Breaking up with a cable company is hard to do

It was over. Our love had run it’s course. And I wanted to pull the plug on the one-sided relationship. But calling my cable service provider to end my torrid love affair with commercials, bad programming, bundled packages, and rate hikes was like breaking up with a bad and possessive boyfriend — he didn’t want to let me go!

Making the call was emotionally painful. The customer service representative — a stealthy trained wingman who ‘helps’ when cable relationships sour — cooed in my ear with endless reasons to stay in the costly relationship. Like a repentant lover, he offered me enticing gifts, begging me to stay.

Mr. Cable Company apparently desired me (and my $66 monthly payment) so much that he offered me special subscriber perks, free channels, and a discounted package to keep me from cutting the service. By trying to break up with this greedy bad boy, I got seriously wooed. Funny he didn’t show me this much love and affection when I simply paid my cable bill on time. Yeah, Mr. Cable Company was a bit of an a$$hole.

So why was breaking up with my cable service provider so hard to do? After doing a little bit of digging I now see why cable and satellite companies are so keen to keep us subscribed, at any cost. According to CNNMoney, people are canceling their cable packages and switching off their satellite services in droves. With “one in eight subscribers cutting cable and satellite TV in 2010,” it’s understandable why customer service agents are trained to do anything to keep you from pulling the plug.

So if you’re thinking about breaking up with your television company, I’d like to share a few of my cable quitting mistakes, triumphs, and gobsmacking surprises. Yes, people, titillating surprises! Follow these five steps to get cable or satellite-free sooner, without the heart-break, tears, or hassle.

Step 1: Read your cable or satellite contract

I wanted to start this ‘Five Stepper’ with something fun like, Set your satellite dish on fire and watch your savings grow! But despite my leanings to all things silly, I have to be a little serious for once. That’s because your cable or satellite contract specifies the rules for when you can quit the service, not the day you decide to take a flamethrower to your dish.

In my case, I had to give my provider 30 days (THIRTY DAYS) notice before calling it quits. Sure, signing up was instant — I was connected in under 15 minutes. But quitting? That takes thirty freaking days Ma’am.

Lesson Learned: Spare yourself thirty days of expensive grief by reading the fine print first, and then make the plan to cut Mr. Cable Guy loose.

Step 2: Track your TV schedule

I don’t want you to quit TV cold turkey. Surprised? Don’t be. I’d rather you take a month to track your TV consumption, and then evaluate whether your programming choices are worth the monthly cable fee, or not. Start by downloading my Television Tracker (yeah, it’s free), and list all the shows you watch, scan, and flip through. No cheating, OK?


Download: Television Tracker

There’s a spot for each member of your family. Be sure to enter the stations you watch, the shows you like, and your time spent watching electronic pixels. The total television family viewing time is in the bottom row. Results might shock you into dumping this habit.

Lesson Learned: Tracking your TV viewing habits is no different than tracking your moolah in a budget spreadsheet or your exercise in a workout log. Get the facts, know your numbers, and you’ll make better financial choices. Eating more chocolate is totally up to you though!

Step 3: Find less expensive TV alternatives

On average, American cable and satellite viewers pay $71 per month (that’s $852 a year) while Canadians pay around $66 per month. Upgrade to a digital package, add movie channel or two, and you’re easily paying $100 per month.

Lesson Learned: Want to save up to $1,200 per year? Get with the digital program and watch TV online with these 10 Legal Alternatives to Costly Cable. Some are free.

Step 4: Be a brave break-up artist, make the call.

Before calling up your service provider you’ll need to drink a glass of brave, and brace yourself for free offers, feeble excuses (which may sound reasonable at the time), and end that call with a decisive ending. It might help to employ a few conversation combat techniques to cut the agent’s sales pitch short.

Warning: These guys have every counter response known to man, woman, and child. So be brave.

The conversation with my cable customer service agent went something like this:

Me: Hi, I’m Kerry. Here’s my account number. I’d like to quit my television services with [service provider] today. Thank you.

Stealthy Agent: Would you like additional channels? How about I bundle your cell phone, landline, and cable into one easy-to-pay package? This reduces your costs by 15% and increases our profit margin by 500%. Plus we’ll charge it directly to your credit card so you don’t notice the bill when we increase our rates by 5% every year!

