I Cut the Cord

 

After threatening to do so for the better part of a year, I finally cut the cord yesterday. I mostly held on this long because of sports. With the exception of a few programs I watch with the girlfriend, or in some cases drink scotch and tolerate, all I watch is sports. I had an irrational fear that I would miss coverage of The Masters, US Open, or football. I should also mention my dog Norman watches The Golf Channel all day while I am at work. So I spent numerous mornings researching and became convinced Hulu Live was the right mix.

Still, I did not make the move. I decided I would downgrade to basic cable first — incrementalism people! I logged into my cable account where I was promptly asked if I wanted to upgrade with HBO. I then looked for how to change my services — it was nowhere to be found. They were ready and willing with a “team member” available to chat if I wanted to upgrade. So, I clicked yes, assuming if they could add services they could also take services away. Wrong. “That is not my department.”

I was prompted to the chat area where I was asked what I needed. There were a handful of options and I clicked downgrade services. Then the chat box appeared and said no one was available at that time. I kept it open for two hours at work and still no team member available to chat. The same sequence occurred the next day. And that was all the convincing I needed — to heck with incrementalism!

I called the cable company and waited 30 minutes before speaking to a representative. He was great and the anomaly in this ordeal. I told him I wanted to get rid of cable and keep internet. Then I discovered that I would need to upgrade or downgrade my internet. My plan was obsolete. The only plans they offer now would be faster or slower — fine. I chose faster. I also would be paying 30 percent above the monthly rate of a new customer. With friends like these, who needs enemies? The representative then asked if I wanted to keep basic cable so I could have access to television when I wanted it. I told him it was originally my intention to do so, but I was so put off by his company that I decided it was no longer going to be necessary.

What I find surprising is that a cable company facing obsolescence of their business model can execute so poorly when it comes to the customer experience. Despite the niceness and helpful nature of the customer service representative, it took too long to get to him. The cable company refuses to allow someone to change services online. Now that may delay the loss of revenue for a day or two, but it is terribly shortsighted. They need a perfect customer experience and some new innovations in order to remain relevant with consumers.

On the most basic level, their customer experience stunk. Contrast that with the source of the certain doom — Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, and the like. A customer can go on the website to sign up, change services, or cancel in mere seconds. I have done all three in the past. It is a fantastic customer experience. You can call their customer service line and not wait for long periods of time as well. I received a free month of Hulu Live on top of it all! That is offsetting the “install fee” the cable company charged me for changing my internet speed.

Cable companies have felt powerful in the past because of regional superiority and lack of options. That is not the case anymore. I am kicking myself for not doing this sooner. As I write this, Norman and I are watching European Tour Golf through Hulu — the same thing we do every Saturday before we go to the park. I am pleased.

The only thing I will miss is access to local baseball and hockey on WGN. Then again, I live on Chicago’s North Side, we can just walk to a dog bar down the street.

Published in Technology
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There are 49 comments.

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  1. Front Seat Cat Member

    Ninety percent of what is on TV is garbage – they seem to like pushing HBO – we watch few actual shows – but our package deal is relatively cheap. I will be looking into changes too. We still have a land line – its on $25 mo but in hurricane area, the towers and cell phones don’t always hold up – our normal cell coverage is dicey too when so many people are using it. Good for you!!

    • #1
    • June 1, 2019, at 6:42 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. Cato Rand Reagan

    We cut the cord about two years ago, also fearful that we’d discover what we’d lost. Haven’t missed cable for a second since. But had similar experience with the “if you’re not going to pay us for cable we’ll get it from your internet bill” issue. Regrettably, where we are, and in most places I think, coaxial cable is still far and away the best internet service available. If this 5G thing somehow makes really fast unlimited cellular internet an option, expect to see the Comcasts and Time Warners of the world in bankruptcy court.

