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Netflix is Raising Their Rates

Phillip Dampier October 5, 2017 Competition, Consumer News, Online Video 1 Comment

Most Netflix customers in the U.S. will be paying $1-2 more a month to the online streaming service starting in November.

Mashable reports Netflix is raising prices on its Standard plan (currently $9.99/mo) by $1 and those on its Premium plan (now $11.99) will pay $2 more a month. The basic $7.99 plan remains unchanged for now.

“From time to time, Netflix plans and pricing are adjusted as we add more exclusive TV shows and movies, introduce new product features and improve the overall Netflix experience to help members find something great to watch even faster,” Netflix said in a statement.

Most of the extra money will likely be spent on content creation and acquisition for subscribers. Netflix is expected to spend $7 billion on content in 2018.

Netflix plans are differentiated based on video quality and the number of concurrent streams. Here are the respective features of each plan. Customers and downgrade or upgrade at any time.

Prices reflected are prior to the impending rate increase.

The last Netflix rate increase was announced in 2014, but did not take full effect for all customers until 2016.

Lexington, Ky. Residents Vent Frustration With Charter Spectrum

Nearly 200 people turned out for a packed public meeting in Lexington, Ky. to complain about Charter Communications and its Spectrum cable television service.

“Welcome, Spectrum, to the lion’s den,” said Mayor Jim Gray, introducing company representatives. The complaints began right away.

“The biggest slap in the face is that no matter what we pay,” one woman said, “no matter what we set up for autopay, every single month – no purchases, no changes on our end, our bill is never consistent and always growing.”

Prices and poor customer service were the top complaints at a meeting that filled a large room at a local senior center, organized by Lexington city officials.

The problems began after Charter Communications bought Time Warner Cable. As customers’ Time Warner Cable promotions expired, prices skyrocketed. Charter representatives are trained to convert customers to Spectrum-branded packages, which many customers argue costs more.

“There’s always going to be some pains when you change from one company to the next,” Mike Pedelty, a Charter spokesperson, told WKYT’s Garrett Wymer. “There’s different ways Time Warner Cable did things than the way Charter does things. We understand that, we appreciate that. We try to do our best to communicate to our customers, we try to make sure that we let them know their options.”

Customers do not necessarily like those options.

“Spectrum has increased my bill twice while I’m still on the package,” complained customer Loney Burns. When she tried to cut back on her package to save money, Burns was told, “if you want to take them off, we will increase your bill.”

City employee Roger Damon pointed out that most Time Warner Cable customers avoided paying the regular prices Charter uses as a benchmark to claim Spectrum’s packages and pricing costs less. By negotiating with Time Warner Cable, customers could easily obtain a new promotional offer when an old one ran out. After Charter took over, the company stopped giving back-to-back promotions. As a result, a growing number of customers are forced into regular priced Spectrum packages, exactly as Charter CEO Thomas Rutledge intended.

“It’s not a very competitive business, and that’s one of the reasons that we have these challenges with customer service today,” Gray told the crowd. “We have had very, very poor technical service, very poor customer service and price increases with no notice. No one should have to scrub their monthly bills for hidden fees.”

The city’s only recourse is to fine Charter or revoke its franchise. But with the cable industry being largely deregulated, local officials have little bite to deliver after a bark. Fines can be appealed in court and there are no significant examples in recent history where a community revoked a cable franchise and found another company willing to enter another operator’s traditional service area.

WKYT-TV in Lexington covered last week’s public meeting on Charter Communications’ service in Kentucky. (1:21)

Spectrum Customer Service Reps Apologizing for Awful Pricing

…for our outrageous pricing!

Spectrum’s customer service agents are apologizing to customers for the rate shock they are experiencing when their existing Time Warner Cable or Bright House Networks promotions expire and customers find out the Spectrum plans and pricing being offered instead turn out to be nothing close to the deals customers used to get.

“You may get a call asking about my performance today, the survey is about me and my job today only,” a customer service agent explained to Jason, a Spectrum customer in Elmhurst, N.Y., who shared his experience on DSL Reports. “It doesn’t have anything to do with how you feel about Spectrum or TWC. If you are upset about the new pricing, please use the comments portion to explain. I look forward to hearing your feedback.”

