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How To Avoid Hidden Fees from your Cable Company

By Chris Bibey

hidden fees from cable companyFor many people, watching television is a way of life. Even when money was tight, many keep their cable service because it is one of their only sources of entertainment. While cable television is more expensive than ever, you may be spending on more than just service. I don’t know about you, but every time I get my cable bill, I feel like the price has gone up. Over the past month, I have been hit with several “hidden fees” by my cable company. Along with this, I have learned of additional fees by calling around and speaking with other providers.

Below are several fees that your cable company may try to sneak into your bill:

1. Activation fee. Are you moving into a new home? Do you simply want to add a new service to your existing cable package? If so, you should ask about an activation fee before you move forward. Upon activating my cable service, my company charged a $49 fee. While this is something they told me about upfront, I was still unhappy to see it on my bill. The way I see it, paying approximately $100 per month for cable and internet is more than enough. Apparently, they don’t feel the same way. You should always call and try to get this fee removed. Depending on who you get on the other line, you might be able to get the fee waived. If you have another cable provider in your area, threaten to switch or point out that their activation fee is less.

Since I did not get all my services installed at once, I was actually billed a second activation fee. I let the first one slide. With the second one, I called to see if there was anything they could do for me. Since I paid the first time, they agreed to waive the second fee.

2. Cancellation fee. My current provider, Comcast, does not charge a cancellation fee. I can leave at anytime without having to pay an extra charge. That being said, not all companies are the same. As I was shopping around for service, I also spoke in great length with Verizon. One of the biggest drawbacks of their service was the $360 cancellation fee that goes along with a two year contract. While this is prorated at $15/month, it is something that I was a bit concerned about. No matter which provider you choose, make sure you clarify the cancellation policy.

3. You can’t upgrade two services at the same time without paying extra. I found out about this last week and was quite stunned. During a technical assistance call with a Comcast support representative I was told that I could not have two upgrades on my account at the same time without paying an additional fee. The rep had no explanation for this. All he said was that this is “company policy” and there was nothing that could be done. So, instead of getting both upgrades during the same service call, I had to schedule two. More on this in #4 below.

4. Service call fee. Every time Comcast visits my home, and comes inside to take a look at something, no matter what it may be, I am charged a service call fee. While I can understand this in some situations, there are other times when it just doesn’t make sense. For example, what if the problem is caused by something on their end, such as malfunctioning equipment? Why would the customer have to pay for this?

To avoid future issues, anytime I make a service appointment, I am sure to ask if there are any fees involved. If there are, I want to know what they are for and how much it will be. If it’s a problem with their equipment or the service coming into your home, you should not pay for a service call fee, and you should speak to a manager if they still insist on charging you this fee.

5. Installation fee. This is separate from an activation fee and can include anything from installing a router for your computer to running a new cable line. Over the years, I have found that every service comes with a different fee. Again, I suggest you ask about this when making your appointment as well as before the tech begins the work. You might be able to get a friend or family member to hook up the router or the cable box if you’re not good with electronics. Why spend $25 to $100 having the cable guy do it?

The cost of cable is already out of control. If you want to keep your costs to a minimum, do what you can to avoid the fees outlined above, and remember, asking for a reduced fee or the fee to be waived works quite a bit, so don’t be shy about asking. On this note, don’t forget to check out some of my other tips on how to save money by asking for a discount.

(photo credit: stickwithjosh)

Chris Bibey
Chris Bibey is a freelance writer who over the years has honed his personal finance experience by writing more than 100 feature articles on the subject. In his spare time, Chris enjoys sports - West Virginia football in particular!

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  • http://www.harborfinancialonline.com Ann Foster

    Where I live we have to live with Charter for cable. I cant think of hardly a person that likes dealing with Charter.

    ann_[email protected]

  • http://www.pfsdebtrelief.com Stephan

    ya cable companies just dont know when enough is enough. Between the regular monthly fee, taxes, hd fees, DVR fees, etc etc the actual price they quote you on is usually only around 70-80% of the total monthly price you will have to pay. Very frustrating, just like the cell phone companies!!

  • http://www.jgw-annuity.com/ James

    i am 100% over all the fees that associated with sign-up and cancel. I mean come on do you really need to nickle and dime everyone. its not even really nickle and dime its more ($100).

    i am sure sign-ups and cancellations make up for at least $2 to $5 million dollars each year for some big companies.

  • Brian

    I use to live it charter area and I thought they were bad, now I live in exspensivecast area (comcast). They will charge you for anything that can be charged for. They offer promotions and when they end they wonder why the customer calls up and wants to cancel a service. The bill doubled! thats why. With comcast if you just want internet you will be paying 15 bucks more, and some areas that will break 70 bucks for internet!

    I recently canceled my internet with comcast and inquired about that excessive penalty fee. They tryed to justify it as hard as they could. Even trying to offer me 1m/384k internet for 40 bucks, I laughed and said I can get 6/768 with att for that price. So I am staying with att now for dsl and phone and will be canceling cable tv in october, so I will be comcast free. Stay away from comcast if you can.

  • Brinksa13

    With Verizon, they quoted $92 per mo for cable (2 tvs) and Internet. Then, during installation, it went to $102 per month because we needed the receiver (duh!!!). This gets better… THEN it went to $114 per month because we were told that we were quoted the SPANISH bundle vs. The English bundle. R U F K M???

  • Jlarson139

    What about single service fee?

  • StalePhish

    Just moved and got Comcast hooked up at my new home. The package we got (Blast Plus) is supposedly $80/mo, but there are a bunch of hidden fees. First, it doesn’t even come in HD so you need to pay $10 to have HD, and then you need to rent one cable box per TV set (the first one is free, and $7-10 for each additional box). This means that the $80 I was expecting is suddenly around $140+ per month! Ridiculous

  • JAN

    So I get my cable service 3 months ago and yesterday I disconnected HBO, SHO, and Starz I didn’t want to pay the additional 35dlrs a moth fee. On my next bill however I came to find out my service bill WENT UP! not im paying more than if i would have left the original price. How do they get away with this?

  • Barbara

    AT&T quoted me a price of $130 a month and every month it has gone up now it’s $164. Most of the tax’s are local and state call your City Hall and ask what they are doing with your tax money. I like many USA citizens can’t afford the cost of living let alone cable company’s ripping us off. Only 1% of Americans have 98% of the wealth. Do you really thing your vote counts? We need to unite and email, write or call Washington so they really know we are tried of paying for the wealthy. Obama tried but Congress stops everything he tries to do to help the poor. We need to make them stop letting companies out source our jobs. I don’t know about you but I’m tried of call a USA company and talking to someone that can’t speak English. We have to many homeless even the Vets coming home after defending our country can’t find work. Something is wrong with one of the WEALTHEST nations in the world letting it’s people starve. If you don’t understand what am talking about then your one of the wealthy ones. Did you know their are people on Disability that shouldn’t be, of course you do. But what is being done? I know a person that is on disability that needs back surgery he was told he could get it in TWO years. Why? Shouldn’t they get him back surgery right a way and get him back in the work force? NO, they give him a whopping $750 a month to live on and $7 a month in food stamps. How can anyone live today on that amount of our money? It costs more then $7 just to make the food stamps. But they keep on doing it. Something needs to change and it won’t until everyone does something! If you don’t like my thoughts start asking around and see what people are saying. We need to change our country for our children. There are way to many homeless.

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