Increase Font Size Option 5 Reset Font Size Option 5 Decrease Font Size Option 5
Home | House | Utilities | 4 Annoying Cable Fees
Got Opinions? facebook_16 Facebook twitter_16 Twitter RSSRSS
4 Annoying Cable Fees Print E-mail
(8 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
House - Utilities
Written by Omie Ismail   
Tuesday, 29 June 2010 04:29

The cable industry is a dying dinosaur, but one that still reigns supreme in many American households. The industry has the one thing that keeps it relevant to most Internet happy cable is a dinosaurconsumers: a high speed Internet connection. In my case a fast 10Mbps connection that makes for a great online experience. And if you don't have Verizon Fios or AT&T U-verse as potential substitutes, you'll be stuck with a bevvy of junk fees that seem to creep onto your bill. Here are 4 fees that you should keep an eye out for:

Photo Credit: National Science Foundation, Zina Deretsky

Cable Modem Fees:

As we've discussed before, cable modem fees are outrageous for many cable operators. In my case, I was paying $3 a month to rent a cable modem. Not terrible, but when they raised it to $5 (a 60% increase) that was too much for me. When I chatted with my cable company's customer service the first time they told me that because I was in California, they wouldn't let me buy my own modem. After calling them directly, I got a different story where the women told me exactly what type of modem to buy. I know that some people think that $60 a year is no big deal, but when you can snag a decent modem for $35, what they charge isn't justifiable on something that lasts for years.

Change of Service Fee:

This is a new one that I have never seen before, or perhaps I just never noticed it. It's not much, $1.99, but its a bit offensive that in order to make a change to your service you have to pay a fee. If Netflix charged a fee to change it's plan, the whole Internet would be in an uproar, but cable companies routinely add these junk charges for something that core to having customers. I can understand the notion that a person has to make the change and that costs something, but that is how the cable companies have set it up. They make you call so they can talk you out of downgrading or cancelling.


Higher Speed Fee:

This is another new one that I just identified on my bill. There's now a $10 fee for getting higher speed Internet. Now that would be fine if I requested higher speed, but I already had really fast Internet and doubling that speed for $120 more a year really isn't worth it for me. I'd rather have Netflix streaming for the same amount or heck, just take the wife out for a nice dinner, maybe two in this economy.


Franchise Fee:

I've seen the franchise fee for years and honestly, I never knew what it was for. Depending on the size of your bill, this can be quite a bit of money. What is a 'franchise fee'? Well it's the cost that municipalities charge the cable company to use their public right of way real estate. So if a city charges your cable company $1 million to rent the public right of way for it's cable lines, they have the right to split up that charge amongst all users. But it's entirely optional for your cable company to charge you this amount of money. They could just absorb that expense as part of the cost of doing business just like almost any for profit organization does. In fact, the very ability for them to just pass it on to you likely means they don't care what the charge is. Because they list it at the end of the bill it really looks more like a tax, which it definitely is not.

What's more disingenuous is the fact that when they compare their prices to satellite, these charges are not included. Satellite doesn't charge a special fee for the cost of putting their stuff up in space or the spectrum they've purchased, that's the cost of doing business.

This nickel and dime approach can cost the average cable subscriber about $350 a year. Likely, a call to the cable company will eliminate or at least reduce for the next 6 or 12 months some of these fees, but should our time really be spent calling cable companies every few months just to keep them honest?


Tip: Thanks to our readers, I used this tip. You can make your service as close to Internet Only by getting the Basic Basic service (usually unadvertised) and dump your cable box. Often this service can be as cheap as $15 a month.


Are You Cheap? Take the Quiz that will enlighten you!

Even a Cheapster like me can learn a thing or two:

I used Rule #44 from this book and saved $712 last month.

Related Articles:


Want to Learn How to Live Better and Cheaper?

Get our Famous 5 Rules of Living Cheaply today! You'll get over 20 pages of great content for free with full access to our Cheap University.

Like this Article? Get our Daily email of cheap articles and tips:



Like this article? Share it on Facebook or more!

Twitter! Facebook!! Digg! Google! Yahoo! Reddit! Mixx! Live! StumbleUpon!
Add New RSS
Write comment
Please input the anti-spam code that you can read in the image.
lindaspreeman  - Comcast Comment - Linda Spreeman |2011-01-26 15:40:51
I live in Pennsylvania and have Comcast. I will not let them automatically deduct monthly payments from my checking account and for good reason. Out of the blue, and for no logical explanation, there was a charge (approx $40) for an "upgrade" that I neither had nor requested. It simply appeared on my bill! When I called to inquire about the charge, they were as confused as I was. They immediately removed the charge, but if you don't audit your monthly bill very carefully, you could be paying for some surprise charges. There are so many miscellaneous charges and taxes anyway, that it's easy to pay the bill and not notice, but take the time to go through your bill line item by line item. Don't give them more than they're entitled for services you aren't getting. ~Linda Spreeman~
PaulaJo  - Can you explain the Tip at end of article |2010-06-29 15:55:16
I, too, live in Calfornia and have Comcast high speed internet (12 Mbps connection). I don't understand what this Tip means, "You can make your service as close to Internet Only by getting the Basic Basic service (usually unadvertised) and dump your cable box. Often this service can be as cheap as $15 a month." What cable box for the internet are you talking about? And $15! We pay $58.
Omiewon |2010-06-30 11:24:26
I have Charter. I was paying about $45 a month for Cable with HBO and another $30 for Internet. Then I dumped HBO and so I was paying about $30 for Cable and $3 for Internet. But then I got on the phone with them and told them I didn't need anything but the most basic cable....$15 plus $5 fee for the digital cable box. I can drop the digital cable box since the basic basic doesn't need it. So $15 for cable and $30 for Internet for a total of $45. The $45 is what they would charge for the Internet stand alone.

I'd say 80% of all of our "TV" watching is now DVDs and Netflix streaming. Some amount of broadcast TV watching.
PaulaJo |2010-06-30 15:31:04
I've been checking out Charter. Great prices. The service area map says we are included in the Sierra Nevada map they have, but the Chat C.S. says they don't offer Charter in Santa Rosa, CA. But looking at Comcast again I can get Internet at 6Mbps with a Preferred TV bundle (that includes Turner Classic Movie!!!) for $105./month. They are having a special for the next 6 mo. when it will be $70 something a month, but I don't pay much attention to that. Just tell me what it will be for the next 6 YEARS lol
Omiewon |2010-07-01 08:57:14
With those 6 month deals it means that every six months you have to call up and negotiate them back down again! Such a pain, but that is how they operate knowing that many people will just forget.

LiveCheap Recommends:

Joomla Templates by Joomlashack