Author Topic: How to get my senior citz. parents TV without cable? 255$ month cable bill!  (Read 3022 times)

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Offline cdev

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They build the mistakes and overbillings they do into their software. I learned that years ago when my then girlfriend worked as part of an education overseas program for a while (she was in the former USSR, not long after the transition) suddenly the telephone provider started making a bunch of billing mistakes, all in their favor. This was before it was easy to use the Internet. There were only a few Internet providers then there and their service was funky at best.

you can bet I complained because the telecom firm was overbilling me quite a bit. I figured out that they must have thought I was Russian because who else would call there so often..(She had a lot of interesting stories to tell as you might imagine!)  Firms that provide telecom services are basically utilities and they have you over a barrel. Often they have near monopolies which makes them eager to milk the situation for all they can. And they do.

Unfortunately they also have international agreements that prevent governments from setting up alternatives of any kind..

The best option is probably to call Comcast and threaten to cancel and switch to something else. And be ready to follow through in case they’re dumb and not willing to come down a lot. But they likely will. You never get a good deal by being a loyal customer to a telecom company. You do the best by switching and availing yourself of new customer promos and the special deals the retention departments can offer when you threaten to leave.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2021, 05:02:25 pm by cdev »
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline SilverSolder

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I recently called my cable company to complain that my bill is too high compared to the prevailing market nowadays, and that I intended to switch to a competing provider.

Magically, they were able to halve my bill!   :-//
 
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Online nctnico

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Now I am starting to go grey so I am kind of old school, but I remember, when I was younger, television was completely free.
It isn't. Look up the ad revenues and (maybe) tax money that goes into making / distributing TV programs. You basically pay a TV advertisement tax on top of each and every product you buy. Heck even government information distributed through TV ads isn't for free so there goes your tax money. If you add it all up you'll see you pay a couple of hundred dollars a year!
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline james_s

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Buy the premium package and share it with the neighbours to split the bill?

That's a serious crime, get caught and you can get massive fines or even a prison sentence for it. Seems extreme to me, but it is what it is.
 

Offline james_s

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Here in the US its all about the upsell.. They want digital copy protection too. No "analog hole"

Their worry over the "analog hole" is totally ridiculous. Absolutely nobody is recording an analog video signal onto VHS or even digitizing it. HDCP was cracked wide open long ago, it's trivial to record a perfect digital copy of anything that can be displayed on a TV.
 
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Offline rdl

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Comcast will increase your price every year. It used to be around $10-15 but a few years back AT&T ran fiber through this area and the annual Comcast price hike has dropped to about $5. You can call and gripe to Comcast to get a reduced price but they make it an immense pain in the ass to do so. My rate has more than doubled in the last 10 years. I'm way overdue for calling to get a better price - mainly because I was thinking to switch to the AT&T service, but then Covid-19 happened.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Buy the premium package and share it with the neighbours to split the bill?

That's a serious crime, get caught and you can get massive fines or even a prison sentence for it. Seems extreme to me, but it is what it is.

It's what you get when industry lobbyists write the laws?   >:D
 

Online nctnico

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Here in the US its all about the upsell.. They want digital copy protection too. No "analog hole"

Their worry over the "analog hole" is totally ridiculous. Absolutely nobody is recording an analog video signal onto VHS or even digitizing it. HDCP was cracked wide open long ago, it's trivial to record a perfect digital copy of anything that can be displayed on a TV.
Media companies are about 20 years behind. It is only since a few years that you can buy MP3 without any kind of copyright protection. If they started doing that in the late 90's they would have killed off websites like Napster and Piratebay a long time ago just due to ease of use. It will probably be a while until you can simply download TV series from Netflix, Amazon, etc for reasonable prices.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2021, 11:25:51 pm by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 
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Offline james_s

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Media companies are about 20 years behind. It is only since a few years that you can buy MP3 without any kind of copyright protection. If they started doing that in the late 90's they would have killed off websites like Napster and Piratebay a long time ago just due to ease of use. It will probably be a while until you can simply download TV series from Netflix, Amazon, etc for reasonable prices.

Yes it was one of the blunders of the century, waging a futile war against digital downloadable media and insisting on cumbersome DRM technologies that resulted in the pirated content being more convenient and easier to use on top of being free. Had they embraced the 99c DRM-free digital downloads in the first place it would have taken the world by storm and they would have raked in millions as people buy all kinds of songs. 99c is well below the impulse purchase threshold for all but the most poor/frugal people, it's not even worth the trouble to pirate if you can just buy the songs you want for that price. Instead of embracing it though they fought tooth and nail to stamp it out, accomplishing nothing other than alienating large numbers of potential paying customers by refusing to sell them what they wanted, while rampant piracy thrived. By the time they finally came around, the piracy culture had a lot of momentum and after the extortion tactics (pay us thousands of dollars or go to court and risk owing hundreds of thousands) against the public, they earned very little sympathy. A former coworker had to pay $5,000 because it some content owner claimed his young daughter downloaded a few songs, whether it was her or her friend or completely bogus he didn't know, and he was not particularly fluent in English or familiar with the US legal system so he paid up, the alternative was the risk of being ordered to pay vastly more.
 
