Cutting the Cord on Cable TV

Several years ago, I grew tired of Comcast Cable’s frequent outages and poor service. At the time, there was no alternative to cable—services like Netflix and Hulu did not exist, and there was no competition in my area. That changed when Verizon FiOS entered the market.

At first, their service was vastly superior to Comcast in quality, reliability, internet speed, and price. All that changed after my contract expired and I went month-to-month. A year later I have seen three rate increases and while the quality of the service has never been in question, a recent experience was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Verizon FiOS has recently been touting its new matching download/upload speed tiers both through internet ads and lately, TV. While the rollout is phased, current customers who would like to have their faster speed “today” can sign up for MyRewards+ ostensibly to have their speed increased immediately. Sadly, in my case, this was not to be.

Like a trusting soul, I took them at their word and signed up for MyRewards+. Several days later the speed has not increased. I contacted their twitter support team, who informed me that the 25/25 tier is “not being offered.” Of course this is a blatant lie. According to this official Verizon post, 25/25 is one of the new tiers.

To be fair, my existing speed is somewhat of an odd duck plan, not the 15/5 plan that will convert to 25/25, but a 20/5 plan that somehow gets me 25/5 speeds. For them to tell me there is no 25/25 tier remains a lie based on their published new tiers, however they could have said that my current plan was not eligible for this upgrade instead of trying to sell me a 50/50 plan. Anything to make money, regardless of how much it irritates the customer, I suppose.

So naturally I vented on twitter, and by a remarkable coincidence, I saw a notice in my account that my rate would increase (for the third time). Interestingly, the last time I suddenly had a rate increase was after complaining about them, and the time before it was immediately after returning a set top box to save some money after I had just lost my job.

These things do not endear one to Verizon. At one time they offered a superior product for a superior price, with superior service. Now, they offer a superior product but in every other way have descended into a Comcastian abyss of poor customer relations and greed.

I have therefore decided to terminate my residential service with Verizon. In the interest of full disclosure, I will bring them on for business internet service because after much research, they offer the best performance/price point for my business. But in two years, when that contract is up, I will look very closely at whatever alternatives exist because I have learned not to be loyal to that company.

I didn’t do this as a knee-jerk reaction. I’ve been looking at this for about a year. I finally concluded that the hours I put into my business are not spent watching TV. Internet is a necessity in my field, but not TV. I can go to Hulu or Netflix for recently aired TV, and use a Mohu antenna for local channels. That means I won’t miss most NFL games or local news. I’ll miss ESPN the most, I think, during college basketball season. However I’m positive my bank balance will be grateful for this (I’m sure I can find a better use for $1,800 annually than giving it to Verizon).

What remains to be seen is whether Verizon will disconnect the service on the specified date and time, and send the promised return labels and boxes for their hardware. If they somehow fail to do these things, I will be more than happy to call them out on it publicly. These days, the internet makes it very easy to get the word out.

Speaking of the internet, recently internet service subscriptions passed TV subscriptions. This should be a warning to the cable companies: half of your business is being replaced by new media. You are fortunate that you offer internet service, and that your lobbying dollars keep we the consumers from experiencing the horrors of competition from other companies or municipal networks. You should understand that the way you treat customers will not be forgotten, and that when your proverbial day is done and new technology supplants yours, we will not miss you.

1 month ago 1 ♥
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