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Author Topic: The Great Cable Experiment of '11  (Read 1544 times)
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hepcat
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« on: July 11, 2011, 06:49:26 PM »

Cable tv and high speed internet.  Two things that none of us can live without (if anyone says otherwise, I would counter with a well thought out "NUH HUH!").  Unfortunately, whenever some of us actually stop and take a minute to look at our bill, we realize we've been unwittingly subsidizing a mass transit system in Ecuador or something.

So years ago, I decided the best way to handle this was to call my cable provider every six months or so and threaten to leave, usually by citing a competitor's price for new customers.  Then I would grab a beef jerky and sit back as the numerous offers to put me on some bundled special deal that I REALLY shouldn't be eligible for was now suddenly eligibilit-ized.

Rinse, repeat..ad nauseum.

After choking back a scream Friday morning when I realized my bill from Comcast had crept up to almost 150 bucks, I decided it was time for "the call".

Fast forward to this morning.

Comcast:  Good morning, I hear you're looking to cancel.  We'd hate to lose a long time customer such as yourself, so let me see if there's something I can do keep you with us.  Can I ask what alternatives you're looking at?

Me:  Well, RCN has a similar service but at 20mbps for the internet AND tivo premiere for 89.99 for three years.

Comcast:  <silence>

Me:  Hello?

Comcast:  Wow...that's a great price!  

Me:  Ummm...what?

Comcast:  There's nothing I can do to come even close to that!

Me:  <realizing my gambit has finally failed>  Really?  <Now I'm not sure if the guy on the other end of the phone is waiting for me to give him the details for the RCN offer so HE can run off and join up>

Comcast:  What day would you like to end your service, sir?

Me: <sputtering as I try to dry swallow the chunk of beef jerky that's now stuck in the back of my throat> Umm...Thurs...no...Friday?

Comcast:  Alright sir, I'll put down your disconnect time as Friday at 5pm and I'll send you an email with your final bill.

A little background info is needed at this point.  Year ago I was with RCN.  And while the tv service wasn't too bad, they drastically oversold service in pretty much all of Chicago.  The end result was that during peak times, a 10mbps service was usually about 1/100th of that.  No kidding.  I would routinely see speeds of 40 to 80k during peak times.  Eventually, they started using a DNS server that I'm convinced was just an old fashioned switchboard run by a 70 year old women who would get my request for wwww.grannylove.com, look up the address in a book, then "patch me in".  It was at that point that I left for Comcast...and even though they charge an arm and a leg, I've had reliable internet ever since.  

However, my bluff had been called. There was no way I could back pedal at this point.  What would that look like?  Everyone at the Comcast call center would be laughing, putting on a fake midwestern voice and going, "Oh...I don't really mean it, kind sir.   Please allow me to remain with Comcast...AND would you like a back rub in the future for your troubles?" to each other.

No, I had to go through with it.  There was no turning back at this point.

So I just got off the phone with RCN.  I ordered the 20mbps service with the Tivo Premiere (the one thing I'm actually looking forward to for this "experiment") for 89.99 a month for 1 year (it goes up by about 10 bucks a month for the 2nd and then 3rd year...but there's no contract so I can bail).

This may end in tears...

edit:  added another w to the grannylove site because apparently that doesn't lead to a blank page...
« Last Edit: July 11, 2011, 06:53:11 PM by hepcat » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2011, 06:54:03 PM »

Quote
This may end in tears...

If so can we taste them?
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2011, 06:56:31 PM »

I am laughing at you so hard right now.  When people tell me they do this kind of stuff, this is how I always hope it ends up.
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« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2011, 07:07:46 PM »

Every time I look at my astronomical DirecTV bill, I consider the alternative (anything that is not DirecTV) and realize that it's just not viable.
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hepcat
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« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2011, 07:09:26 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on July 11, 2011, 06:56:31 PM

I am laughing at you so hard right now.  When people tell me they do this kind of stuff, this is how I always hope it ends up.