Customer service representatives are on the front line of delivering bad news to cable customers facing double-digit rate increases, especially when customers realize they also receive fewer TV channels after changing plans.

“I’m guessing these agents must be getting destroyed in the surveys, [and] having worked retail where these types of surveys are used, I felt bad for the reps,” explained the Spectrum customer. “I know in my neighborhood, everyone seems to have their TWC promos expiring in the next month or so and are very unhappy.”

That unhappiness is getting worse as word about Charter Communications’ mid-year rate increase is showing up on customer bills. Broadband prices are increasing at least $1 a month, the Broadcast TV Surcharge is rising to $7.50 a month, and set-top box equipment rentals also increased by $1 a month for each piece of equipment starting in August 2017.

Premium speed broadband customers are now also facing a higher internet bill.

Spectrum’s Ultra tier, which is 100Mbps in some markets, 300Mbps in others, is increasing to $119.99 a month, up from $104.99 in most markets. The increase is less if you also subscribe to Spectrum TV, which reduces the rate to $113.99 a month. Spectrum rate cards from around the country do not yet reflect the $1 rate increase for traditional Spectrum 60/5Mbps internet (100Mbps in select markets):

Low income customers enrolled in Spectrum’s Everyday Low Price (ELP) internet package — a carryover from Time Warner Cable — also got the rude shock of a $5 rate increase on a service that used to cost $14.99 a month. That represents more than a 33% rate hike, which is just fine with Charter.

“In some of our markets the price has increased for the ELP package,” said spokesperson “Julie_R”. “Notifications were sent via bill statements and became effective with the August statements. Our ELP package is not a promotion.  From time to time, Spectrum makes decisions to adjust the pricing for our products and services to account for network investments.  We understand that value is important.  ELP is still a very good value at $19.99.”

The rate increase does not apply to New York State residents, where regulators placed significant deal conditions on the Charter/Time Warner Cable merger to help protect consumers in that state.

We have also been receiving reports from readers that Spectrum’s Internet Assist (SIA) program, designed for the elderly and income-challenged, is not easy to enroll in and customer service representatives have rejected a number of applicants for a variety of reasons. SIA offers a 30Mbps broadband connection for $14.99 a month to those qualified for:

  • The National School Lunch Program (NSLP); free or reduced cost lunch
  • The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) ( ≥ age 65 only) Programs that do not qualify for Spectrum Internet Assist: Social Security Disability (SSD), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Social Security Retirement and Survivor Benefits are different from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and do NOT meet eligibility requirements.

The biggest problems encountered so far:

  • Representatives lack information about the program and attempt to upsell customers to regular pricing and packages.
  • Bundling additional services with SIA can be more expensive than just choosing a traditional bundled package sold to everyone, especially if it is a new customer promotion.
  • There is considerable confusion over the qualifications for SSI recipients. Be sure to recognize you must be 65 or older and note SSD, SSDI, and certain other programs noted above do not qualify you to receive SIA.

We are continuing to monitor the SIA program looking to ensure Spectrum is making the program available to customers that qualify for it.

Spectrum Starts $65 Broadband/125 Channel TV Promotion to Win Customers

Phillip Dampier August 3, 2017 Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News 2 Comments

After losing another 90,000 residential cable television customers during the second quarter, Charter Communications is beefing up its customer promotions to win back customers and respond to competing offers.

Starting this month, Spectrum is pitching a double play bundle for new customers using its familiar formula of $29.99 for each service, only this time they actually came close to meaning it.

Customers who want a 60Mbps (100Mbps in some markets) broadband package with Spectrum Select TV package can now get each service for around $30 a month, but will still have to pay around $6 for a ‘required’ cable box and another $7.50 a month for Spectrum’s Broadcast TV surcharge. To sweeten the deal, Spectrum is including a free year of Showtime.

Prior to this promotion, Spectrum’s double play promotion charged $59.99 for the TV bundle and $29.99 for internet access, one penny more a month than its triple play bundle which also includes a phone line.

The newest double play promotion offers about $24 in savings a month over the old one, which usually included one set-top box for free.

The double play promotion, which omits a phone line, is likely to continue a decline of Charter’s residential home phone customers, many canceling landline service as their aggressively priced Time Warner Cable phone promotion expires. Charter’s broadband growth has slowed as well. The company added 231,000 customers during the quarter compared with 308,000 during the same quarter last year. Charter’s pricing and promotions proved not as attractive as some of their competitors.

