Time was, everyone complained about their electric bill. Time is, everyone complains about their water bill, especially with The Great Boston Water Boil Order going on this week.
But the real ripoff is television and Internet service, and it doesn’t matter which company you select.
Let’s take the example of our fair city.
Comcast enjoys a virtual monopoly over most of the residential parts of the city, and if you go to Comcast.com, you’ll see a variety of innocuous-looking deals.
Digital Preferred Cable, with most of the popular cable channels, including MTV, Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, ESPN, and CNN. It’s $39.99 per month for the first six months, but it jumps to $79.99 per month after the first year.
Internet has an even bigger jump. It starts at $19.99 per month for the first six months, and goes to $44.95 per month after that.
Of course, they want you to get the “bundle.” So you can move your home phone service — or sign UP for home phone service if you’re like the rest of us — and pay $199.99 per month for TV, phone and Internet.
The average American household has three televisions. Get ready to add $14.95 per month per cable box. Then you either have to buy a cable modem or rent one from them. They charge a monthly fee for each remote control you have, too.
DVR service is also extra.
And Comcast, conveniently, makes it hard to find the “double play” option that let’s you opt out of phone service. They really want you to have to buy the phone service to get the “deal.”
You can get 15 Mbps Internet and Digital Preferred Cable service for $79.99 per month for six months, which then jumps to $119.00 per month. You get one box but would have to pay extra for DVR, any other boxes, and rental fees for remote controls and the cable modem.
Some people even get stuck paying a rental fee for a router that they supply you. Buy your own router.
Add it all up, and you could be paying $200 per month.
Forget about Xfinity. It doesn’t exist. It’s just Comcast with a different logo. If you go to Xfinity.com and click “order,” it forwards you to the same Comcast.com site we just visited.
Verizon is the other player in Boston, but they’ve been so slow to expand their FiOS service — it’s not available in most places, let’s put it that way.
You can get DSL service from Verizon for $19.99 per month, forever, and they throw in a free wireless router. But you still have to rent or buy a DSL modem.
This price sounds great, eh?
This price, advertised at the top of Verizon.com, is only good if you’re a Verizon phone service customer.
Upon closer examination, we also find that the $19.99 plan is the “up to 1 Mbps” plan. That’s as slow as it gets in the “broadband” world. If all you do is send e-mail and visit a few websites, you might get by, but we do not recommend this plan.
The “turbo” Verizon plan, which maxes out at 7.1 Mbps is $39.99 per month to phone customers, and $49.99 per month to regular Joe six-packs.
That’s a higher price for service that’s about 1/3 the speed of cable Internet.
If you don’t have FiOS in your area, you’d have to get DirecTV satellite television service if you went with Verizon.
There’s an interesting bundle there: $84.99 for television, phone and Internet. But let’s dissect that bundle. It gets you more than 210 channels, including your local stations and most popular “cable” channels. It even includes DVR, but you don’t get any HD converter boxes with this package. You’d have to upgrade to the $99.99 bundle to get a box that lets you display in high-definition. Then you’d still have to pay for additional boxes for your other televisions. With any bundle, you’re stuck with home phone service that you may not use.
There’s nothing we can do or say that will make this any better for you. For now, the going rate for fast Internet and most of your favorite television channels is upwards of $200 per month.