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Preventing a hike in cable (triple bundle) bill
Old 09-19-2012, 09:27 AM   #1
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Preventing a hike in cable (triple bundle) bill

Hello folks,

I have cable (internet+cable+phone) from Optimum (in Northeast, NY to be specific) and our apartment complex is served by nobody else but Optimum. At the end of October, current $99/month promotion ends and the bill will be $130.80 (after some $20/month discount). New members get it for $89.99 I honestly think this $99/month for 3 services is expensive to begin with as the phone line is routed through internet so it costs almost nothing but since this is the cheapest option I take it as a starting ballpark figure.
Primarily, I watch news channels, History Channel and National Geographic. DW watches, HGTV, ABC Family and any movies. We don't really have time to sit in front of the TV and watch endlessly so not interested in HBO, Cinemax etc. packages.

Now, I am looking for options to save money on triple bundle. I want all the services for sure. My options are
- Verizon, offers a phone line and DirecTV, totals ~$50/month + Internet from Optimum ~$50 per month, stays within a budget of $100/month.
- Dish TV Smart Pack $20+taxes/month + Vonage/Ooma
- DirecTV $30+taxes/month package + Vonage/Ooma
I read in the past DirecTV or DishTV someone has really bad practices when you try to terminate your contract with them, so if anyone has any experience in such issues, I welcome their comments.

I considered Roku or similar devices but they do not offer live news coverage so its out of question.

Does anyone have any better idea? I am going to haggle with them next month, 10 days before service termination but I am preparing for a backup, in case if that fails.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:46 AM   #2
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I struggle with this as well, but have settled on the following for now:

Dish TV ~$58/mo for America's Top 120 with two receivers & DVR
Fairpoint internet ~ $50/month
Ooma ~$14 a month for two lines (home and home business)
AT&T gophone ~$17 a month for two lines

I really have a hard time thinking I could do a lot better. We live in a rural area so our choices are limited.

I recently called my internet provider and tried to get them to offer me a better deal but they wouldn't do a thing - even when I told them that the cable company was offering internet for less and I would switch. I think that I will change our email from our ISP to gmail and then I can more easily swap ISPs to those who offer a good deal but even then I would only be saving $10-20 a month and I'm not sure if it is worth the effort/disruption.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:49 AM   #3
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Rabbit Ears If you can get a decent signal, the broadcast stations are free and have great HD signals.
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:52 AM   #4
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I probably would go OTA supplemented by internet TV if I could, but unfortunately we don't get strong enough OTA signal. Might be a viable option for the OP though.
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:37 AM   #5
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I recently called my internet provider and tried to get them to offer me a better deal but they wouldn't do a thing - even when I told them that the cable company was offering internet for less and I would switch.
Did you actually go ahead and tell them to cancel your service or just threaten to cancel? Maybe they only switch you to a retention specialist / offer better deals if you actually initiate cancelation procedures.
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:47 AM   #6
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If you are in an apartment, can you even get Dish or Direct


I would not let each apartment put out their own dish if I were the owner... just sayin....
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:28 AM   #7
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We have Verizon Fios and will give you a breakdown of our total bill. I have negotiated until I'm blue in the face and this is the best I can do.

$70.00 Fios TV Unlimited
30.00 Telephone
39.99 Internet 35/35
16.99 HBO
5.99 Digital Adapter
16.99 HD DVR Set top box rental
-0- Standard set top rental (free)

Credits:
-8.50 50% off HBO credit thru 5-1-13
-8.00 Valued customer $8/mo thru 7-28-13

Taxes, governmental surcharges and fees
19.06

Total
$ 182.52

Note: The digital adapters allows me to watch three other TV's in the house using their own remotes. I have four adapters but use just three of them. As per agreement with Verizon, I can have the three free for life and I'm keeping the fourth just in case. I have negotiated my bill down from about $210 to the current bill shown. When those credits expire, I'll negotiate something else to keep the bill at about $185/month. The TV and internet are a big part of our entertainment outlay. I keep the phone for a couple reasons. We are on our son's cell phone plan and to keep long distance usage down, we use telephone for most of those calls. Also, if we gave up the telephone we would lose our bundle discount.
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:43 AM   #8
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Looking forward to more thoughts on this subject.
My piecemeal "bundle" is similar to what pb4uski described, but with Directv, Comcast, Vonage and Tracfone.... w/ similar costs.
BTW, Vonage offers a lower priced service than advertised for limited outgoing calls... $9.99/100 minutes... but... with taxes it goes to over $15.
We use MagicJack for longer calls.