Me: Umm, No thank you.

Stealthy Agent: Upgrading to HDTV is on special this month. And we’ll install a fresh new dish at no charge. It’ll only add another hole in your roof.

Me: Umm, No thank you.

Stealthy Agent: You’ve been a subscriber for years. That’s like a billion dollars we’ve already billed you. I’d like to offer you three months for free by signing up for a ten year contract. No strings attached.

Me: Umm, No thank you. I’d like to quit, thank you.

Stealthy Agent: I’ll cut your bill in half if you stay.

Me: Sweating Please, no. LET ME GO!

Stealthy Agent: Based on your contract, you have to give 30 days notice before ending the agreement. Sorry.

Me: You’re kidding me? OK, Day One starts TODAY!

Stealthy Agent: Great! I’ll call back every day this month to get you to change your mind.

CLICK

Lesson Learned: Kidding aside, these guys are ruthless, so you need the endurance of a marathon runner and ‘The Force’ of a Jedi knight to end the break-up call victorious. OK, lying might help too. At one point I resorted to telling the agent that cable was useless to me because I no longer owned a television. Terrible, right? The agent was speechless. I was gobsmacked. He let me go. Or so I thought.

Step 5: Don’t answer the phone. Ever.

RIIIIIIIIIIING. They’re back! It was like a scene from the movie Poltergeist. Every time my phone rang it was either my bad former boyfriend (Mr. Cable Guy) calling or one of his wingmen haunting me. To make matters worse, I fielded calls from several cable companies that week. How they sensed my single status I’ll never know. But using their stealth cable guy techniques, they pitched me gifts, offerings, and discount rates to enter into wedded cable bliss with their company.

I was being wooed all over again. And I liked it. I hated it. I wanted to be left alone. So I got angry. Very angry. Then I got mean. I told them I was on the National No Call List (because I really am) and telemarketers (or Mr. Cable Guys) found in violation of the law can receive financial penalties.

CLICK

Final Thoughts

It’s been six months since I broke it off with my cable company. I’ve saved $400 in cable payments, found more time to read books and catch up with friends, and I no longer care about reality TV. Phew.

I hope your cable or satellite break-up story involves less pain, sorrow, and offers of free gifts. I would love to hear from you guys — is my break-up story unusual, or common?

Your two cents:

  1. Kerry, the only problems with no cable is no live sports!

    Thankfully, this is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

  2. Jay R February 9th, 2011

    I too quit cable (phone and HDTV) back in 2009. We went to Over The Air thanks to the new high def digital signals broadcasters in Canada and USA are using (we live in Ontario, close enough to Buffalo to get both).
    To retain that ‘on demand’ lifestyle our cable DVRs used to give us, we also buy shows from Apple’s iTunes store and watch them on the Apple TV connected to our HDTV.
    Sounds complicated, but its really quite easy to do.
    We’ve dropped our spending from $1200/year to about $500-600 depending on what shows we buy.
    Sure we miss cable only networks like HGTV and TSN, but they aren’t worth $100 per month to us thanks! :)
    Plus a good over the air antenna will get you so much for free you could go down to $0 per month. NFL, NHL, reality TV, news, talk shows… the best content is still on the broadcast networks.
    Thanks for the great article!

  3. Neil February 9th, 2011

    I guess I was an early adopter on this trend when I canceled my cable in 2007. (Wow, I’ve apparently saved over $2000 since then!) So they weren’t as prepared and trained up on customer retention.

    I’m still a sending them around $80 every month for phone and internet, so maybe they weren’t as concerned about losing the TV package. Either way, I didn’t have to fight, they simply removed the TV service from my bill. The cancellation was spurred by a move to a new condo, so they just never hooked me up in the new place.

    They did, for years after, keep sending me promotions to “switch” back. I’m not sure if they’ve caught on yet that on-a-schedule TV has reached the end of its product life cycle.

    Every now and again, I realise the combination of no TV, adblock, and highly selective vision while reading the paper has left me basically impossible to advertise to. If I want to see a movie, I have to go out of my way to seek out their ads online…other products also require active research. It’s very liberating.