To be fair though, it's worked like a charm for years.  I would still encourage people to challenge their cable provider on their bills.  They usually will give you a better deal if you press the issue. 
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« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2011, 07:21:03 PM »

Quote
Comcast:  Wow...that's a great price!  

Me:  Ummm...what?

Comcast:  There's nothing I can do to come even close to that!

Me:  <realizing my gambit has finally failed>  Really?  <Now I'm not sure if the guy on the other end of the phone is waiting for me to give him the details for the RCN offer so HE can run off and join up>

Comcast:  What day would you like to end your service, sir?

Me: <sputtering as I try to dry swallow the chunk of beef jerky that's now stuck in the back of my throat> Umm...Thurs...no...Friday?

(Freeze frame on Hepcat choking on beef jerky as a giant red stamp comes onscreen: FAIL!!!)

 icon_lol


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« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2011, 08:50:13 PM »

When did the final episode of Battlestar Galactica air?  Because it was the very next day that I cancelled my ridiculously expensive cable service.

I kept the internet service and that alone was just over $40 month which was a huge savings for the almost $180 I was spending for cable/phone/internet service previously.

Now of course the internet only pricing has crept up to just over $50/month but it's still (barely) within acceptable limits.


Turns out the final episode of BSG aired on March 20, 2009.  So I've been without cable TV for over two years now.  I don't miss it at all.

Except for new run episodes of Futurama on Comedy Central.
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hepcat
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2011, 09:09:42 PM »

I'm holding out hope that internet tv takes off someday...
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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2011, 09:18:54 PM »

Quote from: gellar on July 11, 2011, 07:07:46 PM

Every time I look at my astronomical DirecTV bill, I consider the alternative (anything that is not DirecTV) and realize that it's just not viable.

Gelzy - I routinely make the call to DTV and always get something. I just mention Comcast/Fios and they scramble.

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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2011, 09:21:23 PM »

You just need to do what I do - order cable and then cancel it a month or two later. One of the times, they'll forget to actually disconnect it and then you'll watching free cable and rolling in the dough, living the good life.
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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2011, 09:53:44 PM »

There's two people in the office that do this same thing regularly. However they don't bother saying "x company is doing this deal". They basically just tell the retention people the bill is too high and ask what can be done to lower it. The retention people find them a deal going on and move them over to that. Then in another 6 months when their bill goes up they do it again.

I've always been tempted to do it but it sounds too troublesome to go through that process every few months.
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« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2011, 10:05:05 PM »

Quote from: TK-421 on July 11, 2011, 08:50:13 PM

Turns out the final episode of BSG aired on March 20, 2009.  So I've been without cable TV for over two years now.  I don't miss it at all.

Even though I literally don't watch a single other thing on TV, cable is a necessity for those of us who watch a lot of sports.

Reminds me though that I do need to call and see if I can get a better deal.  I'm playing $180 for cable/internet/phone with Comcast right now and would like to get it cheaper.  The internet service is stellar (have had one 2-hour outage in the last 6 years, and rarely dip below 10 MBPS), so I really don't have any room to complain other than price. 
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« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2011, 01:14:38 AM »

Yeah, when I saw that my Comcast bill was getting over $150 I just called and told them to cut the cable and leave me with internet.  I didn't have the patience to do this stupid "oh, I'm going to leave if you don't lower my bill" dance.  That was 6 months ago and I haven't looked back since.  Streaming ftw.
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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2011, 01:31:42 AM »

When our Comcast bill hit $65 (internet only, no TV or phone) I was going to do the same thing.  I started looking around at the options...but down here between Romeoville, Lockport and Lemont, there don't appear to BE any other options. 

Quote from: hepcat on July 11, 2011, 06:49:26 PM

edit:  added another w to the grannylove site because apparently that doesn't lead to a blank page...

icon_eek
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2011, 01:43:35 AM »

Quote from: EngineNo9 on July 12, 2011, 01:14:38 AM

I didn't have the patience to do this stupid "oh, I'm going to leave if you don't lower my bill" dance.

