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Networking The Almighty Buck The Internet Technology

How I Cut My Time Warner Cable Bill By 33% 206

Posted by timothy
from the now-how-much-would-you-pay? dept.
lpress writes "I was at a Time Warner Cable (TWC) store returning a router, when I asked what my new monthly bill would be. The answer — $110 — surprised me, so I asked a few questions and ended up with the same service for $76.37. Check out my conversation with their representative to see what was said, then do the same yourself."
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How I Cut My Time Warner Cable Bill By 33%

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:55PM (#46373413)

    ...by getting rid of cable TV

    • by lpress (707742) <lpress@csudh.edu> on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:59PM (#46373441) Homepage
      Read the post -- I'd dropped Cable TV long ago -- this was Internet and telephone only.
      • by SJHillman (1966756) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:25AM (#46373587)

        Nope, you still get cable TV. At least the several places I've had TWC Internet in NY, I also got free(ish) basic cable. It's only ten or twelve channels, but it includes the major networks and the local news.

        • by lpress (707742)

          Nope, you still get cable TV. At least the several places I've had TWC Internet in NY, I also got free(ish) basic cable. It's only ten or twelve channels, but it includes the major networks and the local news.

          Right -- same in Los Angeles -- a bunch of local channels -- many foreign language. I even got a $5 gift card from TWC because they mistakenly (?) blocked the Super Bowl (which I watched anyhow using a rabbit ear antenna).

        • by antdude (79039)

          However, FCC allowed them to make basic channels not free. QAM will be going away eventually. :(

      • by drkim (1559875)

        Read the post -- I'd dropped Cable TV long ago -- this was Internet and telephone only.

        Why didn't this guy cut his telephone service too?

        He could bought an ObiHai for $40 bucks and never paid for phone again.

        The ObiHai connects to your router and you can plug your regular POTS phone into it.
        No fees like Ooma $3.50/mo, or MagicJack $29.99/yr, or Vonage $12-$55/mo.

        The only downside is no direct 911.

        ObiHai info: http://www.obihai.com/how-to-g... [obihai.com]

        Slightly out-of-date chart: http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/to... [tmcnet.com]

        • Agreed. While the story submitter did get a lower cost, he still lost.

          He is getting a phone connection for "$20 plus taxes and fees". They *love* those phone fees, as they can get away with $15 or more on untaxed profit. I'm sure he'll be pleasantly surprised by that.

          Also, it is surprising that the DSL alternative is really 1.5Mbit. I'm guessing he hasn't verified that, as most modern DSL connections have a max of 24Mbit if the DSLAM box is relatively close in the neighborhood.

          I will never do cable agai

          • by lpress (707742)

            On the phone -- I could not drop it on the spot without talking to my wife ... plus lazy inertia. But, I do have telephone alternatives, which is more than I can say for Internet connectivity.

            Verizon DSL is another weird story. I was their customer many years ago, getting around 5 Mbps down on a plan that promised up to 7. One day, they throttled it down to 1.5. When I complained, they told me that at my location with my geriatric wiring, I could only get 1.5. They were not willing to un-throttle it

            • Verizon DSL is another weird story. I was their customer many years ago, getting around 5 Mbps down on a plan that promised up to 7. One day, they throttled it down to 1.5. ... 1.1-3.0 Mbps down and 384 Kbps up.

              Weird. I guess it really depends on where you live. Based on the email address and the info on the blog, it puts you right in dense Los Angeles suburbia. I cannot fathom the area having such pathetically bad ISPs, although because of the location I can imagine price gouging by corporations. (On second thought, I can imagine the price gouging no matter where you live.)

              If we move, I've already got it own as a condition with my wife that the new home have fiber to the home; it can be Google Fiber, or any of

              • by lpress (707742)

                Based on the email address and the info on the blog, it puts you right in dense Los Angeles suburbia.

                The email address is my school. I live in West Los Angeles, but in a house built in 1946 that is and pretty far from my C. O. That being said, they may be lying about the distance and old wires -- it may be that they have under-provisioned the C. O.or backhaul. I don't trust them any more than I trust TWC. It would be nice if there were some viable competition. Maybe Google Fiber some day -- LA is shopping around for a municipal network partner -- but even Google may become "Comcastic" at some point.

