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IPTV Providers Battle For Cable Subscribers

The single biggest change in the history of television is happening right now with the convergence of internet and television finally putting you, the viewer, in the box seat with more choice and serious savings over current cable offerings. Japan and Asia are leading the charge with 40% of subscribers expected to adopt internet based television (WWITV) as their primary source by 2015. The US is not far behind with Netflix, Hulu, Apple and Google TV already attracting thousands of subscribers fleeing the high costs of cable and searching for new content.

As we all feel the pain of rapidly rising cable costs, especially from Comcast who tend to be at the higher end of the scale, industry experts expect prices to rise even further as cancellations increase and providers attempt to maintain revenues. This could be a good time to see if you can cut the cable and still have a great viewing experience with Internet Protocol Television or IPTV.

Internet television manufacturers like Sony, Samsung and LG are busy doing content deals from Hollywood to Bollywood and together with Disney, BBC, ABC and many others we are looking at tens of thousands of options when it comes to your viewing pleasure. A combination of free content and paid premium content like sport is available with smaller private content aggregators keen to get in on the act with more specialised and ethnic programming.

Unlike Cable TV which is sold and delivered in packages, IPTV allows you to target and pay (unless they are free of course) for specific programs so you get the cream of the crop without the duds. TV through Internet looks like the future but you will need a fast internet connection so it may not be suitable for everyone. Here is a list of just a few of the major players in IPTV in no particular order;

ABC – iview targeted at mobile platforms like tablets and smart-phones for Media to go.

HULU

BBC – iplayer

Samsung – Internet TV

LG – Internet TV

Sony – Internet TV

Google TV

Fetch TV

Netflix

Apple TV

The Last Comcast Bill

Your best Comcast bills are likely be the first and last. The simple truth is that as a new customer you probably signed up with Comcast on a decent deal that seemed like fantastic value at the time with some big discounts upfront. This is as good as it’s ever going to get.

As someone who has worked in the industry, I can tell you that it is standard practice to entice new customers with large discounts and other inducements with operators prepared to offer up to $350.00 of value for “new customer acquisition.”


Unfortunately, it’s mostly downhill from here as little financial consideration is given to loyal customers over time, especially those on term contracts. The big money is spent on sales of new business and customer service and retention run a very distant second.    The age of goodwill and rewarding customer loyalty appears to be gone for good. A good example of this practice in the financial sector is your credit card provider offering an interest free period for new customers only. When will these people learn that this is a sure-fire way to alienate their existing customers.

If you want to test the value you have as an existing customer simply call both sales and customer service lines and compare your “on-hold” times.

Customer retention is largely handled by customer service personnel whom operate within strict parameters of what they can and cannot do for you. If you are serious about getting some sort of tangible compensation your best bet is to remain calm and escalate through management to Corporate. Many customers have achieved good results, at least for a while.

The best way to lower your Comcast bills is to cancel Comcast  and deal with a company who will pay for your business. Being a new customer as often as possible will put you in the box seat for discounts. Statistically, most customers’ role over their services month to month after their term contract has expired and service providers literally bank on this. If you don’t mind a little inconvenience make the effort to chase down a new deal with a company that’s prepared to pay for your business.

Comcast Hides Cheap Internet

Comcast caught-out  hiding cheap broadband Internet plan from consumers.

If you think Comcast has been holding out and giving you a raw deal on your services, it now looks as though you have been right all along. The Federal communications Commission (FCC) has slapped Comcast with an $800,000 fine for failing to actively promote an affordable, standalone broadband service that  was  originally part of an agreement that paved the way for Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal.

Under the original agreement, the FCC required that Comcast offer a standalone broadband service with similar features to those included in bundled broadband and cable services. The FCC stipulated that this independent broadband service should have a minimum download speed of 6mbps and a maximum price of $49.95 and now, subsequent to the latest proceedings, also restricts Comcast from increasing prices until February 2015.

The service from Comcast is called Broadband Performance Starter and is expected to be popular with customers whom only want broadband without another service.

Other concessions that Comcast made as part of the NBC Universal deal include a product called “Internet Essentials” where broadband and subsidized laptops are provided to eligible low income families.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn, who initially notified the FCC with his concerns about Comcast’s non compliance with the NBC Universal deal, said in a statement “Consumers should not be forced to sign up for cable or satellite television as a condition of receiving Internet access.”

“Today’s announcement by the FCC is a huge win for consumers who have fewer and fewer options for obtaining affordable broadband services.”

In a statement, Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said,  “We look forward to continuing to offer and market Performance Starter in additional ways and with additional outlets,” She said. “We believe this product offers a choice consumers want in the marketplace.”

Better late than never but it’s a shame that Comcast requires a big stick to honor its agreements and provides even more reason to check your Comcast bills and Comcast service offerings closely.

