Feel like you’re getting ripped off by Spectrum? You’re not alone.

By Ben Alonzo
angry-guy

Break them up. Cut the cable. Consumers are being ripped off by companies like Spectrum. Is there a cheaper alternative? Is your bill going up every month? In many places it’s a monopoly with little to no internet or cable television competition. It’s a problem that’s getting worse and more customers are noticing huge increases in monthly prices. Some people are paying over $4,000 annually for overpriced cable and internet service. It’s time for people to take action and for our government to step in and force these giants to be reasonable and fair.

How bad does Spectrum suck?

Back in 2016, the government ignored the public and approved the merger that meant Spectrum bought Time Warner and Bright House. It meant that if you were a customer of either of those companies you now belong to Spectrum – and in many cases your monthly bill went up. Even before the big buyout, customers overwhelmingly hated internet service and cable providers.

Cable is one of the most hated industries among consumer reports. More and more customers are getting tired of no competition and ever-increasing monthly bills. Some people are paying more than a car payment for cable service. Some customers are using their entire tax return just to pay their cable and internet bill.

“I’m using my entire tax return to pay my Spectrum internet bill.” – A user from Florida says on a popular internet forum.

That’s outrageous. Let’s talk about this big mess.

Professional Observations

I operate a tech company that deals with commercial clients, most of which use Spectrum services. I’ve been a tech expert for over a decade and have had to deal with Spectrum consumer clients. I’ve also experienced numerous Spectrum problems myself. Here are my observations regarding Spectrum:

  • Internet service is unreliable and equipment frequently/randomly stops working, and they offer almost no significant credit for the downtime. One of my clients lost thousand of dollars at his restaurant because Spectrum went down and he couldn’t take payments or orders for an entire day.
  • They are frequently late to customer appointment calls; or, sometimes, they don’t show up at all. People take off work and wait for a Spectrum tech to show up. They lose money and the problem still isn’t fixed.
  • They have a lot of old modems (over 8-10 years old) and have not bothered replacing many of them, despite charging customers a modem rental fee each month. It’s important to maintain a somewhat new modem to keep up with speeds and current network capabilities. Newer modems have higher speeds and more recent firmware. Some customer problems are related to having older equipment.
  • Customer bills continue to dramatically rise and seem unreasonable. Customers have little to no other internet options at their location.
  • In many cases, customers that refuse to “bundle” services (things they don’t want or need) end up paying higher monthly rates. That is ridiculous.
  • Their cable TV service is overpriced and contains too much commercial content, especially at night. Most of these channels can be obtained for free or at a fraction of the cost through other sources.
  • They attempt to sell channels to people that can otherwise receive them for free using a cheap antenna at home (local TV stations must broadcast free digital signals by law). Local channels can be picked up for free using a digital tuner (built-in to most modern TVs) and a $10 Walmart antenna. Why pay the cable company for this when it’s free? ULTRA TechLife wrote an article – an example of how you can receive these free signals on your HDTV without paying for cable. Check it out.

No Competition

There’s almost no competition for internet and television service in the US. That’s a serious problem. Visualizing the problem says it all.

competition-map
Most people don’t have choices for internet service. Over 67% have 2 or only a single option for internet service in their area.

There have been massive settlements against big providers, but it’s not enough.

It’s Bad

Customers are drowning in debt and monthly bills they can barely afford. Scientifically, future infrastructure will likely involve universal internet access. People will primarily use networks to communicate, work, learn, and for medical attention. It must eventually become a public utility without a monthly fee for access. That might sound radical, but that’s the path we’re headed towards. We need people connected and it shouldn’t cost them an arm and leg. Even today, you need the internet to survive. It’s probably just below the priority of universal healthcare for all – you need it to survive. You need it to pay bills, look up doctors, go to school, network with friends, use entertainment, for everything. We need solutions and they must come soon.

Solution?

It seems many internet service providers have become so big that they could be considered a public utility. You cannot pay a bill or apply for a job without an internet connection. You can’t communicate with friends online without an internet connection. At some point, there must be government intervention to protect consumers against unfair practices, throttling, censorship, over-billing, and monopolization. It’s obvious the industry is not capable, or willing, to police itself, and when a company gets so large that it’s critical to an individual’s daily function – consumers must be protected. The internet will only become more important in the future – especially with automation and remote work environments. Streaming is also expected to pick up in popularity.

For the time being, consumers should:

  • Write to members of Congress to draft and enact protections.
  • Call your provider to negotiate a reduced monthly rate. If they aren’t willing to do that, then you should cut the cord.
  • Cut the cord by using alternative services, such as Netflix and Hulu. Streaming devices are little boxes that connect to your TV but they use the internet and are only a few bucks each month, if you must watch TV programs. There’s so much free content on YouTube as well.

If enough people demanded change, this issue would get more attention. The solutions are going to have to involve both individuals making smart choices and government protecting the people.

Are you happy with Spectrum? Are you being ripped off? How much is your monthly bill? Are you willing to cut the cord? Was your tech late or a no-show to your appointment? How much money would you save each year by leaving your provider?

Some estimate more than 30 million people got tired of cable providers and ended up “cutting the cord” in 2018.

More reading…

Read this story about a couple getting ripped off by Spectrum. $120 month, then $130 month, then $143, $145, $173, $199. Their bill kept increasing but they weren’t told why. Article: https://www.businessinsider.com/spectrum-twc-time-warner-cable-billing-practices-unpredictable-2017-5

Spectrum raising rates on almost everyone; in some cases, customers say they are shocked. “The Sordo’s typical bill of $141 shot up to $305 overnight and without warning. And Lillian Rehrig’s normally $123 bill more than doubled to $305.” – ABC Action News. Article: https://www.abcactionnews.com/money/consumer/taking-action-for-you/spectrum-raising-rates-on-almost-everyone-in-some-cases-customers-say-they-are-shocked

bio
Author: Ben Alonzo is a unique scientist, tech expert, professor, and director of ULTRATechLife.com. He’s CEO of the media-tech firm Storm Sector, LLC. Ben holds an M.S. in Information Technology, M.S. in Geoscience, M.S. in Nutrition and Health, and a B.S. in Geoscience. He’s a highly-rated professor that teaches earth science, environmental science, oceanography, meteorology, and public health. His diverse background spans numerous fields, network and computer systems, healthcare, weather forecasting, consumer electronics, computer programming, and web development. Ben holds numerous professional licenses and certifications, ranging from information technology to healthcare and emergency medical technician. He’s also an FAA-licensed private pilot that loves flying. He’s been writing about science and tech for over 10 years. You can see some of his past articles on the Houston Chronicle, eHow, Hearst, and other networks. In his free time, he loves scuba diving, traveling, storm chasing, producing videos and writing guitar music. More about author.

New: Follow Ben on his new social media: Instagram @benpro98 | Twitter @benpro98 

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