                FttH

                I [blogspot.com]

              • by cusco (717999)

                I've already got it own as a condition with my wife

                Good luck with that. . .

                • I've already got it own as a condition with my wife

                  Good luck with that. . .

                  Insert joke about dropping a D as a typo. "down".

          • by ynp7 (1786468)

            Not even remotely surprising. DSL speeds vary by a tremendous amount, and often max out at 1.5Mbit. Where I live 1.5Mbit is the _only_ speed of DSL available, even though 24Mbit is available less than half a mile from here.

          • I'm not shocked by the low DSL speed. I live in a 600-unit complex in a suburb of a decently sized city (Nashville) and all AT&T can offer is 1.5, despite constantly advertising UVerse.
        • by lpress (707742)

          Why didn't this guy cut his telephone service too?

          I could not do that while in the store -- had to talk it over with my wife and may still do it. However, I wish I had tried it just to see if the rep could have found yet another promotion!

        • "Obihai would like to share what’s been going on since our last article about the impending end, in May, of XMPP-based calling using the Google Voice service"

          "Here is what we expect to provide OBi customers in cooperation with our ITSP partner. OBi device owners will be able to sign-up for a voice service plan provided by the ITSP, for as little as $39.99 a YEAR. That’s only $3.33 per month! Included in the plan will be; a new phone number, a set-number of outbound calling minutes, unlimited

          • "Google Sets the Date for the End of XMPP with Google Voice
            Recently Google announced the end of support for XMPP based calling with Google Voice. This will happen on May 15, 2014 – that’s over 6 months from today. Since your OBi device uses XMPP to communicate with Google servers, the end of support will directly impact how your OBi device can be used with your Gmail account and its associated Google Voice phone number. Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to use the Google Voice communicat

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To cut it 100%, you'd have to drop internet and phone too...did you do that?

      I did. I needed to move a little over a year ago and decided I'd like to ditch cable entirely. I found a niche fiber provider in my area and limited my search of apartments to ones they served. 100mbps symmetric, under $40/mo and I don't miss a thing about cable.

    • I dont get the point of this story. This is EXTREMELY common in Canada, and honestly if you pay sticker price for your phone/internet (from the Big 3, not independent operators) in Canada you are an idiot/sucker.

      All you have to do is call up your provider, hit Cancel service, give them a big sob story on how you LOVE the service but due to unforseen circumstances you can no longer afford it so unfortunately you have to cancel. They will work extremely hard to give you discounts to something that you can "af
  • by alen (225700) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:58PM (#46373423)

    what is it? like 50kbps or so of bandwidth for $30 or more per month. take that with upselling faster internet which is a scam considering that all the good content is on a CDN inside their network and will stream with the 20mbps service and that the inter-network links will never support the full speed of all the customers. same with comcast, look at the financial statements and upselling the faster internet and phone is pure profit. the TV business makes almost no profit

    i have time warner for TV and internet only. i use my AT&T cell phone with unlimited minutes for the phone. every time i call time warner they push their phone service.

    • by lpress (707742)
      The only thing I can think of that is more pure profitable than telephone service is telephone company text messages.
      • by alen (225700)

        every cell carrier in the USA has unlimited minutes and texts for cell phones

        • Every carries in the USA has a plan with unlimited texts, yes
          Every carries in the USA has unlimited texts on every plan, no. Text message charges are pure profit.

      • The only thing I can think of that is more pure profitable than telephone service is telephone company text messages.

        Profitable is an understatement - telcos are making up to 90 000% profit [theage.com.au] on text messages,

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Why in the world would anybody need POTS in the first place? And why would anybody pay $40 per month for it?

      Also, the title is misleading -- TFA says he didn't have cable, only phone and internet. No cable, no cable bill, he had a phone/internet bill.

      I don't have cable, an antenna is good enough since TV went digital. I'm paying $40 for unlimited everything on my Android, $46 for DSL (unfortunately that's the cheapest internet available here, cable internet is almost twice DSL and since I live alone, DSL su

  • Well, no, it's not really news that when you tell TWC or Comcast you're bailing, they will dig out "promotions" to keep you.

    I would be very suspect of the claim from the Customer Service rep that the bill will only go up 5 or 10$ per year, though, that's not my experience.

    I do think that the $70 or so the OP is paying for Internet and phone is still too high, unless the Internet is wickedly quick. And seriously, the IP based phone that he is still paying $30 or so for is WAY too much.

