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Old 07-29-2013, 08:18 PM   #61
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I need to know, is all this part of the LBYM syndrome? Although I would just as soon not have a big cable bill, I look at it as our entertainment. We don't go to movies or the like so our TV's are our source of entertainment. I like sports and have my man cave. Wife has the big screen setup in the great room. Total of five TV's in the house and two are on all the time. She also has the DVR on her setup so we don't miss much. Her smart TV has the Netflix and Amazon built in which makes all that so much easier. There are two major cable boxes plus three digital adapters.

We have Verizon FIOS with 35/35 internet and the bill also includes our home phone. All that for about $180/month or $2160/year. Overall I think this is a reasonable entertainment expense.
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:29 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by JOHNNIE36 View Post
I need to know, is all this part of the LBYM syndrome? Although I would just as soon not have a big cable bill, I look at it as our entertainment. We don't go to movies or the like so our TV's are our source of entertainment. I like sports and have my man cave. Wife has the big screen setup in the great room. Total of five TV's in the house and two are on all the time. She also has the DVR on her setup so we don't miss much. Her smart TV has the Netflix and Amazon built in which makes all that so much easier. There are two major cable boxes plus three digital adapters.

We have Verizon FIOS with 35/35 internet and the bill also includes our home phone. All that for about $180/month or $2160/year. Overall I think this is a reasonable entertainment expense.
Ya think it's our age Johnnie? I could have written that, 'cuz it's almost exactly what we do. (We haven't been to a movie theater since Star Wars and All the President's Men). It's more the challenge of finding the best deal, and beating the guys (in our case Comcast) who overcharge because of their monopoly. Getting the most for the least is a mantra in our home.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:15 PM   #63
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Of course, except for the Monday Night games on ESPN, the NFL is still on free TV (unless you want to watch out of market games, but in Chicagoland I assume the Bears are always on as long as they sell out at home). The day the NFL goes to ESPN or some other premium cable entity is the day you see a real cataclysmic shift.
The difference is that the NFL primarily plays on Sunday afternoon, and each team only plays once a week. It's a big money maker for the OTA networks.

MLB, the NBA and NHL, play weeknights. And they play 80 to 162 games a season. The viewership for all those games isn't strong enough to make it on an OTA network primetime viewing schedule. What few independent OTA stations there are left, don't have the money for the rights fees. I think these leagues will be on cable sports channels for the foreseeable future.

I don't see the NFL leaving CBS and FOX. I believe the current contract runs through 2023. So even if they did go all cable, it won't be for awhile.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:26 PM   #64
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Ya think it's our age Johnnie? I could have written that, 'cuz it's almost exactly what we do. (We haven't been to a movie theater since Star Wars and All the President's Men). It's more the challenge of finding the best deal, and beating the guys (in our case Comcast) who overcharge because of their monopoly. Getting the most for the least is a mantra in our home.
I agree with you and Johnnie, though I don't have the tv on as much, but when I do, I value the shows I watch. Break it down over the time allotment and I still think its a good entertainment value. What I don't like is when someone else is getting the same product for a cheaper rate than I do. That is why I feel good about myself when I call and jaw down their price they charge me. The price reduction is immaterial to my budget, but important to my budgeting ego.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:30 PM   #65
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I get what people mean about how a la carte would probably be more expensive than packages, especially for those of us who watch sports. But someone had a good comment about this when I googled the topic. Music used to be like this. You had to buy an entire album or CD to get the 1 or 2 songs you like on many albums. Now you can pay for and download just the songs you want, and you can almost always buy at least half the album individually for less than the entire album package.

So why did this happen? Did the demand for music a la carte make it happen, or was it technology and piracy, where Napster or just borrowing a friend's CD to rip an mp3 or two cut into album sales? Finally the music people realized that selling individual songs was better than selling nothing at all.

Will the same thing happen with TV? There are a lot of free streaming sites, but they can be unreliable, plus they are illegal. It's tough to enforce though, and the providers and networks have to focus on not letting people advertise on public forums. I'm on a couple of sports forums where the mods delete any posts advertising free streaming because they have apparently been threatened by companies like ESPN and Cox. Eventually though, I see things changing, and even though ESPN may find only 25% or whatever the number of current subscribers will pay for the sports package, they will also get new subscribers who would pay a reasonable price for just sports.