  4. Peter February 9th, 2011

    Sounds very similar to when we canceled our Comcast cable. They sent me over to the retention department where they progressively sweetened the deal to get us to stay – to the point where our bill would be lowered by about 1/2. In the end we had already made the decision to switch providers – and even after the reductions Comcast promised we still ended up paying less than half what we were before with our new one. Of course, we still have a pay tv provider in Dish network, so we’ll be going through the canceling thing again in a year or so.

  5. Rob February 9th, 2011

    I had a similar experience with comcast. But I really don’t have a TV any more so it was easier. Of course they don’t understand the concept of “no TV” initially.

    Ultimately, though I got the cable TV turned off, and they even managed to do it without cutting off my Internet service.

  6. K9-CRACY February 9th, 2011

    Ending my BB addiction with the big Mama was the same. I made sure I had time and had a hormonal edgy attitude when I called. Let’s just say I was ready for a fight. Good thing too. It was like taking a personal tour of the circles of hell with the devil himself.

    At first she was sweet as can be, trying to convince me to stay. Then I got the offers – bundles, free phones, better deals. Nasty with threats came next, about how much I would be losing and how much my penalty would be. (Signed contracts mean nothing to them, they’ve got a disclaimer saying that their policies can change at any time. My “Get me outta here” penalty was hundreds more than what was outlined on my original contract). Then I was put on hold to talk to her manager. Then I was put on hold FOREVER… they were hoping I’d give up. No way, I had the time and if they “accidentally” hung up I’d call again. And again. Eventually they let me go although they couldn’t do it right away, I think it took a month.

    I should have counted how many times one person can say no.

    Whew.

  7. Mecha February 9th, 2011

    My husband and I gave up tv all together over three years ago…..I basically went through the spiels and hung up on more telemarketer until we decided to give up our landline instead. I read approximately 400 library books a year, have lost quite a bit of weight and read my Bible daily….beats staring at a box any day!

  8. Heather February 10th, 2011

    I have been cable/sat/airwaves free of the dribble in content, commercials, and money out the door for over SEVEN years. I have had a stress free existence without the boob tube..which is exponentially becoming more and more mindless crud intruding in our lives. I breath easier knowing my life is not ruled by what is on television on any given night. Myself, my 19, 15, and 13 year olds no longer sit with a frozen gaze at the box in the room, like zombies waiting for fresh prey. We talk, we play games, we read, we INTERACT socially. My kids friends think we are weird, but let me tell you ALL of their friend’s parents ask how we did it and comment on how they wish they could too! This chick’s not as crazy as some think. :)

  9. Ray February 10th, 2011

    Nice article. I recently had to cancel my Comcast package. I was not in any contract so it was probably easier than most. But one thing that stopped the agent flat while he was gearing up to get me to stay was when I told him that I was moving and Comcast was not the provider in my new area. He didn’t go any further. If that is you’re situation, then I would go with that even if they do offer service, because frankly, you could just choose about anything these days.

  10. Renee February 10th, 2011

    I cut the cable cord one year ago. I did keep their internet service though. My bill went from $120/month to $35/month. At a savings of $85/month, we’ve now saved $1020. Amazing! With our first month’s savings we purchased an over the air antenna to get crystal clear HD channels for free!

    Now we stream Netflix to our TV ($9/month), or catch up on shows we missed on the computer, so I think the high-speed internet bill is worth it.

    We miss do some regular season sports, but we also have a lot of friends who will have us over to watch the game at their house.

    It was a brave decision–one that our friends and family though we were crazy for doing–but now it’s catching on with all of them, too!

    Congrats on your breakup Kerry!

  11. Corinne February 10th, 2011

    I am going on my 9th year without a TV. LOVING IT!!!!
    I’m very happy you won your battle. Congrats!

  12. Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple February 10th, 2011

    Like Neil, I feel like we are very hard to advertise to. I’d never know what movies are coming out, if it weren’t for spouse’s subscription to Entertainment Weekly. My kid doesn’t even realize there ARE such a thing as commercials, except when we travel. Automatic skip on a DVR is a wonderful thing.

    We won’t give up cable (it’s a husband thing, and he doesn’t even watch sports). I probably could just go with internet and Netflix. Though it would be hard to wean myself from reality TV. That would save us $40 a month.