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Online rsjsouza

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Although the battle was fought for several years and at a certain point it was really clear it was futile (beginning of 2000s), you have to account for the fact that, for most of the century, they had an entire industry behind it: the disc press, artowrk and insert printing, box fabrication, distribution, etc. You don't turn this off wth a flick of a switch.

Also, the online marketing and distribution was still early and it was not universal by any means: lots of people distrusted internet transactions and, at least in Brasil, prices per song were disproportionally higher.

Despite MP3 format was king, the portable players were still raging a war pulling each to their standard - AAC, WMA, etc.
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Offline SilverSolder

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Funnily enough, vinyl records seem to be making a comeback, after all this...   the youngsters all want record players and records now, it seems!   :scared:
 

Online rsjsouza

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Funnily enough, vinyl records seem to be making a comeback, after all this...   the youngsters all want record players and records now, it seems!   :scared:
That is quite interesting due to the massive technological advance of the optical media, but not unheard. From time to time, nostalgia sets in a newer generation and creates these markets.

For some of us that had no choice but listen to our favourite song in a record scratched by accident, the aversion is more understandable.
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Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 
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Offline cdev

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For  an explanation of one argument for a revival of analog recordings, see here.

http://www.anstendig.org/mainpage.htm


Funnily enough, vinyl records seem to be making a comeback, after all this...   the youngsters all want record players and records now, it seems!   :scared:
That is quite interesting due to the massive technological advance of the optical media, but not unheard. From time to time, nostalgia sets in a newer generation and creates these markets.

For some of us that had no choice but listen to our favourite song in a record scratched by accident, the aversion is more understandable.
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Funnily enough, vinyl records seem to be making a comeback, after all this...   the youngsters all want record players and records now, it seems!   :scared:
That is quite interesting due to the massive technological advance of the optical media, but not unheard. From time to time, nostalgia sets in a newer generation and creates these markets.

For some of us that had no choice but listen to our favourite song in a record scratched by accident, the aversion is more understandable.


The social aspect of sitting down with friends, looking at album artwork and playing records while getting pleasantly intoxicated, is hard to recreate digitally!  :D
 

Offline DrG

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I know that I am entering the thread late, but I wanted to toss my two cents in anyways. I know that “seniors” are all individuals and what I am saying below does not apply to each one, but I have seen this repeatedly. Also, budgets are individual.

+1 on work with the cable company to lower the bill. If you have more than one cable company to choose from, you can get a target price and, yes, you need to be ready to change, but you probably will not have to do so and even if you do, they are all about the same. Cable TV companies as anything more than internet providers are on the way out IMO. I have successfully done “battle” with Cable TV for more than two decades. They raise the bill, I call to get it lowered – repeat every 6-12 months. I have had so many “special promotions”, it is a joke. I recently had a promotion that they said expired because it involved equipment that they no longer supported (but were still renting to me). The only reason I ever rented anything was to get some promotion that got rid of the $35 bill raise…..it goes on and on. I am always successful and it is always a battle and sometimes creates odd situations, but so far, I have prevailed.

-1 on any non-cable solution at this point and here is why… In my experience, many seniors do not want to learn new TV crap and it has nothing to do with not being technically inclined. I have seen this over and over again…accomplished professionals…years into retirement…they are frustrated with having to learn this ‘new’ technology because they have spent a lifetime where learning also means understanding. IOW they do not have the intuitive, “play with the app until you find that setting” that the 15 year old has. The difference is that the younger one has never known anything else. The seniors know what TV is to them and that it what they want – that is the place for TV in their lives.

When I have tried to teach some folks how to do something on a computer or cable TV or whatever, it can be painful. They want to know the exact steps and they want to write them down and they want those steps to be understandable and to work next week and next year. After all, they grew up with only a few channels on the TV and likely remember when UHF channels were added. They remember actual TV shows that came on at the same time, each week, until summer reruns.

They don’t need 4K or even 1080 because that is not, necessarily, their idea of TV. I try to appreciate where they are coming from and respect it as both their choice and moreover, a rational choice. The inclination is to get them to do all sorts of new things that are better – but they are not ‘better’ for them.