If not, while I love watching sports, at some point I just won't pay. They can't keep raising the price on a decreasing number of watchers. Eventually they need to stop paying exorbitant prices for the rights to broadcast games, and in turn teams will stop paying nine figure multiyear contracts to players.
Considering all the strikes, lockouts, and off field antics, that fans have endured, they keep paying up to see the games. I think people are so passionate about their teams, they'll pay whatever's necessary to see the games. The economic downturn sure doesn't appear to have affected attendance or TV viewing any.
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Old 07-30-2013, 04:06 AM   #66
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But someone had a good comment about this when I googled the topic. Music used to be like this.
And that is one reason why video probably won't be: Video has seen what happens when an industry (the music industry) dismisses digital distribution as a risk, so they will endeavor to not make the same mistake.

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You had to buy an entire album or CD to get the 1 or 2 songs you like on many albums. Now you can pay for and download just the songs you want, and you can almost always buy at least half the album individually for less than the entire album package.
That model already exists and will continue to exist, for video. Just go to Amazon.com, and you can already purchase individual episodes of television series, or individual television series - far more "a la carte" than one network. That's the means by which a la carte is to be offered for video.

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Will the same thing happen with TV? There are a lot of free streaming sites, but they can be unreliable, plus they are illegal.
And again, the industry had better be continually vigorous in their prosecution of any websites or service providers that allow such systems to exist or in any way foster them. They know what happens if they're lazy. And they have far more at stake than the music industry. A single episode of Games of Thrones is rumored to cost $6M. With that kind of money, you could probably record dozens upon dozens of albums of music - literally days of music.

I think we've already seen what happens when video producers lose some of the ability to monetize their work: Look how much of broadcast television today is reality teevee.
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Old 07-30-2013, 06:58 AM   #67
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I agree with you and Johnnie, though I don't have the tv on as much, but when I do, I value the shows I watch. Break it down over the time allotment and I still think its a good entertainment value. What I don't like is when someone else is getting the same product for a cheaper rate than I do. That is why I feel good about myself when I call and jaw down their price they charge me. The price reduction is immaterial to my budget, but important to my budgeting ego.
I agree. I watch the Verizon bill like a hawk and one reason I still receive paper billing. I don't trust them. I think Verizon delivers the best product for the money but their billing is suspect. Many times in the past when I have called to order some change in our programming, I have been "slammed" and got billed for something extra, like bumping up the internet speed. Right now I'm getting a $10/month discount for being a valued customer, set to expire the end of July. Now I've got to go to work and get that discount continued or some other discount to maintain my $180/mo goal. That's my game.
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:18 AM   #68
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We have an antennae and use Netflix with 3 mail videos and streaming. On occasion we will watch some programs free on computer. For first run movies we go to the early saver show or senior day about every other week. There is always something to watch that we enjoy at any time we want. Since neither of us are interested in watching sports on TV other than tennis we don't need cable or satellite. Been there - Done that. We won't pay for what is mostly informercials, evangelical preaching, and foreign language channels. We got tired of paying high prices for the 2-3 channels that we actually watched long ago. Our total TV and first run movie entertainment cost is about $500/year ($42/month).

Cheers!
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:28 AM   #69
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You decide... looked to me as if it will be available to all.
Yeah, it looks like you have to be a cable or satellite subscriber to get the "free" stream on your computer, iPad, etc.

