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May 5, 2013

If You Don’t Read the Fine Print of Cable Ads…

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:09 am

If you don’t read the fine print, particularly in ads from cable companies, you could get snookered.

Example 1:

Cox advertised high speed Internet for only $19.99 per month for two years.



When you clickthrough, you realize that you have to buy cable TV service for an unstated price, but if you only want Internet service, it is $10 higher — $29.99 but only for three months.


Why couldn’t Cox simply advertise in the first place: “Buy cable TV service, get high speed Internet for only $19.99/mo for two years” ?

Example 2:

The promotion of triple plays (TV, Internet, and telephone) is common among cable companies so one always seems to try to outdo the other. Here’s a deal from Charter: HDTV, Internet and Phone for only $29.99 a month. Wow, sign me up.



If you look carefully, in tiny print, you can see the word “each.” So the real price is $89.97 a month. Word has it that Comcast in the recent past had a similar ad that conveyed the impression to some people that you got all three services for only $29.99 a month.

Example 3:

It is common to see triple plays advertised for $99, but during special promotions you can sometimes find even lower prices. Just last week, Verizon FiOS advertised a really low price — $69.95 for all three services.

Verizon FiOS

When MrConsumer clicked through, he discovered there was no such price.


Verizon FiOS

The lowest price shown was $79.99, and the $69.99 was nowhere to be found. Now it is possible that the $69 price was only for certain parts of the country, but there was no fine print in the original ad suggesting that.

The bottom line is that these companies should play it straight. Tell the consumer what the real offer is upfront, without having to resort to fine print or trickery.

Disclosure: MrConsumer is a member of Verizon’s Consumer Advisory Board.

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  1. Even if you get the ‘right’ price after ordering you find on your bill tons of fees and other costs that weren’t disclosed. A $99.99 month deal for 3 months with Comcast is more like $121.32 a month after you pay rental fees on equipment and all the little service fees for phone. They should just include those in the offer and make it flat. 125 a month for all 3 services. No surprises, no hidden costs. You’d still pay them but without all the tack on stupidity or surprise.

    Comment by jt4703 — May 5, 2013 @ 9:24 am
  2. What’s the fun in being upfront with potential customers? We just saw what a failure that was for JC Penny. For the time being consumers are just not mature enough to handle it.

    Comment by Wayne R — May 5, 2013 @ 9:41 am
  3. And with Charter’s great deal ‘restrictions apply’. No way in heck would they even give this permanently disabled, loyal customer of nearly seven years this one year ‘deal’ as a reprieve for that loyalty. I will say that at least Charter is considering a discount to those who are disabled in the near future though; hopefully it’s before I pass away because of my disability – LOL 😉

    Comment by Deeli — May 5, 2013 @ 10:00 am
  4. My local phone company (also in the internet and TV business) makes pinning down certain deals like a hunt for buried treasure, then a shell game, then playing dumb when the bill comes.. By several experiences through the years, the prices differ based on the URL you enter, or what you click when you first get there, or if it senses you’ve visited before.

    For my last deal, I was ready. I entered the on-screen URL from the TV commercial which advertised the tier and price I wanted–including free modem after rebate. After two attempts and a phone call, the order went through. Long story short, I wad charged for the modem and was told that deal was for cell customers only. I asked for cancellations, saying I couldn’t stand being lied to. They found the deal quickly then!

    Comment by Duval — May 6, 2013 @ 7:57 am
  5. Deeli, I am sorry that you are disabled BUT why should you get a discount because you are disabled?

    Comment by Gert — May 6, 2013 @ 11:39 am
  6. It fully stinks this occurs, but I do not like any of them though.

    The only good cable TV and Internet provider is Google Fiber right now…

    Comment by Richard Ginn — May 6, 2013 @ 5:11 pm
  7. You’re on a Verizon Consumer Advisory Board? Ask them why they can’t give me a price on one of these bundles. I called and asked what the total price would be including all taxes and fees. They said it depends on my local taxes. I said yes, but I gave you my address. Still they said they couldn’t tell. How will you send me a bill then?, I asked. Argh. I know they just don’t want to admit how much more it will be than the advertised price.

    Edgar replies: My understanding is that the sales people don’t have full access to the billing department’s info on full prices. They could give you some idea, but apparently not to the penny. I will raise this issue at our next meeting in the fall.

    Comment by Bert — May 6, 2013 @ 11:21 pm
  8. Yeah, Deeli, not sure what being ‘disabled’ has to do with any discount or customer loyalty. These companies don’t take ability, disability, race, creed, color or gender into any of their devious practices. It’s pretty much equal opportunity to screw all of us over. Time Warner employs their own brand of ‘specials’ too. So, it’s really not necessary to play your ‘disability’ card on every situation.

    Comment by Karla — May 12, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

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