    • #2
    • June 1, 2019, at 6:55 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  3. Tex929rr Coolidge

    The big cable and satellite providers are in a huge downward spiral. We used to go through the hassle of calling DirecTV once or twice a year and getting them to lower our rates for the next few months. That was a pretty common practice but now that they are hemorrhaging customers they are trying to play hardball, which increases their loss of customers. Their business model has completely failed.

    We have had nothing but Amazon Prime video and Netflix for about a years. Just started free trials of HBO and Starz to see if they are worth it. Our total bill is under $50 and the local phone coop supplies fiber optic internet for $50.

    My only concern is that these streaming services are relatively new – who knows how they will evolve? But overall, three cheers for creative destruction.

    • #3
    • June 1, 2019, at 7:16 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  4. cdor Member

    Be careful what you wish for. Netflix is threatening to boycott Georgia because that state democratically chose to defend the unborn. Amazon is owned by Jeff Bezos, also owner of the Washington Post. Personally I am willing to spend a little more to remain diversified. I do need to examine Hulu and Roku more closely, however.

    • #4
    • June 1, 2019, at 7:55 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  5. Keith Rice Inactive

    Good for you Kelsey, I quit cable about 12 years ago because the bill was increasing virtually every month. Turns out I don’t watch sports and since ESPN was generally the source for the increases I just quit.

    I still pay my provider for internet which includes restricted cable (channels 2-26) for free, but they’re going to start charging about $3.50 a month for that next year at which time I’ll cancel that as well.

    • #5
    • June 1, 2019, at 8:08 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Arahant Member

    I looked at this and was going to congratulate you, but then realized it wasn’t the cord I had figured. Well, it’s not like I’m a vegan who does cross-fit. I didn’t need to say blow up your TV.

    But then I looked again and realized that what you’re concerned about watching is golf. Golf? You watch golf? On TV? That’s just wrong. Turn off the TV; get off your backside; and go play a round. Don’t just cut the cable and switch to another service. Get out. You need help. And that goes for all of you watching golf on TV. That’s not what it’s for.

    • #6
    • June 1, 2019, at 8:23 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  7. Kelsey Shockey Coolidge
    Kelsey Shockey Post author

    cdor (View Comment):

    Be careful what you wish for. Netflix is threatening to boycott Georgia because that state democratically chose to defend the unborn. Amazon is owned by Jeff Bezos, also owner of the Washington Post. Personally I am willing to spend a little more to remain diversified. I do need to examine Hulu and Roku more closely, however.

    I am speaking to markets and business models. It is not political. I already canceled my Netflix subscription. It was not because of this latest episode. I did it before that because they decided to charge more as they lost their biggest outside source of premium content, Disney. Disney is starting their own service and Netflix is doubling down on their original content. I understand Netflix’s calculation, but do not find it persuasive as a consumer. I plan to write about it at some point.

    I take your point about not liking the politics of these companies. I do not like their politics either. I do not think there are reasonable alternatives in that space. Big cable and satellite is far from the beacon of Beauty, Truth, and Liberty we desire. CRTV (is that the right acronym?) never has appealed to me. That’s why we come here and that’s why we subscribe to other sites. Hopefully our support leads to wider audiences- maybe on more traditional platforms like television and streaming services. And then we need to be persuasive to those wider audiences.

    • #7
    • June 1, 2019, at 8:39 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Full Size Tabby Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    The big cable and satellite providers are in a huge downward spiral. We used to go through the hassle of calling DirecTV once or twice a year and getting them to lower our rates for the next few months. That was a pretty common practice but now that they are hemorrhaging customers they are trying to play hardball, which increases their loss of customers. Their business model has completely failed.

    We have had nothing but Amazon Prime video and Netflix for about a years. Just started free trials of HBO and Starz to see if they are worth it. Our total bill is under $50 and the local phone coop supplies fiber optic internet for $50.

    My only concern is that these streaming services are relatively new – who knows how they will evolve? But overall, three cheers for creative destruction.