The dance usually takes 3 seconds (long enough to say "I can get a better deal at xxx", so you must have the patience of Conan the Barbarian...

Quote from: EngineNo9 on July 12, 2011, 01:14:38 AM

Streaming ftw.

what service do you use?  Hulu?  Hulu Plus? 
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2011, 01:53:51 AM »

Quote from: hepcat on July 12, 2011, 01:43:35 AM

Quote from: EngineNo9 on July 12, 2011, 01:14:38 AM

I didn't have the patience to do this stupid "oh, I'm going to leave if you don't lower my bill" dance.

The dance usually takes 3 seconds (long enough to say "I can get a better deal at xxx", so you must have the patience of Conan the Barbarian...


You don't have to wait to talk to someone?
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« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2011, 02:16:45 AM »

Quote from: hepcat on July 12, 2011, 01:43:35 AM

Quote from: EngineNo9 on July 12, 2011, 01:14:38 AM

I didn't have the patience to do this stupid "oh, I'm going to leave if you don't lower my bill" dance.

The dance usually takes 3 seconds (long enough to say "I can get a better deal at xxx", so you must have the patience of Conan the Barbarian...

Yes, I have been accused of something like that.  slywink  Partially it is not having the patience to actually call and wait to talk to a human who can help me, and partly the fact that I always end up angrier after talking to them. 

Quote

Quote from: EngineNo9 on July 12, 2011, 01:14:38 AM

Streaming ftw.

what service do you use?  Hulu?  Hulu Plus? 

Yeah, I just use the free Hulu for most of the normal TV shows, and PlayOn to access it from my PS3 and 360.  I've also done Amazon Video On Demand for rare shows like Mythbusters that aren't on Hulu but I really like to watch.  And then there's Netflix streaming and discs.  And Zune Marketplace. 

Some of those are obviously pay solutions, but I use them sparingly and honestly I could rent a whole ton of stuff before I even get close to spending the $80+ per month that Comcast cable cost. 
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« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2011, 03:49:39 AM »

Quote from: The Grue on July 11, 2011, 06:56:31 PM

I am laughing at you so hard right now.  When people tell me they do this kind of stuff, this is how I always hope it ends up.
Son, what are you? A com-u-nist?  Do you not believe in free trade, capitalism and supply and demand?!  Should the little guy not fight for his rights to entertainment at a reasonable cost?  Go back to Soviet Union, Comrade Gruesky!   slywink
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« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2011, 04:08:48 AM »

I had a strange and similar experience with my cable provider... after being a non-complaining, always on time customer for 6 years, I decided the bill was too high and I was going to cut my service way, way back, or just to internet...  So I called them up, and they said they would charge me $35 to downgrade my service.  I said 'Ok, then cancel it all'.  And they did... without batting an eye.  Where is the logic in that?  Surely they could've paused for a second and realized that not only had they gotten an insane amount of money out of me (HOLY GOD I JUST DID THE MATH AND IT'S LIKE $9 - 10K TOTAL), but that I was a customer they might want to keep since I was low hassle and they had the chance to continue to make money off of me... but no.  They let me go over $35.

So I switched to the one other viable provider in town, and I have 6 months of FASTER and more stable internet via DSL for $36/mo, then $50/mo with no contract, and just ditched the TV in favor of netflix/hulu plus, so I'm currently saving over $100/mo from what I had before.

So the funny and/or infuriating part...

Last week (at 8am on a Saturday?) I got a sales call from my old provider asking me if I'd be interested in any of their services.  I told them that I had cancelled their service one week earlier... I got a good 5 seconds of silence before they asked why, which I told them, and they said they'd be sure to stop calling me.  Unbelievable how quickly they forgot a relationship that is second in duration only to my marriage...
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« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2011, 05:07:50 AM »

Quote from: gellar on July 11, 2011, 07:07:46 PM

Every time I look at my astronomical DirecTV bill, I consider the alternative (anything that is not DirecTV) and realize that it's just not viable.

