This blog post will be somewhat off topic, as I diverge from my usual investment focus. Instead I will be telling you a story explaining why I hate Comcast, how I cut them out of my life, lowered my cable bill by 67%, while still being able to watch The Walking Dead and Steeler’s games.
Why I hate Comcast
Oh where to start? One summer during business school I lived in Philadelphia. When I returned to Pittsburgh I accidentally brought my cable box back with me, which they wouldn’t accept at the local Comcast office. Instead they needed it 5 hours away in Philly, so I reluctantly shipped it back, only for them to never acknowledge that they had received it, and insist I pay for it. Strike one, Comcast.
When I had cable “installed” at my new house, the “engineer” (I really am using the word in the loosest possible sense) decided the most appropriate setup involved drilling a hole through my 100 year old floor boards. Strike two, Comcast.
I could almost deal with the hole in my antique pine floorboards for a decent cable service, but our service was far from it. After a while, my cable box became as temperamental as a my toddlers, having frequent tantrums. It refused to work, regularly. We would call to get it reset, only for it to decide to stop working again within a day or two. We would schedule an “engineer” to come service it, only for our box to be declare fixed, and the service call canceled. And the cycle would begin again. Infuriating. Strike three, Comcast. You’re out.
The final straw So a month or so into this seemingly never ending cycle of resetting our box, only for it to break again a day later, panic started to set in. It was football season and the Steelers were playing in about an hour, and the cable box was a time bomb. And not wanting to risk a loss of service midway through a game I searched for an another way to watch the game. That alternative ended up being a cheap HDTV antenna from Walmart. Predictably our cable did stop working, and all hopes were riding on the antenna, and you know what? It worked like a charm. Since football was the only thing I actually watch live, and I no longer needed cable to do this, what did I need cable for at all?
Cancelling Comcast is notoriously difficult, and with such terrible service towards customers who aren’t trying to leave, it’s hardly surprising. However the first person I needed to convince to let me leave Comcast was not some call centre worker, but my wife, who was keen to stick to the status quo. In the end this wasn’t too difficult, however, after I reminded her how much Comcast sucked, and moving the strategically placed furniture to show her the hole in the floor boards again. She was on board.
Convincing Comcast to let us cancel our service was a lot more difficult; I ended up doing it in two stages. One, when I got my TV setup installed (more on that in a minute), I called and cancelled two-thirds of the "triple play" as the cable and phone services were now completely useless. We literally never received a phone call for us, only telemarketers and people looking for whomever had that phone number last.
First they tried to sell me upgrades to my service, which was annoying, but a few minutes later I only had internet service. I called Verizon for a Fios quote, and at $78 a month I scheduled an install date. I called Comcast back and asked them to beat the Fios price which shockingly, even when I said I was going to cancel as soon as Fios had been installed, they refused to do. I took the 67% discount to my Comcast triple play and moved on to next steps.
Fios was installed seamlessly the tech, using the modem I purchased. For a short amount of time I had both services. So I ran some speed tests, and guess what? Fios was twice as fast, for at a lower cost. So eventually I called Comcast to cancel, which was easier said than done since their cancelling office closes at 5pm. Really useful when you work full time, cheers again Comcast… When I finally got them on the phone, I gave them the straight story. Fios is faster and cheaper. You refused to price match. I want out. When I put it that bluntly, they didn’t have much to say. Returning the equipment this time was really easy, just lug that black box to any UPS store and drop it off. No box needed. They scanned the bar code on the back and shipped it back to Comcast at no charge.
My new setup
As mentioned above, my ISP is now Verizon, using my own cable modem. Buying your own saves you $120 a year for no more hassle. This was recommended to me by the Fios guy on the phone, really simple.
TV wise, Roku is the hub of everything. I have the Roku 3 which works great, the Roku 4 has since been released and as it supports the faster wifi speeds, I will probably upgrade at some point. The main apps we use are Netflix (which needs no introduction) and SlingTV (not to be confused with a SlingBox). SlingTV gives you access to 25 live cable channels for $20 a month, so I can still watch football and the Walking Dead with everyone else and not have to risk seeing spoilers. You can also add on extra packages for $5 such as kids, sports etc so it is completely customizable and you only pay for what you use. Below is a list of the SlingTV channels.
I also have an HD antenna. Like I said it’s a cheap one from Walmart, and looks like a pair of bunny ears. However, I put it behind some pictures on top of the tv cabinet and you can’t see it at all, which is just as well as it’s pretty ugly. If I were doing this again today I would buy the Leaf Antenna, as it looks cool and gets great reviews. I get loads of channels, and most importantly I get great HD Steelers games, with a better picture than Comcast ever delivered.
I also have Tablo box, which provides a digital TV guide, and also works as a DVR. The menus are lovely, but I found set up a little difficult, and the live TV can be a little glitchy. However, without it you are using your TV to change channels, and you won’t have a menu to tell you what’s on. You also have to buy a hard drive in addition to the Tablo box to store your recorded shows on, but you can pick these up fairly cheaply now. All in, I'd say the Tablo wasnt worth it for the amount of broadcast television I want, but your mileage may vary. Below is a Tablo screenshot:
And that’s it! After paying Comcast every month for over 10 years, I am now Comcast free. My kids watch the shows they want on Netflix without having their eyes polluted with commercials. We get to watch Steelers games in HD and the Walking Dead. Everyone is happy.
Not investment advice. Not a solicitation to invest. Don't take candy from strangers. The links above are affiliate links, if you were to click on one and then buy something Amazon would pay me several cents.
This is the personal blog of Emory Redd.
This blog is not investment advice. This is not a solicitation to invest. Don't take candy from strangers.
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