Cable modem/CMTS

Locals Yokel

3:15 PM -- Charter Communications Inc. , my Internet provider, called last night.

They had an exclusive offer for valued Internet customers, like me. They offered 6-months of digital cable at no cost whatsoever -- and I could cancel anytime after the promo period.

I informed them it wasn't possible for me to switch now -- I'm still under contract with my satellite TV service and the cost of bailing on a contract is too high.

The secondary sales attempt was a disaster.

Knowing that I pay $5 a month extra to get my local channels, the cable salesman said I could stop paying my satellite service for my locals and just get them from Charter. I'd save $5 a month for six whole months. "That's $30 saved right there," he said.

Great, but what happens after six months? He told me, in a very quiet voice, the cost to keep those channels after the trial period is $16.95 a month.

He could have just bid me a good day, and ask to call me back when my contract expires. Instead, Charter's solution is that I cancel my locals, get the locals from them, plug in another set-top box and connect yet another wire to my TV -- all to save $5 a month.

After six months, I'd have to cancel (why pay $16.95 when you could pay $5), unhook all the stuff, call my satellite service back and have my locals reinstated. All for a savings of $5 a month.

That's what the battle of the bundles is coming to, isn't it? Each idiot service provider is out concocting silly savings plans to see who can get the most consumers to pay them the least amount of money.

Does having a large and growing pool of people paying a small and shrinking amount of monthly revenue seem like a great business to be in? I mean, it's probably a better business than telemarketing, but still...

— Phil Harvey, Person of the Year, Light Reading

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