    In any event, I have a friend who canceled cable and went through the same thing. She ended up getting 3 months for free, then canceled at the end of the 3 months.

  13. Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple February 10th, 2011

    I have to say that I do have some sympathy for cable companies. They do employ people, from installation and maintenance to sales. Over the last few decades, cable has gone from an extra to almost a need (I don’t consider it a need, but most people do). They’ve been living high and now have to consider that people can get around it.

    My boss likes to talk about cell phones in the same way. Regular phones are so cheap because the government decided it was necessary and subsidized it. So … poof, now we have the cell phone, and the companies convince everyone that they “need” one, and they charge an arm and a leg, and no government subsidy involved! I can’t tell you how many times a week someone tries to talk me into a smart phone.

    FOr $160/month for the family, no thanks, especially when there is no coverage at my house (dead zone). I’ll still to our pre-paid/emergency/ $200/YEAR phones.

  14. Caitlin February 10th, 2011

    I cut my cable over a year ago. There wasn’t any sort of fight to let me go, either.
    I called in, said I wanted to cancel because we didn’t watch TV anymore, and the girl on the phone (after telling me it requires 30 days notice to cancel) said “So if you don’t watch TV, I can’t offer you any free upgrades to convince you to stay?”. I said no, and that was that. Poof, done.

    Though I do get a “we miss you” card (yes, and actual ad greeting card) in the mail about every month, but they’ve stopped being addressed to me personally and are now addressed to “Resident”. Ha.

  15. Mary February 10th, 2011

    For us it wasn’t about the money.

    My husband and I cancelled our cable several years ago because he was literally addicted – he could not walk by the television without turning it on. And when it was on, he couldn’t hear me. He would stay up far too late to watch sports scores and whatever else was even remotely entertaining. Poor guy, he is a major sports fan – any sport, any time. In any case, our relationship was actually suffering because of it. He agreed we would cut off our cable. He follows selected sports online now. And I hear him telling other people, with pride, that we are tv-free. He gets a kick out of people’s reactions.

    The most surprising reaction we get is from other parents of small children. When we say that our kids don’t watch tv, people are flabbergasted at how we manage to get through a day. Of course there are times when we pull out a DVD in sleep deprived desperation, but overall our kids seem to do just fine.

    When I phoned Bell Canada, we got the “what can I do to convince you to stay” talk. I told him that our marriage was going to end if we didn’t cut off our cable. The guy on the other end was speechless and we’ve never heard a word from Bell since.

  16. Loberries February 10th, 2011

    I’ve cut my cable very hesitantly,(a little less painfully than you, Kerry), and realized that it was the best thing I could have ever done! I no longer miss the TV (or the $70+ monthly bill) and appreciate that I can control when/how I watch. I currently use Netflix through my Wii and Hulu.com. Both services are more than enough television and movies to satisfy my appetite and my budget!

  17. ship carpenter February 10th, 2011

    I’m scared… I feel like the Alec Guinness character, Col. Nicholson, in ‘Bridge On The River Kwai’. “My God. What have I done.” Must… blow up… cable…. uuggghhh….

  18. Susan February 10th, 2011

    We’ve been without satellite for over 2 years now & had the same experience. We postponed the misery by taking them up on their offer of 6 months “vacation,” meaning they disconnected our service for 6 months in hopes of luring us back at the end. After 6 months, the calls started & we just turned it into a game to see how long they’d hang on. At one point when I told the rep that we no longer watched TV, she asked indignantly, “Well what are you going to do with no TV?” Now, 2 years later we get offers every week from our old providers. I don’t open them, but am sure to tell my husband he got something in the mail today! BTW, we subscribe to MLB.TV for our sports fix & do NetFlix for the rest. No more Reality TV! YAY us!

  19. marci357 February 10th, 2011

    18 yrs without it, then signed up for a 2 yr stint, mostly for the local weather news (which I can obtain when I want it on internet), for an occasional hallmark movie, and for cartoons for the grandkids when they were staying over.

    However, after 2 yrs of it, (out of contract) and watching the garbage and ads aimed at the grandkids, and moving, I called and canceled it. Maybe the “I’m Moving” part staved off the wooing, altho they did want to transfer service to the new home – I said NO, it’s a fixer upper, and until it’s fixed, I have no time and no money for TV…. A firm consistant NO seemed to be the answer to the end of wooing.

