Cable companies use hidden fees to raise prices as much as 24% a month

nanoguy

TS Addict
Staff member

Cord cutting is accelerating faster than ever, with many rushing to internet streaming services to save money and watch fewer - if any - ads. While 78 percent of all US households were still signed up to a cable or satellite TV service in 2018, that number is projected to go below 65 percent by the end of this year.

A new analysis made by Consumer Reports reveals that companies add an average of $37.11 per month to your cable bill, which is a significant difference when compared to the advertised prices. When you also consider that the average base price sits at $156.71 per month and you add in the company-imposed fees, you get an idea of how they make their money - it's a 24 percent markup on a typical bill.

Examples of company-imposed fees include Regional Sports Fees, which have increased over six times on average in the last four years. And last year we saw that Comcast is making almost $3 billion per year on channels that are essentially free and can be accessed using an antenna. Set-top boxes and other equipment rental fees also add to the price hikes, as do things like the "HD Technology Fee" - something that unlocks the high-definition capabilities of your existing set-top box.

Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports, noted that "cable companies are notorious for advertising a low price but charging much more by adding a long list of confusing fees to monthly bills." This all adds up to an estimated $28 billion per year in surcharges for consumers for the 13 companies analyzed in the report.

People who wish to avoid company-imposed fees usually find that they can't avoid them without downgrading their service. When Consumer Reports contacted cable companies to clarify the situation, the general response was that the fees "help them pay for their own increasing costs for providing content." However, that still doesn't explain why they advertise lower costs, and apparently customer service representatives of every major provider are unable to explain the additional fees in detail.

Consumer Reports is advocating for regulatory changes that would require cable companies to include all charges in their advertised prices and let customers opt out of contracts that are subject to price hikes without paying termination fees.

In the meantime, cord-cutters face a different problem - there are now too many services to choose from that stream exclusive content - Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and others. This could lead to a future where they cut the cord to escape cable TV bundles, only to end up with a different kind of bundle that is just as costly and confusing.

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MaXtor

TS Evangelist
Platinum
Unless you need live sports or fake news media, there's probably no reason to keep cable. I torrented all my shows and music for years until Netflix and other streaming services became more convenient. I now have Netflix, Prime Video, and Youtube Premium/Youtube Music for my entertainment. I rarely torrent anything anymore.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
With all these service appearing like flies on :poop:, the market will sort itself out. I'm waiting on a pending fiber connection with none of the :poop: from my current ISP Spectrum. Its funny because now they are mirroring the marketing of the fiber company as if Spectrum is reputable.

Honestly, if us cord-cutters are able to delay gratification, I bet that these services that are popping up will not find the market they want. I see the proliferation of services as all the content providers going through withdrawal symptoms from the addiction to their customer's wallets. As I see it, they brought this on themselves.

For me, I'll wait until content I want comes to disk and then I will get it from my local library - which is yet another excellent free resource of program material.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Also a Spectrum user. I am bombarded with constant "deals" and phone calls. When I point out that their offering is as expensive as YouTube TV with fewer channels the constant replay is "yeah, but we're better". I ask them what makes them better and they go on and on about reliability. When I point out that the only reliability issues are when their Spectrum Cable that is supposed to provide me a constant 200 MBs drops off (as shown by my tracking meter) it is THEIR fault, not YouTube ..... after a short period of silence they hang up.
I'm guessing that the Spectrum salesman must have run out of lipstick .... again!
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Also a Spectrum user. I am bombarded with constant "deals" and phone calls. When I point out that their offering is as expensive as YouTube TV with fewer channels the constant replay is "yeah, but we're better". I ask them what makes them better and they go on and on about reliability. When I point out that the only reliability issues are when their Spectrum Cable that is supposed to provide me a constant 200 MBs drops off (as shown by my tracking meter) it is THEIR fault, not YouTube ..... after a short period of silence they hang up.
I'm guessing that the Spectrum salesman must have run out of lipstick .... again!
They hung up - cool!
Your experience reminds me of the time Specturd, then Time-Slammer, slammed my mother onto their telephone service. I asked to speak with a manager. I told him that their tech removed and discarded the line in her basement that previously went to the old phone service - as if to make it more difficult to rewire and go back. Little did this manager know that I wired everything myself. At one point in the conversation, he literally told me "we don't make mistakes." Of course, this simply angered me since, as we, hopefully, all know, everyone makes mistakes. Then, later in the conversation, he said, "Everything I am telling you is supposed to be calming you down, yet you are getting more angry with everything I say." The point being, he was reading from a script that expected the customer to "take their word for it."

