Or so the boys at AT&T/DirectTv would have had us believe.
“Now, the only thing is, you’ll either have to find a new Internet service provider or stick with Comcast for Internet …”
My wife, Danielle, and I looked at each other in that way that only two people who know each other backward, forward, inside and out can – the look that says, “Somehow, in some way, this is going to fuck us.”
“But …” Michael, our AT&T sales rep continued, “I have this same DirectTV package and Comcast high speed Internet and I guarantee you that your overall bill for TV and internet will still come in …” he grabbed his pen and the DirectTV packages flyer and scribbled out some rough math.
“… about $20 cheaper per month.”
I looked to Danielle who simply shrugged.
“Your call,” she said, obviously resigned to a truth that I could not, or would not, allow myself to see: attempting to vanquish Comcast was a fools errand. But my phone tech weary ears and and frozen or pixelated image battered eyes were only focused on the long sought revenge that was finally within reach.
“Set an install date,” I said through squinted eyes as I envisioned Comcast’s coup de grace …
There had to be an alternative to their high speed Internet. I was determined to find it and rid myself of the them once and for all.
Except … there isn’t; at least not an acceptable alternative in my slice of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Verizon FIOS? Nope, but I was welcome to take their next best Internet service at the same price as my current Comcast service featuring less than one quarter of the speed.
Centurylink and Frontier? Just Verizon resellers.
Though Centurylink offers NO service to my neighborhood despite having offices less than six miles from my home.
Hughesnet? Their pricing structure, with low monthly data allotments if you’re uploading video for client approval, seemed designed to nickel and dime customers to death once you’re committed to the required two year contract:
2 If you exceed your monthly plan data, you will experience reduced data speeds until the start of your next billing period. Reduced speeds will
typically be in the range of 1 – 3 Mbps and may cause Web sites to load more slowly or affect the performance of certain activities, such as video streaming or large downloads/uploads.
8 Express Repair – Basic includes 2nd business day onsite service, 8 am – 5 pm, Monday through Friday. $29.95 per onsite repair incident applies in addition to monthly fee.
9 Express Repair–Premium includes next business day onsite service. Business hours are 8am–5pm, Monday through Friday. $29.95 per onsite repair incident in addition to monthly fee.
What could go wrong with a concave plastic sail bolted to your roof?
Say what you want about Comcast – I’ve said PLENTY and will say plenty more – but they have NEVER gouged me by making me pay for any of the 20 plus service calls they’ve made to me home through either in person visits or over the phone. Even if those calls and visits are built into the monthly service price, I’ve gotten my money’s worth.
Then more than ever I needed consistency with my Internet service. I was freelancing video to make ends meet while simultaneously searching for a new full time job; slow internet was unacceptable for both of those activities.
Reluctantly, I decided that the only available course of action was to call Comcast and tell them that I would be discontinuing my television service but keeping the Internet. I promised myself that eventually, when Verizon FIOS finally reached our neighborhood, I would gleefully pound the final nail in Comcast’s coffin. But until that day, I would have to settle for this little victory.
I dialed the number, used my signature short cut through the menu system, and was greeted by the gleeful voice of Bill …
“What can I do for you today, Mr. Marion?”
“I want to cancel my television service but keep my Internet.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, may I ask why?”
“You have my account record in front of you, don’t you?”
“Well how about you look through it and tell me if what you see screams ‘happy customer.’”
“Yes, it looks like you’ve had more than your fair share of problems over the years …”
“Let’s take a look at your current package and see if there’s a way to …”
“I’m sorry, Bill, but I’ve been down this road too many times. I’m done. I’ve got DirectTV coming next Tuesday. Just tell me how to schedule the TV shutoff for that day so that I don’t lose TV for more than a few hours.”
“I can put a note in your account and the service will be terminated at midnight on that day.”
“Beautiful. What will the total be for my next bill?”
“Well, you’re not under contract so you’ll receive a partial bill for the television service through the termination date …”
“Great! Thanks, Bill,” I said trying to extricate myself before he could begin his sales pitch again.
“And your next bill for just the high speed Internet service will reflect the new total of $90 plus taxes and fees.”
“Excuse me? I’ve been paying $60 per month for … I don’t know how long, I own my own modem, what the hell?”
“The $60 per month was part of the TV and Internet bundled pricing, if you cancel the TV service, you’re no longer eligible for that rate.”
My $20 per month saving had quickly turned into a $10 per month deficit, and there was only one thing that I could do about it …
TO BE CONTINUED.
Tony Marion is a writer and filmmaker who splits time between Lancaster, PA and Baltimore, MD. He lives for the work of Descendents (the band), Chuck Palahniuk and Rian Johnson. Check out the digital embodiment of procrastination he calls his website here.