    Local weather I’m getting on internet, movies on tape from the library free, or hulu.com, and the grands and I are spending more time with games, homework, sewing, gardening, and quality time – with an occasional movie night at Grammi’s.

    No regrets :)

  20. Skitty February 10th, 2011

    I only have Comcast for the internet service. They tell me it’s cheaper with a bundle so I have it bundled with basic cable (that I don’t watch). It still costs me $60/month! (Comcast has a cable monopoly in our town.)

    Any ideas on high-speed internet access for less? Then I could cut the cable cord completely.

    Thanks!

  21. Bob February 10th, 2011

    I cancel cable three years ago. I still get calls from my old cable company asking me to sign up again. These calls were pretty regular, like once a day. I finally decided to answer their call one day and the salesperson try to convince me why tv was good and I tried to convince him how much my life has improved because of all the free time I have from not watching tv. After a while, the salesperson hung up on me. They stopped calling for a while, but after about a month, the calls started again. I just ignore them now.

  22. Mike February 11th, 2011

    Haha. This sounds like me. When canceling my services in the past, there’s been a few times when I’ve been honest with them (can’t justify paying that much money anymore, can’t only pay for the channels I WANT, etc) but more often I resort to lying. It’s just easier and they don’t have the comebacks for that.

    My favourite lie is usually that I’m moving to the United States and that I don’t need their services anymore.

  23. Jude February 11th, 2011

    I cancelled eight years ago – well, actually I moved and didn’t bother to sign up with them at my new place. To this day I get letters from the company begging me to pleeeeeeease sign a contract with them. At one point they offered me a free three month trial period, and I accepted. I cancelled half-way through because I wasn’t watching it. After reading this post and the comments here, I’m surprised I didn’t have more trouble cancelling it.

    I buy DVDs of every show I’m interested in, and it’s still cheaper than actually paying for a monthly subscription.

  24. My Own Advisor February 11th, 2011

    Fun post Kerry. Well done.

    I would like to get rid of my cable, but I REALLY need my sports. For me, it’s worth the cash. Some things in life are just worth it.

    That said, if the Ottawa Senators have a similar season next year (like this one), then I could be convinced otherwise.

    Cheers,
    My Own Advisor

  25. SavingMentor February 11th, 2011

    They never sweet talk you until you are ready to leave and then they are willing to give you everything under the sun to stay. That’s why I always encourage people to call the retentions department even if they are happy with their service. Chances are you can save 30% or more by threatening to cancel or getting them to match a better deal from a competitor.

    I haven’t had cable since I moved out of my parents house and I’ve never watched as much TV as I do now. I used to get by with buying and selling DVD seasons, renting, and Zip but for years now everything I could ever want to watch is available online free and legally.

    I also fortunately live in one of the few areas in the country where one of the primary internet providers still doesn’t have usage caps.

  26. Robyn February 13th, 2011

    Love you website, and have been following for sometime. I recommend you to all my friends especially those in university because you have such great tips. I can’t imagine spending money on cable with all the free online TV, plus I can watch it when I want and for the most part without commercials.

    My question to you, is how do you feel about cell phones vs landlines. Currently we only have a landline because I feel like there is no control with how the cellphone companies bill their customers. Any tips or suggestions on how to choose a company? Is it cheaper then a land line? HELP!

  27. Jenn February 13th, 2011

    I recently went cable/internet-free. Well, not completely internet-free, obviously. Instead of paying over $100 a month for cable and internet services through Comcast, I am using a digital converter box for TV (PBS cooking shows are just as good, if not better, as Food Network and the Cooking Channel!) and using my phone as a modem. I pay $15/month for tethering my phone to my computer, which is so much more affordable on a college kid budget.

  28. Kevin C February 15th, 2011

    Just broke up with Dish network via chat. They did punt me to a Loyalty agent (an Orwellian term if ever I’ve heard one), but the agent was very nice and helpful. He told me that there was no final bill, just the shipping charge. I used the chat print function to create a .pdf transcript of the conversation in case there are any disputes later. It was nice to feel like I was getting good customer service even as I was leaving.

