Sunday, February 20, 2011

I'm considering dumping my cable company

I've had cable tv ever since it first became available in my neighborhood, which was sometime in the early 1980s. I don't remember what the company was called then, but it has subsequently been Susquahanna, which became SUSCOM, which was bought out by COMCAST, the current provider. I've always had the basic cable package, although for a while early-on I had HBO and Cinemax, too.

Sometime in the mid-1990s I added high speed internet to the package, since the "digital age" was in full bloom and my sons were coming to an age that necessitated speedier access to the "world-wide web" than my dial-up service could provide (good-bye, AOL.) And that's pretty much been the staus quo ever since; I have not added any premium services nor upgraded to HDTV or even digital tv. And yet my monthly bill keeps going up.

This winter, since I pretty much live by myself now, I basically moved into my kitchen/dining area, where the woodstove is located, in order to reduce my heating bill. I moved a couch into the area (the dogs quiickly claimed it as their own)and put a small TV, not connected to cable, where I could watch it while staying toasty warm by the stove. The TV has rabbit ears so I can watch the local "over air" channels but if I want to watch anything on cable I have to go into the (very cold) living room. This situation led to an epiphany for me: I don't miss cable very much.

Even before I moved out of the living room I had resolved to watch less political coverage (i.e., MSNBC) and honestly, there's not much else I care to watch even with all those cable channels to choose from. I do love "The Daily Show", but I can watch that on-line - so really, why do I have cable?

One day this week (Saturday, I think) there were two items in the mail that started me seriously thinking about dumping cable. One was a flyer from Fairpoint, the telephone company, advertising high speed internet service for an introductory rate of $19.99 per month. The other was a mailing from COMCAST detailing changes to TV and internet access effective on March 24, 2011. Now I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent consumer but honestly, I could not make heads or tails of the changes COMCAST is making. I'm pretty sure, though, that if I just keep the services I have now it's going to cost me more (I currently pay more than $115.00 per month.)

By my calculations if I dump COMCAST and switch my internet access to Fairpoint I stand to save about $95.00 every month. So the question is, do I watch enough cable shows to justify the extra expense? Oh, there will be some other "costs" associated with the switch, primarily the inconvenience of having to change my email address again (I just did it with the SUSCOM/COMCAST transition), but is that worth $95.00 a month? The answer is becoming increasingly clear: NO.

So I am pretty sure that in the next month or so I am going to "pull the plug" on COMCAST and be without cable television for the first time in 30 years or so. And I think I am OK with that, but if I go into total withdrawal there's alway Direct TV or Dish Network - they always advertise great packages for new subscribers.

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