So here's a summary of my own thoughts on the overall subject:

DirecTv - Too expensive $60, and we only watch News, Business, LinkTv, and "free' movies. Of 120 Channels watch about 10.
OTA TV... only a few channels accessible, mostly religious. Can't have larger antenna.
Roku- Our Roku burned up in a lightning strike... now have Sony Media player. Think we could move over to that for entertainment and movies, w/Netflix as the selection is pretty wide and we're not into the sitcoms or Oprah stuff.

We're not "phone people", so could live with minimum minutes... Looks like Net10 is the best. Problem there comes from "who has the phone", and we'd spend half our life looking for it. We need a few in situ phones to help with our AZ.
MagicJack works well... but hate to dedicate a computer 24/7. Will look at the no-computer version. Interested in thoughts on Oomu or MagicJack.

No choices in our Illinois home for internet... Comcast is the only choice...
choice?... Hate them so much would be worth it to go Satellite if the speed was faster. Florida has option for AT&T... (changed names so much can't think of the current one)... Problem with that is Bundle and Contract. As a snowbird, contracts are awful, with whatever company. The other problem with any phone is the exchange number. As we live in a retirement community with lots of older people, many still use landlines,with cell phones for emergency only. If we keep a single contact number, it's a long distance call for some people, either north or south.

Now... Back to Comcast for a minute... IMHO a company operated and managed by idiots. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that while there is one company name, each local company is a separate entity and they don't seem to talk to each other. When you dial the nationwide number you are automatically connected to the local service... and after ten minutes of trying to explain that you are calling about (in our case, Florida service when we're in Illinois)... it takes another ten minutes to be switched or to make a "secret number" call to the other state. 20 Years of this nonsense gives me the right to be a critic... (re the use of the word idiots).

I suppose we'll continue to blunder along. Not worth the aggravation of trying to make sense of the new "in touch" generation. Would be nice to see the yearly internet/communications bill closer to $1,000 rather than $3,000. (Remember library books, radio, and free TV?)

Wouldn't it be nice, to have a basic internet service where you could pick and choose, (and pay for) only those services and speed that you really need or want, without having to make a one or two year commitment, with a huge buyout penalty?

Of our three retirement financial plans (Optimal, Nominal and Austerity), if it comes down to austerity, it will be Internet, Roku, and NPR...

How much time, effort, and angst is spent throughout America, in trying to solve this "being connected" conundrum?

Looking forward to more thoughts on this...
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:05 PM   #9
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imoldernu, you may want to check into Ooma. You could have two numbers on your account (one IL and one FL) so it would be local calls for friends and family in both places. Would be unlimited US calls for ~$14 a month.

We've had Ooma for over a year and have been pretty happy. While we occasionally have dropped calls I'm not sure if the problem in those cases is Ooma, our ISP or the older cordless phone system we have. The other thing with Ooma is that there seems to be a minor delay (like talking with Europe, but only half as bad) and occasional touch tone sounds, but I view them as minor inconveniences given the savings (DW is more on the fence).

