Triple pay

The News had a story on the “triple play” packages being offered by your local communications companies. The triple play is the bundling of a home phone service, TV, and internet all by the same provider for a theoretically better price. I say “theoretically” because while the price is almost certainly always better than if you paid the full a-la-carte price for each of the services independently from a single provider, you still might be able to get a better deal by not switching to the triple play.

I’ve written about my Time Warner befuddlement in the past. Recently, in yet another attempt to cut the cost of my various telecommunications connections, I decided to give Time Warner a call and inquire about signing up for the triple play myself. I already have digital cable and Roadrunner, and one of the more recent flyers that came out said adding the Home Phone service would be a $99/mo package, with “Price Lock Guarantee” – Time Warner’s version of a contract commitment, which ironically they publicly berate satellite providers for doing. I figured if I could get into the triple play package for $99, I would almost be getting my phone service for free. Of course, I knew I had about $10/mo in addons for DVR service and cable equipment and taxes and fees are always extra. So I called, told the girl I was interested in adding home phone service. She punched in some numbers and said it would run me about $140/mo. Ok, what about with the 2 year contract? About $130. Why so much more than the $99/mo, other than the addons I knew I would had? Because what they don’t tell you in the flyer is that for $99 they downgrade your internet speed to the lowest possible option. So if I wanted to keep my decent internet speed, it was $10/mo more than that, plus a little blah blah and yadda yadda and before you know it, you’re locked into a 2 year contract at not that great of a price.

So I told the woman, I currently had Verizon’s Voicewing VOIP as my home phone service and that since their triple play pricing with a 2 year contract was about the same as me not switching to them and getting locked into a $150 early termination fee, I had no compelling reason to make the switch. She said, “Sorry we couldn’t help you” and that was that.

The article in the News mentions one of the main reasons companies like offering the triple play:

“The bundles are just a marketing thing,” said Schmelz of Intertech. “In the pay-TV world, it is called a retention tactic.”

Retention is good for companies, but not necessarily for their customers. Households tend to stick with their bundle provider because it’s so much harder to ditch three services— and all their equipment — than one.

So remember – if you’re up bat and trying to score some runs savings for your home team, remember – the triple play may be one you don’t want to hit into.

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