  29. Rory February 22nd, 2011

    Nice work Kerry. Yeah, it’s not easy to live without tv at first but once it’s gone for a while, it’s easy to fill the time. I find that now that I don’t have cable that I enjoy it a lot more when I watch it at my parent’s house or at a friends. So it’s become like a treat for me… like unhealthy food almost.

  30. infinite banking February 24th, 2011

    my wife and i stopped paying for cable about three years ago and it has been great. we actually just got a blu – ray player that can stream netflix and that has been awesome. however the instant stream of titles is pretty slim.

  31. fairydust February 25th, 2011

    I didn’t try and break up over the phone or by chat. I unplugged our HD-DVR and took it and the remote out to the Comcast office along with a printout from their website of exactly what I wanted and how much I expected to pay for it — I dropped our TV cable down to the Basic level and I dropped our Internet down to the Economy high-speed level. Since I was still getting a “bundle,” the total came to $40/mo (I had been paying $145/mo for all the HD crap we didn’t watch). If I canceled the TV completely, the economy high-speed cable un-bundled would still be $40, so I kept the basic TV for the major networks (we still get them in HD).

    Anyway, there was a LOT of ticka-ticka keyboarding when I put the equipment down and told the lady what I wanted. She didn’t argue at all, gave me a confirmation number and said the tech would be out on X date but I didn’t need to be home because he’d be doing something with the cable wiring outside on the pole. Uh huh.

    That date came, and the tech called me from work, he was in my driveway wondering why no one was home. I told him I wasn’t supposed to be needed there, but he said he wasn’t doing anything outside and that he’d been told to pick up my equipment. I explained I’d already turned that in, so he laughed and left.

    Next monthly statement I get has a $10 service fee on it for the tech’s disconnect trip out to the house. I was so mad, especially since it was apparently a totally unnecessary trip. I called and got nothing but run around. It wasn’t until I blogged about my frustration and posted it on Twitter that the Comcast cust svc Twitter rep managed to get the $10 fee taken off our bill. Even then, we started getting phone calls wanting to discuss the situation. I never answered and didn’t call back. I seriously hate Comcast, but it’s all we seem to have in the area. :P

  32. Dr. Timothy Lawler February 25th, 2011

    Great freakin’ post! Hilarious and so damn true! I am currently deployed to Afghanistan, and when I get back, my wife and I are trying to decided about whether or not to keep our cable. I think your post and all the comments here just tilted me in the right direction (that is, kill the cable;)). Keep up the great posts!

  33. kim&lady March 4th, 2011

    When I gave up my cable years ago, I finally told the sales person I got rid of my tv, that I gave it to my sister because hers broke. The shocked reply was “You mean… you don’t even… have… a tv?” That did it. I used rabbit ears for a couple years then finally, sold the tv on Craigslist.

    tell em you gave up tv pretty much will end the conversation!

  34. sandy March 21st, 2011

    Dish Network got hundreds of dollars out of us when we cancelled. They had all kinds of excuses and lies. They even turned us over to collection, which was dropped. They sent us “we want you back offers” while we were receiving collection notices. They wanted me to collect parts from things they installed, way up there or pay for them. No, I’ll die trying to do that, you put them up there, you take them down! I will never do this again…No cable…no Phone…now, how do I get off the power grid???

  35. Lech Lesiak April 10th, 2011

    I haven’t had cable since 2004.

    Whenever I visit my son or daughter who do have it, I realize, again, how little there is on television that interests me.

    I have a 13-inch tv with rabbit ears that picks up five local channels in Calgary. I watch the national news on CBC once a week or so, and a couple of other programs.

    Other tv-based entertainment, e.g. Dexter, that appeals to me can be found on the internet, and watched without commercials. There is also a good deal of interesting material on youtube and google video.

    One of my frugal principles is “don’t pay for anything you can get for free”. Another is “eliminate the administrative hassles in your life”.

    Living without cable satisfies both principles.

  36. Jessica Peters December 28th, 2011

    When my boyfriend and I got a house together, we decided cable was an expense we didn’t need while we were just starting out (we were both moving out of our parents’ homes). Instead, we have Netflix. Even with both of us having accounts (we discussed only having one, but its only 7.99 a month..) we are no where near what it would cost to have satellite or cable. And really, most shows I like are on Netflix. Or I watch the other shows that aren’t on the internet or at my mom’s when I do laundry.