Make-Sure-You-Check-It-Before-You-Pay-A-Comcast-Bill

Although it’s tempting to pay a Comcast bill each month without reading it closely, this could be costing you big money.  Comcast is well known for trying to slip price increases through unannounced and unless you check the latest price of Comcast on your bill, you are setting yourself up for major BILL SHOCK further down the track.

Last month, one of our readers wrote us to let us know about the increase in Comcast’s Service Protection Plan fee from 2.49 to 3.99. No one alerted him to this increase; he randomly spotted it when he noticed his bill seemed to be slightly higher. Although a $1.50 doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s nearly a 50% increase on the fee—and everything adds up. This fee had been raised for over three months, but he didn’t notice it until recently.


A brief explanation of the Service Protection Plan: basically, Comcast won’t come to your house and work on much of anything for free. They’ll come out to do simple tests, but they will charge you for repairing or troubleshooting most things; even the cable lines that THEY own. Sound fair? Well, most people we’ve talked to don’t think so. Many people feel like it’s essentially a way to obtain more money in fees, and a lot of our readers are upset by that. So the question is: is it worth it? That depends. The same reader who told us about the fee increase has never had to have anything repaired, but he said that he “feels better” paying the small fee each month knowing that he wouldn’t potentially get hit with a larger service charge in the event of a repair. Other readers choose to save the $4 each month and take their chances. Comcast’s service seems pretty reliable in most parts of the country, so it’s really a personal call as to whether it’s worth it to pay that fee. Most  people feel like when they pay a Comcast bill it should include any repairs to their own network and should be included in the price of Comcast services that they already pay. Unfortunately, Comcast see it differently.

The most important thing to take away from this is that you need to make sure that you read your bill every month, so you’re actually aware of the small charges you’re continually paying. Then you’ll be aware of whether or not these fees are increasing or decreasing. Remember, it’s easy to be complacent and not check your bill regularly, but there’s a cost associated with that in the long run. Those little fees add up over time, and by choosing to be oblivious, you may be paying for services that you don’t need or want. For more tips on reducing your Comcast bill, feel free to read through our site and check out our tips, tricks like how too lower your Comcast bill by 7 or more dollars without negotiating. You can also visit our compare your bill page to see how your bill stacks up against other people’s bills.

Lower Your Comcast Bill by $7 (or more) Without Negotiating!

Most people don’t realize this, but it’s pretty easy to cut $7 or more off of your Comcast bill without spending a second haggling with customer service! How, you ask? Let us explain…

Many Comcast customers rent equipment from Comcast such as cable modems, routers, and other equipment. Comcast charges a monthly premium to rent this equipment, usually in excess of $7. For example, a ComcastBills.com reader who contacted us has been paying this same $7 amount each month (for over 3 years) to rent a cable modem. Think about that…over 3 years, that’s a total of $252, just to RENT a modem.


After doing a quick search on eBay, he realized that he could purchase the exact same model of modem he was renting (Arris TM502G – in used but excellent condition) for $21.99, with shipping included. When you do the math, after 3 months the modem is essentially “paid off” and you’ve got nothing but savings—bill after bill. In order to complete this process, he simply bought the modem on eBay, swapped it out with his, called Comcast and had them activate it, and returned the old equipment back to Comcast. Voila! Nothing but savings after that.

So, to review, here’s how you can get rid of your Comcast rental equipment and start saving:

1) Look for the brand and model numbers of any modems, routers, and other equipment that Comcast is charging you a rental fee for.

2) Search on sites like eBay and Craigslist for the same equipment. In most cases, used equipment will be priced the lowest and yield the most savings. Just make sure that you factor in how many months it would take you recoup the investment in the equipment—3 months or less is best.

3) Buy the equipment and wait for it to arrive.

4) Unplug your old equipment and hook up the new equipment.

5) Call Comcast (1-800-XFINITY / 1-800-934-6489) or chat with a technician online and have them activate your new equipment. If you have a new cable modem, you’ll need to speak with Comcast tech support and go through a short process that involves reading them a few serial numbers and other information.

6) Return the old equipment to Comcast.

7) Enjoy the savings month-after-month.

That’s all you need to do to get rid of monthly charges like these:



It may be hard to believe, but it’s really that easy to reduce your Comcast bill without negotiating. Most people don’t realize how much the monthly equipment rental charges add up to be after a few months. You can easily purchase good quality, used equipment for only a few months worth of rental charges, and stop paying rental fees!

It Takes the City to Spark Change

So, it seems the only way for Comcast customers to be heard is not, as we hear time and time again, to call the customer service helpdesk, but to get the whole town involved! Savannah City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney and Alderman Tony Thomas are holding townhall meetings to hear the complaints raised by Comcast customers.

In mid-December, city officials asked residents to call the 311 help line with Comcast issues. Nearly 200 people called. Thomas says he received about 100 phone calls, too.

“We think this is a small percentage of people having problems,” said Bret Bell, the city’s director of public information.”

The hope is not to control the service but to bring other competitors into the downtown area.