Watch ABC anytime, anywhere in the Chicago area! Live streaming on mobile devices | abc7chicago.com

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-- just as long as you're in the viewing area and you verify your participating TV provider. In Chicago, this special new benefit is brought to you by Comcast, AT & T Uverse and Charter Communications at no additional cost.
WATCH ABC Frequently Asked Questions | abc7chicago.com

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The WATCH ABC Live Stream is a special new benefit brought to you by ABC7 and participating TV Providers at no additional cost. In select U.S. cities, you can now watch the Live Stream of ABC7. You must be located within each available station's local viewing area and must verify your participating TV Provider account for access to the WATCH ABC Live Stream.
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Old 07-30-2013, 10:35 AM   #70
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I agree. I watch the Verizon bill like a hawk and one reason I still receive paper billing. I don't trust them. I think Verizon delivers the best product for the money but their billing is suspect. Many times in the past when I have called to order some change in our programming, I have been "slammed" and got billed for something extra, like bumping up the internet speed. Right now I'm getting a $10/month discount for being a valued customer, set to expire the end of July. Now I've got to go to work and get that discount continued or some other discount to maintain my $180/mo goal. That's my game.
As you know those phone companies/cable have more variations in prices on the same product than a dog has fleas. When I did my yearly call reduction last week at AT&T
they were actually pragmatic with me. The first lady said she couldn't reduce my price, and the only way I could get the new person discount was to discount for 3 or 4 days then sign up again. She transferred me to cancellation department. I then told rep, let's not go through the cancellation game and just take $10 off and we can be done with it. He did and that was that. Except, I got the new billing notice a few days later. Here is where it gets odd. I was paying $46, so was expecting $36. Well the billing statement informed me I would pay $31 for 12 months then it would return to the STANDARD rate of $41. So $41 is the standard, well why the hell is MY standard $46? Last year when I called it was $43, I called got it to $33, then the 12 months was up and it went to $46 ($3 price increase). Now I am not complaining as I got more discounted than I asked for, but it just reinforces how you can get screwed. These companies have a perverse attitude toward customer loyalty. The more loyal you are to them, the more they try to screw you over.
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Old 07-30-2013, 10:52 AM   #71
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As you know those phone companies/cable have more variations in prices on the same product than a dog has fleas. When I did my yearly call reduction last week at AT&T
they were actually pragmatic with me. The first lady said she couldn't reduce my price, and the only way I could get the new person discount was to discount for 3 or 4 days then sign up again. She transferred me to cancellation department. I then told rep, let's not go through the cancellation game and just take $10 off and we can be done with it. He did and that was that. Except, I got the new billing notice a few days later. Here is where it gets odd. I was paying $46, so was expecting $36. Well the billing statement informed me I would pay $31 for 12 months then it would return to the STANDARD rate of $41. So $41 is the standard, well why the hell is MY standard $46? Last year when I called it was $43, I called got it to $33, then the 12 months was up and it went to $46 ($3 price increase). Now I am not complaining as I got more discounted than I asked for, but it just reinforces how you can get screwed. These companies have a perverse attitude toward customer loyalty. The more loyal you are to them, the more they try to screw you over.
It's my feeling that these cable/telecom companies have no respect for customers. I have fought with Comcast and AT&T for as long as they have had offerings. I am on round two with AT&T after fighting a losing battle for two years with Comcast to have my bill reduced without having to "sign on" for 24 more months. This was the end of round two with them. Only when I was carrying the set top boxes back to the Comcast store and throwing them on the counter did they say they could do me a better (fair?) deal. Too late.

So we are back with Uverse at 1/2 the cost of Comcast. This time I refused the installation unless a tech changed all the cable ends on our 30 year old cable and ran a packet loss check to verify signal quality at each termination. They obliged.

My daughter has Comcast at her house for over a year now and slowly her bill has doubled without any change in service (expired specials). Unfortunately, Uverse or any other provider is not available where she lives. So we are kind of stuck there.
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:03 AM   #72
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It's my feeling that these cable/telecom companies have no respect for customers. I have fought with Comcast and AT&T for as long as they have had offerings. I am on round two with AT&T after fighting a losing battle for two years with Comcast to have my bill reduced without having to "sign on" for 24 more months. This was the end of round two with them. Only when I was carrying the set top boxes back to the Comcast store and throwing them on the counter did they say they could do me a better (fair?) deal. Too late.

So we are back with Uverse at 1/2 the cost of Comcast. This time I refused the installation unless a tech changed all the cable ends on our 30 year old cable and ran a packet loss check to verify signal quality at each termination. They obliged.

