Cable TV's Sneaky Fees Article by Consumer Reports

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by heyted, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. heyted

    heyted Member

    Mar 4, 2012
    South Florida
    Consumer Reports recently wrote an article about the high fees that Comcast and other cable companies are nontransparently adding to their customers' bills. They are also collecting signatures if you would like to sign the petition. I put the web address in a blog post at

    The article fails to mention that you can save a considerable amount of money by purchasing a TiVo or other hardware instead of using the equipment available from your cable company. The article also incorrectly indicates that "you have to rent your cable box." With very few exceptions, federal rules require your cable company to allow you purchase your own cable box, DVR or HTPC.
    krkaufman and kpeters59 like this.
  2. mschnebly

    mschnebly Active Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    That "can save a considerable amount of money by purchasing a TiVo" kind of depends on if you want 1 cable box or several. My X1 is included in my bill whether I use it of not. Adding a TiVo actually increases my bill. If you need more than one and use a mini then, yes, you can save a little or even a lot with several Minis.
  3. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

    Jul 6, 2006
    Dayton OH
    I don't believe a general statement that "you can save a considerable amount of money by purchasing a TiVo" is valid. I've been able to compare my rates (with TiVo on Spectrum/TWC) with those of a neighbor who uses the Spectrum DVR and they have always been close to identical. Both of us have called in to renew promotional rates every year. The bundling and promotions obscure the detailed costs to the point that you can't tell what you're really paying for any part of the package.

    Spectrum/TWC have been able to tell me ahead of time what the total cost including taxes and fees will be over the phone when I ask. This isn't much transparency but it would allow me to compare with a competing service. Unfortunately there is no competing service in my area. That is the real problem.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  4. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    The government -- based on the concepts of truth in advertising and consumer protection -- should definitely require cable companies to include non-optional fees they charge, like the broadcast TV fee and the RSN fee, as part of the advertised package price. What they do now is absolutely bait-and-switch.
    unclehonkey, pj1983, bbrown9 and 6 others like this.
  5. powrcow

    powrcow Member

    Sep 27, 2010
    I agree. For Cox in AZ, HSI/cable went from $3.32 of taxes and fees in 2012 to $19.72 in 2018. And they continue to increase the broadcast and regional sports surcharges.

    Plus the cablecard rental went from $2 to $2.99.
  6. tampa8

    tampa8 Official Tivo User

    Jan 25, 2016
    Ct & FL
    Saving a considerable amount of money is very dependent on factors. A special just ended from Spectrum gave you a DVR for no cost two years no contract. That's all my Grandfather needed and it included HBO for one year and no increase in the programming package for two years. How would buying a TIVO and paying for service for it be saving any money? Even without the special it's a close call if you need no more than two receivers.

    As for the hidden fees? People are just discovering this? Yes they should be brought to task for being so sneaky but it's been going on forever.
  7. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    Well, the size of those fees hasn't been substantial forever. If you go back five or ten years, the broadcast fee and the RSN fee (if that even existed a decade ago) were significantly less than now, so consumers didn't think it was a big deal that a couple of extra dollars got tacked onto the advertised package price.

    The retransmission compensation that local broadcasters demand from cable and satellite carriers keeps going up and up, with no plans by broadcasters to let up. The cable company is just passing those costs along to the consumer, which is understandable. And I think it's actually a good thing that the cable company breaks it out as a separate line item, so that subscribers can see just how much they're paying for channels that they could potentially get for free with an OTA antenna.*

    My beef is when cable companies advertise that you can get a particular TV package for, say, $19.99 when you add it to your broadband service, when in reality, since that package includes your local channels, it will cost you $27.99, not including government taxes and fees. (It's fine, IMO, that they don't include government taxes and fees in their advertised pricing since that's always been standard practice among all sorts of goods and services in the US.) The only way that they actually disclose this information before you get your first bill is through fine print legalese that a lot of people don't read. But since local channels are an absolutely integral, non-optional part of those TV packages, their cost absolutely MUST be included in the advertised package price.

    *Note: This, to my mind, raises a question about whether ATSC 3.0 will really take off. One of its major advantages over our current OTA system is that it will allow for significantly better, more reliable reception of local stations with an indoor antenna, thanks to its use of COFDM rather than 8VSB as its radio frequency wave modulation method. But why do local stations or their national network partners actually want free OTA TV to be more widely adopted? That would only encourage the cord-cutting trend, meaning that those stations would lose a whole lot more of those retransmission dollars from cable and satellite carriers.
  8. dstoffa

    dstoffa Member

    Dec 14, 2005
    New York, NY
    I was sent to Oz for work a dozen years ago. It was awesome. But one of the takeaways I got from one of my mates over there was that no merchant could advertise a price unless that was your out-the-door price, all-in. They were not permitted to get away with a "$79.99 plus taxes and fees" disclaimer. If they ran an ad on TV, they'd have to disclose the price for everyone in the footprint of the ad, which would require them to buy 3 hours worth of ad time to differentiate between each market / state / county the ad ran in.

