Again in 2019, a notoriously gridlocked Congress managed to agree on a minimum of one factor: Hidden cable TV charges had gotten uncontrolled.
They handed a legislation, referred to as the Tv Viewer Safety Act, that requires pay TV companies to reveal all of their additional charges earlier than you end signing up. The legislation additionally says that clients should be capable to cancel service inside 24 hours of signup at no cost, and that TV suppliers should notify clients when their promotional charges expire. It additionally forbids web suppliers from charging a payment for gear that you just’ve bought for your self.
The Tv Viewer Safety Act lastly went into impact final month, so I used to be curious to see how firms like Comcast and Spectrum are dealing the billing transparency element specifically. None of those firms are recognized for being up-front about pricing; would the brand new legislation change issues?
Quick reply: Probably not. Cable firms nonetheless promote costs far beneath what you’ll truly pay, and a few of them keep away from revealing their true costs till the final potential second. Even when they’re following the letter of the legislation, they’re not fairly capturing the spirit.
The ever-expanding cable invoice
To see how cable firms proceed to promote costs far beneath what they really cost, let’s check out Comcast’s Xfinity TV sign-up circulate.
Store for a bundle of web and TV, and also you’ll get a seemingly enticing provide of $80 monthly for 200Mbps web and greater than 130 channels with a two-year settlement. However as we all know, that’s not the actual worth.
Clicking on “Pricing & Different Information” reveals a hidden broadcast TV payment (now a staggering $19.45 monthly) and a regional sports activities payment ($14.45 monthly). These charges alone increase the bundle worth to $113.89 monthly, and also you wouldn’t realize it with out clicking on the nice print.
Different charges reveal themselves as you stroll by way of the sign-up course of. Even when you plan to make use of your personal streaming system to entry Comcast’s cable channels, you continue to should pay a TV connection payment of $7.50, or $17.50 if you need DVR service. Comcast additionally costs $50 for set up.
Whereas these DVR and set up charges do seem within the invoice abstract on Comcast’s sign-up web page, the additional $34 monthly in broadcast TV and regional sports activities charges don’t. In reality, you possibly can proceed throughout the bank card entry type and nonetheless not get an correct description of how a lot Comcast TV service truly prices.
Solely on the ultimate order assessment web page does Comcast reveal the true month-to-month worth of $129.34 monthly, and—quelle shock—it’s buried midway down the web page in small print. In fact, that’s only a promo charge. After a 12 months, the value rises to $139.34, and it jumps once more to $159.34 after two years.
Extra sneakiness abounds
Comcast isn’t the one instance of cable suppliers sticking to sneaky charges.
Cox pulls an identical trick throughout its sign-up course of, promoting a worth of $110 monthly for TV and web. That doesn’t embrace a compulsory $10-per-month set-top field payment, a $13.50-per-month broadcast TV payment, and a $10-per-month regional sports activities payment. Like Comcast, Cox withholds these broadcast and regional charges from its invoice abstract till the ultimate stage of the checkout course of, after you’ve offered a social safety quantity and agreed to a credit score test.
Spectrum is simply a bit higher on this regard. Its broadcast TV payment turns into obvious proper after you choose a plan, however it too advertises costs far beneath the precise value. Its up-front worth of $90 monthly for TV and 200Mbps web doesn’t account for $16.45 in broadcast TV charges or the price of both a cable field ($8 monthly) or an Apple TV ($8 monthly over 24 months), certainly one of which should be bought with service.
Is anybody doing the precise factor and together with these charges of their costs? Within the curiosity of optimistic reinforcement, let’s give some kudos to Dish Community, whose marketed two-year dedication worth of $65 monthly contains each a $12-per-month payment for native channels and a single Hopper Duo DVR. You’ll be able to even select to not obtain these native channels and knock the value right down to $53 monthly. That is the way it ought to it work.
And but, even Dish can’t resist a bit additional sneakiness. Investigating the nice print reveals that clients should pay $10 monthly for “Dish Defend Silver” buyer assist after six months until they proactively cancel that service, and there’s no obvious method to decide out at sign-up.
The humorous factor is that a few of these costs aren’t that unhealthy even after the additional charges. YouTube TV, Hulu + Dwell TV, and FuboTV all now value $65 monthly. AT&T TV now prices $85 monthly with regional sports activities networks. Sling TV simply raised the value of its skinny bundle to $35 monthly and up. For those who can reap the benefits of new buyer promos by way of cable or satellite tv for pc TV, going again would possibly make sense (although I nonetheless counsel fascinated with ditching bloated pay TV bundles solely).
I’d prefer to assume that cable firms wouldn’t want deceptive costs to make that case. As an alternative, a cable firm that needed to place itself as buyer pleasant may ditch the shock charges and embrace transparency. However even with a brand new legislation on the books, some sleazy outdated advertising habits die exhausting.
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