Monday, July 27, 2009

And Then She Ripped the Cable From the Wall and Hung Herself

Obviously I'm trying to avoid the above scenario, so I'm in desperate need of advice over something really critical:

Which Internet provider/phone company/technology to use?

Here is our current scenario:

We have two cell phones with unlimited in-network calling and some number of minutes that I can never keep track of. $80.

We have cable through Comcast (mostly for Plantboy) as well as high speed cable Internet (mostly for STM). $90. I've called frequently to negotiate pricing and they usually bite for a few months but then jack the price back up.

Because I was overshooting my minutes when we initially moved here, I picked up a landline through Vonage. My initial price there was about $15. Currently, $25. I tried to cancel a while ago, but I hadn't been with them long enough and was going to have to pay a hefty-ish cancellation fee. I have now been with them long enough to avoid said fee if and when I cancel.

In other words, it is costing me around $200/month to stay in contact with the outside world, which seems ridiculously expensive. Some things have recently shifted for us--we are moving our computer to another room and need the cable dude to come anyway to hook it up in the new spot, though wireless is seeming more appealing all the time; our phone contract is up for renewal and Verizon has a new and improved family plan; and I'm thinking about DVR.

Options:

1--Chuck everything and just buy a bunch of stamps. (You remember stamps, don't you?) And a rotary phone.

2--Ditch Vonage and go to cell phone only with the increased minutes plan (pros and cons for those of you who have tried this?)

3--Write a nasty letter to Comcast telling them where they can stuff all the money I've sent their company over the last few years. But then I'm left looking for somebody else to do Internet and Cable.

4--Don't succumb to the DVR, or do. (Movie trivia: "Technologically speaking, the world is out of hand; I mean, take the VCR, for example, the whole idea behind the VCR is that it makes it possible for you to tape what's on television when you leave the house. Of course, the whole idea behind leaving the house is so you can miss what's on television.")

So how do you manage all of this vitally important stuff? How have you found the best deals? Who are your providers? Does ANYBODY out there feel like they are getting their money's worth? Or, if you have nothing to add, just throw out random bits of your favorite movies from the nineties.

But mostly, be quick. I'm probably going off-line for a few days starting tomorrow. (Yes, yes, I'm hoping to survive it.)

11 comments:

Janssen said...

You've Got Mail ("Thank yer, ladies and gentlemen").

We have no home line, just two cell phones on a shared plan and that's worked fine for us (and nice that it doesn't matter if we're NEVER home during the school year).

Every now and again Bart mentions how he wants cable and I smash that idea in the bud, more because I am SO opposed to paying for it than that I'm so opposed to having cable, although I am aware of my tendency to get sucked into to TV and thus would rather avoid it.

Z. Marie said...

I liked Vonage when we had it. Have you considered Magic Jack?
One thing to consider with either of those or cell phones, though, is 911. It's one thing to teach your kids to dial it. It's another for them to be able to say their address clearly enough for an operator to understand.

Lady Susan said...

We have a land line strictly for church related things. None of us are too keen on church members having full access to our cell numbers. But that could be due to our ward being like it is.

As for the other things....can't really help you.

Sherry said...

We have cells only. We are fine with that. If we don't want people to reach us, we just don't answer our phones. Sometimes we pretend they are home phones and leave them at home.

We have cable, but we'd never pay for it. (It comes with our apartment).

Wireless Interent is awesome, just makesure you have a good router. Ours cuts in and out a lot, and it's very annoying.

And here's something I read about using Skype as a landline. It may be worth your while: http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2008/08/use-skype-witho.html

Karin said...

We used Skype all the time in the Villa and now it's even better.

I hate cable. Both J and I get into way too much trouble when we have something that emits lights and keeps us entertained. The kids also forget who they live with and start bickering with everyone they see( as well as asking for every product on the commercials).

thus...we have VOIP phone and internet through the same company and forgo the cable. We also have a family plan for cell phones.

Altogether we pay: $64 phone/internet
$20 cell phone (to my mom)

we don't have to pay J's bill, his company does that.

The voip co we use is based in Utah county, but there have got to be others out there. Can you get an internet deal through vonage? 911 service was never an issue for me until I actually had to use it, now it's essential. Skype didn't have flawless 911 service back when I was researching, but it's been a few years. The thing I hated about just the cell phones was if I lost it...then it died...we did that for a while on Ogden and I lose enough stuff that I really *needed* that page button on my cordless phone.

Sorry, I wrote a novel. I feel your pain. I hate qwest with a passion, comcast jumped on that hatred a few years ago...it's the Big Corporate Man. We should just spurn them all.

;-)

Scully said...

I would suggest ditching cable. I am a self-proclaimed tv addict and I can watch (LEGALLY) pretty much everything I am addicted to online. Hulu.com is my best friend, especially now that Disney/ABC joined Fox and Universal/NBC in the endeavor. Plus, most networks have episodes on their websites for a short time. Plus, a lot fewer commercials to deal with. The only problem I have found is shows like So You Think You Can Dance, which have complicated copyright issues regarding songs and choreography. But check out the websites for the things you guys watch and see if you can't get rid of cable. The added bonus of online viewing is that it is pretty much like a DVR, only with a few time restrictions, depending on the shows.

CaLM RAPIDS said...

We were looking into this recently. We found the best deal with AT&T. Their uverse package included cell phones, internet, land line, cable the whole deal and would cost us only $20 more per month than what we're paying now to add the cable.

We're not going to go with it though because we don't want the cable. I know, we're weird that way. We tried cable for a while and the tv was on constantly cause we wanted to get our money's worth out of it. It finally drove me crazy and we pulled the plug. We'll try it again when we get some kids out of here and we can have more control over the remote.

CaLM RAPIDS said...

p.s. we've had a bad history with comcast. I personally think they're dishonest and would recommend to anyone that is thinking about going with comcast to run the other way.

Christie said...

We've been tightwads forever. I only got my own cell phone this summer (to share with son who will be on golf team) through Trac Phone. ($21.99 for phone, service thru 11/2/09 and 80 minutes.) We have cable, but it's the cheap-o plan they offer here -- $10.99/month for mostly local channels. High-speed internet thru Comcast: $42.99/month -- my big splurge.

Pretty much, if you want to cut costs, you'll also have to cut your wants/expectations. That's the bummer about saving money. The sad truth is that you usually get what you pay for.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

Thanks for all of your input. It is plain to me, however, that everyone's technology needs are so different.

We were without anything but the most basic channels for a couple of years, and Plantboy was very patient about not asking every day for some sports to watch. Then one day I realized that I would feel rather unhappy without my ability to social network and that watching sports probably felt a bit the same for him. So when the student loan was no longer outstanding, we replaced that payment with a cable.

Because of my newspaper route I already watch a lot of programs on-line--everything is an hour later here than in Utah or Texas. We probably would switch to something like Hulu if our computer screen was a bit bigger.

The upshot of all of this conversation here is that I called and cancelled Vonage yesterday and upgraded our phone plan so we are all mobile; After calling around some alternative television providers and a wireless place, I called Comcast and said, "You have a lot of deals to attract new customers, but what can you do for a customer who has been with you a few years and is thinking of changing?" They took $15 a month off both bills for the next year and threw in a nearly free DVR. So in a year I'll go through this again, I guess.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

PS Janssen is, of course, right about the movie reference. Bragging rights go to her. (By the by, You've got Mail is pretty much one of my favorite movies ever.)