Frontier Employees: Company is Adrift as Management Obsesses Over Stock Price

Frontier Communications employees continue to send unsolicited news tips and insider gossip about a phone company in decline, not only losing customers but middle management that have either left voluntary or been asked to leave in a frantic effort to cut costs.

Earlier this year, Frontier CEO Dan McCarthy ended a long-term effort heralded by former CEO Maggie Wilderotter that gave significant autonomy to local and regional managers to handle problems in their respective service areas without having to consult a centralized bureaucracy. McCarthy elected instead to adopt more rigid company-wide policies and practices that often require consultation with senior management. For many mid-level managers already frustrated with the company, that change proved a bridge too far that and several are now working for Frontier’s cable competition.

One of the senior managers responsible for Frontier’s web presence became so frustrated with Frontier’s corporate roadblocks, he dropped his Frontier service in favor of the competition because accomplishing almost anything on Frontier’s website proved frustrating and often impossible.

“Instead of focusing their leadership on ways to turn the company around they seem to be doubling down on their efforts to get as many employees to leave the company as possible,” a Frontier insider tells Stop the Cap!

Some of the employees likely to leave are Frontier’s telecommuting workforce. Senior executives now want many of those workers back in the office.

“[The new policy says] if we live less than 50 miles from a Frontier Office, we have to be in the office every day and could no longer work at home,” our source tells us. “There are employees who had Permanent Work At Home status by HR who are [now] being told they have to relocate to another city [or] come into an office or they will be let go.”

Frontier’s network continues to be criticized as great for some, lousy for everyone else. Our source notes a few years ago Frontier was speed-limiting some of its DSL customers in congested areas because they were using too much broadband and slowing down the network for others. While Frontier’s legacy copper areas continue to endure copper-based DSL with its inherent capacity and speed limitations, Frontier is planning a feast for its acquired FiOS fiber customers, including free automatic speed upgrades.

Less technically conscious customers pay more. In addition to a $4.50 convenience fee that now applies to customers phoning customer care centers to make a payment, our source warns Frontier is about to launch a paper billing fee, reportedly $1 a month, in an attempt to convert customers to electronic paperless billing.

“We are so at a loss as to the direction this company is taking and there is zero vision from senior leadership that is being passed down,” our source said, noting executives are preoccupied with their compensation plans and bonuses. “The directions we’re given change daily, projects and promotions only seem to be reactionary to try to stop the bleeding, but Frontier is in need of major surgery starting with the CEO and every single member of our executive leadership.”

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  • Larry Gall: This has become far, far too important a resource for the likes of these jerks to control (in it's entirety). The jerks I'm referring to are the Holl...
  • Matt: Until an operator has the guts to give true à la carte options to the customer the trend is just going to continue. Everyone I know who has cut the c...
  • EJ: They better do it while the getting is good. Raise your price and be put on the radar for unfair rate increases. Attempt to sell that you NEED to incr...
  • FredH: If no one saw this coming - they were idiots. Next come the data caps for everyone....
  • Doug: So what are they (Charter Spectrum) supposed to do? Continue repairing the sabotage? Pay for "protection?" I am certain that those customers whose ...
  • tony russo: Promo with TWC ending this week. Had Starter TV (25 channels) plus Turbo internet for $65 total. Called to see what is available and the lowest tv p...
  • FredH: ....talk about flimsy (or no) evidence.....good luck Charter, wasting our cable fees on a lawsuit they stand no chance of winning....
  • Will: I have to agree with ATT here... Can't blame cord cutters when it's just that ATT's video service is awful and customers are fleeing at the first oppo...
  • kaniki: I really do not see much changing on the Tmobile end of things.. Sprint does not have much coverage outside of Tmobiles right now, so, Tmobile would g...
  • kaniki: I would have to disagree with the "cable company" part.. I would like to see someone, more like google, get them, then a cable company.. Most cable co...
  • MAD DOG: Company really losing customers. What a shame I like it better when the Dolan was running the show. It was like a family company....
  • LG: This is what happens when you charge $150-$300 for TV. People have better things to spend their money on. TV in general is losing viewers after deca...

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