Tuesday, May 21, 2013

TV Watching Made Easier

I wrote this post and scheduled it for today. However, this past weekend something bad happened. We were watching TV on Thursday evening. You know, the night of The Office finale, Scandal, and Grey's Anatomy. And our modem and cable box went out at 8:15pm. Jarrod went crazy for a little while and called AT&T. They were incredibly NOT helpful and told us that someone would be by with a new modem the next day between 8am-12pm. Thankfully, Fridays are Jarrod's days off and we had planend to stay around the house the following morning. The AT&T guy came, fixed the modem, and informed us that it was a refurbished model...which is why it broke after just 13 days of use. I called AT&T back and told them I was furious with the service we received and they took $10 off our bill ($5/day without service). Evidently $5/day is their rate for service. Not sure why then I pay $80/month... But anyway, they made it right within 24 hours, which is a good day for me. On with the original glowing review. 

Jarrod and I moved last week and one of the best parts of the move for me was switching cable providers. I know that's crazy, but I was so frustrated with various issues for nearly 2 years in our last place. We chose Time Warner when we moved to Dallas because it was easy. We had a few steps up from basic cable, one DVR box, and internet.
Let me note here that this is a ridiculous post. Children are dying, elderly are starving, and the world is a scary place. And yet I'm complaining about cable. I know. I also know that we live frugally and cable doesn't normally fit into a frugal lifestyle. 
The issues began almost immediately. When our cable was hooked up, they didn't hook up our second TV. Problem. They had to come out again and hook it up. Inconvenient, but definitely not the end of the world. When the problem is on the company, I selfishly expect some kind of compensation or apology. That didn't happen and I began to get a sinking suspicion that I'd regret choosing Time Warner.

Over the course of 23 months our cable box went out not once, but twice. Completely died for absolutely no reason. Which meant we lost all of our DVRed shows and settings. Note: I like to set the favorite channels so I don't need to scroll through 84,008,279 channels anytime I want to watch anything. Do you do that too?  We also always have several hours worth of shows saved on the DVR at any given time. All lost at a moments notice. Again, inconvenient. When your box breaks you have two choices: waiting 5-6 days for a repair person to come out and fix it (what we did the first time) or return our box and pick up a new one. The nearest location is about 20 minutes away, but that's what we did the second time.

The service was spotty, internet incredibly slow, and customer service was a joke. I mentioned switching or cancelling to Jarrod many times. He felt that this was our only option and didn't want to sacrifice without cable.
We could live without cable and the internet. We have chosen to fit this luxury into our budget because it makes life a little easier. We can work from home and need internet to do so.
We have researched Netflix/Hulu/internet watching vs. having cable. Between Jarrod's love of the UFC and our mutual love of the Food Network, this isn't a good option for us. If it is for you, that's awesome!
I think cable companies make you think that they are the only option. You pay a ton of money each month for bad service. If Time Warner were a restaurant  I'd stop eating there and I'd tell all my friends to stop eating there too. But since it's cable, we continue to blindly pay each month. It's insane. You are all my friends and now I'm telling you that it's insane.

When we moved we knew we wouldn't continue with Time Warner. We'd heard great things about AT&T's Uverse. I checked it out and could order it online. Done and done. We bundled the cable option and internet option and saved some money. In fact, we're saving about $40/month for the exact same package. Except with Uverse, it's better. And here's why:
  • More channels. We now get some fancy UFC channel that makes Jarrod really happy. We also get the Cooking Channel. It makes me really happy. 
  • Better interface. The remote is smaller and the interface on the TV is much more intuitive. 
  • Easy fast forward. You know when you're watching a show on the DVR and you go to fast forward through the commercials but you go to far forward and have to rewind again? Making you wish you would have just watched the commercial because of the hassle fast forwarding and rewinding? Our new remote will fast forward and then when you hit play again it jumps back 2 seconds. It's magical. 
  • WAY more space on the DVR. Jarrod says our new DVR will hold 400 hours of shows. (or something like that.) He said our old DVR only held 30 hours. I don't know if this is true, but I do know that our old DVR made us delete stuff all the time and we never had that many shows on it.
  • We can record up to 4 shows at the same time! I don't know why we'd ever need to do that because we really don't watch that much TV, but how cool is that?
  • It's cheaper. We're saving at least $40/month. That's great! 
  • The wireless router is included in the cost of the internet. This was not the case with Time Warner - we used our own wireless router. This could be the reason it was so slow before...
Why am I telling you this? Perhaps you have a cable service that you hate and are looking for alternatives. Uverse is awesome. Time Warner is not. Perhaps you have a service provider that you hate - one that each time you write the check or pay online you get angry. STOP! You have options! Unless there's a monopoly (some states have monopolies on energy and some towns do for water, etc) you can switch! 

Have you ever felt trapped by a service provider? What do you do when you receive bad service?
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