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July 13, 2017

ISP Services and the “Three-Fer” Offer

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

I use my cable subscription for Internet only. The company should know this by now, yet they keep flooding my mailbox with their three-fer offers of Internet, TV, and Phone for a low-low price.

My cable company was Time-Warner. It was consumed by Spectrum, which I believe has now been consumed by Charter. Anyway, as a side story, they informed me that my modem was out-of-date, so I got a new one. When I dropped off the old one, I asked whether I was getting all the Internet I was paying for.

Good question!

I was paying about $96/month for Internet only. The speed was 50Mbps, the fastest offered by Time Warner at the time. So I asked if Spectrum had any better offers. Lo, they did: For $85/month, I could get 100Mbps. Yep, for $10 less, I could double my speed. And they waived the $200 activation fee. Wow. So I did that.

End of side story.

Most major cable companies offer the three-fer service. My guess is that they’re losing TV subscribers big time and need to replace the revenue. So for a single price you get basic Internet, TV, and telephone services. Because most people are moving to smartphones only, I assume the telephone part appeals mostly to older folks who still have a landline phone. In that case, it sounds like a deal.

The problem isn’t with the offer itself. The problem is with the addons you may agree to that boost the price above the advertised amount. For example, the cable provider might offer Internet/TV/phone for less than $100/month, but then you opt for faster Internet or HBO and suddenly the cost surges to $170/month. That may not be such a cost savings. Moral: Get a quote before you sign the agreement.

The quote is important because cable agreements are legally a tariff, one that you can’t easily get out of. For example, when I upgraded to the 100Mbps Internet, I agreed to do so for a full year. I must pay for that year’s service ($85 * 12 = $1020) no matter what. Yes, I read the fine print.

Still, you may want the three-fer. It’s a deal! To ensure that you’re truly getting a bargain, tally what you pay now versus the final offer. The TV portion of my cable bill was $85/month: $60 for digital cable, some 300 channels, plus $15 for HBO. I replaced cable TV with Hulu, Netflix, and HBO Now, which cost me a total of $36/month. So I’m ahead.

If your phone costs you $36/month, and Internet/TV costs $80, then getting all three from your cable provider for less than $100 is a deal. Ensure that’s the final deal you agree to.

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