New Cablecard rules - must cable co. provide all programming packages

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Zaphod, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. Zaphod

    Zaphod Member

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    Okay, so I know the new cablecard rules that went into effect in August say that cable companies must provide cablecard users a discount for not having a set top box. I have two different questions. I want to make sure I know I have a leg to stand on before I call my cable company.

    I have Mediacom in Iowa if that makes any difference.

    First, I'm not aware that Mediacom "bundles" the rental cost of a set top box with any of their packages. I believe that the set top box rental is always an explicit line item charge on the bill for "rental". As such, are they still required to give me any sort of discount for having my TivoHD and not one of their own set top boxes? I would think that since I'm not being charged rental for a box I don't have, I'm not entitled to a discount on top of that. Or am I, and if I am, then what's the reasoning for that?

    Second, are cable companies now required to offer a cablecard user all of the same packages they would offer someone who has a cable company set-top box? When I first got my TivoHD and cablecard installed a few years ago, I had a Mediacom DVR. I had a programming package that, while still didn't bundle the cost of the DVR rental, did give me a discounted price including HBO or Showtime. When I gave up the cable company DVR in favor of my TivoHD with cablecard, they said I could not longer have the programming package that I had. They said that package required having one of their set top boxes and if I didn't have the set top box then I couldn't have that package. I had to drop back to a lower package, which was essentially the same price I was paying except without HBO, and then add HBO a-la-carte if I wanted it. I could keep the set top box and then keep the package, but then I was still paying extra for the set top box I would never use. So I gave them back the set top box and just dropped HBO.

    So I'm wondering now if I can call them back and force them to give me the package that includes HBO (or I might go for Showtime), and if they try to give me the spiel about requiring their set top box, if I can tell them to get stuffed (or rather, politely point them to the new FCC requirements).

    The FCC rules clearly state that if the cable company bundles their set top box in any packages, then they have to give a discount for not having the set tob box, but it doesn't really explicitly say anything about requiring them to offer such packages to cablecard users, although I would think it's kind of implied.

    Thanks!
     
  2. gastrof

    gastrof Hubcaps r in fashion

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    I'm no expert, but you'd think the FCC regs would prevent the cable companies from giving preferential treatment or services to people who rent their boxes rather than a cable card. (And they do still get to RENT the cards, albeit for a lower price.)

    Of course, since when have logic and justice ever been major points in this type of thing?

    __________________
    Fleep was never known for long nosed pigeons.
     
  3. steve614

    steve614 what ru lookin at?

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    The way I have been reading it, the discount only applies if you are subscribed to a package that includes a set top box for free (IIRC).
    If you have a STB and are being charged a rental fee, I would think you have no such package.

    Your second question is an interesting one.
    I don't think the regs say they have to provide every service package to all, only that they have to allow 3rd party devices on their system.

    It's just another loophole the cable companies can use to discriminate against Tivo users.
     
  4. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    Discounts for bundled STBs (or DVRs) are an interesting question, and could be termed as discrimination although good luck hassling the FCC for that one. Since they're giving discounts for cards now, I doubt it.
     
  5. sbiller

    sbiller Active Member

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    http://www.fcc.gov/guides/cablecard-know-your-rights

    Pay only for equipment you have. Your operator must give you a discount on any packages that include the price of a set-top box if you choose to use your own CableCARD-enabled device. FCC Rule 76.1205(b)(5).
     
  6. jrtroo

    jrtroo Chill- its just TV

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    Their practices seem discriminatory at the least. I would contact the fcc and see where that takes things. Tell your cable Co that you made the complaint.
     
  7. sbiller

    sbiller Active Member

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    Easiest way to file a complaint with the FCC is online.

    https://esupport.fcc.gov/ccmsforms/form2000.action?form_type=2000E

    You can also phone them, email, or send them a letter per the following instructions.

    http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm?sid=d1e664&id=d1e752

    Alternatively, you may want to post a message here to see if other's have had a similar experience. Perhaps Mediacom monitors this message board.

    http://www.dslreports.com/forum/mediacom
     
  8. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    In the OPs case I had the exact same thing happen with Comcast a couple of years ago - they offered a bundle with free DVR and HBO for a year and I took it, then told them not to bother sending out a tech for the DVR since I had Tivos. It never showed on the bill (since it wasn't activated) and I got the package discount anyway. Now it's even better because we also get the card credits.
     
  9. pdhenry

    pdhenry Recumbent

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    I believe (haven't read the pertinent citations) that it's also a rule that if the operator charges for a set-top box, there must be a separable charge for the cablecard inside the set-top box, and that cablecard charge is the same if the only thing you rent is the cablecard. This also leads to a savings for the person bringing his own equipment.
     
  10. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    I suspect the cable cos have many ways to get around this. See this post where I questioned if ANYONE had received BYOB discount:
    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?p=8812488#post8812488
    As you see two Comcast customers replied they had got them. I'll be amazed if a Time Warner customer has actually got one. My bundle doesn't include a STB. How would anyone know what all the bundle packages are so they could even tell if this is fair?

    If the STB or DVR is "free" as part of a bundle, do the FCC regs force the Cable Co. to define an effective monthly rental for them?
     
  11. sbiller

    sbiller Active Member

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    My cable operator (Bright House Networks) discounts their combo package by $8.00 per month because I'm not using their box. This is not shown on the cable bill.

    I'm expecting that the FCC will have to release some clarification on the rules based on feedback from retail CE providers like TiVo and Ceton.
     