If you did go with Ooma, you could either buy just one Ooma box and take it with you between IL and FL or you could buy two and have one in each location. ~$180 each last I saw but there are occasional specials that bring it down to ~$150.
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:50 PM   #10
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We're not "phone people", so could live with minimum minutes... Looks like Net10 is the best. Problem there comes from "who has the phone", and we'd spend half our life looking for it. We need a few in situ phones to help with our AZ.
MagicJack works well... but hate to dedicate a computer 24/7. Will look at the no-computer version. Interested in thoughts on Oomu or MagicJack.
As far as cheap cell phones go it is hard to beat the T-mobile-to-go once you reach "Gold" status. If you buy a $100 card you get instant gold status and 1000 minutes that don't expire for a year. After that, you can keep it going for about $10 per year if you aren't talking. Just don't forget to reload your account before the year expires, or you will loose your accumulated/unused minutes. (I found out the hard way.) You could get a prepaid cell phone with a local number each for your summer / winter locales. Also, you could get a Magic Jack for each locale. That way you could provide local numbers for each area and host it on a single laptop. Running a laptop 24/7 with the power settings right would only cost about $1 per month.
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:58 PM   #11
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~$180 each last I saw but there are occasional specials that bring it down to ~$150.
Yep, currently $150 at Amazon.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:15 PM   #12
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Yep, currently $150 at Amazon.
Been looking/shopping for an Ooma unit. It's on sale right now at Officemax.com for $119.99 + tax after using code BIGDEALS (20% off). Also, many people have found it at local Costco stores for $129.99 too.

Here's the link to the Officemax deal:

https://www.officemax.com/checkout/c...7546#promotion
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:22 PM   #13
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As far as cheap cell phones go it is hard to beat the T-mobile-to-go once you reach "Gold" status.
A while back, I bought a T Mobile in Fl, then found out there was no service in my part of Il... Don't know about today.

I just bought a Net 10 phone from Marshalls (orig. $60... sale... $10) On the package it says it comes with 300 free minutes... when My tracfone runs out, am gonna try to activate. BTW.. according to Consumer Reports, overall rating put Net 10 as top choice (for occasional users).... it uses the Tracfone delivery system.
On the laptop... my old Acer is too slow... but I have other computers that I dedicate to MagicJack... I'm pretty happy with MagicJack, but don't want to use it as my prime phone... ... yet

Ummm... when I started with Vonage, there were no taxes... now I have $5+ in taxes on top of the basic $9.99.... What about OOma?... Taxes? My suspicious mind tells me that the Vonage "Taxes" are of their own making... the contract is a bit confusing about this. Their customer service has been great.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:31 PM   #14
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The ~$14/month for two lines is $10 for Premier service (which includes the second line and some other benes) and $4 for taxes. If you have just one line (standard service) all you pay is taxes (~$4 where I live) and the service is free.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:34 PM   #15
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I probably would go OTA supplemented by internet TV if I could, but unfortunately we don't get strong enough OTA signal. Might be a viable option for the OP though.
I've gone OTA for some time. With regular rabbit ears, CBS still wasn't coming in so I built my own coat hanger antenna and now CBS works .

If no signal, I believe some providers offer just a totally basic plan.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:49 PM   #16
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MagicJack works well... but hate to dedicate a computer 24/7. Will look at the no-computer version. Interested in thoughts on Oomu or MagicJack.

No choices in our Illinois home for internet... Comcast is the only choice...
I switched from the old version Magicjack to the newer Magicjack Plus which does not need a PC. It seems that the connection is better (no disconnects and clearer voice). I use Magicjack mostly for long distance calls. I still have my land line through ATT POTS (Plain Old Telephone System).

My internet and TV in IL is through ATT UVerse. I made a switch from Comcast over a year ago.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:03 PM   #17
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TV OTA Free
Fios internet $55
AT&T Two cellphones $120 (no data)
Netflix $9

Would like to cut the cell phone costs a bit. No wireline phone though.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:13 PM   #18
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Did you actually go ahead and tell them to cancel your service or just threaten to cancel? Maybe they only switch you to a retention specialist / offer better deals if you actually initiate cancelation procedures.
No, not yet, as I said in the post, I will do so in the middle of next month but by then I would like to be prepared for an alternative.