My daughter has Comcast at her house for over a year now and slowly her bill has doubled without any change in service (expired specials). Unfortunately, Uverse or any other provider is not available where she lives. So we are kind of stuck there.
Maybe this is just my old school superstition, but I am like Johnnie. Although I have several bills on autopay through CC, I refuse to do this with my Internet and cable, along with only 12 month contract extensions after the price break. They know there has to be a check written before they get paid, and can't just collect.
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:12 AM   #73
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I am thinking of going backwards and using fewer TV services, not more.

I am thinking of taking back the DVR I recently got from Cox Cable, because I never use it.
I know you are technically savy so that's not an issue. We rarely watch commercial TV but do watch Public Broadcast TV. I always record these to time shift using our DVR. It's very convenient.

For news I record only today's. Then for the PBS News Hour I'll scan it for interesting content so don't have to watch a full hour or even the intro commercial. Also do this for BBC America news. Some may object to political bias and I think there is some. I also do full series recordings of Masterpiece Theatre, Mystery, Nove, Secrets of the Dead, Nature, etc.

Many nights we are reading our books. Occasionally like last night I need to just keep my eyes open until bedtime (don't want to go to sleep at 7:30PM) so we agree to watch one of those DVR recordings.

Occasionally we even check out the Amazon Prime freebies. Not much we would like but maybe 1 or 2. Netflix streaming is our son's favorite so we piggyback on his account -- I don't feel guilty about this as we paid for his account for a few years and have a paid Netflix DVD account ourselves for the oldies.
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:13 AM   #74
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Maybe this is just my old school superstition, but I am like Johnnie. Although I have several bills on autopay through CC, I refuse to do this with my Internet and cable, along with only 12 month contract extensions after the price break. They know there has to be a check written before they get paid, and can't just collect.
I also get paper bills for all subscribed services and so does my daughter. Those include cable providers and all cell phones. I though deregulation was supposed to lower prices for everyone?
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:16 AM   #75
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I though deregulation was supposed to lower prices for everyone?
Without getting into the politics of it, one thing it did is make it a lot easier for the entities which distribute the content to also be the ones who sell the content. In other words, cable companies now own and sell a lot more of the content, and they can use that content as a "weapon" against competition if the content is compelling enough.

Frankly, I cringed when I started seeing the convergence of those who distribute the content and those who created it, because I saw the potential for monopolistic, anti-competitive behavior.
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:20 AM   #76
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I need to know, is all this part of the LBYM syndrome? Although I would just as soon not have a big cable bill, I look at it as our entertainment. We don't go to movies or the like so our TV's are our source of entertainment. I like sports and have my man cave. Wife has the big screen setup in the great room. Total of five TV's in the house and two are on all the time. She also has the DVR on her setup so we don't miss much. Her smart TV has the Netflix and Amazon built in which makes all that so much easier. There are two major cable boxes plus three digital adapters.

We have Verizon FIOS with 35/35 internet and the bill also includes our home phone. All that for about $180/month or $2160/year. Overall I think this is a reasonable entertainment expense.
I think before cutting the cable or ditching the dish, we need to ask ourselves some questions: If we didn't have this entertainment option, what else would we do to replace it? And if the answer is something considerably more expensive, then maybe you leave well enough alone.
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Old 07-30-2013, 12:04 PM   #77
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I despise my cable company. Ironically I've worked most of my career in the cable settop industry. So yes - in some way, I hate the hand that feeds me.

Google is taking on the cable industry. Not just with their FIBER overbuild in Kansas City. But now they're talking about bundling content that has traditionally only been available over cable or satellite.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/17/bu...ice.html?_r=1&

I'm for competition. Having worked on equipment for both sides when telco companies (verizon FIOS, ATT uverse) took on the cable companies (comcast, time warner)... the consumer ends up ahead when there is competition.

