I Called And Raised Our Cable Bill

Yes, you read that right. I did pretty much the opposite of what every personal finance blog will tell you to do. Time will tell if we think it’s a good idea, but here’s why I did it.

Our Complicated History With The Cable Bill

Since moving into our house 6.5 years ago, we’ve never had a tv or a home phone (we use Ting on our cellphones). But unlike some our neighbors that drive to Panera and McDonalds for their internet access, paying for reliable in-home internet access is pretty non-negotiable for us.

That said, we subscribed to the lowest speed available when we moved in – 1.5Mbps – because it was the cheapest available ($33 at the time) and it did enough for us, especially for the first couple of years. By the time the slow speed was starting to be noticeable to us (like when we both wanted to stream something), we had somehow ended up with a bill that was ridiculously low. Through a discount that was supposed to be one-time, but wasn’t, we were paying about $13/month for our internet access in 2012-2013.

Eventually our provider noticed and raised our bill to what it should have been all along, ~$33. Then it went up to $35 about a year ago. Then a couple months ago, $38. And I knew that calling the darned internet company was such a PITA that we just kept taking these nickle-and-dime price increases. Until the last bill came in last week at $59.60. Whoa, nelly.

I’m okay paying a fair price (which we consider ~$1/day) for slowish internet speeds. But I’m not going to pay through the nose for slow internet speeds, especially as our needs on the web have changed.

  • We stream more than we used to. Mr PoP will load up YouTube to listen to music while working away, and I often like to stream shows on Hulu while I’m ironing or cooking or doing other things around the house.  Working around either of those isn’t that big of a deal, but there were increasingly other items that seemed to give us issues.
  • VPN-ing in for work needs a fairly speedy connection and our 1.5Mbps connection strained under the load when even just one of us VPN-ed in.
  • Skype and Facetime struggled under the slow connection speed, sometimes even when there weren’t any other devices (besides our solar system, which is permanently connected to the web) competing for bandwidth.

So when I called in to complain about our $59.60 bill, the CS rep said she’d be happy to “reinstate my discount”, ie give me back the 1.5Mbps for what we paid the previous few months ($38). And with that, I discovered that our cable company had, at some point in the last two years,  drastically increased the price of our speed, but added a $20 discount to it so we wouldn’t notice.  We didn’t… with the bill on auto-pay, I never actually look at any of it except for the total. This price increase was that “discount” expiring.  Ridiculous.

But I surprised the CS rep.  I also asked her to tell me what the best price she could give me on a higher speed connection. She came back with $40 (after taxes and fees) for 10Mbps for 12 months and told me to set a reminder to call in again in 12 months to get the new promotional rate at that time or else the price would go up again.

So for $2 more per month, I took it. The new speed won’t kick in for another day, so we can’t run a speed test on it yet.  Here are the results of our current speed test:

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.19.14 PM

Fingers crossed for better results than this by this weekend!

And hopefully the image will be a little less pixelated the next time I FaceTime with my best friend and her new baby (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have squarish blotches on his skin in real-life).

Why Didn’t I Call Other Competitors Or Threaten To Cancel?

Well, I looked at the only other internet option we’ve got in our town. Their pricing specials were slightly better than the offer from our current provider, but the special pricing expired 1 year into a 2 year contract. Leaving ourselves open to a giant price increase while still locked into a contract seemed like something we didn’t want to do. Throw in that I didn’t have time to deal with sitting around for hours waiting for an installer (this is Q4 after all), and knowing how hated that competitor is by friends who live just a mile away and use it… well, it didn’t feel like a very compelling option.

In the end, I chose the devil we know (the service can’t possibly be worse than what we’ve been putting up with so far) and I’m hoping that this $2 price increase gives us a noticeable boost in usability, at least until something awesome like Ting Internet or Google Fiber comes to our town. (I’ve put in requests for both… after all, Trader Joes listened to my request and opened a store near us, why not Ting or Google?!?)  If I’m wrong, it cost us $24 over the course of the next year. There are worse potential outcomes.

Out of curiosity – what are you paying for internet in your neck of the woods? What is your connection speed?

24 comments to I Called And Raised Our Cable Bill

  • JC

    I was wondering where you were going with this post from the title. Looks like things will be pretty good with just a $2 increase from your previous price but increasing the speed by 6 times. It’s probably about time we called to check on ours.
    JC recently posted..Why Dividends Matter: The Calm in the StormMy Profile

  • Kay

    I am getting 75 MBps for $50 a month and they offered me 25 Mbps for only $40 but I opted for the faster. This is through Comcast and I have to call every year to get my bill reduced but prior to this I was paying $35ish for 50 Mbps til my plan expired.
    Kay recently posted..12 daysMy Profile

  • Haha this is exactly what I did recently with our internet provider. Our router has been finicky so I called to see if I can get the updated router, also to inquire about possible price discount. The rep was very helpful and got me on a higher speed for $5 less and a new router. Will have to call again in a year’s time to find new deals. Works for me.
    Tawcan recently posted..Guilty pleasureMy Profile

    • Yeah, our router is probably a decade old. Maybe more? It was a used hand-me-down when we started using it 6.5 years ago…. Hopefully it’s not a limiting factor in speed for us since our provider would really prefer it if we rented a new router directly from them for an extra $10 or so per month…

  • I hate cable companies. But my troubles with Time Warner Cable this year had to do with cancelling our cable.

    Right now we are paying $34.99 a month for internet, but that’s a discount that will expire next summer, and then probably jump to what you’re paying. This “Standard” internet supposedly tops out at 15 Mbps. In practice, it tops out at 2 Mbps. The cheapest internet that the company quotes, Everyday Low Price, is supposedly 2 Mbps and costs $14.99, and I’m guessing it never actually hits that 2. If you’re not getting that full 1.5 Mbps, I’d say you’re getting ripped off at $60.

