Freedom From Comcast, Sort Of: 1 Year Later

Graham Sedam, blog, thoughts, life, interests, writing, freedom, Comcast, Xfinity, shady business practices, high-speed internet, cable tv, cut the cord, bing watching, Netflix, library, DVD, family, Starz
Well, it's been one year since we cancelled cable. There's a post that I published last year around this time that goes into our thinking and experience with doing so. You should read it because I think it's good and to have some background on this post. Considering we actually made a trip out to the Xfinity store two days ago, ironically a day before the anniversary of the cancellation, it made me think about doing a post like this. Where are we now one year later?

For starters, we don't miss cable. We've done a pretty good job figuring out how to watch the shows we knew would be more difficult to pull off. The only show we've had trouble with, and it didn't happen until this spring, is Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad prequel spin-off. There's no way around logging into the app or website to watch without a cable provider login. However, we can watch it on Netflix when it is available. We will have to wait a while but not quite a year.

We've used the library as a resource once so far but will no doubt do so again. It costs one dollar to rent a new release DVD case. Why didn't you just say DVD? Because, there can be two discs in a case, for example, and it still only costs a dollar. We borrowed season nine of Doctor Who from the library. Two DVD cases (four DVDs) for two dollars and we knocked out a whole season of a show we would have a hard time to watch otherwise. When we cancelled cable, Netflix had the entire 'Who' library, classic and modern, but after some contract disputes, it all came down. *Le Sigh* Nevertheless, we persisted.

Not having cable has actually allowed us to discover things we might not have if we had cable. There are actually quite a few free episodes that apps offer, even if they change from time to time, which is good. A new family favorite this year has been the discovery and obsession with Big Block Singsong. My toddler son requests it daily and the rest of the family enjoys to listen and sing along as well. My wife and I have joked, although it IS a pretty accurate statement, that my son sang before he talked. While that statement deserves an asterisk and comment the length of a post, I will leave it at that, because his path on the way to speaking and where he's at now isn't as simple as a blanket statement. However, he seems to have taken quite a liking to music. We ARE a pretty musical family, so should there be much surprise?

The one show that I've been a little bummed about not being able to see yet is American Gods on Starz. We don't have Starz and have never felt the need to subscribe. I read the book the show is inspired by years ago, probably not too long after the book came out, at the suggestion of a friend. I hate the idea of having or maintaining a top ten list for anything, but I would have to say that it's certainly on a nonexistent list of favorites. When I had heard that the show would someday exist, I was very excited at the prospect to experience a version of the book on the screen. That is generally where I witness fictional stories, on the screen, whereas my reading habits tend to be more nonfiction oriented. *Focus* I knew that I would want to figure out how to watch it, and I suspected it would be highly likely that there would be a delay in doing so. Once the current, first season is over, I've contemplated signing up for Starz and then doing a bit of binging before the free trial is over. I can only imagine being able to get away with this one time. So, perhaps, I could sign up for Starz for a month next year for a relatively low cost to get my season two binge on?

Getting back to the original bit of inspiration behind this post, I will now change gears.

Like I stated in the first, introductory paragraph, my wife, toddler son, and I recently took a trip to our local Xfinity store. 'Why' would be a good question to ask and one that I will answer now in my own, long-winded way.

In the original post, "Freedom From Comcast, Sort Of," I had stated that the employee who helped us had given us a deal on our internet service. This is true, technically. He set us up to pay $59.99 per month. We have been paying that price for the last twelve months. For month number thirteen since our cable tv cancellation, our bill went up to $62.00 per month. So, as you can see, we didn't get much of a discount, but I do remember him saying it was a small discount (or something along those lines). I was content with this small increase going forward.

I have been getting emails for the last month or so saying that I should review my plan and reconsider how many services I was getting because my rate was going to go up. Typical Comcast crap, really. And considering my bill went up two dollars and a cent for month thirteen, I thought this was the apocalyptic change they were hinting at. Nope, it turns out that probably wasn't it. Fortunately, or at least I think fortunately so, I was able to stop the large increase before it started. We'll see on my bill coming up in a couple of weeks. First, a little background on that.

If you are a Comcast customer, which it seems over fifty percent of the country probably is, then you know they are shady. With increased competition becoming more of a reality for Comcast, they have to make an effort once in a while to retain people. Over the last year, it seems that one way they are doing this is increasing customer's Mbps. Every time they do so, and they've done it at least a few times, they tell the customer (aka ME) that they are doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. Since my rate never went up, I figured there was no problem. "You're going to give me more for the same price? Okay." And this is where the shadiness creeps in...

So, to get you up to speed, I paid for internet only service from Comcast for thirteen months at a reasonable rate that I felt was fair. They increased my speeds multiple times throughout that period and never asked for more money, because they are my pals. The fourteenth month approaches, and I get an email saying that I have a bill coming due at the beginning of June, my normal due date, for almost thirty more dollars than I had been paying—$89.95 to be exact. Needless to say, I wasn't enthused in a smiley kind of way. Thirty dollars isn't going to break me, even if it is an extra $360 for a year, but when it comes to Comcast, I have a particularly feisty attitude. I know that I'm just one in a large crowd when it comes to less-than-satisfactory interactions with that company. Under further investigation, my wife found that the extra thirty dollars was for a "speed boost."

As you know from what I initially stated at the start of this post, you super-smart reader, I went to our local Xfinity store to have a little convo with an employee. I went in and was helped immediately and gave a quick rundown of what was going on. The employee didn't seem terribly interested in my situation and didn't really seem to understand what I was trying to do. What it essentially came down to was him asking me what I wanted. I had already answered that, but I told him again. "I want to continue paying what I have been paying. I never asked for a speed increase." So, he changed my price to $59.99 and showed me my profile on his computer screen to prove it. I then asked him what speed I was at, and what speed I am now at. He told me I was at 200 Mbps and that I would now be at 55 Mbps.

I'm no expert in the area of internet speeds, but I have NEVER noticed a difference ANY TIME they had allegedly increased our speed for us. Neither has my wife. We stream plenty, and we've always had the same quality. I have heard from someone (or some people-I can't remember) that the only time you are really going to notice those speed increases is with online gaming. I can understand that. THAT makes a lot of sense. No one in my house does online gaming that would require those speeds.

You might be asking yourself: Why did they increase our speed over time to 200 Mbps, and then later say that they needed to charge us more for being in that tier? I don't think I need to spell it out. It's exactly as it looks. Shady. While looking into this debacle before going to the Xfinity store, my wife and I found that their website doesn't even have consistent pricing.

Why not go somewhere else?

Well, when it comes down to it, for internet, Comcast's uptime is pretty reliable and broadband is pretty hard to beat when it comes to consistent speeds. We've considered Century Link as a potential to get away from Comcast since it is a fiber optic network (fast) that can compete with Comcast's speeds and reliability. That might happen someday, but we've heard that Century Link has their own issues. The devil you know...

Onward, we trudge.

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