  37. JoeAverage January 1st, 2012

    I’m with Sandy. We quit Dish after about 12 years of subscriptions and they wanted us to pay for the shipping of the DVR to return it to them. As I recall it (though I’m not prepared to argue it) when I paid them $100 to upgrade to the DVR – it was supposed to be MINE. Same as the doo-hickey out on the satellite dish that they wanted back. I might have sold it. Well I sent it all back and they then said I owe them $16 for postage. I won’t pay it and they sent me to collections over it. I’m still not going to pay it.

    We quit cable before that after multiple increases over a year several years in a row and lousy reception. Satellite was MUCH better but what’s the point of paying for 100+ channels and watching 5 of them – and not even very often? Then there was the question of all the advertising aimed at making my children feel like they NEEDED every little trinket and constant servings of junkfood? One is already a “snack monster” (getting better as he has gotten into grade school).

    We’re using a Roku+Hulu+Google+Amazon. We’re not using Amazon much though so it might go away. We also enjoy many (dozen plus) of the free international channels and free music services like Pandora.

    What’s better is that our kids don’t endlessly sit in front of the TV all afternoon hoping that the next show will be more entertaining than the last. We still watch too much TV though – but then it’s cold and wet outside. I can see a point though where the kids will have watched their way through their favorites and they’ll be bored with even Netflix and thus more inclined to do something else. Our older child is already there. (YAY!)

    My wife and I love a good show or movie but with young kids in the house we’re really restricted to PG type movies since the kids are often in the room with us or nearby enough to hear/see questionable things. Anything exciting like a car chase attracts the kids like moths to a lightbulb but then car chases include a half dozen other problems – language, violence, etc.

    Am NOT going back to traditional subscription TV. Only thing I’d like to have more of would be European TV like the BBC iPlayer. The European independent channels often show alot of American shows and thus hold very little interest for me.

  38. JoeAverage January 1st, 2012

    One more thing – this Roku and their cousin devices like Google TV and AppleTV – prove to me that traditional subscription TV plans are obsolete. Alacarte pricing is the next step but satellite and cable won’t do it. Oh well. If channels are so bad that nobody wants to watch them, then why force me to include them in the package that I would be required to subscribe to?

    What’ll be interesting to me will be seeing how far the subscription companies fall before the business changes.

    Like so many other commenters above some of our family and friends think we’re nuts. Which is fine with us. ;)

    For the ones who spend many hours per week soaking up the popular network shows, popular entertainment trivia, who married/divorced/cheated on who and so forth – it has been a challenge to find something new to visit about. It’s reinforced our resolve though to not be one of those kinds of people whose lives revolve around this week’s big deal on pop TV.

  39. Jessica January 3rd, 2012

    My husband and I dropped cable like a hot potato when he and our roommates moved off campus. The local channels were more than enough for us, and we only watched two programs per week, anyway. Then, after moving into our own place, my husband and I dropped the television, altogether. Everything we want to watch is on Netflix, Hulu, or we own it.

    I should point out that, when we signed up for our internet service, we were GIVEN one free month of countless channels. It was kinda fun, but at the end of the month, we called and said, “No, thank you.”

    We’re never going to sign up with cable or satellite, but we might save up for a nice flat-screen in the future. We’d really only use it when guests come over, but then, we’re typically having too much fun playing a game or – brace yourself – TALKING.

  40. Ashley July 15th, 2012

    Wow unbelievable how difficult cable companies make it to get rid of them! The unfortunate thing about the National Do Not Call List is that any company you have had business dealings with in the last 18mths is legally allowed to call you. I found this out after I cut ties with my home phone company. They wouldn’t leave me alone for months! Finally I looked into the fineprint of the Do Not Call List and found that the company could still contact me for up to 18mths. I was relieved when that time was finally up and I was no longer being harassed by my former phone company.

  41. Joe Average July 16th, 2012

    And apparently if a person has a VA mortgage anyone and everyone who’d like to help you refinance is allowed to call too. We get daily calls from one company or another. Why would I do business with a company that does cold calls?