Small-Toney also advised Comcast officials at a meeting Wednesday she was authorizing a request for proposals to see whether other franchises, including AT&T and Hargray, would provide services downtown. Comcast provides service only to a few isolated businesses north of Broughton Street, including City Hall, city officials said.

There’s something to be said about requiring the whole town to get involved in order to create change. Community involvement is great, but not when those involved are being held in a stranglehold by the only service provider in the area.

Read the full article here

Cut the Cord

Here’s something interesting. Business Insider says if you cut the cable cord and cancel your Comcast or cable services and invested the money you would have spent, you could make up to $4 million in a ROTH/IRA account.

Assuming you started paying for cable at age 23 and continued until you were 80, if the bill went up about $3.75 in today’s dollars, you’d spend about $53,865 over 57 years.

To see just how much you could earn by investing, visit http://www.businessinsider.com/want-to-get-4-million-richer-cut-the-cable-bill-now-2012-1

Let’s Make a Deal!

Here’s an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal:

Every three to six months, when his most recent promotional deal expires, Carey Anthony blocks out an hour of his day to negotiate with his cable company. Each time, the president of a software company in Los Angeles says he can knock $20 to $30 off his monthly bill.

Lauren Schuker on The News Hub has some tips on how to trim your cable bill, such as asking your service provider for unadvertised deals. Photo: AP

“Negotiating works every time,” says Mr. Anthony, 46, who estimates he has saved more than $350 a year over the past decade. “Sometimes you have to threaten to cancel service, or switch to another provider, or sit on hold for an hour, but I’ve never failed to get a discount,” he says. “You just have to be diligent.”

As prices for cable services have surged over the past 10 years and the faltering economy has pressured household incomes, a growing number of cable customers face skyrocketing bills.

Today, the average cable TV subscriber pays about $128 a month in fees for all services, including TV, Internet and phone—nearly three times the $48 they paid each month in 2001, according to estimates by research firm SNL Kagan.

The increase is largely the result of sharply rising costs of programming, particularly sports. The TV networks pass those additional costs onto the operators, which in turn pass them onto consumers.

Cable-company executives have said publicly that they’re worried rising costs could drive consumers away. The largest U.S. cable company, Comcast Corp., lost 442,000 video subscribers in the first nine months of this year, though this was fewer than in the same period last year. No. 2 Time Warner Cable Inc. lost 319,000 over the same period.

Read the full article here.

How to watch the latest season of Dexter and Homeland for almost nothing!

Not everyone knows this, but Comcast offers Premium Channels such as SHOtime and HBO on a “pro-rated basis”. What this means is, if you are savvy, you can watch full seasons of the latest, hottest TV shows, for practically less than the cost of one DVD rental. I just watched all of Dexter, Homeland  and Boardwalk Empire next to nothing.

Here’s how you do it.

You call Comcast (1-800-266-2278) and activate a premium channel, in this case let’s say it’s SHOtime. The current promotion, at the time of this writing, is $10/month for your first 12 months.

You will be charged a one-time fee of $1.99 for activating the channel. OK, so be it.

Now, if you go to your On-Demand menu, and look up your Premium Channel for SHOtime, you will see that they have stored all of the episodes from the most recent season of “Dexter”, or the new hit show, “Homeland.”

You can now start at episode 1, and watch the whole series in order. Then when you are done, you can call Comcast back and cancel the service. You will only be charged for the days you’ve used, at the rate of $10/month, or $0.33/day.

In my case, I activated Shotime last week after reading that Barack Obama thought Homeland was one of the best shows on TV. A quick google search showed me that the program aired on SHOtime, and that the final episode was this Sunday. I looked through my guide and I could see all of the episodes were available for SHO time subscribers. I activated the service and then spent a week watching all 12 episodes.

As soon as I was done, I canceled the service. In all it cost me $4.66 to see the whole series. $1.99 was for the upfront fee, and then $2.67 was the pro-rated cost of 8 days of SHOtime.

If I waited for the DVD version of the season to come out at my local video store, I’m sure there would have been 4 or 5 discs at a rental cost of $4.99 each. Doing it this way let me watch them all for a sixth of the cost.

We hope this helps some of you save some money on your Comcast Bills!

Comcast is a Monster

Here’s a comment we just got about how horrible Comcast is:

Allow me to share my Comcast tale with you.

I called in on the 6th of September, cancelled, had TDS put in, then found out today they have no record of me calling in and I’m still being charged for cable and internet. They said I only cut off my phone with them. I now see why people take guns into places and shoot up the building. Comcast is a monster and I hate everything about them down to the automated voice recordings. If I could wage war against them without being arrested, I would. I’d love to release a disease covered rodent into all it’s buildings. I’d love to find out the owners address and continue to send him invoices for NOTHING, and turn in his credit when he doesnt pay them. If I was rich, I’d buy Comcast, just so I could run it into the ground. With every fiber of my being, I hope they go under due to the stupidity of their employees.

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