Category: Cable TV

AT&T U-Verse Customer Fed Up With Price Increases

Avon Ct Customer Fed Up With AT&T U-verse After Four Unexpected Price Increases In Less Than A Year | Connecticut Consumer Advocate Protector Watchdog | Ct Consumer Complaints |Ct consumer Protection | Ct Advocate | Ct Consumer.

 

We are not too thrilled with AT&T U-verse pricing either.  Monthly discounts via rebate cards mailed to you after the fact?  I don’t think so.

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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.

Conclusion:

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.

A New Name For Comcast

You may have seen a lot of ads — both online and in print — for Comcast with the big word XFINITY prominently featured.
The word Comcast is quite small in the ads.

Comcast is going through some changes, but they are not related to corporate instability.
#1  They are completing their takeover of NBC Universal
#2  They are trying to shed their image as a slow moving, inefficient business that doesn’t respond to customer concerns.

So they are re-branding their internet and TV services with the name XFINITY  — while still being under the Comcast banner.

The XFINITY component of their services actually refers to the fact that you can watch some live TV and On-Demand programs through a special comcast website.   After a simple setup, I understand it is pretty straight forward

WHAT  YOU SHOULD BE ALARMED ABOUT:  Any Comcast price changes!!   Be vigilant.   Know the competition’s prices and be willing to ask for a discount.  1-800-COMCAST.   You must select the option to disconnect services to speak with someone in the retention department.

ALSO PAY ATTENTION:  Certain Comcast price plans / packages are being phased out.   You should be able to keep your plan as long as you don’t change.   Note:  some Comcast specials are only good for a certain number of months.

The Future of Cable TV

Sometimes another person writes exactly what I want to say on a certain subject, why not let them?
This article posted in the NY Times Bits (technology) section on May 1.  Titled THE PROBLEM WITH CABLE IS TELEVISION, it covers a lot of the issues I have spoken about that cable companies (including Comcast) have dealt with and are dealing with.   The author covers the subject of cable companies making their own digital transition, which is a different matter entirely from the transition you have been seeing ads for.  It has nothing to do with the 6/12/09 digital transition.  This is for people (the select few) who use antennas to receive their television.

However, Cable TV customers will need to get a box for every TV they want to watch TV on, but these boxes do not involve government coupons.  You obtain the boxes by renting them from your cable company.   Why is this being done?   Cable TV companies are losing out BIG TIME to satellite TV companies, who are providing double the amount of HD channels is most parts of the country.  By moving cable channels to digital, they will be able to offer more HD selections.  It’s all about money really – and that’s not always a bad thing.  If you don’t care about HD (like) and you are content with your $15 a month basic cable package (like me), we are on the losing end my friends.  Comcast and their cable colleagues must increase supply to meet the demand.

Here is the article:  http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/01/the-problem-with-cable-is-television/

PS.  If all you want is the $15 (or so) basic cable, its likely that you will not need a box but even some of those channels have been moved to the digital realm — so a box may help you.

Saving Money, Staying Organized

Dear Readers,

In these very interesting and challenging times, I realize that staying organized and saving money are very important.

I want to share with you two ways you can save money on your TV bill and a few Internet tools to help you plan more effectively, including an overview of the Remember The Milk website tool….

If you are dealing with a job loss, work reduction, or serious drop in your investment portfolio … it’s understandable that you’ll have to cut back on info-tainment spending.

1)  Consider cutting your cable package to the Basic analog or Limited Basic offering.   This typically includes channels 2 through 23 (give or take a few) and is made up of your local broadcast affiliates (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, public access stations, PBS affiliate and possibly one or two cable networks.   Pricing will be in the $12 to $18 per month range, and you WILL get the HD feed of your local broadcast networks if they provide it to the cable company. HD TV needed, of course!  No ESPN, no CNN ….. but the price is right.  You’ll be able to watch NFL games in HD!!

2)  The government DTV 2009 coupon program is still in effect.   If you want to avoid pay TV altogether and want to go the route of rabbit-ears antenna viewing … the US Department of Commerce will give you up to two $40 vouchers to buy the digital converter box you need to receive over the air programming after Feb. 17, 2009.    Some online retailers listed on the http://www.dtv2009.gov are offering the receivers for as little as $40.01.   You will also need a $13 VHF/UHF antenna from a store like Radio Shack.   Expect to receive 5 to 15 local broadcast networks and their substations.   It’s limited, but it’s FREE.  (You can also hook up an antenna directly to a new HD TV.  All of these newer models have the digital over the air receivers built in.)

To stay organized, make a free account for yourself on a website that I love called Remember The Milk.  http://www.rememberthemilk.com RTM is an online task list based on the Getting Things Done concept.   You can make different categories of tasks and your to-do’s can be e-mailed to you daily or per event.   Remmber The Milk is also able to be synched to your Blackberry or iPhone.   This functionality will cost you $25 per year.   I don’t have one of those devices, but overall I find this tool an indespesnable resource.

Keep a computerized calendar for yourself – online through Google Calendar (http://calendar.google.com).   Reminders can be e-mailed to you at your specified interval.  You can use your existing e-mail address to sign up for Google Calendar.  No need to create a separate Gmail account if you don’t want one.   Your Yahoo Calendar or other synchronized calendar, ie. Exchange from your workplace  will serve the same purpose.

Have a nice day.