I'm a consumer first and engineer second. I want a fair market rate (vs a rip off) for the cable content I want.
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Old 07-30-2013, 12:08 PM   #78
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It's my feeling that these cable/telecom companies have no respect for customers.
I think it depends on what you mean by "respect". I have found that when you're paying them the listed price for what they're offering, and not expecting services that aren't explicitly included in that price, they are quite respectful. I've read a lot complaints that claim the contrary, but I dispute the premises on which those complaints are based. I think it is easiest to understand the difference if you think of how you'd feel if your boss called you and started haggling for a $100 per week discount on your services. By ascribing a human sentiment to a company (saying that they have no respect), you're already half-way to acknowledging the parallel between their "reaction" and your own reaction if you were in the same situation.

The reality is that companies aren't human, and don't have feelings or attitudes. They have policies, forecasts, market research, and pricing models. They have cost structures, billing systems, and standard operating procedures for customer billing and customer contact. These come together to affect how a customer's interaction progresses, but to consider it "respect" or lack thereof is granting it meaning it simply doesn't have, in reality. Underlying all those things that go into how a company interacts with customers is the expectations of the company's owners, its investors, and the investor marketplace itself. In other words: Most of us.

The scientific extraction of maximum revenue while incurring the lowest possible cost is something we investors have imposed on these companies. We can choose to think of companies as if they are people, and thereby grant them the power to make us feel disrespected or otherwise aggrieved, but in reality we're doing that to ourselves. From the company's perspective, it isn't personal. It's just business.

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I have fought with Comcast and AT&T for as long as they have had offerings.
My read (based on my experience working in that industry ten years ago) is that the cost-cutting tactic of threatening to switch providers has become too well-known, such that there is no longer a real cost to taking a chance that the customer will leave. The pattern that seemed to develop, within some providers in some areas, from what I could tell from postings on AVS Forum, is that after the third time you extract an introductory discount by threatening to leave, your account gets marked, and you can only get a discount from then on by upgrading your service in some way.

I think the introductory discounts are sometimes eating so much into the profitability that customers who engage in the tactic as a matter of course offer the service providers so much of a lower profit potential long-term that there isn't a business case to be made for working hard to keep that customer's business. At worst, the secondary providers are gaining as many customers from other suppliers through this means as they are losing, while the primary providers are able to focus their operations on extracting additional revenues from the least price-sensitive customers.

That's not to say that people shouldn't try to get a lower price, but rather that people should avoid perceiving the work they have to go through in this regard as punitive or negligent on the part of the service provider. They're not in business to save you money. Quite the opposite. So perceiving your own business as so much more valuable to them than it is, in the context of other business demographically categorized the same way, is going to lead your logic astray.

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Unfortunately, Uverse or any other provider is not available where she lives. So we are kind of stuck there.
We have FiOS here. I've compared my FiOS pricing with Comcast pricing where FiOS doesn't operate. It's within 10%. There's really not much of an advantage to be had even with multiple providers.

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I also get paper bills for all subscribed services and so does my daughter. Those include cable providers and all cell phones. I though deregulation was supposed to lower prices for everyone?
Deregulation was just supposed to open the market to additional competitors - so those companies can make some of the profit that the legacy providers were making - so it was just about more companies splitting the profits of the market. More competitors would have significantly lowered prices if prices weren't already pretty close to the value of the services. Consumers don't pay for things that aren't worth it - they do without things that are truly not worth the price.
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Old 07-30-2013, 12:18 PM   #79
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Yeah, it looks like you have to be a cable or satellite subscriber to get the "free" stream on your computer, iPad, etc.
Correct... Watch ABC has a (non functioning) website, that shows the different cable providers that you have to have to subscribe to to get the "stream". So far, DirectTV and Dish are not part of the WatchABC stream...
DirecTV does have DirecTV Everywhere, where subscribers can download content to phones and tablets for free.
My original understanding came from TV news reports that said "FREE"... not so!

I think we're just on the early edge of this transition... As of now, ABC believes that their ratings will rise, benefitting from what they see as a new market. Lots more to shake out of the change, as in the total advertising $$$ income continues to drive the competition.

