Why is internet+TV+phone cheaper than internet alone from TWC?
September 29, 2016 12:38 PM   Subscribe

My internet company ("Spectrum" aka TWC) has been relentlessly mailing and emailing me with deals on internet+TV+phone bundles that are cheaper than getting internet alone. I don't want TV or phone (in fact I don't even have a phone to plug in anywhere) so it seems silly to sign up for this. But it is cheaper. What is the deal here?

Is there some secret cost at a later date if I don't cancel? There's no contract, so I can cancel any time in theory. What am I not understanding?

What do they gain by giving me more stuff for a cheaper price?
posted by kms to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are these promotional deals where the rate is only guaranteed for a year or two? If that's the case, they may rely on you getting so used to having cable that you don't cancel it even after this rate expires and you start paying a more usual rate.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:47 PM on September 29, 2016 [10 favorites]

Is the deal "Bundle for X per month (for two years)!"? They're trying to hook you on TV and phone so you'll keep paying for them when the promo ends. Or they think you just won't bother to switch plans before the promo ends. The non-promo cost is almost certainly more expensive for the bundle.
posted by supercres at 12:47 PM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: They also may not be accounting for the cost of the cable box(es) that they rent, which are a nice little earner. The FCC is having hearings, like, now, on requiring cable companies to offer free apps instead of rental boxes.
posted by adamrice at 1:11 PM on September 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Also an optics game; they can say they have x number of TV subscribers (doesn't even matter if the subscribers don't even watch cable) so they can charge y amount for advertising slots.

Also, much of the time these are 'introductory offers' and automatically jump to the full rate once the trial period expires.

Also, if you're currently paying a good rate on your internet, that rate goes out the window and you'll be charged the going rate for internet - even if you unsubscribe from cable once the trial is over.

/misses $35 50Mbit internet (now costing me >$90)
posted by porpoise at 1:16 PM on September 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

People are prone to inertia, so a lot of people that sign up for the bundles at a discount for the promotional period never get around to turning off the unwanted parts after the prices go up. In some cases, people may find that they use some of the features enough that they voluntarily keep them in the long run.

And to a degree, some people in power at corporations still haven't caught on to how big of a shift there's been with the younger generation cutting the cord and just doing everything on phones and data connections. To my parents, not having a home phone is more or less unthinkable, so I'm sure there's still some executives out there with the same mindset who believe that the packages genuinely fills a need that consumers have. And in some cases they are right.

And lastly, I don't know about the economics of cable TV as far as what it costs companies, but adding phone service costs them next to nothing and is relatively high profit, so that factors into it as well.
posted by Candleman at 1:29 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would think that part of what they are looking for is to make a profit off of unlisted "extras." For example, long distance calls typically cost per minute, above and beyond your basic phone bill which only covers local calls. So, if you make a lot of long distance calls, they are hoping to capture that market.

(Plus a bunch of excellent points above. I am trying to add a new thought, not rehash what has already been said.)
posted by Michele in California at 1:39 PM on September 29, 2016

There's some weird stuff with tariffs, too: I believe that if you have voice they can charge you some extra set of taxes and fees, a substantial portion of which ends up back in their pockets (ie: make sure you're getting the actual price, and not the "before taxes and fees" price), and there are probably various telecom subsidies they can get if they have some number of voice subscribers.
posted by straw at 2:18 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not sure about TWC/Spectrum, but for Comcast these are almost always limited time offers, usually from around 6 months to 2 years. If you know that you'll remember to call and cancel the unused bits of your bundle after the promo period, they can be a good deal. I've done it before with bundled phone and HD Premium TV service that I never really used, and even with equipment rental and other "hidden" costs it ended up being less expensive bundled than no. That said, I definitely agree with others to do your due diligence here. Also, you might have to deal with some retention specialist over the phone when it's time to cancel; they don't make it nearly as easy to cancel services as they do to sign up, but if you're not cancelling everything it shouldn't be too bad. They might extend the deal if you're lucky.
posted by Aleyn at 4:08 PM on September 29, 2016

I was wondering the same thing? I tried chatting the other day, but there was a lengthy wait. I am also a TWC/Spectrum user.

One thing you can always do is call in and ask for a discount. They will cut you a $10/month off usually just for asking or complaining a little bit. I have done that many times with TWC successfully.

I am currently chatting with Dipesh K at TWC/Spectrum who just said:

"I will tell explain you every plan for the Internet."

I will post the results when this amazing event is finished.
posted by silsurf at 4:46 PM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's even better than I could have imagined, couldn't have written a better script myself.