I've been looking at my astronomical DirecTV bill for nearly a year.  We're canceling this week.  The only thing I'm potentially worried about missing is sports, and I think saving over $100 a month might ease the sting of that a bit.  Between OTA networks and ESPN3 on XBox Live, I'm willing to take the chance.
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« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2011, 02:03:34 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2011, 01:53:51 AM

Quote from: hepcat on July 12, 2011, 01:43:35 AM

Quote from: EngineNo9 on July 12, 2011, 01:14:38 AM

I didn't have the patience to do this stupid "oh, I'm going to leave if you don't lower my bill" dance.

The dance usually takes 3 seconds (long enough to say "I can get a better deal at xxx", so you must have the patience of Conan the Barbarian...


You don't have to wait to talk to someone?

We're talking about the actual dance itself.  It only takes about 3 seconds to stand up, do that little foxtrot style step, raise your hands up and do a short wave, then sit back down.  Some traditionalists get upset with my truncated version of the dance, but I don't see any point in adding housepets to the routine.

Quote

Yeah, I just use the free Hulu for most of the normal TV shows, and PlayOn to access it from my PS3 and 360.  I've also done Amazon Video On Demand for rare shows like Mythbusters that aren't on Hulu but I really like to watch.  And then there's Netflix streaming and discs.  And Zune Marketplace.

Some of those are obviously pay solutions, but I use them sparingly and honestly I could rent a whole ton of stuff before I even get close to spending the $80+ per month that Comcast cable cost.  

Hmmm...you make a good point, engine.  Methinks I should keep this in mind.

I'm going to try RCN.  I have to admit that I'm a huge Tivo fan (I used to have it...before HD units hit the market at an initially high price) and I'm curious to see how RCN's version plays out.  But if the 'net sucks like it did 3 years ago, then I'll cancel that bastard in two weeks time or less.  At that point I might just go with a cable modem from comcast and your streaming choices.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2011, 02:09:32 PM by hepcat » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2011, 03:23:02 PM »

Quote from: hepcat on July 12, 2011, 02:03:34 PM

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2011, 01:53:51 AM

Quote from: hepcat on July 12, 2011, 01:43:35 AM

Quote from: EngineNo9 on July 12, 2011, 01:14:38 AM

I didn't have the patience to do this stupid "oh, I'm going to leave if you don't lower my bill" dance.

The dance usually takes 3 seconds (long enough to say "I can get a better deal at xxx", so you must have the patience of Conan the Barbarian...


You don't have to wait to talk to someone?

We're talking about the actual dance itself.  It only takes about 3 seconds to stand up, do that little foxtrot style step, raise your hands up and do a short wave, then sit back down.  Some traditionalists get upset with my truncated version of the dance, but I don't see any point in adding housepets to the routine.



The calling and waiting is the worst part of the experience.  I'd rather pay more per month than call up one of these places.
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« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2011, 03:52:28 PM »

If all you're doing is sitting on the phone with rapt attention waiting for someone to pick up the phone, you're doing it wrong.  The phone either needs to be on a headset or speaker while you do something else to pass the time.  Reading, gaming, manscaping, take your pick.
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« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2011, 04:11:09 PM »

Quote from: Isgrimnur on July 12, 2011, 03:52:28 PM

manscaping

that's why all customer service people should let out a loud scream when they finally pick a call off of hold  icon_twisted
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« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2011, 04:58:43 PM »

Quote from: Isgrimnur on July 12, 2011, 03:52:28 PM

If all you're doing is sitting on the phone with rapt attention waiting for someone to pick up the phone, you're doing it wrong.  The phone either needs to be on a headset or speaker while you do something else to pass the time.  Reading, gaming, manscaping, take your pick.

Or all three~
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« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2011, 05:03:12 PM »

Quote from: Devil on July 11, 2011, 09:18:54 PM

Quote from: gellar on July 11, 2011, 07:07:46 PM

Every time I look at my astronomical DirecTV bill, I consider the alternative (anything that is not DirecTV) and realize that it's just not viable.

Gelzy - I routinely make the call to DTV and always get something. I just mention Comcast/Fios and they scramble.