    Already the streaming services are adopting business models that may undermine their own success. 

    With many “content owners” creating their own streaming service to be the exclusive outlet for their content, and the prior streaming bundlers (Netflix, Amazon Prime) creating their own content to compete with the prior “content owners,” and all of them seeking to charge separate subscription fees, buyers may again have to choose which limited content they want to avoid very high cumulative subscription fees. 

    • #8
    • June 1, 2019, at 10:04 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Vance Richards Member

    I haven’t had cable since the 90’s. I guess I missed out on a lot. It took me years to figure out what a Kardashian was. But whenever I am somewhere with cable, someone inevitably makes me watch people shopping for a new home (usually in Canada). Sports is the one big loss, but the NFL is on regular TV and the Knicks are pretty much unwatchable anyway. Would like to see more baseball games though.

    • #9
    • June 1, 2019, at 11:19 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Cato Rand Reagan

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    The big cable and satellite providers are in a huge downward spiral. We used to go through the hassle of calling DirecTV once or twice a year and getting them to lower our rates for the next few months. That was a pretty common practice but now that they are hemorrhaging customers they are trying to play hardball, which increases their loss of customers. Their business model has completely failed.

    We have had nothing but Amazon Prime video and Netflix for about a years. Just started free trials of HBO and Starz to see if they are worth it. Our total bill is under $50 and the local phone coop supplies fiber optic internet for $50.

    My only concern is that these streaming services are relatively new – who knows how they will evolve? But overall, three cheers for creative destruction.

    You are very lucky to have the fiber optic option. It’s not available most places and building it out is a massive undertaking.

    • #10
    • June 1, 2019, at 11:43 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Cato Rand Reagan

    Welcome to the site by the way Kelsey! I too am a Wisconsinite turned Chicagoan.

    • #11
    • June 1, 2019, at 11:46 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. Hoyacon Member

    This is kind of an uninformed comment (not that it’s ever stopped me before) but we receive little benefit from cord-cutting in our particular circumstances. The price increases in the streaming services combined with cost of internet alone has narrowed the gap, and that gap is closed because we live in the dark ages with a land line. I’ve no doubt if one goes to digital over-the-air television and don’t stream, it may well be worth it.

    • #12
    • June 1, 2019, at 11:47 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. Cato Rand Reagan

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    The big cable and satellite providers are in a huge downward spiral. We used to go through the hassle of calling DirecTV once or twice a year and getting them to lower our rates for the next few months. That was a pretty common practice but now that they are hemorrhaging customers they are trying to play hardball, which increases their loss of customers. Their business model has completely failed.

    We have had nothing but Amazon Prime video and Netflix for about a years. Just started free trials of HBO and Starz to see if they are worth it. Our total bill is under $50 and the local phone coop supplies fiber optic internet for $50.

    My only concern is that these streaming services are relatively new – who knows how they will evolve? But overall, three cheers for creative destruction.

    Already the streaming services are adopting business models that may undermine their own success.

    With many “content owners” creating their own streaming service to be the exclusive outlet for their content, and the prior streaming bundlers (Netflix, Amazon Prime) creating their own content to compete with the prior “content owners,” and all of them seeking to charge separate subscription fees, buyers may again have to choose which limited content they want to avoid very high cumulative subscription fees.

    We do have a bunch of subscriptions – Amazon, Netflix, CBS All Access, PBS, and Sling (that I can think of). It’s still less than a cable bill. And they travel with you, which is nice. Cable doesn’t do that. We have a vacation home which means two internet bills, but no double billing on the cable anymore.

    • #13
    • June 1, 2019, at 11:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Blondie Thatcher

    I was the holdout on cutting the cord because of sports. My husband would have done it long ago. We’ve been cable free for about 5 years now. Have to say we don’t miss it, even the sports. The only sport that seems to have not been tainted by the left is hockey, anyway, and I have season tickets for that. It was a bargaining chip when I agreed to get rid of cable. Oh, golf, too, but that’s on broadcast which we get with an old fashioned antenna in the attic. 

