“Committed” Cable Companies & Price “Adjustments”

08Feb08

Every year at around this time, just as the shock of your holiday debt is beginning to set in, the telecoms (formerly known as the cable companies) send out their own Season’s Greetings – in the form of a rate “adjustment.”

Somehow, the rates never seem to get adjusted down.

Comcast is committed to keeping the cities and towns we serve well informed about key aspects of our business,” Jason Whittet, Manager of Government and Community Relations wrote to the Wakefield Board of Selectmen on December 20, 2007. “In that spirit, I wanted to notify you of some important pricing changes that will go into effect for certain Comcast services beginning in February, 2008.”

It has nothing to do with the fact that they are legally required to give cities and towns 30-days notice of any cable TV rate increases. They are “committed” to keeping us “informed.”

Isn’t that nice?

Notice that Whittet’s letter refers to “pricing changes.” “Pricing changes” is another euphemism for rate increases. After all, when you’re busy keeping cities and towns “informed,” too many “adjustments” could get monotonous. Throwing in a “pricing change” here and there helps to avoid repetition. (How many of those “pricing changes” do you suppose were downward changes?)

I wonder if Jason Whittet went to the same school as Jill Reddish, Verizon’s Franchise Operations Manager.

Verizon is committed to providing our FiOS TV customers with the broadest variety of programming choices available,” Reddish wrote the selectmen last December 14. (Like Comcast, Verizon is very “committed.”)

“To reflect the increased cost of providing FiOS TV,” Reddish continues, “Verizon will be adjusting certain prices for particular services effective February 15, 2008. The specific adjustments are reflected in the enclosed notifications that will be sent in a separate mailing to existing customers in Wakefield.”

There’s that word, “adjustment,” again.

“One notice will be sent to existing customers who first subscribed to FiOS TV in 2005-2006,” Reddish advises the selectmen, “and a separate notice will be sent to existing customers who first subscribed to FiOS TV in 2007.

Why two different customer notices?

Evidently, Verizon couldn’t bring itself to tell customers who just signed up six or eight months ago that their rates were going up already.

“As an existing customer, your rates for the Verizon FiOS TV services on your account will not increase,” the letter to those who subscribed in 2007 states.

But if you signed up for Verizon FiOS TV in 2005 or 2006 – well, you got a slightly different letter. Better luck next year.

Verizon’s customer letter lists the specific rates that “must be adjusted.” How many of those prices do you think were adjusted down? If you guessed “none,” you win!

I’m a Comcast cable, phone and Internet customer, and I recently got some “Great News!” in the mail.

“As a token of our appreciation for your subscription to Comcast Digital Cable, High-Speed Internet and Comcast Digital Voice,” the letter informed me, “a multi-product discount of $5 is currently being applied to your account on a monthly basis.” It was news to me. Somehow, I had never noticed the discount as I paid my $141 bill each month.

But there was even more “Great News!”

“Starting with your next monthly statement, this discount will be increased to $10,” the letter cheerfully informs me. “There’s nothing you need to do. Just sit back and enjoy.”

I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but the recent annual rate “adjustment” on my Comcast bill pretty much negates the discount.

I guess it’s the thought that counts.

[This column originally appeared in the February 7, Wakefield Daily Item.]

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One Response to ““Committed” Cable Companies & Price “Adjustments””

  1. Here in the Orlando area we have all that from the cable companies plus an added twist. Now our CBS channel threatens to go dark March 17 as new shows and March Madness are airing if Big Cable doesn’t start paying them. The station chief runs spots presenting his case and his talking head minions parrot him. All they want is 2 cents from each of us a month. Then what of the other two stations? What of taxes and fees? Why should we pay for stations that are available free if you are not on cable? So watch for this tactic. It may be coming to a TV near you.


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