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Time Warner Cable’s New Customer Promotions Sound Better Than They Actually Are

Phillip Dampier February 5, 2013 Competition, Consumer News, Time Warner Cable/Spectrum 8 Comments
Zombie bill.

Zombie bill.

Time Warner Cable has pulled back on their winter promotions for new customers, bundling slower broadband and significant equipment fees into the bottom line price that may cost as much as $20 or more than the cable operator’s advertising suggests.

Several readers contacted Stop the Cap! over the last few weeks about the disparity between Time Warner’s advertised new customer pricing and the out the door price that arrives on the first month’s bill.

Diane, a Stop the Cap! reader in Brockport, N.Y., was attracted to an $89.99 triple play promotion for TV, Internet, and phone service until she learned what did not come with the deal.

“By the time I got off the phone, that $89.99 offer turned into more than $130 a month once adding a DVR, faster broadband service, and a second cable box,” Diane complains. “You really have to read the fine print. They only give you 3Mbps broadband speed on most of their offers now and DVR service is rarely included. In fact, all the equipment turned out to cost extra.”

Stop the Cap! checked out the offer Diane was interested in, and it turns out the $89.99 advertised price only tells half the story.

The wall of text. Time Warner's rebate offer treats hoops customers must jump through as an Olympic event.

The wall of text. Time Warner’s rebate offer has hoops customers will consider an Olympic event.

First, Time Warner requires customers on this promotion to pay for at least one cable box, at $8.99 a month. A CableCARD is also available for $2.50 a month for televisions equipped to support that. Most consumers stick with traditional boxes. Diane wanted one DVR box and a second box for a bedroom. DVR Service from Time Warner, which does not include the box itself, has dramatically increased in price over the years. In 2013, the combined rate for the “box” and the “service” is $21.94 a month in western New York. A second cable box for Diane’s bedroom ran another $8.49 a month. The new Internet modem rental fee is also not included, so that adds an additional $3.95 a month.

Diane is also correct about broadband speeds. Time Warner bundles only 3Mbps service in most of its promotional packages. Increasing to Standard speed (15/1Mbps) generally costs an additional $10 per month. Now Diane’s monthly bill is well over $130 a month.

In fact, Diane should have selected a more deluxe package from Time Warner at the outset. Their $104.99 promotion bundles Turbo (20/2Mbps) Internet, free Showtime, and at least covers DVR service (although Diane still has to pay $9 a month for the DVR box). Her out the door price for that package is less than $127 a month.

Customers served by AT&T U-verse or Verizon FiOS stand to come out better if they plan to dump the phone company in favor of Time Warner. The cable operator is throwing in a debit card worth up to a $200, but only for customers switching away from a competitor. Diane just had Frontier phone service, so no $200 reward card for her. Time Warner requires customers to switch from services comparable to those selected from Time Warner to qualify for the maximum rebate.

For those that do quality, the rebate hoop-jumping begins:

  • Customers qualifying for the reward card have to write down a promotion code and register their rebate request online within 30 days of starting service.
  • Customers must remain active, in good standing and must maintain all services for a minimum of 90 days after installation.
  • Customers are required to upload a scanned copy of their last provider’s bill, showing active service within the last 90 days. Card should arrive 4-6 weeks after a 90 day waiting period.
  • Comparable services do not include wireless telephone service or online-only video subscriptions.
  • Offer is not available to customers with past due balances with Time Warner Cable during the program period or customers who have been disconnected for non-payment during the twelve months preceding this offer.
  • The customer’s name and address on file with Time Warner must exactly match the name and address on your former provider’s bill.
  • Customers better spend the money quickly. After six months, the issuing bank deducts a $2.50 monthly “service fee” from the debit card until empty, except where prohibited by law.
  • If the card is lost or stolen, there is a $5.95 Re-Issuance Fee. If you need to dispute a charge on the card, you are out of luck. The issuing bank will not intervene on your behalf.
  • Customers cannot apply the rebate to their Time Warner Cable bill.

