ATT U-Verse marketing gimmicks

The subject of this e-mail could have easily read:  Beware of Comcast pricing scam, but I am picking on AT&T today because I have lived in a community where their U-Verse TV (and advanced internet) is available.  In the past 15 months I have been bombarded with no less than a dozen notices asking me to switch to their service.  Often, HUGE rebates were promised.

Please note:  I am not writing this update to criticize THE AT&T U-VERSE PRODUCT.  I think it can be just as swell as TV service from your cable company or the two satellite companies.   What I want you to be straight about … is the pricing!!

I love troubleshooting your technology issues, I love setting up your new gadgets and devices, and I immensely enjoy empowering consumers to make wise choices about their entertainment technology.

The Facts:

In many communities across Connecticut and in about 13 U.S. states, AT&T has begun offering U-Verse TV and premium U-Verse internet service.  This is not to be confused with AT&T DSL, which is also considered high speed internet.  If you have AT&T DSL, no one is forcing you to switch to U-Verse at this time, but AT&T would certainly appreciate it if you did.   The U-Verse TV service is streamed over fiber optic telephone lines and into your home over the traditional phone lines from a nearby pole (aka. node).  AT&T installs the service to feed into the existing cable outlets in your home.  Massive amounts of drilling and cutting holes in walls are not necessary.  It will SEEM just like another cable TV service.   For all intents and purposes it is.  I have no issues with it as a product / service.

The hype:

Potential customers who live in a community where U-Verse is available get bulletins promising incredible savings and typically a $300 rebate.   No monthly pricing is ever listed in these promotional materials.  My opinion:  I believe the omission of pricing is the worst offense of all.

The facts:
A mailing I just received today specified in fine print that the $300 rebate would only apply if I subscribed to one of their highest levels of U-Verse TV and internet service plus either the U-Verse phone service (replaces traditional AT&T home phone) or ATT cellular service.

Roughly speaking this package would cost close to $200 a month.   Is that what you were expecting from such a great deal ??

Furthermore, ATT’s rebates come to customers in roughly 4 to 8 weeks on a prepaid credit card.  These credit cards CANNOT BE USED TO PAY YOUR ATT BILL !!   They cannot be used for online purchases where your address needs to be verified.  You must use them at places where they can be SWIPED.  My opinion:  this sounds like a very restrictive rebate.

The math:

You have the option of signing up for AT&T U-verse TV without any other products or gimmick pricing.   Let me give you a breakdown, without discounts of what ATT’s standard package would cost versus a comparable package from Comcast.  I am basing this on Hartford, CT area pricing and Connecticut taxes.   Friends reading this in other parts of the country should check for local pricing, but I think it will be comparable.   The following comparison reflects a fairly good estimate  for 1 TV, but may not be exact to the penny.

AT&T U-Verse 100 TV:
Base price:  $ 54
HD box:  $ 10
Taxes:  $ 3.84
Total:   $67.84

Comcast Digital Starter HD
Base price:  $62.95
HD box fee:  $7
Taxes:  $ 8.04
Total = $ 77.99

In Connecticut, cable customers and satellite TV customers have to pay a 5.5 % additional tax each month on top of the 6% sales tax.  Due to political gestures, AT&T U-Verse customers only pay the 6% sales tax.  This may change.


Dollar for dollar AT&T’s standard package is about $10 cheaper than a comparable offer from Comcast.  Your actual pricing may vary due to your subscription to multiple services and promotional deals.  If you want a consistent bill each month, you can always opt for the standard (gimmick-free) pricing.   However, do remember that the $300 rebate advertised by AT&T is only applicable to a significantly pricier level of service.


  1. Diane

    great information. I too am inundated by AT&T to switch to their bundle package. I throw the information away and wonder how much AT&T is spending on advertising, and perhaps my monthly bill could be lowered if their dollars were used elsewhere. Bottom line, I’m just too lazy to bother with it to switch. What would seem easier to me would be to take your calculations and see if Comcast would lower my silver package by $10/month. Do you think Comcast would be game for it if I threaten to switch if they don’t comply with my request??!!

    • acronymonline

      I believe the Comcast Silver package is an older package — at least the name. I think it is now known as a Digital Preferred — but they grandfathered the channels that you got under the old package. You are essentially charged the Digital Preferred price. So to be honest with you, the pricing mentioned in my e-mail would even be higher. Roughly you could add $10 for AT&T and probably $15 for Comcast. Comcast Digital Silver / Digital Preferred is a higher level of service that the “standard” package.

      I like your thinking on this subject. Go ahead….call Comcast. Tell them you compared then to AT&T U-Verse service. Make sure you tell them you are talking about NON-INTRODUCTORY pricing and that you would save $10 to $15 per month on your TV package. Ask for $10 (or $15) off per month to keep you as a customer. I think they will do it. You need to speak to the retention department and not regular customer service. When you call 1-800-Comcast, choose the option for Cancel or Downgrade service. If you don’t hear the option, hang up and call again. I’m pretty sure its option 4 off the main menu.

      • acronymonline

        Re: Comcast.

        Also make sure to get your discount locked in for 12 months. They won’t go beyond that, but you should be able to get a deal for at least that long. 6 months is waste of effort; that’s not enough.

  2. Diane

    again, great info. I called Comcast and they were willing to adjust my monthly bill down by $10/month for one year. I was thrilled! Thank you so much for your advise.