Friday, March 31, 2006

Cable TV for -$7

It's my (admittedly vague) impression that most pfbloggers approach TV in one of two ways: either all out, satellite or digital cable or what-have-you, or nixing the TV altogether. But I'm somewhere in the middle.

I'm trying to wean myself off television. I've been trying to wean myself off television for five years or so, actually, and it never seems to work. But nevertheless, since I keep telling myself I should be watching less TV rather than more, I am reluctant to pay $40+ a month for cable.

So the very first time I signed up for Comcast cable internet, and found out that cable TV subscribers pay $10-$15 less a month than internet-only folks, I was not particularly interested in adding on so-called "basic cable." But listening to the customer service agent, you'd think it was my only option. It took a lot of pushing, prodding, and insisting before she revealed that there was, in fact, an even "basic-er" version: limited basic cable, $8 a month, and supposedly only covering the channels you'd pick up with your antenna anyway. "Hey," thought I, "even if I only get a handful of channels, my internet bill comes out cheaper. It's -$7 a month, so why not?"

Yet limited basic cable, at least in my experience, is a whole lot more than just the networks. I'll put it this way: think of every cable channel that no one would bother paying extra for. Well, most of those end up in your limited basic package. Yes, that means channels like the Golf Channel and Lifetime (no offense if you like them!), but it also means another 15-20 random channels, at least a few of which will probably strike your fancy. I've been able to get by quite happily with this set of channels. Yes, there's no cable news (good riddance, really), and no ESPN (which hurts, but there's something fun about old-fashioned sports on the radio), but there's more than enough for someone attempting to watch TV in moderation.

But that's not the kicker. The kicker is that two of the three times I've had this "limited basic" service installed by Comcast, I've turned on my TV to discover that I have instead received the full/expanded basic cable lineup! For -$7 a month! (Yes, I know it's anecdotal. But still.)

So, that's my story. I think the $8 version is a nice happy medium, and I recommend it to anyone, whether you're looking at downgrading from a more deluxe version, or upgrading from a cable-less existence (especially if you're already paying for cable internet, and thus end up with a -$7/month situation.) And hey, roll the dice-- maybe you'll end up with an even better deal than you thought...

(Thanks to the search function at the ever-wonderful pfblogs.org, I pulled up this post from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity on general Comcast tips and deals. Check it out!)

How do you approach TV/cable?

11 comments:

Chitown said...

Thank you for the welcome! I see that you are pretty new as well and I just wanted to wish you well on your financial journey. It's awesome to see another fellow Chicagoan...Cheers!!!

~Dawn said...

Even though in some areas you may end up being +2-3 on the limited basic, it is still worth it.

And like you said, you may get lucky and the tech will forget to out the filter on and you get expanded on top of it all.

Penny Nickel said...

Good point, Dawn-- this is a very Your Mileage May Vary situation! My experience is with Comcast in the Chicago area.

Anonymous said...

I've had the same experience with Comcast in the Philadelphia region. I wonder how common this is.

matt said...

ditto on the "extra" channels...i've had digital cable on and off a few times in the past few years (moving, free limited time offers, etc.), and every time i've downgraded to basic i've gotten the expanded package for free.

i was trying to wean myself off tv as well, and when i recently called to ask the cable company to turn off those "free" stations they acted like i was insane. i was getting something i didn't pay for - why would i ask them to take it back?

Cindy Murphy said...

Like you, I've been trying to wean myself off TV for years. Helps tremendously to work second shift, I rarely turn the darn thing on during the day. Helps not to have a hubby or kids around griping about it, too, ha-ha. I managed to cut out cable years ago and haven't regretted it. I'm more than happy with PBS, especially on Sunday nights. I get 7 channels and can see them all suprisingly well even without the rabbit ears. I always have my "back-up" DVDs I get from the library for the nights I'm off work. Hey, it works for me.

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stmesser said...

I can't wait to check out this Comcast Special Deal!

Anonymous said...

This post was so helpful. I was most interested in good reception rather than many options. Awhile back I had found the limited basic option the Adelphia cable website but didn't sign up. In our area, Adelphia became Comcast and the limited basic option was no longer offered - on the website, at least. I called up and was told there was no such service. Recently I searched once again for inexpensive cable options found your post. Armed with the exact words 'limited basic cable' I was finally [after 2 tries] able to get limited basic. The customer service commented on the fact that I knew exactly what to ask for. Thanks!

fritz said...

We just had ATT install a DSL node 1 block from our place and now we were trying to figure out what (if any) services we would continue to get from Comcast. So it looked like we were going to make the change ang get rid of TV and get the way cheaper DSL (from 71.37 down to 30). Then I called Comcast to see whether they had this $7 deal that I could stay on with. Once I spoke to the operator there, I learned something that kept me with comcast and said no to changing to DSL. I put the rest of my story on my blog, but I wanted to thank you for the inspiration. Lets not let these companies continue to gouge the customer. They hide these deals and don't tell people about them unless they have to.

Anonymous said...

I went through the same process, and ended up going with DSL and Internet Phone (unlimited) for $50/month. I received $150 cash back, no installation fee, and the modem was free.

With Comcast, they wanted $3/mo. for the cable modem, and $80+ for installation. I've been with both Charter and Time Warner as I used to live in areas where both are serviced. To be honest Comcast is a ripoff, even within the scope of cable. The fact that they gouge the customer to such an extent in the first place is reason enough not to do business with them.

As for TV? I broke out the antenna and went old school.