    • #14
    • June 1, 2019, at 11:52 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Arahant Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    Would like to see more baseball games though.

    They are far better on the radio.

    • #15
    • June 1, 2019, at 11:55 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. EODmom Coolidge

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    This is kind of an uninformed comment (not that it’s ever stopped me before) but we receive little benefit from cord-cutting in our particular circumstances. The price increases in the streaming services combined with cost of internet alone has narrowed the gap, and that gap is closed because we live in the dark ages with a land line. I’ve no doubt if one goes to digital over-the-air television and don’t stream, it may well be worth it.

    What’s worth it to us is paying for what we want to watch. And nothing else. Even if the alternative total is occasionally higher. A la carte watching. Especially since it means I’m paying NOTHING to ESPN. I liked telling the Comcast rep (politely and only because she asked) that the reason we were canceling was that ESPN had stopped doing sports and become political commentary. She didn’t write that down but others in the return equipment line heard it. 

    • #16
    • June 1, 2019, at 11:56 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  17. Blondie Thatcher

    We stayed in a campground about a month ago that offered free basic cable. We had never hooked up to cable at any campground but since it was free and my Canes were in the playoffs, we went plugged in. Other than watching the game, there wasn’t a thing on that we cared to see. It reinforced our decision. 

    • #17
    • June 1, 2019, at 12:10 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    The big cable and satellite providers are in a huge downward spiral. We used to go through the hassle of calling DirecTV once or twice a year and getting them to lower our rates for the next few months. That was a pretty common practice but now that they are hemorrhaging customers they are trying to play hardball, which increases their loss of customers. Their business model has completely failed.

    We have had nothing but Amazon Prime video and Netflix for about a years. Just started free trials of HBO and Starz to see if they are worth it. Our total bill is under $50 and the local phone coop supplies fiber optic internet for $50.

    My only concern is that these streaming services are relatively new – who knows how they will evolve? But overall, three cheers for creative destruction.

    You are very lucky to have the fiber optic option. It’s not available most places and building it out is a massive undertaking.

    We live in the boonies and both the phone coop and electrical coop have run fiber to our area.

    • #18
    • June 1, 2019, at 12:17 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. JustmeinAZ Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    Would like to see more baseball games though.

    Subscribe to MLBTV. Then you can see ALL the baseball games.

    • #19
    • June 1, 2019, at 12:21 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. JustmeinAZ Member

    I am all in favor of cutting the cable cord but Mr AZ’s favorite pastime is clicking through all the hundreds of channels we have with cable. You can’t click if all you have are streaming services. So in addition to cable we pay for Prime, Netflix, Acorn and Britbox. And MLB Extra Innings. Oh well.

    • #20
    • June 1, 2019, at 12:26 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Kelsey Shockey Coolidge
    Kelsey Shockey Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    I looked at this and was going to congratulate you, but then realized it wasn’t the cord I had figured. Well, it’s not like I’m a vegan who does cross-fit. I didn’t need to say blow up your TV.

    But then I looked again and realized that what you’re concerned about watching is golf. Golf? You watch golf? On TV? That’s just wrong. Turn off the TV; get off your backside; and go play a round. Don’t just cut the cable and switch to another service. Get out. You need help. And that goes for all of you watching golf on TV. That’s not what it’s for.

    I golf frequently and have done so since childhood. I golf as often as time and money allow. I am saving for a ring so not as often as I would like. However, I also love watching golf and will continue to do so. Too many people pledged their lives and sacred honor to the American Project so guys like me can watch golf in their free time. I live in Chicago which means six months out of the year I cannot play anyways. It is nice to turn on golf, see a beautiful setting, and hear birds chirping while my local weather is nothing but slush.

    Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I have been busy this morning taking my dog to the beach, then working out, then washing the car, and then picking up aloe for the sunburn I acquired while fishing last weekend at the family cabin where I will once again be again next weekend. I made it back to the couch to finish lunch, reply to you, watch some golf, and take a brief nap. You are right though, I do have a problem. That backside you referred to is sore from all the deadlifting I did this morning. Do not worry, friend. I will not be on the couch long. In thirty minutes I will be suiting up for the wedding I am attending tonight where I will spend the remainder of the evening dancing with my beautiful girlfriend. Do I need help? No- I’m good Champ.

    • #21
    • June 1, 2019, at 12:32 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  22. Kelsey Shockey Coolidge
    Kelsey Shockey Post author

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Welcome to the site by the way Kelsey! I too am a Wisconsinite turned Chicagoan.

    Thanks! Glad to know I am not the only Chicagoan here who has an appreciation for the neighbors to the north!

    • #22
    • June 1, 2019, at 12:35 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Arahant Member

    You do all that and still pay for TV? When do you have time? 😜

    • #23
    • June 1, 2019, at 12:48 PM PDT
    • Like
  24. EJHill Podcaster

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    Would like to see more baseball games though.

    Subscribe to MLBTV. Then you can see ALL the baseball games.

    Everything that’s out of market. In Chicago you can not watch the Cubs or White Sox.

    The MLB blackout restrictions are stupid and archaic. My daughter lives in the Charlotte, NC suburbs and has no MLB team in her market. But Baseball tells her she may not watch the Braves (243 mi away), the Orioles (437 mi), Washington (399 mi) or her favorites, the Reds (462 mi). They would rather alienate their younger fans to protect the cable “partners.”

    • #24
    • June 1, 2019, at 1:01 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  25. JustmeinAZ Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    Would like to see more baseball games though.

    Subscribe to MLBTV. Then you can see ALL the baseball games.

    Everything that’s out of market. In Chicago you can not watch the Cubs or White Sox.

    The MLB blackout restrictions are stupid and archaic. My daughter lives in the Charlotte, NC suburbs and has no MLB team in her market. But Baseball tells her she may not watch the Braves (243 mi away), the Orioles (437 mi), Washington (399 mi) or her favorites, the Reds (462 mi). They would rather alienate their younger fans to protect the cable “partners.”

    Yeah the blackout restrictions get on my last nerve. My team is the LA Dodgers and I live in AZ. I can understand that they blackout the Dbacks but they also blackout the SD Padres. I can actually watch those games on their own channels but their announcers aren’t worth spit.

    • #25
    • June 1, 2019, at 1:12 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. cdor Member

    Kelsey Shockey (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    I looked at this and was going to congratulate you, but then realized it wasn’t the cord I had figured. Well, it’s not like I’m a vegan who does cross-fit. I didn’t need to say blow up your TV.

    But then I looked again and realized that what you’re concerned about watching is golf. Golf? You watch golf? On TV? That’s just wrong. Turn off the TV; get off your backside; and go play a round. Don’t just cut the cable and switch to another service. Get out. You need help. And that goes for all of you watching golf on TV. That’s not what it’s for.

    I golf frequently and have done so since childhood. I golf as often as time and money allow. I am saving for a ring so not as often as I would like. However, I also love watching golf and will continue to do so. Too many people pledged their lives and sacred honor to the American Project so guys like me can watch golf in their free time. I live in Chicago which means six months out of the year I cannot play anyways. It is nice to turn on golf, see a beautiful setting, and hear birds chirping while my local weather is nothing but slush.

    Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I have been busy this morning taking my dog to the beach, then working out, then washing the car, and then picking up aloe for the sunburn I acquired while fishing last weekend at the family cabin where I will once again be again next weekend. I made it back to the couch to finish lunch, reply to you, watch some golf, and take a brief nap. You are right though, I do have a problem. That backside you referred to is sore from all the deadlifting I did this morning. Do not worry, friend. I will not be on the couch long. In thirty minutes I will be suiting up for the wedding I am attending tonight where I will spend the remainder of the evening dancing with my beautiful girlfriend. Do I need help? No- I’m good Champ.

