How Comcast Suckers You Back In

I recently experimented with reducing my Comcast cable television service.  However, Comcast's service plan levels are ingeniously set up to sucker you back into higher and higher rates and services.

To begin, I eliminated my high-definition Comcast service and opted instead for low-definition basic cable service, which consisted of only about 30 channels.  This seemed like a great idea until I realized that I had no way to watch my two favourite shows: the new Dallas and The Big Bang Theory.

So I then called Comcast to see what it would cost to get a slightly higher low-definition rate plan with TBS and TNT.  Lo, and behold, there was a special promotional "Triple Play" rate plan available consisting of increased low-definition cable channels, faster internet service, and a digital telephone line.  I explained that I did not need the digital telephone line and I have no plans to use it.  But it was cheaper to take the promotional rate plan with the digital phone like than to have cable and internet without it, so I took the bait and signed up for the promotional Triple Play service (which, thankfully is still less than my high-definition service, just not by much).

Now I find myself longing for watching baseball in high definition, and using my now-returned DVR to record my favourite shows.  Is my longing for ever-higher Comcast services a simple case of akrasia (weakness of will), or has Comcast carefully orchestrated this rate plan song and dance to keep suckering you in to ever higher services levels, all under the guise of irresistible promotional packages?

Iterative Steps to Eliminating or Reducing Cable Television Service

Some years ago I wrote a piece on how to negotiate for lower Comcast cable service rates.  But since then I have been toying off and on with the notion that I should cancel my Comcast cable service entirely, or at least revert back to old-school basic analog cable.

I have found it surprisingly difficult to commit to eliminating cable service altogether.  Even reverting to analog cable instead of digital cable has been a tough sell in my mind.  So even though I have been saying that I would like to do one of these two things for some time, why the hesitation?  I know that cable television adds limited value (as evidenced by the fact that I never seem to be able to find anything good to watch besides Star Trek, Jewelry Television, the Food Network, the new Dallas series, or Ancient Aliens (I know, I know....).

I think it's just the brute-force fact of human nature that people don't like to sacrifice.  I know I'm not entitled to cable service, but I don't want to give it up now that I have it.  I also know I'm more likely to read more books or work on more constructive projects without cable television to suck up my free time.  Also, people generally don't like making drastic changes; they are more likely to be comfortable with making small, iterative changes to their lifestyle or finances.  Over time, these little course corrections can lead to success.

So with those insights, I think I will get off my duff and truck myself down to the Comcast office this coming weekend, not to eliminate my cable television altogether, but instead to take the iterative step of reverting to cheaper analog cable.  It will save some money and I will still get to watch most of the shows I enjoy.  I may have to find another solution for recording shows (like going retro with an old-school VCR), but one baby step at a time....

Net Worth Update - 25 February 2014 - Finally in the Green!

My last net worth update was way back in June 2011, so I figured it was time to provide a long-overdue update.  Here you go:


Retirement accounts: $29,109.22

Estimated home value: $317,500.00


Credit card debt: $8,061.35
Student loan: $61,310.02
Auto loan: $28,952.77

Home loan: $244,607.24

Total Net Worth: $3,677.84 (up from $-59,564.77 in June 2011)

The most significant change from 2011 to now was the purchase of a house in my hometown of Vacaville, California at the very lowest point in housing collapse curve.

The increase in credit card debt concerns me, which means that I will need to curb some spending and funnel some money into getting that number down.

I am generally pleased with the rise in my retirement account balance, from $11,916.67 back in 2011 to $29,109.22 at present.

Finally, it is worthwhile to note that this is the first time since I started back in 2007 that I have a positive net worth.  As mentioned previously, this is largely due to the purchase of a home that rapidly increased in value as the housing market stabilized.  But, regardless of the cause, I would expect my net worth to remain in the green from here on out.