Those who have a ROKU, have received updates that have added private channels... (not shows, but separate channels, ala Hulu and Netflix). A total of more than 700 specialty channels are available. As mentioned earlier in the original post, even more channels may become available through the "Developer Mode"... which allowed the addition of UTube without Roku adding the channel.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:15 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by bUU View Post
I think it depends on what you mean by "respect". I have found that when you're paying them the listed price for what they're offering, and not expecting services that aren't explicitly included in that price, they are quite respectful. I've read a lot complaints that claim the contrary, but I dispute the premises on which those complaints are based. I think it is easiest to understand the difference if you think of how you'd feel if your boss called you and started haggling for a $100 per week discount on your services. By ascribing a human sentiment to a company (saying that they have no respect), you're already half-way to acknowledging the parallel between their "reaction" and your own reaction if you were in the same situation.

The reality is that companies aren't human, and don't have feelings or attitudes. They have policies, forecasts, market research, and pricing models. They have cost structures, billing systems, and standard operating procedures for customer billing and customer contact. These come together to affect how a customer's interaction progresses, but to consider it "respect" or lack thereof is granting it meaning it simply doesn't have, in reality. Underlying all those things that go into how a company interacts with customers is the expectations of the company's owners, its investors, and the investor marketplace itself. In other words: Most of us.

The scientific extraction of maximum revenue while incurring the lowest possible cost is something we investors have imposed on these companies. We can choose to think of companies as if they are people, and thereby grant them the power to make us feel disrespected or otherwise aggrieved, but in reality we're doing that to ourselves. From the company's perspective, it isn't personal. It's just business.

My read (based on my experience working in that industry ten years ago) is that the cost-cutting tactic of threatening to switch providers has become too well-known, such that there is no longer a real cost to taking a chance that the customer will leave. The pattern that seemed to develop, within some providers in some areas, from what I could tell from postings on AVS Forum, is that after the third time you extract an introductory discount by threatening to leave, your account gets marked, and you can only get a discount from then on by upgrading your service in some way.

I think the introductory discounts are sometimes eating so much into the profitability that customers who engage in the tactic as a matter of course offer the service providers so much of a lower profit potential long-term that there isn't a business case to be made for working hard to keep that customer's business. At worst, the secondary providers are gaining as many customers from other suppliers through this means as they are losing, while the primary providers are able to focus their operations on extracting additional revenues from the least price-sensitive customers.

That's not to say that people shouldn't try to get a lower price, but rather that people should avoid perceiving the work they have to go through in this regard as punitive or negligent on the part of the service provider. They're not in business to save you money. Quite the opposite. So perceiving your own business as so much more valuable to them than it is, in the context of other business demographically categorized the same way, is going to lead your logic astray.

We have FiOS here. I've compared my FiOS pricing with Comcast pricing where FiOS doesn't operate. It's within 10%. There's really not much of an advantage to be had even with multiple providers.

Deregulation was just supposed to open the market to additional competitors - so those companies can make some of the profit that the legacy providers were making - so it was just about more companies splitting the profits of the market. More competitors would have significantly lowered prices if prices weren't already pretty close to the value of the services. Consumers don't pay for things that aren't worth it - they do without things that are truly not worth the price.
While I am not going to disagree with your overall assertion, I believe anyways, you are over thinking some of this. Especially concerning the consumer end of it. I think most people do understand companies do not have feelings, but this doesn't preclude us from using emotional terms directed at them. I know my golf club doesn't have feelings when I curse at it and verbally threaten to break it in half if it doesn't start to perform better, but I still do it.
The venom in which is directed at cable/satellite/internet companies is based on their practice of not following the classic "loyal customer" marketing. Customer loyalty cards at businesses, car dealership discounts for return customers, rewards programs, discounts for repeat restaurant customers, etc... They impose the opposite strategy which is counterintuitive to consumers. Offering lower rates to the new customers, but charge higher rates to long term "loyal" customers.
FWIW- I have never been flagged and I have called Direct Tv and have got reductions for over 5 years now. I really never even threaten them. I would not think it foolish that they don't build it into their model. Lower the price for the callers as they proved they will take action and let the lazy people pay the rack rate. We all know each one of these businesses can tell you how much marketing money is spent to sign on and retain a customer. It's better to receive a little less for an existing customer, that to lose all those dollars. If they did want to take it to the bottom and deny the rate reduction, almost all of them have short windows of turnaround to be considered a new customer anyways.
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