Spectrum – Enterprise or Extortion?
Spectrum has moved into this region, and everyone was hoping for a fairer treatment than they were getting from Time Warner, as Spectrum’s advertising claimed. Instead, social media and personal networking has exposed huge disappointment – constantly dropped signals (even when the cable is underground), surprise requirements to upgrade, poor reception – the list goes on. But no one is able to fight the monopoly. Many people are now trading information on alternative resources to break the cable company’s hold on users. This is my personal experience with this company.
A few years back, I “fired” Time-Warner. They claimed I owed them $116; I claimed they owed me $280. Instead of working it out, Time-Warner cut me off at the knees and added the $116 to my credit report.
So when I moved, and there was Time-Warner basic cable included in the rent, I coped with that and depended on a portable hot spot for Internet use. Because I spend sixteen hours or more on the Internet daily, this became very expensive. Eventually, Spectrum was announcing that they had taken over Time Warner and a new and wondrous cable company was emerging.
I decided to contact Spectrum to see if I could get a cable modem for Internet use, advertised at $29.99 a month. Well, that price is only if you include a phone. I agreed that they could port my cell phone, but I was told it couldn’t be ported, which I knew wasn’t true – I’d ported that number twice before. Spectrum suggested I get a Spectrum phone and since I wanted the same cell number, I could forward all calls to the Spectrum number. I wasn’t enamored with that solution, so the salesperson suggested I try Spectrum Voice for a month, and they suspected by then that they could get the number ported. Oh? Only if I commit to Spectrum? Why could they only port if I commit to them?
I decided to forego this wonderful offer, and mentioned that I had $160 in a contract for the portable hot spot locked in; would Spectrum back their claim and pay this off? No. I decided to go with the cable modem and home wi-fi, for a total of $49.99 a month. I ate the contract-breaking $160. As advertised, no contract was required for Spectrum. That’s all well and good, except that they could now raise the rate with impunity – still waiting for the other shoe to drop on that, since I’ve seen in local social media the rates are increasing regularly.
Six months of peace. Then I got a letter in the mail from Spectrum declaring that they are going all-digital. Anyone with an existing cable box or digital cable card would see no change. But those of us without boxes would lose our television in two weeks.
I called Spectrum to see what solutions were available. There was only one – rent a cable box for each of my three televisions for $11.75 each. For a person living on Social Security, $36 a month was a financial burden. Trading information again on social media, I found out that the $11.75 rate was for any of us who were previously Time Warner customers – Spectrum customers were being charged $4.99 a month per box. The only way around that was to install a box for a couple of months, then return it to the Spectrum store. Then wait a couple of months and order a Spectrum box. What? Really? What happened to “Time Warner is now Spectrum”???
I researched getting a digital card or stick or antenna. The FCC had ordered that all TVs built after 2006 should be digital compatible, in an effort to break the cable companies’ hold on customers. But all the experts I spoke to said that their devices would not work on my new TVs because Spectrum had made its signal proprietary, scrambling even the basic signal.
I even called the manager of my little community. Since basic cable was included in the rent, and no longer available, shouldn’t we get a rebate on the rent? No dice. I suggested that they must at least warn prospective renters that the cable isn’t free, but they refused to do that as well.
So we’re out in the cold. I tried an indoor digital antenna, but its signal was interfered with by my neighbor’s satellite dish.
Again swapping information with neighbors on social media, I ended up with a Roku streaming stick; it has an app to access Spectrum TV Online, so now I get the usual broadcast stations and other basic cable channels I didn’t get with the straight cable, as well as on-demand TV series and some movies. The irony of it is that I need Internet access with a Wi-Fi, which depends on my Spectrum cable modem and home Wi-Fi. The price for the sticks is very reasonable and only a one-time expense – after that, everything is free. Roku also offers access to paid networks, but there appears to be enough viewing available for free to keep me occupied.
About two weeks after the ‘blackout’, I got another letter from Spectrum warning that I needed to contact them if I wanted basic cable. Sorry, guys. For once you don’t win. I’m sure they will find another way of getting the missed income, like raising the no-contract cable modem price. I’ll just have to wait until that happens, then find another solution.