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Who would have thought you can bargain with Comcast over price, and get back to Introductory prices that the website says are only offerred to new customers.


Our history: We used to pay $40/month for analog cable service, and $40/month for Internet access.


Analog service is much more convenient. All your tuners, including TV, VCR and DVR tuners work fine without boxes.


(Since we weren't using cable boxes, we could in retrospect have gotten the same service on the $13/month "Basic Cable" service, which is still available - it gets all local channels, either analog, or in QAM form (yes, high definition!), if your tuner supports that, but that is water under the bridge.)


Then they started mailing and phoning us to tell us we needed to switch to digital, or all the channels would immediately go away in analog form (somewhat true, though they exaggerated, and it took months or years), and there were supposed to be major benefits. They said the cost would be the same, and that they would give us free cable boxes and remotes.


We finally switched over a year ago. They gradually bumped up the price to about double the price. And they kept charging us for things we didn't have, like extra cable boxes, and the service for them, and a cable modem (we have our own). They have also started charging for those "free boxes", and the service for them. We keep complaining about the extra charges - we will see if the latest cycle of complaints works.


Installation was the first major problem. It took 5 visits over a period of several months, and we finally got it to something to work only by visiting the Comcast office in Lanham, MD, getting working boxes, and installing and setting things up ourselves. In the mean time, they had charged us for service on the non-working boxes.


(Oddly, I had a similar issue with my mom and Times Warner cable in upstate NY - their installers didn't know how to install cable and make the boxes work either; I had to get a working equipment from the office and install it myself. The really odd thing is that I know nothing about cable - the instructions the cable companies provide are very clear.)


We just got annoyed enough to call them and point out that the phone company Verizon offered comparable service for $75/month. They switched us over to a department that specializes in matching competitive prices. We are back to $80 total a month, with faster Internet, if they haven't misled us again. It is an Introductory new customer bundle price - apparently you can keep getting the Introductory package prices if you call back every year, and complain and tell them about the competition. Worth $5 more than Verizon, so we don't have to rewire, and go through whatever installation Verizon has.


(As I've said elsewhere, once you are connected, if you don't mind the prices, Comcast offers great service with lots of channels and fast Internet. Only the local customer service need improvement. It's really important to give customers what you tell them you will, and not screw them on prices and hidden charges.)


(If we only needed cable, and not Internet, Dish TV offered a much better deal. They also offer cheaper DVRs, $2/month instead of $16, and they don't require you upgrade to a fancy channel line-up to get the DVR.)


Anyway, this public utility has price discrimination based on how well you bargain, and whether you realize you have to. Someone said this could make them subject to a class action law suit, though I don't know. If there aren't any laws about this, there should be.


Regardless, all of you should bargain with your cable companies.


P.S. The person who told us to try bargaining had already done the same thing with their cell phone company. Threatening to switch worked, and they got introductory prices again.
 

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Once you go Verizon FIOS you will never want to go back to Cable.
 
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