    Yea, I understand. I only played five times this week. Why? Well, there were only five days. I take the weekends off. A man has to rest sometime. Speaking of watching golf on TV…did you watch the NCAA Men’s Championship individual and team match play tournament Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of last week? It was very exciting. Those young men are really, really good. I rarely watch live TV. The satellite dvr records all my shows. I didn’t even know there had been tornados in my area until two days later when I went to watch a recorded show that was superseded by weather reports. Oh well, I did know it was raining. 

    • #26
    • June 1, 2019, at 1:48 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. WillowSpring Member

    When we moved to our old house in the country, there was no broadcast TV and the only internet access was through dial-up. We made up our minds to live without TV and there were really no options for any other internet.

    Unfortunately, we moved in late 2000 and trying to get details on all of the Bush V. Gore issues was driving us crazy. We gave up and got satellite TV from Dish Network. I used to watch football, but the Redskins lately have made that easy to give up. These days, we only watch CSPAN for some of the hearings and Trump rallies.

    We first got internet from a local provider who had several T-1 lines that he shared over a Line-of-Sight high speed link. That was ok, but slow until the trees grew up between us – then it stopped working.

    We then switched to Exede (now ViaSat) satellite internet. The speed was faster, but there was a 25 GB limit on data per month. After that, the data rate would be throttled. We would hit the limit with anywhere from 5 to 10 days left in the month and learned to be very frugal with bandwidth and never streamed anything.

    I started looking into one of the “hot spots” from the phone company to cover us for the end of the month and I looked through all the options from ViaSat. I found one with the same data rate, but with a bandwidth limit of 50 GB. There was even a low introductory rate – that we didn’t qualify for since we were existing customers*. Even with that, the price per month was almost half of what we had been paying. That was great and switching plans was fairly painless, but I wished we had been told about it before.

    At this point, I think we can probably get rid of the TV entirely. The land line phone is on the way out, also

    * There is nothing less loved by a company than a long term customer.

    • #27
    • June 1, 2019, at 2:47 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  28. Arahant Member

    WillowSpring (View Comment):
    * There is nothing less loved by a company than a long term customer.

    Ain’t that the truth.

    • #28
    • June 1, 2019, at 2:50 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Weeping Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    The big cable and satellite providers are in a huge downward spiral. We used to go through the hassle of calling DirecTV once or twice a year and getting them to lower our rates for the next few months. That was a pretty common practice but now that they are hemorrhaging customers they are trying to play hardball, which increases their loss of customers. Their business model has completely failed.

    We have had nothing but Amazon Prime video and Netflix for about a years. Just started free trials of HBO and Starz to see if they are worth it. Our total bill is under $50 and the local phone coop supplies fiber optic internet for $50.

    My only concern is that these streaming services are relatively new – who knows how they will evolve? But overall, three cheers for creative destruction.

    Already the streaming services are adopting business models that may undermine their own success.

    With many “content owners” creating their own streaming service to be the exclusive outlet for their content, and the prior streaming bundlers (Netflix, Amazon Prime) creating their own content to compete with the prior “content owners,” and all of them seeking to charge separate subscription fees, buyers may again have to choose which limited content they want to avoid very high cumulative subscription fees.

    True – but at least it’s easy (so far) to switch between the providers. See something you want to binge watch on Netflix? Subscribe. See something you want to binge watch on Hulu? Cancel Netflix and subscribe there instead. It takes a bit of discipline, but it’s doable. 

    • #29
    • June 1, 2019, at 3:42 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. SkipSul Moderator

    We ditched cable back in 2008. Never missed it.

    • #30
    • June 1, 2019, at 3:44 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
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