Dipesh K.: h
Dipesh K.: Hello.
Dipesh K.: How are you doing today?
Jessica: fine, how do I take advantage of the $29.99 month internet that is advertised?
Dipesh K.: I would like to tell you that offer is available for a new customers.
Jessica: what is the least expensive internet package, I see one for $59.99
Jessica: I currently pay $79.99
Dipesh K.: I will tell explain you every plan for the Internet.
Dipesh K.:
Dipesh K.: ELP (Everyday Low Price) = $14.99, you will get speeds upto 3Mbps download and upto 1Mbps upload.
Dipesh K.: Basic Internet = $49.99, you will get speeds upto 10Mbps download and upto 1mbps upload.
Dipesh K.: Extreme Internet = $59.99, you will get speed upto 50Mbps download and 5Mbps upload.
Dipesh K.: Ultimate ***** = $69.99, you will get speed upto 100Mbps download and 10Mbps upload.
Dipesh K.: Ultimate ***** = $79.99, you will get speed upto 200Mbps download and upto 20Mbps upload.
Dipesh K.: Ultimate ***** = $109.99, you will get speed upto 300Mbps download and upto 20Mbps upload.
Dipesh K.: These are the plan you can go for it.
Jessica: How do I change plans as these are not listed on the TWC/Spectrum website I am seeing.
Dipesh K.: I apologize but there is no promotion going on your account.
Jessica: And why am I paying 79.99 for Ultimate *****, which is what I currently have?
Jessica: I dont want a promotion, I want to lower my bill. I recieved a mailing from Spectrum advertising lower rates and I would like to take advantage of them please
Dipesh K.: The $10.00 is for Modem lease fees.
Dipesh K.: In order to lower the monthly bill, you can purchase your own modem that will save you $10.00 per month.
Dipesh K.:
Jessica: Are you saying I have no options at this time?
Dipesh K.: Yes, correct.
info: Your chat transcript will be sent at the end of your chat.
posted by silsurf at 4:55 PM on September 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

My parents have been Time Warner customers since it was called Warner Cable or whatever it was. They pay $260/mo for what is currently the $89 promo package and have been doing so for years. That low price lasts a year or two at most, period. After that the only thing that will convince them to lower your rate is a serious threat to move to Verizon or some other competitor.

I am also on TWC and pay almost $100/mo for one of the shittier internet plans. No tv, no phone. Just internet. And they're my only option because my building doesn't have cable pulled for Verizon, so no threat is possible. When I *did* live in a building that had Verizon infrastructure, I got TWC to lower my rate to the most recent promo every single year, no questions asked.
posted by xyzzy at 1:41 AM on September 30, 2016

Another TWC --> Spectrum customer here. Spectrum is actually raising rates from TWC standard rates. I am currently paying 49.99/mo for 50mbps internet only with rental. Called Spectrum about the 29.99 deal they advertised and got the same script silsurf got. I just hope my 49.99 deal stays put. Long live the good old fashioned Antenna, but I need internet!
posted by bluesky78987 at 7:45 AM on September 30, 2016

Do you already have service from them? I'm sure results vary based on provider and local market, but I've been able to lower my bill 12 months at a time with Comcast for 2 years now.

My basic strategy: navigate through phone IVR to “Retention” dept by indicating you want to cancel. In my experience you get connected to US-based agents who are reasonable people looking for a solution. Be really nice. I like to say “I think I need to cancel my account” - let them know I’m not a totally lost cause.

Why cancel? “Looking at my recent bills, I see that my bill went up to $X. I was fine paying $Y but I just can’t imagine paying $X. I get mailers from [name 2 other providers that actually serve your address] all the time and their intro offers are even lower than what I was paying you before.”

Stay silent for at least 5-10 seconds, this can feel awkward depending on your personality. Then there’s usually some discussion about service level, where I claim that I just use the internet occasionally for email and every once in a while Netflix, but it’s just me at home and I don’t need anything crazy fast. Last time I think I might have even said I was considering just using my cell phone for internet since I don’t use it much.

I believe they then get to select some predefined “retention” packages to keep you, typically packages you're not allowed to select yourself. This is how I got internet-only for lower than the bundled phone/TV/Internet rate.

One important thing: be ready to fend off all sorts of scare tactics. Prepare to convince them that your needs are so basic that you don't need fast or reliable internet, anything from any provider will do.
posted by reeddavid at 5:56 PM on September 30, 2016

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