Friday, January 01, 2010

BEWARE THE DOWNGRADE FEE! Comcast Raised MY Prices, then Charged me a DOWNGRADE fee?

Yeah. So many of you probably know (?) that I recently decided to cancel our cable service. We previously had a bundled package with Cable TV (Basic, but we added the family package for more cartoons) that ran $99 a month. Well, of course, the deal was too good to be true, and I believe that about 6 months AFTER I signed up for that, someone explained that it only lasts for 12 months (which is better than nothing, I guess.) and so I have been waiting for the moment when the price went up. You see, we have had VOIP for a while now, starting out with Vonage, because our cable company didn't offer it.

When Comcast decided to carry VOIP, we stayed with Vonage, where I was *almost* perfectly happy, until we were told that Comcast had the new "bundle" that allowed us to save about $10 over the price we were currently paying for everything now. So we switched to the Comcast "triple play" bundle. FFWD for 12 months. The bill increases- but instead of scaring the crap out of me right away, they decide to "ease" us into the transition, giving me a "special discounted rate" for another 3 months that was only $114.99- when the price would soon be raising to $150.60 a month. Seriously? That's almost a van payment. I can not afford that for something that we do not NEED. So we started to do research, and I started to watch as much TV as I could online. I discovered that in addition to the "network" websites, there are cool sites like Cast TV (I love it) where you can make an account and see ALL TV EPISODES in one place, and add them to a favorites list, which is pretty cool. I have a few cranky points with their website, but for the cost (FREE!) and the fact that there are NO COMMERCIALS??! Yeah. it's great. Then We decided that we would sign up for Netflix at the mid-grade package, which allows us 2 DVD's out at a time, it really DOES take 1 day for the DVD's to get from Bloomington to us and Vice-versa, and I can stream THOUSANDS of movies and TV shows (including almost all the sprout TV shows and several great kids shows and movies) right to our laptops, AND right to our TV through the Playstation3 that Evan acquired used.

So, for $13.60? a month we can have unlimited streaming and unlimited DVD's with no late fees. Totally worth it. And so I call the cable company, and cancel the cable last month. They keep me on the phone, passing me between a few people, who are all trying to smooth talk me OUT of canceling the Cable TV portion of my service. I wasn't going to be "talked down" so when the suave (or so he thought) guy on the other line kept asking me questions, I just kept answering "I'm calling to cancel my Cable TV service." and he kept pressing me and I kept saying "Cancel my cable TV" and then he said "well, I don't have the authority to make that change" and then I had to keep telling him to transfer me. How annoying is that? But even more annoying, he focused all his time on trying to "change my mind" when he spent NO time telling me that they had every intention of charging me a $10.99 DOWNGRADE fee for changing my services.

When I finally was transferred to someone who could make the changes to my account, she was telling me that the phone and internet would cost me like $89 a month without the cable TV. Seriously? So I started to ask about the individual prices, and discovered that they actually have more than one telephone package and of course they automatically (without even asking me or giving me any details on what waas involved or what each package costs) put me into the highest price package. Come to find out, they actually have a CHEAP VOIP Package that allows you unlimited local calls. But they had no intentions of telling me that.

So after some time on the phone, I finally get down to a new service package that goes from the price of $150.60 a month to $69 a month just by cancelling my Cable TV service. So. Huge savings. Then they tell me that sending a service person out is REQUIRED and that the man will pick up our Digital boxes and remotes when he comes to shut off the cable TV.

And then I get my "adjusted bill" a month later and find that they have charged me the $10.99 Downgrade fee, which I feel should be ILLEGAL (nevermind the fact that I find it highly unethical) and when I do some online searching I find that Microsoft has been SUED for charging a Windows XP Downgrade Fee, and that several other cable companies raise their prices in the times of "recession" and then charge their customers a Downgrade fee if they decide to change their services to make them more affordable.

When I called, I was very happy that they credited my account without even acting like it was any big deal, but I pointed out that I would be switching my internet and VOIP service if they did not credit me, because the charge was not appropriate and is certainly not how you treat a customer that you appreciate. But what about those of us (me!!!) who usually don't have time to read the detail of every single bill? What about those (elderly?) who don't even UNDERSTAND the bill? Seriously, it's criminal.


Dani Christine said...

We use Vonage, too, because of the free* calls to Ireland. (*free for $24.95/month)I've been pretty happy with it, but it does seem a bit steep to me...I'd still like to learn how to get cheaper VOIP. We have AT&T Uverse for our TV and internet right now (to the tune of about $80/month), but I am somewhat intrigued by the idea of using a digital converter and just watching broadcast TV.

What do you know about Tivo? I'm totally hooked on my DVR's really the only way I can watch TV these days, although watching online is of course an option, too. Also, do you know anything about Magic Jack?

dazed said...

I don't know much about Tivo. I was hooked on DVR but then it came to the point that I didn't even have time to watch what I had DVR'd! I love watching online. But I prefer Cast TV because I find the commercials so annoying (especially after years of FFWDing!)

I have never heard of Magic Jack?!

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