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5 Overlooked Digital Charges to Eliminate and Save $500 Print E-mail
(14 votes, average 4.36 out of 5)
House - Utilities
Written by Omie Ismail   
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 03:28
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5 Overlooked Digital Charges to Eliminate and Save $500
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The big things that cost you a bundle are easy to spot and get a handle on. But what about all those little pesky charges that you seldom notice - do they add up to more than a hill of beans? Take your Phonecommunication and entertainment charges - if you overlook these five little beans, it could end up costing you $500 or more each year. If you want to cut your cable bill or phone bill read on.

Cable Box and Modem Rental Fees:

Even if you’ve already negotiated the best possible cable deal with your provider, there’s one charge that you probably missed: the cable box fee or the cable modem fee. If your cable service is provided by Charter Communications or another big operator, they’ll charge you a whopping $5 to $6.95 a month for each of these boxes. $10 - $12 a month for both of these works out to over $120 a year. If you’re stuck to cable, you can purchase a digital cable box in good condition online for about $30 and the cable modem will cost you another $25. Some carriers won't let you buy the box, so check with them first.  Work to negotiate the monthly cost down if they won't or threaten to go to satellite.  It will take all of 6 months to recoup the cost. Ditch the rental and if you want to save more, dump your cable altogether.

Annual Fee Savings: $130

 

Federal Subscriber Line Charge

Many traditional phone companies responded to the VOIP threat from Skype and Vonage by offering a “free” bundled phone line. To get a slice of the VOIP business, cable operators got on the bandwagon and made similar offers for no cost telephone lines. I decided to take advantage of my cable operator’s generosity so that I could have a free dedicated fax line for 12 months. No biggie I thought, I can always cancel after a year or re-up the free deal. The problem was that I never paid attention to the fees, which definitely were not free.

The biggest catch was a peculiar charge - the “End User Common Line Primary”– at least that’s how my cable operator referred to this non-governmental fee. It’s also known as Federal Subscriber Line Charge. No matter what they call it, what’s it for? It turns out that the FCC allows them to charge up to $6.50 per primary line even though their cost is far lower. The rationale is that it’s a way to level the playing field with local phone companies. Your provider will be glad to take your $6.50 and the end result is that the ‘free line’ that you might use for all of 30 minutes a month ends up costing you about $78 a year.

 

You can always eliminate this charge by getting rid of the ‘free line’ that ain't so free; or you can try calling your telecom provider and tell them that you know that this charge bears no resemblance to their true cost and that you are going to drop them if they don’t remove it. It’s nothing more than a profit maximizer posturing as a government ordained fee. And it tells you everything you need to know about why telcos love giving away “free” lines.

Annual Fee Savings: $78



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Arlene |2011-04-25 14:00:21
Listen up guys! My cable bill was my most hated - higher and higher for less and less. So I finally canceled, got some converter boxes (4 TV's), and had a new antenna put on our roof. 65 stations free over-the-air! All of our locals (and most of them are offering 3 or 4 channels, which your cable provider will never tell you), 3 PBS stations with a total of 10 channels altogether, and lots of new indies, and new channels added all the time. Ad all in free HD, because that is what all over-the-air signals are now anyway. The best thing I ever did - try it!
snewell |2011-01-24 18:53:05
We dropped Netflix and Dish. During Christmas we noticed that Dish was offering great packages for new customers, but nothing for long-term dedicated customers. We went with AT&T Uverse. We get HDMI cable, faster internet, cell phones, and landline. We saved about $48 per month and have more cable channels, way faster internet, everything is high definition...more for less all the way around. They change out their movies so we are not forced to watch the same movies over and over. It was cheaper to increase our cable package than keep Netflix and their new monthly rates this year!
Kevin |2010-11-25 15:12:29
Happy Thanksgiving!!
Ivan  - Google Voice |2010-08-24 13:26:49
I'm currently using Google voice to make international calls (I do this about once or twice a month) and it charges only $0.02 a minute with no extra charges. A friend of mine is using it to make ALL his cell phone calls, and its saving him quite a bit too. To do that you need a 3G phone with a data plan. But either way its a pretty good service from Google. I think you need an invite to get in tho, but i'm sure it'll be available to all pretty soon.
Baron |2010-08-18 13:11:12
where can I purchase a digital cable box online?
Paula Jo Dorrity  - If no Dish Network, how can I get TCM? |2010-05-24 18:40:05
Right now I subscribe to Dish Network, and although it is a great service, I am tired of paying $58 per month to basically just watch TCM. If you are disconnecting your cable or dish, how would you be able to watch TCM (Turner Classic Movies)?
Omiewon  - Try this first |2010-05-24 20:35:06
Unfortunately, I don't know of any way to get TCM. So if you have to have your TCM movies, call Dish and tell them you want the same deal that new subscribers get or you are going to switch to DirectTV. The package (200) that has Turner Classic is $37.99 for newbies for a year. So if you wanted to shave about $20 a month without changing anything, you could do this. DirectTV has a package at $29.99 for a year that has TCM. In both cases though, you will see the rate jump after a year.

TCM.com only has movie clips which is unfortunate. Many loyal viewers are in exactly your shoes, paying the hefty cable/satellite just to watch one channel. It's often the same for HBO, but the difference is you can see many HBO movies/series on Netflix. Many viewers are hoping for a Netflix add on or a streaming directly from TCM, but that seems unlikely to happen since the cable/sat. guys generate most of their revenue.

I'd get aggressive on negotiating with your provider and show them what they are offering other people. If they tell you the deal is only for new subscribers, tell them if that's the case you'll be a new DirectTV subscriber.
Cheapskate  - Trim The Fat |2010-05-22 09:33:59
I have 12 Mbs internet only from my cable company. My GSM mobile phone is set for voice only, and is 100% unlimited for domestic use. $57 a month. I have a Magicjack for backup. (And it works great!) A very good digital broadcast antenna can be made from junk, the sites are out there with instructions. I won't buy TV, which is ad supported. It's all still more than I wish to pay, but it's as good a value as I can muster for what I get.
Jen  - Before you drop cable.... |2010-05-14 10:19:22
Check the "basic" package. We were about to drop cable all together with Comcast and realized that they discount the internet if you have cable TV. The basic package plus the discounted internet was $5 less for us than full priced internet alone.
thecolor  - agreed limited basic... |2010-05-14 10:45:19
There is a package they won't show online or most anywhere else or even tell you about... but your bill will show the break down... limited basic = $$ and then you have stuff tacked on. But, according to "comcast's TNC", you just have to have cable to get the internet discount.
lynx |2010-04-10 08:29:10
Cable company's in the US will not allow you to activate customer owned cable TV boxes on their network. You HAVE to rent them. You should probably correct that.
NeuroMan42  - Dumping Cable... |2010-04-08 19:33:55
Great idea actually. I have not had traditional Cable or TV for about 5 years now. I use the Channel sites, Hulu, or Netflix for everything.
 

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