Who Shall Provide?

Cablevision has been my internet provider since the day they came to Westport.  In fact, I remember watching a demo of something called a “cable modem” on the 2nd floor of Klein’s department store (!).  I realized how much better it was than a dial-up modem (!!), and became one of their 1st dozen or so customers here.

I’d already had Cablevision TV, since the early ’80s.  I still remember the thrill I got watching news that was “as local as local gets,” and realizing there was a whole universe of channels beyond 13.

Which doesn’t stop Cablevision from mailing me — every 2 or 3 days — urging pressuring me to upgrade, consolidate and/or bundle all my communication needs together.

Despite recent “06880” posts to the contrary, the US Postal Service is in no danger of going away.  Cablevision keeps them hopping.

AT&T helps too.

They’ve been my phone provider ever since I’ve had a phone.  Now I’m an iPhone customer too.  I’m not one of the millions of Americans who complains.  I find AT&T service perfectly fine adequate.

But they too mail me with stalker-ish frequency.  AT&T also demands all my internet, TV and phone business.

I don’t plan to change internet providers — or drop my landline — for one fossil-sounding, but important, reason:  Too many people know my email address and phone number.  Both are out there in Rolodexes, contact lists and cyberspace — and on dozens, if not hundreds, of websites — and have been for decades.  For someone who is self-employed — and depends on people finding him me for work — changing them is too daunting a task.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Faithful “06880” reader Andy Yemma has a similar story — with a different ending.

He says:

I’ve been a customer of both AT&T and Cablevision since we moved to Westport nearly 2 decades ago (I think it was actually SNET before it was SBC before it was AT&T).  Back in the ’90s it was simply AOL for email and SNET for phone calls.

I remember installing my first high-speed cable modem, purchased at “Nobody Beats the Wiz” (remember that?) on New Year’s Eve 1999, showing my faith in my notion that Y2K would be no big deal.

In recent years the technology of television (digital and hi-def), internet (WiFi and cellular) and phone (VOIP and cellular) have evolved with increasing speed.

And, by the way, who uses voicemail anymore?  A couple of weeks ago my AT&T voicemail service quit working.  After several unfruitful calls to AT&T, I discovered that they had “upgraded” my voicemail box and I needed to start calling another number.  This of course led the AT&T representative to try to sell me on their bundled package of phone/internet/TV services, which she promised would save me a bundle over Cablevision.

Suddenly I realized that the monopolies of the phone and cable companies had gone kaput.  Now there’s competition for my business from Cablevision, AT&T and Verizon — all offering bundled packages.  The offers are tiered, depending upon the level of service and features and internet speed.

They’re very complicated, and almost impossible from my POV to compare side-by-side.   All of the competitors promise the best deal, and diss the competition.

I thought perhaps Dan’s loyal commentators might offer views on this — what’s been your experience with the various providers?  Should I take the plunge and switch providers — and if so to which one?  A kilobyte for your thoughts?

“06880 readers”:  Help Andy decide.

Or confuse him even more than he is now.

16 responses to “Who Shall Provide?

  1. Richard Lawrence Stein

    Switched to the ATT U-Verse package and if it worked without as much headache I have had I would say go for it…. But it stinks!!! Makes me miss optimum

  2. for best phone reception it’s Verizon all the way.
    Then you decide if you want to “bundle” that or not.

  3. Bobbi Essagof

    I use AT&T and Cablevision. My feeling is they all have something to complain about so why take a chance on having all my eggs in one basket? When one is down at least I have the other.

  4. Cablevision has better customer service than AT&T, which are your primary choices for combined Internet/landline/TV.

    Cell service is different. Like Dan, I am satisfied with AT&T. I detest Verizon. I hope to never do business with Verizon again, in this or any other lifetime.

    I use a VirginMobile MiFi. (VirginMobile is a subsidiary of Sprint.) It works great and does not require a subscription service.

  5. FYI-
    u can change from AT&T phone service to cablevision and retain your same phone #
    Guaranteed.. and it is seemless

    you save $$ on the bundle and cablevision phone has more features..

    * easy voice mail..
    * miss a call- they also send you the missed call to your email (click to listen)
    * u can forward landline to your cell

    only negative
    ATT has own electricity- so when power out their phone lines still work (if u have a corded phone)
    your cable phone does not work with power out..(they sell you an approx $45 battery back up- but when cable is out- phone does not work)

    ps- if you dont like it you are allowed to switch back.

    pss- I cant believe i am helping cablevision..

