The Abusive Relationship That Is the American Cable Industry

I just got done reading I Fought the Cord and the Cord Won over at MacWorld. It is a well-written article that examines one man’s attempt to divest his family of cable television and to use Internet-based alternatives, an option that is becoming increasingly more attractive for many and one that I have been using happily for several months now.

I’ve always been somehow distrustful of any commercial relationship that is based upon negotiation or haggling. I’m certain this is naïve of me, to be honest, because the larger a transaction is, the more likely it is to require haggling: purchasing a house, a car or even negotiating your salary at a job, for example. But for smaller purchases, the merchant should simply state what they consider a fair price and then it is up to me whether I want to pay it or not. It makes me more comfortable to deal this way because then I feel that the merchant is treating me equitably and helps me trust them more.

But when someone tells me a price and then when I say no and begin to walk away they tell me a new, lower price, I feel like they were trying to cheat me. I feel as if the original price wasn’t a fair one, but a price that they were quoting me to see if I was a sucker, a mark, a chump. And so now, how can I trust that the new price is truly any more fair or just another step along the way to see how much of a sucker I am?

Yet, this is how the American cable industry constantly does business with their special offers to get you to switch providers and their deals to get you to stay, but that always have an expiration date. Not to mention the bundles and the packages, always trying to maximize the amount of money they get out of you each month. How many times have you come away from one of these negotiations and known exactly what your monthly bill was going to be? And how many times have you been correct? For me the answers are “almost never” and “not one single time”.

So, with the exception of the Internet service (that I desperately wish there was an alternative to, though where I live there are at least two choices), I cancelled my subscriptions from the cable company in favor of services such as Netflix, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video that tell me what they’re going to charge me … and charge me exactly and only that.

Anything else is just someone trying to put one over on you …


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