Negotiating the best Comcast internet rates (PDX edition)
November 20, 2013 6:59 PM   Subscribe

Ok, theoretically simple question that I can't find a simple answer to: I'm currently a Comcast customer subscribed to low-tier tv and internet. I'd like to drop my tv service and replace it with an antenna for OTA channels and a higher internet tier for streaming and general internet'ing (Comcast is my only real internet option, so I won't be dropping them entirely). I need advice as to how to get the best possible rate for the internet service. Details below the fold.

My current bill is something like $24 for ultra basic tv (literally 10 or so channels), $56 for "high speed internet" (I believe it's their Performance tier, but the modem we're leasing from them doesn't allow the speeds that come with this tier), and $8 a month for a leased modem.

What I'd like to do:

1. Purchase a modem (this one is what I'm thinking) and stop paying the $8/month.
2. Drop the tv subscription and buy a Leaf antenna.
3. Possibly bump the internet tier from Performance (25Mbps) to Blast (50Mbps).

So my question is really this: as an existing customer, what's the best way to scale back service without ending up paying more for it? Due to the bundling and new customer discounts, I'm afraid I'm going to end up with little savings for half the services. I know this is the sort of thing best handled through Comcast's customer retention division, but I'd appreciate any specific advice as to how to negotiate the situation.

As a small piggyback question: My household is two people, currently getting by with significantly lower speeds than the Performance tier is capable of. Neither of are games. In terms of normal web browsing, streaming video/music, and [god forbid] torrenting files, would we notice a major difference between the Performance and Blast tiers?

Thank you!
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Leaf is not good at picking up VHF, so you will not get NBC or Fox. That said there are other antennas which will work better.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 7:41 PM on November 20, 2013

Do you know where your local Comcast office is? I had to go there to return some of my mom's old equipment once and while I was there I noticed the customer service reps were offering discounts to customers that I wasn't able to get when I signed up on the phone. The nice lady at the desk offered me a discount that would only last 3 months, but she suggested I call back when the 3 months was over and just ask for another. May depend on the area, I don't know.

I also recently cut cable tv and got the very cheapest antenna available at Wal-mart, which works fine to pick up local channels in 1080i.

Definitely get your own modem, and perhaps look into your wifi router. I went from maximum speeds of 16mb/s to 25mb/s (tested at by changing from an old DOCSIS 2.0 to a newer (but still quite cheap, around $45) DOCSIS 3.0. I did not notice much of a difference when I switched wifi routers.

I've had Comcast cable in several different states, never had anything but the cheapest service they have available, and have never had any problem streaming in HD. I'd only ever use torrents for non-copyrighted materials, but when I do torrent, even with the lowest tier, I can get up to 5.0mb/s on an active torrent, and that depends MUCH more on the tracker/torrent than my ISP. Basically, I'm not sure what you're getting out of performance internet or a higher tier than that. Lower latency speeds? Not really a big deal unless you're a gamer. I regularly use more than 200gb of bandwidth, am streaming an HD program as we speak.

Also, look into a roku with plex if you don't have that already. I really don't miss cable tv without it, except for live sports.
posted by skewed at 7:51 PM on November 20, 2013

1. I just bought that modem 2 weeks ago and it is rocks. I get 65/20 for a 50/10 plan. I had 25/5. It comes in handy when I want to do something like watch a show on Netflix or Hulu+ on my Apple TV and want to download other stuff at a good clip. Regardless of how you decide to go with the speed package, upgrading your modem to a DOCSIS 3.0 will let you see improvement in your speed. You may wish to just get the modem and see how it goes for a month and see if you really will appreciate the faster speeds. Likewise, if you get the upper speed package and feel you're wasting your money, you can always call them and lower the speed later unless they lock into a long term contract.

2. I am not in the PDX and have Cox but what I did was call and ask about the plans. The guy said I could get faster internet for $20/mth more and I said I had the uverse website open and they had 48mbps for $2/mth more than I was paying Cox for 25. He tapped on his keys and said he could give me 50/10 for just $5 more. Having a solid offer from a competitor in hand was probably helpful.

3. My internet-only internet plan comes with all of the local OTA channels in glorious HD. The only time I use my antenna is to get Mexican channels from Tijuana and Mexicali (I need my telenovelas, and Los Simpson). Maybe it is a Cox thing that the local channels are free with internet only packages. In addition to the broadcast channels, I get their secondary channels as well. They even throw in CSPAN 1-3.
posted by birdherder at 8:30 PM on November 20, 2013

Been a Comcast customer in several states.

1) I have an older Motorola Surfboard modem that I swear by and I understand their newer modems are also quite good. Definitely worth buying; I know mine's paid for itself several times over by now when compared to the cost of renting equipment.

2) Comcast typically charges about $10 more for internet-only plans vs the internet portion of an internet + TV bundle. Definitely ask about deals if you're planning on cord-cutting, but I suspect you won't be able to get them to go much lower than the $56+$10 price point, and most likely will only have deals on bundles and addons (like faster service). If there are competitors in the area, I imagine you could use that as leverage, as birdherder mentioned. I have no opinions about antennas.

3) The basic 25 Mbps tier is plenty for Netflix and other streaming stuff; they won't max out your bandwidth unless there's a lot of streaming/downloading going on at once. Torrenting *might* go a bit faster, just because it's easier to max out a connection with torrent traffic, but unless you do a *lot* of it, I don't think it'd be worth it compared to what you save. Try things out at the 25 Mbps tier first and upgrade later if you decide it's not fast enough for your usage.
posted by Aleyn at 12:31 AM on November 21, 2013

I just did this with cox and it dropped my bill by nearly $60 a month.
posted by empath at 3:56 AM on November 21, 2013

I just upgraded to Blast, and let me tell you, when you download over Usenet or torrent at 5.5 megabytes/second, you'll never go back!

(Plus the ability for my son to play multiplayer FPS games on his 360, my daughter to watch Gossip Girl on Hulu, and my wife and I to watch something on Netflix).
posted by kuanes at 5:24 AM on November 21, 2013

We just got a $39.99/month Blast internet & "Digital Basic Economy" cable package from Comcast by threatening to cancel service (again, for the dozenth time). It helps that Uverse is already in our neighborhood and switching would be trivial.

What I've found is that their customer service reps are very spotty, ranging from unhelpful to incompetent (to both) to extremely helpful and competent. If someone is not being helpful and not offering you better deals, just hang up and call back until you get a decent rep.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:41 AM on November 21, 2013

Definitely you get different answers from different reps at Comcast! You may also get a deal just by asking. When I had Cox in New Orleans, I called to move my service and they gave me like 40% off for 6 months just because I asked.
posted by radioamy at 7:43 AM on November 21, 2013

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