  42. Jody August 9th, 2012

    We don’t have cable (2 years now), and have HD tvs. What is amazing is that by still plugging into the cable line we still receive a few great channels! TVO (kids programs until 7pm), Global, CBC (kids programs until noon), NBC, local channel, 1 french channel, TSN, and W Network. I think we even have CTV in the crazy channels on our newest tv. We’ve even been able to keep up with the Olympics because of NBC and TSN!

  43. Emily August 9th, 2012

    I cancelled my DirecTV and bought a Roku box, which lets me stream movies and shows directly to my television instead of having to watch stuff on my laptop. We primarily watch Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Watch, although there are lots of other channels offering either free content or very low cost content. I found a free exercise channel that lets me watch yoga videos (my five-year-old son loves to do yoga with me) and there are a few kids’ channels that have limited content for free and more with something like $3 a month. And since I am a rabid Boston Bruins fan, I can pay for access to the NHL channel and watch my beloved black and gold on the ice. Even with that, it STILL comes out to way less money than I was paying for cable or satellite.

  44. Alice October 28th, 2012

    My TV broke. Best thing that ever happened to me.

    I highly recommend anyone to either pull the power plug or hide their TV for a while. You probably don’t need it at all.

  45. Jane January 2nd, 2013

    I just found your blog and LOVE it! I quit cable months ago, by convincing my roommate that paying 70$ a month for something we maybe only actually watched about 40 hours of a month was completely useless. I said that we should buy some of the seasons of shows we like on iTunes and Netflix. We made the switch and wouldn’t you know, we barely noticed! The only thing we noticed (other than the savings) is that we had the TV on less – we didn’t have it as background noise. Oh, and I can’t get Income Property which is pretty sad, but you can’t have it all.

    The Cable company called me basically every day or sent me things in the mail trying to convince me to come back. They tried every single tactic in the book – free cable, free PVR, free higher speed Internet (OH, as long as you get the free cable too). I frequently used the excuse “Well, wouldn’t I need to schedule an appointment for you to come and install it? I don’t have time for that”.

    Finally, I told them to stop calling me and to stop mailing me things. They didnt. They kept calling and finally I picked up (as I had now saved their number as DO NOT PICK UP in my phone) and said, “before you say anything, I want to tell you that I asked you to stop calling me and mailing me promotions and that if you wouldn’t, I would cancel my internet too”. Well, you can imagine how quickly they apologized and thus far, no further harassing phone calls.

  46. Linda January 18th, 2014

    In the latter part of 2013 I divorced and started planning ways to cut expenses. The first thing to cut was satellite tv. I cancelled the service first and sent the equipment back to the company. I secondly requested they put my telephone number on their Do Not Call Listing. I then purchased a Mohu HD tv antenna for $40 which was a breeze to set up and gets me about 12 channels including the ones I might need for news, etc. Signed up with Hulu Plus for $7.99 per month. Hulu Plus carries many television episodes with only a week delay between the most currently played episodes, plus old television shows and some British shows which are different and excellent. I still have to pay for internet services (e-mail and to play Hulu), but I need internet for work anyway. I’m saving nearly $90 per month by doing the above and I also watch less television and find other activities and interests are more fun. I wish I had done this years ago.

    I have some DVDs and Blue-Ray DVDS, especially holiday movies I like to watch from year to year. Old DVD player went on the blink last year, so replaced it with a Blue-Ray player. Instead of replacing my old DVDs with Blue-Rays which are much more expensive, I instead purchased a $40 upscaling Sony DVD player and can watch and trade movies with friends/family for almost nothing.

  47. Linda January 18th, 2014

    One more thing — I bought a MagicJack and hooked up for the sole purpose of using this extra phone line and number to give out when filling out forms, coupons, signing up for service of any kind, etc. because wave file messages will come directly to my e-mail as messages. I don’t keep the MagicJack hooked up with a ringing phone. Once you set up the e-mail and other services, you can unhook the telephone and just use it for an e-mail messaging service. This has saved me from tons of unwanted calls from telemarketers, etc. I list the MagicJack number on the Do Not Call Registry, but doesn’t stop lots of callers. This has been an inexpensive way to have a alternate phone number to give out when I don’t want anyone to have my REAL number that family, friends, and co-workers have but I can still receive messages from that occasional person or company I would possibly want to call back.

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