Of course there are exceptions. I have one relative…I set up his first phone many years ago (and subsequently others)…started to explain all of these other things – voicemail boxes, phone number lists, one button dialing, ring tones all that crap. He stopped me. He only wanted to know how to turn it on/off and dial a number – nothing else. To this day, I do not believe he has ever answered that phone (or that it has ever rung). To him, it is a portable phone booth and that is exactly how he wants it to be.

On the other hand, I once showed him how he could read newspapers from all over the world online. He liked that and he learned how to do that and he does it all the time – one of the few things he does online. If I want to send him a picture, I either send him hard copy prints or I email it to his daughter to be shown to him because he has no interest in email (again, if needed, he will have is wife or daughter do it for him). I accept that and I don’t try to change him unless he requests something specifically. That’s what I mean by respect.

So, I say, let them have their TV as close as you can get to how they want TV, regardless of what else they can get that is cheaper or “better”….and if you are paying for it, more power to you!
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Offline SilverSolder

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I notice in myself, as I get older, I really hate having to re-learn something I think I already know how to do. 

Turning on a TV and tuning in a channel just isn't something that should be complicated or require several Houston-level remote controls controlling multiple boxes to do...   that is just bad engineering.

Another example:  driving a car with too many controls to do a simple job is a real chore - I don't appreciate any of the benefits of a touch screen entertainment center in a car where I can't even find the button to turn the bl**dy thing on without pulling over and investigating the dashboard carefully and learn the "secret codes" just to listen to some music or news... WTF is up with that? - sheer incompetence. 

Nobody has tried swapping the brake and gas pedals yet, but you can be sure that if it wasn't because that is such an obviously bad idea that even a complete idiot can see how that is bound to fail, somebody would have tried it!  It plays out on only slightly less obvious levels every day.

None of the above means I won't put in the effort if there is something to be gained - like using a fitness tracker, or a cell phone, or a PC, or whatever. 

So, the main thing that happens to you as you get older seems to be:  you learn not to expend time and energy on poorly conceived and/or badly executed products!
 

Online rsjsouza

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For  an explanation of one argument for a revival of analog recordings, see here.

The social aspect of sitting down with friends, looking at album artwork and playing records while getting pleasantly intoxicated, is hard to recreate digitally!  :D
No question about the overall experience surrounded by friends and the crapiness that some of the most heavy handed digital re-mixing and re-mastering did to previous records, but the practical aspects are extremely unfavourable as well especially when listening on crappy 3-in-1 belt-driven systems or with bargain-store bought stylus.
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Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 

Offline SilverSolder

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[...]  the practical aspects are extremely unfavourable as well especially when listening on crappy 3-in-1 belt-driven systems or with bargain-store bought stylus.

Sure, but the girls never seemed to mind!  :D
 

Offline Beamin

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Here in the US the switch to digital TV was such a scam and it must have cost us all trillions upon trillions of dollars.

IMO they should have switched cable to digital and left the analog broadcasts in place, I suppose they couldn't have predicted the streaming revolution though. I think very few people today are even aware that it's possible to receive HD over the air, and it is of very little value. At least it isn't as scammy as "HD Radio", what a joke that is, proprietary and closed, almost nobody uses it, the only place it ever gained any traction at all is car radios. Analog radio is superior in almost every way.

Here in the US its all about the upsell.. They want digital copy protection too. No "analog hole"

Europe has DVB-T and better digital radio which is mostly free and popular. They are talking about getting rid of analog-FM too.

I use analog fm radio 24/7 would miss it. Almost went to digital but found alot of BS with a proprietary box and subscription fee , I just want classical commercial free background music while I sleep. Nothing fancy just some noise so the thoughts in my head dont drive me insane, im not paying for that either thats why its a not for profit station i contribute to once a year.

So look for a roku box or fire stick? Idealy it would be some sort of streaming interface with wifi on one end HDMI and a remote on the other. Then they buy a cable modem/router and take back the leased 14$/mo equipment. Thats what I did and lowered my internet bill 20%. Leasing the box used to cost 3$ a month now its 14$! WTF in 10 years. I bought a TPLink5ghz wifi/modem off amazon for 70 bucks shipped that pays for itself in months. That gets their base internet to 40$ a month then another40$ for netflix discovery+ HBO and another package. 80$ TV/internet bill with no slow as hell stupid cable box that costs 12$ a month to rent because its hidef. EVERYTHING is hidef how can they still charge extra? A coat hanger into the coax is high def now. Charge extra  :horse:
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Offline james_s

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I notice in myself, as I get older, I really hate having to re-learn something I think I already know how to do. 

Turning on a TV and tuning in a channel just isn't something that should be complicated or require several Houston-level remote controls controlling multiple boxes to do...   that is just bad engineering.

