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Comcast, we need to break up

Cartoon by Marcia Liss

Published in ChicagoNow, January 13, 2015

I know, old habits die hard and breaking up is hard to do. But Comcast is like a bad friend I keep because I know her so well, even though our relationship is based more on inertia and familiarity than anything else.

I just opened my latest bill from Comcast and discovered that, once again, my rates have increased for the exact same service. OK, I did order a movie I hated that cost $2 more than the one I ordered the previous month, but that’s my bad. The rest, however, is on Comcast:

 Additional outlet fee = +$2

 Additional outlet service = +$3

 HD/DVR service = +$2

 D3 Emta Modem Lease Fee = +$2

 Voice equipment = +$2

 Service protection plan = +$1

 Franchise fee = +$.40

That’s a total of $12.40 for the same stuff, and I still don’t understand what any of it is. Why am I paying $28.92 every month to rent outlets in my own home? Or $120 a year to lease a modem? And as much as I confess to be addicted to Game of Thrones, Girls, and Bill Maher on HBO and Homeland and The Affair on Showtime (OK – no need to make comments about my viewing choices), might there not be a cheaper way to see these things?

Currently HBO is part of my “bundle” of $164.99 and I pay an extra $10/month for Showtime. That’s starting to feel like a lot of money for “entertainment.”

So, I did what I do every so often with my friend Comcast. I called to question my bill. Yes, I was told, it was correct. Didn’t I read the tiny print on the enclosure with my last bill? No, because I can’t see it. Undeterred, I explained how Comcast had just sent me an email that I was a super customer, a friend with benefits if you will, due to our long relationship. Surely, this entitled me to some sort of a deal? Not this time, I am told. The Comcast computer system had no special offers for me.

Part of my hesitation to break up with Comcast is my mental block against all technology related to multiple remotes, TIVO, and now Roku. I can never remember which buttons to push to get from one to the other. I’m not afraid of trying anything with a computer, but those remotes are something else. Don’t you wonder why they can’t be created with the mute button in the same place on every one?

But I digress. It was adding Roku as a birthday gift for my husband that made the light bulb go off. Initially, I did it so we could take advantage of Amazon Prime, which I had inadvertently subscribed to in my need to get something to my mother ASAP. Once I found out this relationship came with benefits, I got used to streaming some pretty good stuff like Transparent and Alpha House. I’m sure there’s more, as we are still in our honeymoon phase. And I was able to renew my old friendship with Netflix for very little money – far less per month than Comcast charges me for a bad movie.

Maybe I can break up with Comcast. In fact, since HBO, Showtime, and other premium cable channels have plans in the works for the coming year to stream their programming…Well, I’ll have to see what the charges will be. I can make a spreadsheet (told you I’m not afraid of computers), compare costs, and finally break up for good.

Or I could stop watching so much stuff altogether.


by Laurie Levy
Laurie Levy  (83 of 127).jpg
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