    Power goes out, Interne

    • by weave (48069)

      Yes, I know, after the copper wire hits a switch of some kind, it probably gets routed over IP anyway, but at least with copper wire to your house, you almost always have a dial tone, hence 911.

      I held onto my copper POTS line for years because of that. But it kept going out and I kept calling in for service. One time my wife called me and said the Verizon guy wanted to get into the basement. I was like "NO. THEY ONLY NEED TO FIX IT AT THE BOX OUTSIDE." She said he insisted he had to get in, so I had h

      • by alen (225700)

        everyone has had E911 for years now with the IP home phones
        you call 911 and they know exactly where to go to

    • by hjf (703092)

      I live in Argentina. I call my ISP every 6 months to "refresh" my promo. The trick is not to ask for a discount, but outright call and ask for cancellation. That sets all the alarms and they will do anything to keep you. Drag your feet a little (don't accept the first promo).

      I also do that with my bank. Account and CC renewal fees are ridiculous.

    • Did you know that you could also use your cell phone when your internet goes out?

      • I discovered that the backup systems for our local cell towers run about 8 hours before you lose phone service during a major outage. While that is a small comfort, the pots system continued to run for days because of more robust generator backup. I know which I prefer.
        • by icebike (68054)

          Cell towers are required to have generator backup for a week.
          Of course if the storm knocks out the back haul you get nothing, but that can also happen to your pots, but chances are any random tree blow down will kill your pots long before that.

          • by evilviper (135110)

            Cell towers are required to have generator backup for a week.

            It's possible this is true in your state, but it's certainly not true elsewhere.

          • by oobayly (1056050)

            Really, it's an actual requirement, for a week? Is that a requirement in your county, state or country, because I haven't seen any requirements for that. If it's true, then it would explain why US mobile contracts are so expensive [therichest.com] - the operators would have to have a battery plus generator for every tower.

            The cell tower outside our office (in the middle of nowhere in the UK), which gives us HSDPA has a battery that will last for about 3 hours, though I don't doubt that towers in more densly populated areas

          • by dcw3 (649211)

            I've kept my landline purely for emergency backup. In the 32 years I've lived in this area, it's never once gone down. I've had multiple power outages, for up to a week, and the POTS system was rock solid. I'm sure that's not the case in many rural areas.

    • Phone goes out 8 hours later based on the battery specs they give you. Two hours later based actual capacity of the battery (which I assume is wrecked by a shitty charging profile because, "who cares, that's why," which works for laptops - you have to unplug the laptop manually because they can't be arsed to install a relay to automatically cutoff charging current when the battery is full?)

    • by spike hay (534165)

      Not for me. Comcast was trying to bone me with some rate increases (I was not supposed to be on an introductory rate, but whatever). Called, threatened to cancel. The only thing they offered me was 5 Mb instead of 50 Mb, for $10 less/month.

      I now have DSL.

  • every cell carrier in the USA has been offering unlimited minutes and texts for years now as the baseline features on all their plans

    • by QuesarVII (904243)
      There are plenty of non-unlimited plans out there.

      I have a $12 a month plan with only 250 mins and texts. Low limits, but cheap as hell. Only 5c a min if I go over, which I've only done once in a year.
      www.pagepluscellular.com [pagepluscellular.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:17AM (#46373783)

      why do people use landlines again?

      Because cell coverage is neither universal nor 100% reliable?

      Cell signal disappears about 2 miles from my house. 0%. Nada. Zip.

      "So move" I'm sure you'll say. Well that's just utter BS. I don't live my life chasing cell towers. The residential infrastructure predates cell tower placement. "Just move" is the naive, uneducated cry from spoiled people who've always lived in urban areas and have no concept of the rural majority of the USA's landmass. The cell companies are responsible to make their product accessible to where people live, not just throw down some towers and expect everyone else to uproot their residence and lives just for some luxury service. I have water, electricity, high-speed internet, satellite TV... and a reliable telephone connection that never goes down. Ever. I have a cell phone, but that's a secondary luxury, and due to its intrusiveness when it rings it's also not the default number the average person gets when I give out my #.

      Landlines are reliable, uniquitous, and can carry internet service that is based on speed and not on a capped # of GB/month. That's why we still use landlines, you cocky hipster ass.