Currently there are 8 comments on this Article:

  1. Charles Dennett says:

    I was looking at that yesterday doing some research before I try the twitter trick to get my bill lowered that was mentioned here a few months ago, (http://stopthecap.com/2012/03/01/getting-a-better-deal-from-time-warner-cable-five-minutes-to-save-almost-700-in-2012). All I have now is the watch and surf package – standard Internet (15 Mbps) and DVR service and was very confused about this pricing.

    • Yes, with the current state of TWC’s promotions, current customers should be able to do better than this new customer pricing, which is frankly among the worst I’ve seen from TWC in a long time. My only guess is the rebate card combo offer is why the pricing is so poor, and current customers cannot land one of those.

      I would be aiming as close to $100 a month for a triple play offer as possible with DVR service. Turbo add-on should be no more than $5 a month. If you have to, dump their phone service for Ooma or something else. My sister recently landed as a new customer at around $125 a month out the door for a double play, which is also not so great. The phone service was the sticking point — it added more than $20 more to the package and it wasn’t worth it.

      I have been checking different areas to see if the promotions are varying dramatically in competitive vs. non-competitive areas and I am not seeing much variation. My guess is the winback and retention deals (unpublished) are substantially better. Your best deal will continue to come via Twitter contacts and the retention center you end up dealing with. Calling the local office and speaking to retentions that way traditionally got you a worse offer.

      • Charles Dennett says:

        Don’t know if I misspoke but we only have TV and Internet. No TWC phone. Just HD DVR service. No pay channels (like HBO, etc) Standard 15 Mbps Internet. Current bill is about $147/month. My wife and I have been contemplating getting rid of our Frontier landline and going just with our cell phones.

        • $147! You should be aiming for around $90 on a retention deal, perhaps a bit closer to $100 with the DVR box in place. Get tweeting. You need to “follow them” and they will follow you back so they can send you a direct message. You will be replying that way with your account number and phone number. They will call you within 48 hours.

          Tell them Frontier is offering you a $99 triple play offer with a $450 Apple rebate card (a current promo). You won’t get the rebate card matched, but they should come darn close or beat that monthly price. Tell them your wife is itching to dump TWC and you want them to give you a deal you can use to convince her to stay. 🙂

          Be willing to take the phone service if their triple play retention offer is better than a double play. If you care a lot about your home phone number, there is a slightly laborious process available to port it to Google Voice and then have incoming calls forwarded to whatever numbers you want, so you are never stuck with a provider holding you home phone number hostage again.

      • Stephen says:

        The retention deals ARE substantially better. I’m currently rocking $99 (out the door… including taxes and all that crap) a month for 15/1 internet and cable+DVR+HBO/SHO/MAX/Starz/TMC and the deal lasts 12 months. After that, I drop the movie channels ($30 of the $99) and suffer the additional DVR fee. I’ve already excised the modem lease fee.

        I got this price by leveraging their social media support and threatening to cancel. I went as far as to actually set up the cancellation date.

        • Yes, the cancellation date on file is a real motivator because they know you are serious and not just on a fishing expedition for a better deal.

          I could care less about the movie channels personally, but free is good. I had a year of free Showtime last year and don’t think I watched it once all year.

          Netflix is fine for me and Redbox for anything I need to see urgently (which is nothing). I have really been enjoying House of Cards on Netflix this week. They have figured it out. If Hollywood won’t play, produce your own content. House of Cards is HBO Original Series quality. I’m very impressed.

  2. ShaneBurns says:

    What a rip off. TWC, you should be ashamed.
    TWC now offer
    Ultimate(Wideband) for $75-Previous $100
    Extreme Internet for $65- Previous $50
    Turbo Internet for $55- Previous $45
    Standard Internet for $45- Previous $30
    Basic Internet- $30- Previous $20

    Basic TV & Turbo
    Now $64.99 – Previous $49.99

    TV & Basic Internet
    Now $79.99- Before TWC included Standard Internet for TV for same price

    Im sure some of you will notice promotion price increase on TWC website. When my promotion pricing expired, I will switch back to At&t Uverse. No wonder why TWC kept losing their customers smh.

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