    Google Fiber would be great, but have you ever heard of SandyNet? It’s a municipally owned company in Sandy, Oregon. They’ve only got a few employees, and the fiber costs $40 a month because it operates as a non-profit. It’s an awesome idea for towns to invest in their own internet infrastructure, especially right now when so few have it!

    Norm recently posted..Frugal Failure: I Paid $40 For A PencilMy Profile

    • “This “Standard” internet supposedly tops out at 15 Mbps. In practice, it tops out at 2 Mbps.”

      I really hope this isn’t what we end up dealing with. It was one thing to be paying for 1.5 and getting 1.3 or 1.4 regularly… but if we’re paying for 10 and getting 1.3 or 1.4… I will feel very ripped off!

      I hadn’t heard of SandyNet in particular, but Mr PoP and I definitely wish that our town would form an internet utility co-op. Our water company is technically a co-op and we’ve been super satisfied with it! We’d definitely be an advocate for this in our area. Sadly, a lot of the older retirees don’t have internet, so demand might be pretty low until more boomers start retiring and moving down.

  • Dana

    I pay $69.00/mo, but it’s for 300Mbps, and it’s pretty consistent. Don’t really need the speed, and could go cheaper… but it’s awfully nice to have.

    • 300 Mbps?!? We’re coming to your house when we want to upload pictures!

      • Dana

        It’s what happens to cable Internet when Google Fiber hits the area. Everyone suddenly has to compete with them. Even though GF isn’t in my neighborhood, Time Warner had to price things/add speed to keep up. Competition works!

  • We’re paying 54.99/mth for 25/25 FIOS Internet only in Pittsburgh. I’m so used to FIOS now that for the last two houses we purchased, we were only looking at areas that had FIOS service….

    • Did it drastically limit your search? I can honestly say we didn’t look at internet providers at all when picking a neighborhood, but I think the same duopoly covers most neighborhoods within a 20 mile radius of our house. There might be a third company laying line for a fiber service, but so far I’ve only seen notices in the $1mm+ neighborhoods that I bike through… not ours. =P

  • That’s a pretty good deal. Nice job! I probably wouldn’t have thought to ask about that.
    Cat@BudgetBlonde recently posted..How My Broken Car Changed my Outlook on DebtMy Profile

  • Heh I think I was paying about $30/month for 10 Mbps before my boyfriend moved in. We upgraded to the ~50 Mbps which is supposed to be ~100 now and pay about $68/month AND got a snazzy new router which made things much smoother. We have ahem a few too many devices to be using the $50 router I had picked up from Wal-Mart post-college.
    Leigh recently posted..Why Frugal Blogs Are Terrible For MeMy Profile

  • Jeez, apparently Mr. FP is a little greedy. He’s in charge of Internet service and evidently thinks we need 50 mbps. I don’t get that on my computer, for complicated reasons I have not had time to figure out. (I’m lucky to get 13; sometimes it drops under 1 and I can’t stream video at all.)

    We pay $70/month for that. We have some kind of promotional bundle that includes some non-digital channels and on-demand (so we can watch The Big Bang Theory at any time we want, as long we aren’t all that picky about the picture) and–this is key–HBO and HBO Go.
    Frugal Paragon recently posted..What Would Ma Ingalls Buy? My Fall Shopping CritiqueMy Profile

  • Kate

    Routers make a big difference in speed. I recommend you buy a new router (and not rent) to get the most out of your new plan!

  • I’m impressed that you were able to deal with having 1.5Mbps internet for so long! With all the HD content out there, I think I would have gotten bored of waiting for things buffer. For $13 a month I probably could have tolerated it though! I think the $2 increase for the increased speed will be worth it though.
    Debt Hater recently posted..Time Value Of MoneyMy Profile

  • I have Time Warner in Manhattan, and the price is baked into our cable package but comes out to about $40 a month plus taxes I believe. Our internet has been sucking, and then randomly TW emailed me saying our modem is outdated and if I filled out some form they’d mail me a new one free of charge. So once I got the modem I did a speed test to see what it was before and after. Our download speed went from 2.5 Mbps to over 80!!! That’s almost 40x as fast! All for free. At first I didn’t believe it when I saw it, but I ran the tests multiple times before and after.
    Fervent Finance recently posted..Fringe and Other Workplace BenefitsMy Profile

  • I’m with Comcast in the Chicago area and we get 75mbps, basic local channels and hbo for $60. We had 25mbps and our streaming(Roku) went out a lot more than it should have, so with my recent price negotiation they increased the speed and kept the same price for 12 months. It’s a game we play as you have mentioned I’m hoping Google Fiber kicks down the door in Chicago, but until then.
    Even Steven recently posted..The Long Story How I Paid Off a Diamond Resorts Timeshare Loan with my Credit CardMy Profile

  • Since dropping Uverse cable/internet last month, we are now paying $44.99 for 75 Mbps with Comcast (with no cable or phone). We actually get about 90 Mbps, but now stream Fire TVs for our cable.

    I actually received an email from Comcast saying a a $5 credit was automatically being applied to our next bill because of an outage on 11-18 in our area. For all the bad things I heard about them, this plus an on-time and friendly install have me actually happy with my service so far!
    Vawt recently posted..Amazon Prime- AgainMy Profile

  • Funny! I do find sometimes that “getting chatty” with providers helps sometimes. Something new is happening with phone data-it’s getting cheaper.
    I can now get 6GB via ATT for $30/mo.

    Internet usually fast w Xfinity (I should check my bill) and newer laptop and Nest thermostat. My old laptop named Beastie is infected and will soon be on display at the Smithsonian…