Yeah, I just don't like making empty threats, so I don't bother.  Realistically no one is going to get me to give up the added  benefits DirecTV has, even if they were 1/3 the cost.  So I pay my bill like a good little customer.
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« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2011, 05:09:39 PM »

Conversely, I have zero problems with making empty threats.  That's how I roll.  Morals?  I would sell each and every one of you for a Mars bar.  And a half eaten one at that...

...then I'd just put it up to my lips as if I were going to take a bite, then go "Nah...it's half eaten, what am i?  nuts?" and just toss it aside.  
« Last Edit: July 12, 2011, 05:16:59 PM by hepcat » Logged

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« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2011, 05:13:49 PM »

Hell, you got a higher price than me.  I'd do it for a shiney new LOLcat.
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« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2011, 05:32:51 PM »

Until free cable came my way, I was doing fine without paying for TV. Between OTA and streaming sites like Hulu and ESPN3, I was able to watch just about anything I was interested in. The only reason I got cable for a month was so that I could watch the NCAA tournament without worrying about my internet going down (which happens somewhat regularly).
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« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2011, 05:48:50 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2011, 03:23:02 PM

Quote from: hepcat on July 12, 2011, 02:03:34 PM

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2011, 01:53:51 AM

Quote from: hepcat on July 12, 2011, 01:43:35 AM

Quote from: EngineNo9 on July 12, 2011, 01:14:38 AM

I didn't have the patience to do this stupid "oh, I'm going to leave if you don't lower my bill" dance.

The dance usually takes 3 seconds (long enough to say "I can get a better deal at xxx", so you must have the patience of Conan the Barbarian...


You don't have to wait to talk to someone?

We're talking about the actual dance itself.  It only takes about 3 seconds to stand up, do that little foxtrot style step, raise your hands up and do a short wave, then sit back down.  Some traditionalists get upset with my truncated version of the dance, but I don't see any point in adding housepets to the routine.



The calling and waiting is the worst part of the experience.  I'd rather pay more per month than call up one of these places.

Shoot me $20 a month and I'll make the call every 6 months for you!
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« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2011, 06:49:22 PM »

Quote from: Isgrimnur on July 12, 2011, 03:52:28 PM

If all you're doing is sitting on the phone with rapt attention waiting for someone to pick up the phone, you're doing it wrong.  The phone either needs to be on a headset or speaker while you do something else to pass the time.  Reading, gaming, manscaping, take your pick.

I think what finally broke me was waiting one time to get my authenticator redone for my WoW account.  Listening to the same shit over and over for an hour on speaker phone was horrible.  Yes, I was doing other things, but that didn't make the experience any more pleasant.
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« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2011, 07:10:15 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2011, 06:49:22 PM

Quote from: Isgrimnur on July 12, 2011, 03:52:28 PM

If all you're doing is sitting on the phone with rapt attention waiting for someone to pick up the phone, you're doing it wrong.  The phone either needs to be on a headset or speaker while you do something else to pass the time.  Reading, gaming, manscaping, take your pick.

I think what finally broke me was waiting one time to get my authenticator redone for my WoW account.  Listening to the same shit over and over for an hour on speaker phone was horrible.  Yes, I was doing other things, but that didn't make the experience any more pleasant.

There's a HUUUGGGEEE difference between waiting to get someone from customer support on the line from a place like Blizzard or Electronic Arts, and waiting on someone from your local cable provider...at least in my extensive experience in trying to game the bastiches at the cable companies.  When I had to get my authenticator code taken off my blizzard account after losing the phone it used for authenticating, I just ended up doing it all via email.  The first time I realized I was going to have to be on a phone for the better part of 2010 was the moment I decided that was the way to go when dealing with blizzard.
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« Reply #32 on: July 12, 2011, 07:16:09 PM »

Quote from: hepcat on July 12, 2011, 07:10:15 PM

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2011, 06:49:22 PM

Quote from: Isgrimnur on July 12, 2011, 03:52:28 PM

If all you're doing is sitting on the phone with rapt attention waiting for someone to pick up the phone, you're doing it wrong.  The phone either needs to be on a headset or speaker while you do something else to pass the time.  Reading, gaming, manscaping, take your pick.