  12. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    Well, not "many". The only way is if the STB is offered free with all packages.

    TWC customers don't get an active discount, per se, because TWC doesn't bundle their STBs and DVRs. Any regular user gets hit with an STB or DVR fee. The 3rd party users don't get hit with the fee. If they do offer a bundle, then any user getting that bundle but not getting the STB / DVR is due a discount.

    If your bundle does not include an STB or DVR, then you are getting the discount, because anyone who does not have their own receiver gets hit with an STB / DVR fee that you do not.

    Yes. It is equal to the highest cost of an STB on any service that does not bundle the STB, or the cost of an extra STB for their bundles.
     
  13. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    I think they hide what they're doing in a confusion of bundles and promotional offers, the details of which are opaque to consumers, or would require laborious detective work to uncover.
    I think that's too simplistic compared to reality. My son lives just two miles from me and has what appears to be the same bundle as mine (same channels, same internet) but he gets an 8300 DVR free for a year as part of a promotional offer (or whatever the appropriate name is). His total monthly bill is within one dollar of mine. This probably doesn't violate the FCC regs (TWC has lots of crafty lawyers) but it illustrates how they can easily work around the intent of the regs.
     
  14. lrhorer

    lrhorer Active Member

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    Their rate for a STB, however, is clearly posted. It's $4.95 a month, IIRC. The DVRs are $9.95, IIRC.

    It does not matter what the promotional offer might be. If that bundle includes a receiver as part of the package, anyone who declines the receiver with that bundle, discounted or not, is due the FCC mandated discount. In the case of the bundled DVR, that should be $9.95. In the case of a bundled STB, it would be $4.95

    No, it just means he is getting a promotional deal. If you have the same bundle, and declined to take the bundled receiver, then you are due a discount. If the plan you have does not include a bundled receiver, then any customer who subscribes to that plan will be charged extra for any receivers he leases, while you are not.

    You are forgetting something, here. Any attempt to reduce or eradicate discounts to TiVo and other 3rd party device owners, who represent less than 1% of their subscriber base, will negatively impact the revenue from those not using their own device, and that is something they cannot afford. Add to this the fact they don't make any money directly on the STBs and DVRs, and they aren't going to fiddle with the balance sheets to discommode a handful of subs. Most of their packages don't include an STB or DVR, anyway, so most of their packages don't qualify for the discount in the first place.
     
  15. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    Nah. I think if my son had a TiVo the promotional offer would have morphed into one that did not include the "free" DVR, but was identical otherwise. There is no practical way for the consumer to know and compare all the bundles and promotions they offer so as to pin them down on BYOB. Perhaps the FCC could do it but they don't have the horsepower for it.

    If someone has actually received this discount from TWC, I'm still waiting to hear about it.
     
  16. Zaphod

    Zaphod Member

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    Des Moines,...
    OP here. Thanks everyone for all the thoughts.

    Yeah, I didn't really think that I would get a device discount as I'm pretty sure Mediacom never bundles hardware with any packages.

    I guess regarding the package I'll just have to call and ask about programming packages and see if they ever say anything about requring one of their STBs to get it. Then if they do and won't budge, I'll file a complaint with the FCC using that link that someone provided in an earlier reply in this thread (thanks for that link!).

    Regarding dlfl's situation, the only other factor I can think of there is, he mentions that his son's package with the free STB is specifically a "promotional offer", and thus not a standard package. My question would be, why is it promotional? Is his son a new subscriber? Or some other scenario that qualified him for the "promotion" that dlfl himself doesn't qualify for? If so, that is an entirely different situation and I'd agree that dlfl himself wouldn't get anything out of that if he didn't qualify for the "promotion" to begin with. BUT, for example if it's a promotion for being a new subscriber, I WOULD expect that another new subscriber coming in and being offered the same package without mentioning up front that they have a Tivo, would then be able to say that they have a Tivo and would be entitled to receive the package AND the discount for not taking the STB.

    Basically, I'm saying the details on why the son has this "promotional" package are an important factor that has not been shared and thus no conclusion can be drawn yet.
     
  17. pdhenry

    pdhenry Recumbent

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    You still pay less with a TiVo + CableCard than someone who gets the same package with a STB + CableCard...
     
  18. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    My son indeed was a new subscriber. And yes it would seem if the customer was clever enough not to mention they had a TiVo until after getting the deal, they should be able to do what you say. I suspect the typical Tivo owner (who is not reading this thread) would be likely to have mentioned they had a TiVo piror to getting the offer, because they would want to be reassured by the cable co that Tivo was supported and how much cable cards cost, etc.

    I repeat: If anyone has received a BYOB discount from TWC, please post!
     
  19. Thos19

    Thos19 Member

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    The only beef I have with Verizon FIOS is that their CC rental fees are so high: $3.99 each/month, while Comcast is only $1.50 for the first and and the second free.

    Is it cost effective to simply buy a CC (or in my case 2; I have a Series 3)? Does FIOS even let you register a CC not provided by them? Has anyone here successfully done this?

    Thos.
     
  20. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    Comcast is not $1.50 for the first and the second free - it's supposed to be free for the first and the regular outlet fee (currently $8.50 - $8.95) for additional cards, minus the $2.50 - $2.99 card credit. Or $6 net for each extra card, which is even higher than FIOS and a ripoff IMO.

    Only *some* areas get lucky and get the old 'extra card in a Tivo' $1.50 fee for each extra card.
     

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