    • by MBC1977 (978793)
      To send faxes and not go to a Staples / OfficeMax / Kinkos.
    • by antdude (79039)

      Is that unlimited Internet service? No caps and fast like cable (e.g., 15/1)? I care not about voice.

      • Is that unlimited Internet service? No caps and fast like cable (e.g., 15/1)? I care not about voice.

        If you want a big plan, T-Mobile's prepaid internet is cheap. Some of their older better plans are gone, but they still list $30/month for 100 minutes talk (10 cents per minute over), unlimited text, and data with 5 gigabytes of 4G, then unlimited 2G. There are no bonus fees added to the bill.

        If you prefer a dumb-phone, prepaid through T-Mobile is ten cents per minute, ten cents per text, with no other fees. As long as you use put more money in every year the minutes don't expire. That's what we use for my

        • by antdude (79039)

          Only 5GB? Bah.

          • 5GB @4G works for me. The many geeks I work with and have talked about this with have also said it works for them, too.

            During the day it automatically switches to wifi while I'm around the office. Same at home, the phone is on wifi. The system automatically uses wifi-based calling, so it doesn't use either my phone's voice minutes or data.

            If for some reason you consume more phone bandwidth than that you'll need to go to a different plan. That was the lowest-cost phone+data plan, there are many more to cho

            • by antdude (79039)

              Ah, I was looking for something to replace TWC's Internet. I pay over 60 bucks for 15/1 standard package.

    • by ynp7 (1786468)

      Name one.

  • I thought this was common knowledge. It is always prudent to renegotiate cable bills. Cable is a luxury for most of America. That is why the reps have so many options and various packages to choose from. The companies are all about customer retention. They cannot retain customers with their sub par service, so the only tool in their arsenal is to discount their offerings.

  • This is common. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xeno man (1614779) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:17AM (#46373545)
    The reality is that expenses are not linked to individual customers to provide service. If a cable company is servicing a neighborhood of 1000 houses, it cost the exact same if 10% are customers or 100% are customers. They will charge you up the ass because most people will pay for it but if you threaten to go elsewhere they will give deep discounts to keep you. It's called customer retention. It's better for them to cut a bill from $100 to $50 because $50 a month is better than the $0 a month.

    It just goes to show what a monopoly they have because they could easily cut their prices in half, still be profitable and would have more customers as people would be more willing to keep cable tv as well as have phone and internet.
  • It's all rigged. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:20AM (#46373561)

    I worked for a Pay TV provider for 2 years as a retention agent. They're all the same. It costs more money to get new customers than to retain old ones, and with the sunk cost of the infrastructure (satellite, cable, or fiber) it costs them almost nothing for an existing customer under contract. You can get the largest package, all the premium channels, and free ppv events if you know how to work the system.

    The trick is to threaten to cancel. Threaten to drop everything and go to a competitor. Make them work to keep you.

    The first line agents will offer you peanuts. Most people accept this offer and feel good about lowering the bill. Don't accept the first, second, or third offers. Make sure they document the offer being provided - insist on an email of the offers so you can consider them. If the agent can't do that, their manager or supervisor can - and will - if you ask reasonably.

    Once you have their 3rd offer documented, it will likely be in the range of $30 to $40 off per month of the listed price. Let it sit 3-4 days, then call in and get back to a second or third tier retention agent. Let them know that you have family or friends in the industry - (a niece or nephew or cousin or good friend) that is offering another $20 lower for their best package without having to fight.

    Let the agent know that you would stay with their company if they could match the savings for at least 6 months. Also ask if they have any perks or extra to throw in, like free ppv movies or events, or free streaming. Insist on free premium packages as if you were a new customer.

    Your bill will drop from the $120 for the premium package with all the movie channels to $40 a month for 3 months, and then around $70 until the discounts run out.

    Rinse and repeat. Every premium core package costs them roughly $3 per customer. The movie channels cost around $5 per customer on average. They need to be at $10/month, regardless of your channels, to make a profit. The rest of it is negotiable.

    It should go without saying, but to get the most out of the system, make sure you make your payments on time.