Another example:  driving a car with too many controls to do a simple job is a real chore - I don't appreciate any of the benefits of a touch screen entertainment center in a car where I can't even find the button to turn the bl**dy thing on without pulling over and investigating the dashboard carefully and learn the "secret codes" just to listen to some music or news... WTF is up with that? - sheer incompetence. 

Nobody has tried swapping the brake and gas pedals yet, but you can be sure that if it wasn't because that is such an obviously bad idea that even a complete idiot can see how that is bound to fail, somebody would have tried it!  It plays out on only slightly less obvious levels every day.

None of the above means I won't put in the effort if there is something to be gained - like using a fitness tracker, or a cell phone, or a PC, or whatever. 

So, the main thing that happens to you as you get older seems to be:  you learn not to expend time and energy on poorly conceived and/or badly executed products!

This is a huge pet peeve of mine, there are so many new things I want to learn that I hate having to re-learn old stuff just because someone decided to make changes for the sake of changes so that something would be "new" and "fresh". My dad had a late model Tesla and there was hardly a physical switch in that car, absolutely everything was controlled by a giant touchscreen, I hated it. Even regular cars have gone in that direction, "clean" dash layouts that have just a few buttons to navigate multifunction displays. One of the things I love most about my car is that there are rows of physical switches, buttons, knobs and sliders. I know every one of them by feel and can operate everything without taking my eyes off the road. I really hate the obsession with "clean" interfaces, which just means create extra work by hiding everything under layers. It's like the idiotic parametric search on Digikey that makes you click a button EVERY TIME in order to access the parameters you need EVERY TIME. I encounter that same thing more and more elsewhere too. If it's something I use frequently, I want it all laid out logically in front of me, it isn't clutter, it's tools that I use.
 
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Offline cdev

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I notice in myself, as I get older, I really hate having to re-learn something I think I already know how to do. 

Turning on a TV and tuning in a channel just isn't something that should be complicated or require several Houston-level remote controls controlling multiple boxes to do...   that is just bad engineering.

Another example:  driving a car with too many controls to do a simple job is a real chore - I don't appreciate any of the benefits of a touch screen entertainment center in a car where I can't even find the button to turn the bl**dy thing on without pulling over and investigating the dashboard carefully and learn the "secret codes" just to listen to some music or news... WTF is up with that? - sheer incompetence. 

Nobody has tried swapping the brake and gas pedals yet, but you can be sure that if it wasn't because that is such an obviously bad idea that even a complete idiot can see how that is bound to fail, somebody would have tried it!  It plays out on only slightly less obvious levels every day.

None of the above means I won't put in the effort if there is something to be gained - like using a fitness tracker, or a cell phone, or a PC, or whatever. 

So, the main thing that happens to you as you get older seems to be:  you learn not to expend time and energy on poorly conceived and/or badly executed products!

This is a huge pet peeve of mine, there are so many new things I want to learn that I hate having to re-learn old stuff just because someone decided to make changes for the sake of changes so that something would be "new" and "fresh". My dad had a late model Tesla and there was hardly a physical switch in that car, absolutely everything was controlled by a giant touchscreen, I hated it. Even regular cars have gone in that direction, "clean" dash layouts that have just a few buttons to navigate multifunction displays. One of the things I love most about my car is that there are rows of physical switches, buttons, knobs and sliders. I know every one of them by feel and can operate everything without taking my eyes off the road. I really hate the obsession with "clean" interfaces, which just means create extra work by hiding everything under layers. It's like the idiotic parametric search on Digikey that makes you click a button EVERY TIME in order to access the parameters you need EVERY TIME. I encounter that same thing more and more elsewhere too. If it's something I use frequently, I want it all laid out logically in front of me, it isn't clutter, it's tools that I use.

I get the feeling much of it is feature creep thats intended to reduce the amount of time before you buy another one, without being too obvious about it.
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline pardo-bsso

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Turning on a TV and tuning in a channel just isn't something that should be complicated or require several Houston-level remote controls controlling multiple boxes to do...   that is just bad engineering.


Ramen to that.

I remember as a child having to stand up and turn a wheel that made a very satisfying 'clunk' noise to change the channel.
Now the tv takes about three seconds to do that.
 

Offline james_s

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The thing that really made analog TV superior for me is that you could flip the channel and it was virtually instantaneous. Now digital TVs all take several seconds to lock and start decoding the stream and that just feels like an eternity. Not that it really matters anyway, the logos ("DOG"s) annoy me too much to watch.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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It is almost like we've gone full circle, having to wait for tubes to warm up before we can use the equipment!  :D

 

Online rsjsouza

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We did come full circle. Any solid state analog TV at power on shows an image faster than the latest models of a digital one. Shameful, really.
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Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 
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