If you’re like me, you’re probably bristling over the high cost of watching television. Even with a $15 a month “triple-play” discount for bundling TV, Internet, and telephone services from a single provider, my bill seems out of whack. When Optimum, my provider, eliminated the promotional discount for my HD cable boxes (each set requires its own box at $7 per month), I protested by downgrading my channel package to barely above basic. That ultimately cut my monthly bill from around $180 to $130, but I still felt gouged considering I gave up premium programming, which included a few movie channels and sports.
So I took the bait and responded to a tantalizing counter offer from Verizon. Most of us have read or seen the ads; I receive these so-called limited-duration deals on a regular basis. Optimum plays the same game, too, trying to lure competitors’ customers with similar come-ons. The promotion teases a low introductory rate for 24 months. But the difficulty of getting straight answers to straight questions, and inconsistent responses from one customer-service representative to another, was enough to make me yearn for the days of rooftop and rabbit-ear antennas and Ma Bell.
After several live-chat sessions, a rep cobbled together a bundle similar to my current Optimum plan. The price: $79.99 per month. But that’s before the barebone-but-essential extras: Three set-top boxes (one for each of my TVs) to receive programming, $23.97; a wireless router, at $4.99; and tax (estimated at 10 to 15 percent), which raised the prospective bill to approximately $120 to $125 per month. That’s not exactly the savings I was hoping for, considering that the installation process can take six hours, and Verizon couldn’t—or wouldn’t—provide an estimate of what my bill would be once the promotion expired.