    • by lpress (707742)
      Thanks for the inside story! Do the retention agents take your alternatives into account? If the girl had checked with Verizon and AT&T she would have seen that she had me.
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:25AM (#46373585)
    And the Cable companies track on a per person / per neighborhood basis whether you do or not. I was paying $75/mo just for internet at one point because there was no DSL in my neighborhood. My buddy got the same service for $55/mo, but he could jump ship to DSL because his house was newer. When I called to "cancel" they just called my bluff ala South Park

    Big Data is real and they use it to screw us.
    • by antdude (79039)

      But you can dump its TV services for satellite, OTA, etc. I bet TWC would drop this offer since they would be /.'ed from this article. Heh.

    • by speedlaw (878924)
      Thank you. In the last ten years, it has become clear that we are all at the "mercy" of an MBA with a spreadsheet, looking for that extra $5.00 per transaction. Thanks guys. May your beach house wash out in the next non-climate-change related hurricane.
  • by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:00AM (#46373721)
    I saved 50% by switching to GEICO.

    Or how about how I get 90% off on French Fries because I made them myself using a $3.99 10-Pound bag of potatoes?

    Also I saved $73 on ketchup and toilet paper last year by hording ketchup packets and always asking for extra napkins everywhere I go.

    I also made $2,223 in extra income by only going to the bathroom while at work, so I not increased my leisure time but received a 100% return on investment for sitting on the toilet.

    Or something ... What's next? The secret to clipping coupons or how to make $43 typing in the codes on your Mt. Dew caps to the website or filling out the online survey on the Burger King receipt?
  • Comcast has a monopoly in our area. I have had conversations resembling the one in the article with Comcast reps. About a year ago, a rep put me on a promotion that lowered my bill while also adding a phone service, which I didn't have at the time. The rep said I would have to call back after 9 months and ask to be put on a different promotion if I didn't want my bill to go up. 9 months later I called again and the rep in question claimed that I was going to be on the promotion for another year. After argui

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      never deal with the phone reatards, there is a local customer service center in your local town, go there, spend 5 min and watch them freak out when you look them in the eye while they lie to you

      boom fast and done

      • by lpress (707742)
        Good advice -- I am not sure what would have happened if I had just been on the phone. I will experiment next year -- they've got my interest now.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        never deal with the phone reatards, there is a local customer service center in your local town

        No, no there isn't. PG&E has an office here, but AT&T doesn't. They have a CO, but there's no customer-facing interface there. I'd have to drive for an hour to find an AT&T office. There's an AT&T reseller, but that's for mobile. And hilariously, they are almost completely useless. For example, they didn't get the iPhone for like two years.

  • I thought every reasoning person in the US (where such horseshit happens) had already figured out the whole, promotional 6,12,24-month pricing has expired, call the retention department to return to that rate for another year game that the phone, satellite, and more so cable companies were making every intelligent or thrifty person wade through.

    I don't even watch cable TV for a few years and I knew this. Are there people so incredibly ignorant here?
    • by lpress (707742)
      Can someone explain the Slashdot scoring algorithm to me? This egotistical boob is saying the same thing several others said and they got scores of "0." Why does this egotistical boob get a higher score than his/her predecessors?
  • I'm only getting 14 channels, was wondering if I would miss TV, but NO. Main PC running BeyondTV with one tuner, Win7 Media Center Machine running 2 tuners in the living room, Homeworx 150PVR in the bedroom on a 27" Trinitron XBR.

    100% cable-free since 2009. Now building a big-ass antenna (DBGH open-source) http://imageevent.com/holl_and... [imageevent.com]

  • You wouldn't believe how easy it is to live without cable.

    Total savings: 100%

  • Rep: It goes up by $5-10 every year after a promotion ends.

    Wow. I never cease to be amazed by the land of free competition.

    My ISP, Free [wikipedia.org], billed me 30 € ($39) in 2003 for 1mbps and no data cap. Over ten years later they still bill me 30 € ! Of course a lot has changed, there's still no data cap but the bandwidth cap has been removed too, I get unlimited phone calls to France but also about a 100 other countries including the US and Canada, and they provide me with a box which is an Adsl modem, network bridge/router (my choice), 4 port 100Mbps switch, CPL a

    • by godrik (1287354)

      I miss my freebox... :(

      The thing is that there is a serious lack of competition in the US regarding network providers. In my area, there is only one provider that can give me more than 3Mbps. So there is little you can do to fight. I believe the various internet operators see no interest in having too much overlap between them, as they know it would ultimately drops their profit margin.

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