Ordering cable TV has become routine for many people, but if this is your first time as a homeowner to make that phone call, here are some mistakes you will want to avoid.

  1. Jumping From Package To Package – The ads for Cable TV are everywhere. It is possible to lower your Cable TV bill by checking out the new packages being offered by competitive companies. Just be aware of your current contract requirements. It may be in your best interest to wait until your current contract is up or ask if your Cable TV provider will honor competitor’s prices.
  2. Read The Fine Print – Most Cable TV contracts have clauses you need to understand. Specials may be in effect for only 3-6 months of a required 12-24 month contract. Breaking a contract anytime before the 12-24 months is up may cost you a higher rate for the time you used. Read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. Be aware of what the charges are at the end of the special for the remainder of your contract.
  3. Getting Out Of Current Contract – It never fails. You just chose a package for Cable TV service and a week later that bundle goes on special. Will your Cable TV provider honor the special? Are there clauses in your contract that will punish you for breaking it to take advantage of a better special rate?
  4. Cabling – Cable TV requires ‘cables’ to run through your house to the areas where you will be using your television set. If you are in an area that is receiving cable TV for the first time, your home probably doesn’t have this cabling in the walls. It will need to be installed. Verify with the cable company that this part of the installation will be provided at no cost, and what concerns there may be about the difficulties involved.
  5. Package Addons – One of the features of new Cable TV package deals being advertised is the addition of premium movie channels or sports channels free for 1-3-6 months. Many subscribers fall into not canceling these free services before the time is up. They are shocked to receive the next bill with monthly subscription fees added for these channels. To protect yourself, cancel these free services as soon as possible or mark a date on your calendar to cancel them before the billing cycle begins.
  6. Bundling – Many Cable TV companies offer bundling packages. You get a special rate for combining Cable TV, internet service, and telephone service through the same provider. If you decide to split these services anytime during a current contract, you may be liable for additional costs.
  7. Gadgets – Another popular gimmick of Cable TV companies is to offer additional gadgets free or for a nominal fee. A TiVo box is a good example. The initial offer may be for a $1/month additional charge on the package deal you have selected. When you renegotiate a new package, your next bill shows you are being charged an additional $20/month for that TiVo box.
  8. Additional Charges – Cable TV package deals may appear to be a good price. Be aware that there are also additional charges that are not reflected in the deal. Equipment rental fees are prime examples. The remote control for each of your TVs, each cable box, DVR all add monthly rental fees. Then there are franchise related costs, franchise fees, FCC fees, state license fees, universal connectivity charge, 911 fees, state taxes, modem lease, voice/data equipment, not to mention PPV charges and long distance calls that increase your monthly bill. When discussing a package with your Cable TV provider, ask for the total bill cost before you commit. If you bundle, know which telephone and internet services are included such as program guides and station blocking.
  9. Guarantee – A guarantee is something new for Cable TV companies. Rather than lose a subscriber, they are willing to renegotiate contracts or change services and equipment to satisfy the customer. There may also be a trial period to see if your package meets with your approval. Again, before signing, see what guarantee is available and get it in writing. Know what penalties exist if you opt out of a package deal.
  10. Customer Service – It is important to know where you are to turn if you have problems with your Cable TV service. Will there be an additional charge for a technician to come out and look at the problem? Does your Cable TV company provide service calls on nights, weekends, and holidays? Is there a means of negotiation on a dispute of services or charges? Always arm yourself with phone numbers and names before you commit.

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