    I know better that those deals advertised don't include $50 in add-ons, but many don't.

    Surprisingly, when StubHub switched to all-in pricing for their tickets, they saw a drop in sales traffic, and switched back to a price+fees model. Which goes to show you the American concumer has been trained to expect F-U fees on everything...

  9. wizwor

    wizwor Active Member

    Dec 17, 2013
    When I shop, I do not worry about taxes and fees. All I want is the bottom line. I compare that to what others charge for a comparable product and choose the best combination of price and product (value) for me. If you want 'free TV' put up an antenna. If it falls short of your expectations, stream. When you compare value, remember to include one time costs, ongoing costs, and the time you spend designing, installing, and supporting your solution. Neither cable not TiVo are inexpensive. Any major investment in infrastructure carries a lot of risk right now given all the change going on with OTA, OTT, and the premium providers.
    tenthplanet likes this.
  10. bbrown9

    bbrown9 Member

    Mar 12, 2011
    That's not the bottom line. That's the middle line. If the taxes and fees really are the same for all carriers, it's not as bad. But if any of them are a little different you use the advertised price to compare with the competitors. And it gives you the false sense that you will be paying what they say when in fact, you'll be paying $20 or more in addition to what they say. I can see saying "taxes not included" but all other fees should be part of the advertised price so the consumer will know how much they are really signing up for.
  11. ah30k

    ah30k Well-Known Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    Sports fees and rebroadcast fees are no different from other licensed content so I can't understand how they get away with including them down with the government taxes and fees section.

    Why not just put a Fox fee and a NatGeo fee and a TNT fee all below the line?
  12. longrider

    longrider Well-Known Member TCF Club

    Oct 26, 2017
    Elizabeth, CO
    For satellite the fees make sense as they are national channel packages and both the sports and rebroadcast fees can vary depending on the market. However cable is run market by market so there is no need to break it out other than to compete with satellite and I believe in both companies there is an element of politics is showing the customers how much sports rights and rebroadcast fees are costing them.

    While I understand the reasoning I still hate the "plus, plus, plus" method of marketing. any fees that are not optional should be included in the advertised price. Unfortunately is is so common I dont see it changing. I can list right off the top of my head several industries that do it, cable/sat, cell phone, landline phone, airlines, ticket brokers, car dealers...
  13. heyted

    heyted Member

    Mar 4, 2012
    South Florida
    Keep in mind that if you are paying more due to having a TiVo when your cable package includes a DVR, you are doing what the FCC rules regarding CableCARDs are meant to prevent. The FCC rules exist to allow you to purchase your own DVR instead of renting a DVR from Comcast. Even if it is included in the cable package, you are renting the DVR from Comcast and paying for a TiVo at the same time. If you have not already done so, consider returning the X1 to Comcast, having only one CableCARD, and requesting a monthly discount on your bill. If you do this, you should get a discount on your monthly bill and pay nothing for the single CableCARD. To save the most, it would be best if you switch to a package that includes only a cable box. If you are willing to switch, you can return the cable box and still use the CableCARD in a DVR or with an HTPC that you own. Good luck.
    cwerdna likes this.
  14. mschnebly

    mschnebly Active Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    My bill is the same if I keep the X1 or give it back. There would be no discount on my bill to return it. It's considered "Free" so the FCC rules don't apply.
  15. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2014
    Raleigh, NC
    If you only have 1 CableCARD on your account and no other TV equipment, Comcast will give you a customer-owned equipment credit on your bill every month.
  16. cwerdna

    cwerdna Proud Tivolutionary

    Feb 22, 2001
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Yep. I receive a $2.50 credit each month, which I had to ask for. I learned of it years ago here on TCF.

    I hate the stupid sports fees. I don't watch sports. I wouldn't miss it if they took away all my sports and the fee with it. While they're at it, I wish I could opt out of ESPN and save the $ that Comcrap pays to ESPN along w/a whole bunch of other worthless channels in my lineup.
    CopRock and pj1983 like this.
  17. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

    Sep 19, 2006
    In the ATL
    LOL, in the current administration? With the FCC that just voted to ignore consumer complaints about ISPs?

    Cable can do whatever it damn well pleases.
    mschnebly likes this.
  18. Mikeguy

    Mikeguy Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2005
    Could you elaborate/provide a link? Thanks--
  19. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    I think it's that "Net Neutrality" thing.
    cwerdna likes this.
  20. wizwor

    wizwor Active Member

    Dec 17, 2013
    It doesn't matter whether or not they are the same for all and it doesn't matter how things are bundled together. After the negotiation is over, there is a number on your bill -- Pay This Amount. THAT is the bottom line. Once you have talked through all options and have all bids for services that suit you, you decide which represents the best value to you.

    Right now, I have an antenna, an ISP, a DirecTV dish, AT&T cell phones, and a Prime subscription. At the end of two years, I may discontinue the satellite service which may impact the value of my cell service. If I choose to use a cable provider, I may dump my ISP. At the end of the day, all I care about is what it costs me for the service I want.

Share This Page