Having cable is a hot topic in the personal finance community. There is one camp that consists of people who have been able to cut the cord and slash their cable, ditching traditional cable, and subscribing to a streaming service like Netflix. And the other camp, which I find myself in, have been unable to cut the cord because they like their traditional package and live sports too much! Well, last month, my cable contract expired and my rates were set to jump. I was torn in both directions and this was the closest I have ever come to cutting the cord. I wanted to share this experience with all of you…check out my last battle with my cable and internet provider.
My cable and internet provider was AT&T. I had a nice deal with them before the rates hiked. For $99.99 before fees, taxes, and whatever expense they typically throw into the bundle, I received 200+ channels via AT&T Uverse and internet with maximum download speeds of 25 MBps. I was happy….I was able to watch all of my favorite sports teams, my wife had all of her favorite channels and was not shy about recording all of her shows, and the internet was more than enough for our needs. Plus, I was supporting a stock in my portfolio and one that I have been watching/considering adding to my position recently thanks to Lanny’s last stock watch list. We also have a Roku that allows us to enjoy the benefits of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and potentially Hulu, Sling TV, or any of the other alternatives to cable that exist out there. We were very, very, happy with our last package.
Then….the promotion period was up and we had to re-negotiate another deal because our services were set to increase to $170 per month! Are you kidding me?? Like every person, I prepared for battle and called their customer service line to re-negotiate. I played good cop the first time and then began threatening to cancel if they couldn’t strike a better deal. AT&T recently acquired Direct TV and they were aggressively pushing that service on us versus the traditional cable. But we were not having that because of my long-standing bias against satellite TV that seems to go out at the worst possible time and the fact that our landlord would not let AT&T install another satellite on our house. Looks like it was AT&T Uverse or bust. I called multiple times pleading my case and asking them to honor my last deal or else I was leaving. The lowest price I could negotiate was $139/month for the same services and the message was loud and clear…you are free to take your cable and internet services elsewhere.
Have you ever noticed that when you begin searching for a new service or product (such as a banks, cars, insurance, and credit cards), it seems like you are bombarded with advertisements and offers in the mail? How the heck do they know that you are looking for a new service at that moment in time?? The day after my AT&T defeat, I went to retrieve my mail and wedged in my door was a bright pink letter from the other cable provider in my area, Cox Communication. A local sales rep happened to be walking up and down my street that morning offering a great deal on services. For $99.99/month over the next two years, I would receive the following: Cable with over 200+ channels (same as AT&T), Internet with maximum speeds of 50 MBps (double what I currently had), free DVR service, a free home phone line, and free HBO over the two-year period. I called the sales rep and told him I was considering the switch. At first I tried to remove the phone line to lower the cost, but that would have blown the bundle apart and increased my monthly cost. In an effort to convince me, I was also offer $200 in prepaid gift cards! With the consideration of the gift cards, this reduced my monthly costs by another $8/month. Sold. Just like that, I ditched AT&T and dealt with the fun process of changing cable and internet providers (sarcasm).
Analysis of my not-so-glorious battle
Why was this a not-so-glorious battle? Didn’t I get significantly greater services and fees for the same price of my last package? Of course. Heck, if I am going to pay the money, I couldn’t be happier that I am getting all the benefits of this new package Cox Communications offered me since the services are far superior compared to what I had with AT&T. I’m just disappointed that one of two scenarios didn’t happen. The first scenario, I was not able to reduce the costs with AT&T and have one of those epic phone conversations where I threatened to leave and they offered to cut my bill by X% to keep me as a loyal customer. Nope, instead, I was shown the door. Loyalty meant nothing to them. The other scenario, that Lanny scenario, is where he was able to find a significantly cheaper internet option with a different company like when he switched from AT&T to WOW! Internet. I know what you all are thinking…don’t you both live in the same city? Why couldn’t you get the deal as well? Because of old laws, Wow! is not offered in my Zip code and the only other cable competitor in the area was Cox Communications. Since neither scenario happened, I am stuck paying the high price. But at least I am receiving significantly better services.
In my last article, I wrote about how I learned a life lesson about challenging financial norms and how confronting what you have been taught your life can significantly benefit you financially. Cutting the cord seems to be one of those norms that many have begun challenging and it is one of the easiest expenses to cut out of your monthly budget. However, for me, the financial benefits of cutting the cord do not yet outweigh the services I am losing because of sports. This is a norm that I am not ready to grab by the horn. Maybe in another two years, when I begin this battle again, the market will develop a solution and find a way to stream live sports cheaply. Over the last year we have seen NFL games streamed on Yahoo and Twitter, so we are working towards that solution. But until then, and I project the journey there will take some time, I will not be cutting the cord. Well Cox, you have me for two years! Let’s do this!
Have you cut the cord yet? Or are you still using traditional cable like me? What would you have done if you were in my shoes? Have you found a way to affordably stream sports online that may allow me to cut the cord in the future?