As I said, they brought this on themselves. IMO, the days of traditional cable are coming to an end. I cannot wait for ATSC 3.0 to hit the market as it will improve OTA - which I also extensively use.
 

polord

TS Member
More then 100$ a month for tv internet? Here in netherlands around 40€ a month for tv and internet (basic).
Or I read it wrong?
 

amstech

IT Overlord
We pay $97 for 100Mbps down and Spectrum TV Stream, where I selected 10 channels I want and get all the basic ones for free, so overall we get about 60 channels.
I only have it so I can stream 2-3 games in my garage at once, we get FOX, CBS, Create, Spectrum News, ext ext all for free. However, we never use it, only I use it, and only to watch sports.
I can get the games online for free with some of my illegal avenues, but its nice to have the real thing as its quite reliable.
The Spectrum TV app and Spectrum PC link run off of different servers, I've had one down while the other was up, Spectrum tech clarified my guess.
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
More then 100$ a month for tv internet? Here in netherlands around 40€ a month for tv and internet (basic).
Or I read it wrong?
Your "basic" is our "high end". I have a 1Gb Verizon FIOS connection - that I could only get by subscribing to some kind of cable - that I pay about $110/mo for, and I still only get about 500Mb (but at least its symmetric up/down speeds? I guess?). I'm one of the lucky ones.

My grandfather pays $200/mo for basic cable and basic internet, whose speeds barely rise to meet the definition of 'broadband' here. He is also on Spectrum. Thanks to the rural sprawl here in the states, ISPs argue that its 'too expensive' to maintain and upgrade their network infrastructure, so they charge outrageous prices for paltry speeds - unless you live in a city, where you *might* get something respectable in terms or price and performance.
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Live Sports is the only reason to have cable... the rest can be torrented :)

But I am willing to pay for sports - my Leafs are winning the Cup this year!
 

ckm88

TS Addict
"In the meantime, cord-cutters face a different problem - there are now too many services to choose from that stream exclusive content - Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and others. This could lead to a future where they cut the cord to escape cable TV bundles, only to end up with a different kind of bundle that is just as costly and confusing."

Bingo.
 

Capaill

TS Evangelist
More then 100$ a month for tv internet? Here in netherlands around 40€ a month for tv and internet (basic).
Or I read it wrong?
That seems a crazy price all right. I pay 65e a month for quad play (55-channel TV, 100mbps BB, house phone and 15GB mobile phone).
I suspect the US cable companies are jacking up the prices to cover the cost of all the cord-cutters leaving so they can maintain their exorbitant profits. Because that's how business works - if your exorbitant profits ever fall, even a little bit, you are a failure in the eyes of your corporate peers and you don't get your bonus this year.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Live Sports is the only reason to have cable... the rest can be torrented :)

But I am willing to pay for sports - my Leafs are winning the Cup this year!
There is always NHL Center Ice - no in market games, but then again, NHL rules do not allow in market games either.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
"In the meantime, cord-cutters face a different problem - there are now too many services to choose from that stream exclusive content - Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and others. This could lead to a future where they cut the cord to escape cable TV bundles, only to end up with a different kind of bundle that is just as costly and confusing."

Bingo.
Not an issue for me since I am not going to subscribe to anything more than I have - Netflix, Hulu (commercial level) and an iTunes video pod cast for my wife at $0.99 an episode. There, are, though, people out there that will believe anything pay TV providers tell them and subscribe to all the :poop: that content providers can throw at them even though they cannot possibly watch all of it.
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
It's the same with most smartphone bills. I'm on an MVNO, so the price I pay, is a FLAT fee.
 

PEnnn

TS Addict
Fun fact: Net Neutrality required ISPs to clearly state all their fees on the bill. It also provided a mechanism for reporting violations as well.
Another reason why the FFC chief a$$hole and ***** of the industry was dying to kill Net Neutrality.
 

PEnnn

TS Addict
"Things like the "HD Technology Fee" - something that unlocks the high-definition capabilities of your existing set-top box."

Fun fact: I haven't paid those leeches a penny for over 7 years now. One can get VERY DECENT FREE HD reception via over the air antenna that cost $20-30. I receive all major TV outlets programs via such antennas!

Sport events?? My VPN takes care of that, thank you very much.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
"Things like the "HD Technology Fee" - something that unlocks the high-definition capabilities of your existing set-top box."

Fun fact: I haven't paid those leeches a penny for over 7 years now. One can get VERY DECENT FREE HD reception via over the air antenna that cost $20-30. I receive all major TV outlets programs via such antennas!

Sport events?? My VPN takes care of that, thank you very much.
If you think you have it good now with OTA, when ATSC 3.0 hits, you'll be in OTA heaven. https://www.atsc.org/newsletter/road-to-atsc-3-0-broadcasters-commit-to-2020-rollout/
 

Markoni35

TS Addict
However, cable internet is harder to hack, since you can be hacked at one place, not at 100 places around your apartment or house.