER Comcast's web site claimed that HD was available in the zip code area. What REALLY ticked me off was that Comcast refused to provide me a target date for HD service. This seems bizarre in light of Comcast's huge ad campaign selling HD.

1:58 PM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...

Jim and others who are interested,

I put in an update that I did receive a call from my local customer service at Comcast who basically said that to reduce my new bill, I would have to cut my services, bundle my tv with phone and internet, pay the full bill, or bring back the equipment to the out of the way office in Knoxville. Nothing was resolved but they were polite.

4:19 PM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Lisa said...

We ditched Comcast a few years ago and couldn't be happier. We were doing the Comcast Shuffle every few months as well which pissed me off to no end. Then one day, I got a call from them demanding I pay them because I was late. They had changed my bill cycle so that I was paying TWO bills for one month. I canceled our service (including internet) on the spot.

So, now we use a sprint wireless modem for Internet service. Despite not having access to broadcast television, we don't miss cable.

We use Hulu for current shows and download lots of shows through iTunes to play on our cool Apple TV. Even better, we've connected a 1Tbyte drive to our main machine and have that connected to our Apple TV (both of them) wirelessly. Our main computer currently holds well almost 300 movies plus many tv shows' seasons.

Three years free of Comcast has been GLORIOUS.

9:43 PM, December 29, 2009  

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