I think what finally broke me was waiting one time to get my authenticator redone for my WoW account.  Listening to the same shit over and over for an hour on speaker phone was horrible.  Yes, I was doing other things, but that didn't make the experience any more pleasant.

There's a HUUUGGGEEE difference between waiting to get someone from customer support on the line from a place like Blizzard or Electronic Arts, and waiting on someone from your local cable provider...at least in my extensive experience in trying to game the bastiches at the cable companies.  When I had to get my authenticator code taken off my blizzard account after losing the phone it used for authenticating, I just ended up doing it all via email.  The first time I realized I was going to have to be on a phone for the better part of 2010 was the moment I decided that was the way to go when dealing with blizzard.

A big thumbs up to hepcat who showed me that I don't have to take high cable bills up the a**. I recall a post of yours on this subject some time ago and I have been doing something similar every time my comcast cable bill goes above $150. Only instead of giving them empty threats I play the part of the willing consumer who just needs a break:

"Hi, I'm sorry, my wife and I really enjoy your cable service but in this economy we can't really afford to pay $150 for cable and internet. Is there any way you can help us out so that we can keep your service, because we really like it? Thanks, you guys are great!"
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« Reply #33 on: July 12, 2011, 07:42:17 PM »

Quote from: kratz on July 12, 2011, 04:08:48 AM

So I called them up, and they said they would charge me $35 to downgrade my service. 

I just caught this...they seriously wanted to charge you 35 bucks JUST to alter your service?   icon_eek
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« Reply #34 on: July 12, 2011, 08:25:42 PM »

Yup.  But cancelling was free!  Good business decisions on their end.
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« Reply #35 on: July 12, 2011, 08:38:41 PM »

I had something similar.  I get a great rate for my gym through work.  My card had expired and the auto-bill bounced.  When I called to set up a new one, they wanted to charge me a fee for the lapse.  My response was either going to be to waive the fee or you don't get any more of my money period.  They saw fit to waive the fee.
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« Reply #36 on: July 12, 2011, 09:37:23 PM »

Quote from: hepcat on July 12, 2011, 07:10:15 PM

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2011, 06:49:22 PM

Quote from: Isgrimnur on July 12, 2011, 03:52:28 PM

If all you're doing is sitting on the phone with rapt attention waiting for someone to pick up the phone, you're doing it wrong.  The phone either needs to be on a headset or speaker while you do something else to pass the time.  Reading, gaming, manscaping, take your pick.

I think what finally broke me was waiting one time to get my authenticator redone for my WoW account.  Listening to the same shit over and over for an hour on speaker phone was horrible.  Yes, I was doing other things, but that didn't make the experience any more pleasant.

There's a HUUUGGGEEE difference between waiting to get someone from customer support on the line from a place like Blizzard or Electronic Arts, and waiting on someone from your local cable provider...at least in my extensive experience in trying to game the bastiches at the cable companies.  When I had to get my authenticator code taken off my blizzard account after losing the phone it used for authenticating, I just ended up doing it all via email.  The first time I realized I was going to have to be on a phone for the better part of 2010 was the moment I decided that was the way to go when dealing with blizzard.

True, but it broke me to the point that even one second on the phone is too much.
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« Reply #37 on: July 12, 2011, 10:33:19 PM »

But for sports I would drop TV...........as long as there are decent games to play....
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« Reply #38 on: July 13, 2011, 05:10:14 PM »

When I finally upgraded to digital cable earlier this year, I went to pick up my DVR box at the local customer center and the CSR there just started giving me various promo rates without me even asking.  It cut my bill almost in half for 6 months, then it will just go back to what it was plus a few extra bucks for the DVR.
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« Reply #39 on: July 13, 2011, 07:23:13 PM »

Yeah, ours is around that, I think, with almost all of the specialty channels, but no HD as it's been ruled out in our house.
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