The ability to retire a few years earlier than planned has provided an incentive to pay a lot more attention to my monthly bills. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always been vigilant. But the emphasis has shifted from checking for errors to looking for (painless) ways to cut back.
As they’re based on usage, I expect bills for water and electric to vary. In the past, I’ve been on “the budget plan” with my utilities to spread the cost of high months across the year. Not anymore. Mostly the budget plan kept me from noticing how much setting my thermostat to 68 in July was costing me. Anyway, variability with these kinds of expenses is to be expected.
My cell phone service and my cable and internet access involve a set price for the level of service I’ve selected. In both cases, there are no extras. I don’t exceed my “allowance” on the cell phone and never use Pay-Per-View or other pay services. Even so, each bill is a little bit higher than the one from the previous month. Not much — a dollar or so — hardly enough to notice.
Dirty rotten bastards.
Bundling is from the devil. Gouge consumers for as much as possible by getting them to pay for a bunch of shit they don’t really want or need. The high tech world is rife with this kind of crap because nobody really understands how the hell it works. Toss around a bunch of abbreviations, acronyms, and number-letter combos and I’m sold.
For those too young to know or too senile to remember, things used to be very different. The telephone company threw in the phone — for FREE! No costly purchase on the front end, no monthly rental charges, and no hidden fees. Unless I placed a call to a number outside the local service area, the bill was the same every month. Same with cable. A box came with the service, which worked fine since most homes only had one television. Yeah. Everybody had to watch the same thing, at the same time, TOGETHER!
When I moved into my current house, I switched from Charter to AT&T Uverse for my cable service and internet access. The special introductory offer included twelve full months with all the bells and whistles for just a few bucks a month. I picked a middle tier. The wireless cable box is great.
The bill went up a dollar or two for twelve months and then, BAM! The introductory offer ran out and I got my first non-discounted bill. OMG! The increase urged me to immediate action. I called and they bumped me up to the top tier plan with even MORE bells and whistles for a little more than I’d been paying under the introductory offer. Sold!
That offer has ended. I just got the non-discounted bill for the top tier of service. HOLY SHIT!
I conducted a thorough needs assessment. Based on my television viewing habits, basic won’t cut the mustard. Life ain’t worth living without A&E, Bravo, and the Food Network. So I dropped down three tiers, added Showtime (I’m addicted to Masters of Sex), and cut my bill in half.
Since I’m in the middle of a special introductory offer for super fast access, I left my internet plan alone. Maybe by the time my bill jumps again, I’ll figure out if paying for more MbPS is worth the cost. I’m probably paying for more speed than I need, but there’s nothing worse than jumpy porn (for research purposes).
When my cable/internet bill jumps again — and it will — I’ll call, and upgrade a higher tier. I’ll continue the process until I reach the top tier again, and then start all over. You do what you gotta do, right?
I’m expecting a shit ton of comments about alternative options for watching television via the Internet. So far, I’m not interested. But word to AT&T — push me too far, and I’m gone.