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If you are in an apartment, can you even get Dish or Direct

I would not let each apartment put out their own dish if I were the owner... just sayin....
Good point, I need to check that too but there are few folks who have Dish TV in our apartment complex.

@Johnnie36,
Thanks for your detailed reply. I am still on tube TV and only one TV. I think eventually, I will get rid of that too when TV becomes available on tablet

@pb4uski,
Unlimited Ooma for $14.99? AFAIK, you just buy Ooma box and its unlimited calling, unless you get premium features for $9.99 + taxes. Correct me if I am wrong.
And for those who are interested in Ooma, don't rush. They always comes up with refurbs less than $100 or even regular ones sometimes, so keep an eye. Currently, they are running promotion for $49 + 18 month of premium service, so if you are looking for it, here is the link.

For those who use prepaid phones, take a look at Howard forums. I used to use T-mobile 1000 minutes for $100 but now I use Airvoice wireless. The rates comes out to be same but I don't use my cellphone at all. In last 2 years, my cell phone is used only 35 minutes (incoming+outgoing). I use Vonage mobile to call or receive call on (internet) landline.

For magicjack, I don't trust chat-only customer service so I will not go with them.

With TV reception over the air, honestly I have never checked it. I always thought it doesn't exist anymore. Call me dumb but can I get pointers, please? Where do you buy those rabbit ears and is there any one good over the other? As I said, I have tube TV (so HD is not needed), all I need is WABC, CNN and BBC World for news, rest can be obtained on Hulu or something. All those who have used 'boxes' like Roku and such, I would love to hear their comment on preferring one over the other.

Keep the options/suggestions coming.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:19 PM   #19
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....AT&T Two cellphones $120 (no data)
.....
Would like to cut the cell phone costs a bit. No wireline phone though.
I recently went to AT&T gophone for all three of us and am happy so far. The caveat is that we don't use a lot of minutes and mainly use our cellphones as a convenience when traveling or running around doing errands (I'm at the store, do we need milk?).

Assuming that you are out of contract/month-to-month with AT&T you could use your current AT&T phones. Since we use very few minutes we are on the 10 cent/minute plan and get 3 months service/250 minutes for $25 or $8.33 a month per phone. Not sure where we could beat that.

If you use more than 250 minutes every three months they have other plans: $25 a month for unlimited texts/pics/sound/video + 250 minutes of voice (10 cents a minute thereafter) or $50 a month for unlimited voice & texts/pics/sounds/video.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:35 PM   #20
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With TV reception over the air, honestly I have never checked it. I always thought it doesn't exist anymore. Call me dumb but can I get pointers, please? Where do you buy those rabbit ears and is there any one good over the other?
Since 2009, virtually all over the air broadcasts are digital. So if you have an older set with an analog tuner (and I suspect you do), you would need an "analog to digital converter box" between the antenna and the TV. The box takes the digital signal and converts it to an analog signal for the older sets to display. Last I checked, they were usually around $40.

Another thing to remember is that digital signals are often not on the actual "channel numbers" they are associated with. For example, here in the Austin market, what was historically channel 24 (an ABC affiliate) actually has its digital signal on channel 33. The channel number will usually be shown as "24-1" or "24.1", but it's really tuned to channel 33 (you usually don't need to know that with a converter box that automatically does a scan for all available signals).

Finally, another fairly new thing is the creation of "subchannels" where the same frequency can be used to multiplex multiple digital signals. For example, on our local channel 24 there are three subchannels: 24-1, the main ABC affiliate; 24-2, a Spanish station and 24-3, a local weather channel.

My favorite place to check for the strength of signals in your area is TV Fool; I've found it to be the most accurate. Put in your address and it will show you how much antenna power you need to pull in channels around you. Green means set-top rabbit ears should be fine; yellow might mean an attic mount antenna and red/pink means you need a large outdoor antenna. We're 60 miles (as the crow fiies) from the Austin antenna farm and with a large outdoor antenna and a preamp, all the full power stations come in loud and clear.

Find it here: TV Fool
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