It's no secret that the large cable and phone monopolies have bag of tricks to get their customers to pay more every month. When you're the only player around, there is no incentive to play nice and be upfront with your consumers. It's a thing we hear over and over again from many of our new customers (most of whom are switching to us from a large out-of-state provider). We recently read this great article from Lifehacker that highlights some of the deceptive practices we feel every consumer should know. We'll highlight a few of the important pieces below:
Bundled Service Packages Are a Confusing, Costly Mess
Most cable companies like to package their services together in bundles. After all, if you need internet and TV, why not get them together for a cheaper rate? In principle, it makes sense, but in practice, bundles and promotional pricing make it almost impossible to know how much your services really cost, and whether you’d save money by downsizing or accepting one of the many “upgrade” offers cable companies try to sell you.
To make this all more confusing, both companies only offer the advertised prices for a limited time. Comcast doesn’t require a contract, but it will bump up your monthly bill after a promotional period (anywhere between six, twelve, or eighteen months) has ended. AT&T does require a contract, and it reserves the right to raise prices at the end, but it doesn’t explicitly say that you’ll pay more. However, there are hefty fees for leaving early.
Hidden Fees Are So Abundant, I Could Barely Keep Up With Them All
The only defense here is to read absolutely everything. Cable company websites are designed to be labyrinths that obscure a wide range of fees and upcharges. I spent an entire day going over every detail of multiple packages because it’s my job and I still don’t know that I found every fee. In the absolute worst-case scenario, if you’re not sure what you’re going to be charged, call someone and ask. If you can (legally) record a conversation with a customer service rep and get a human person to tell you exactly what you’ll be charged and how often, even better.
The author finishes the article with, "There has to be a better way." We completely agree (and that's why we started Northwoods Connect). There's a ton more great information in the article and we highly recommend checking it out.