  6. Some points: First, a lot of people are dropping their land-lines and living off their cell phones, which makes the 3rd leg of the bundles strange – save money on the option you rarely use. Plus, you never have to change your cell phone number. We moved to PA, and my kids are both in CA, but we all have 203-858-abcd numbers.
    Second, I too held on to my AOL email address for way too long, way past the normal point of frustration. So when I decided to change (I went with gmail, which like AOL isn’t locked to my service provider), I feared the worst, but it wasn’t too bad. Certainly simpler than changing my mailing address when I moved. I kept my AOL alive for about 6 months, but after 2 months I no longer received any legit email there.
    Third, if competition is good, then advertising is necessary. And there are a few catalogs that I like to get in the mail, even though we always order online.
    Last, service coverage generally trumps customer service. There are spots in Westport that one carrier works much better than another.

    • Laz, good points but eschewing land-line phone not an option for us because cell signals are too spotty in our neighborhood north of the Merritt. Plus I think it’s important to keep access to 911.

  7. The Dude Abides

    Indeed, half the budget for the USPS comes from junk mail so stop complaining or we will be paying 2 bucks a letter. DirecTv is the only
    way to go with the exception that if they renegotiate with the YES network, I will be belabored with watching another season of my beloved lady’s damn Yankees. Endless summer for a BoSox fan. As for phones, do without. Toss the cell and enter into the vast twilight zone of actually talking with people face to face. A writer’s necessary nirvana!

  8. Dinosaur Dad

    Hey Dan – just last night I got an in-person solicitation at home from Cablevision. They claim to now have something skin to my current ATT Uverse system (allows you to watch recorded programs on multiple TVs)…offering big discounts to switch my bundled services. Nice to finally see some price competition – these services really start to add up.

  9. Dick Lowenstein

    AT&T is becoming more attractive, now that it offers Channel 79 (Westport town meetings) and will shortly do the same for Channel 78 (BOE meetings). But what about those “refrigerators” they need?

  10. Alan Beasley

    This morning it took me about three hours to order a Kindle from Amazon.
    The wasted time came about because on the many times I tried, AT&T broke-in to my ordering process. A long “chat” with their customer service yielded no answer. ( I think she knew that problem resided in AT&T’s Customer Service Tool because when I went to Amazon’s Cust. Service (not easy to do, for an old man, it was quickly apparent the Amazon “needs” to plant a “cookie” on one’s computer which AT&T’s “Tool” Will Reject!

    When I killed (removed) AT&T’s program I ordered the kindle without any interference. About three hours to fix a nothing.

    A side benefit: I can now (agsin) click on a shortcut in an email and get to that address by way of Internet Explorer.

    How many years ago was AT&T “broken-up” by a government that worked? As I observe their actions now (T-Mobile) it is obvious that they are hell-bent to regain their monopoly status, again.

    Now I can hate Cablevision and AT&T, without guilt! For the time being I will stick with AT&T’s High Speed DSL but, not with any joy.

  11. Anonymous with good reason

    Tonight I called up Cablevision and just happened to say that my daughter was urging me to get Verizon FIOS too, and “what can you do to help me cut my costs?” Amazing! They took $40 off my monthly bill of $167 for the Triple Play (phone, internet and tv) for the next year. Almost $500 saved with one phone call. My husband loves the travel & weather on Cablevision (“Only on cable, never on satellite”) and we’ve had excellent customer service from them. BUT for our cell phones, Verizon is the only way to go. AT&T was SO dishonest a few years ago, reneging on promises they made to us about a phone we installed at a beach cottage. Finally got them to give us our rebates, but never, ever will I support AT&T!

  12. We have Cablevision Io, Internet, and VoIP, and other than the ripoff $165 monthly cost, it works fine.

    Anonymous WGR…. Be forewarned: We exacted the same promise, and then they never gave us a damn thing. That’s right, it was a lie. Perhaps they knew I was too frustrated – in spite of reassurances that “my call was VERY IMPORTANT to them” – to go though the same interminable Hell trying to reach an effing human being again that I would never call back to press the point, the bastards.

  13. As someone who is an Information Technology executive, dealing with AT&T and Verizon as service providers is akin to setting your hair on fire and putting it out with a hammer. Both companies are unresponsive and since most voice and data services are at times dependent on both, there is world class finger pointing between the two. Ironically, in my experience, Cablevision’s commercial service, Lightpath, is far more customer oriented that the other two combined.
    As for me personally, I have Cablevision’s Triple Play and, outside of the cost, have been extremely satisfied with the service and reliability. I have AT&T for my mobile since I wanted an iPhone and need the ability to use the phone in Europe. I guess I am lucky since the service coverage has been fine.
    In any case, if you set your expectations low in dealing with telecom vendors, you will never be disappointed.

  14. Thanks for all the comments and advice. I am still confused though. When it comes to this subject I expect to stay confused.

  15. Larry Perlstein

    I detest Cablevision … I detest AT&T … ‘nuf said.
    The reality is that it all comes down to whether they offer what is important to you. I want reliability so I won’t use Dish or DirecTV and have to deal with weather problems. I want fast internet so that pretty much locks me into Cablevision, though AT&T may be a close second. I want to not spend a lot of time dealing with switching which pretty much locks me into Cablevision even though I think U-Verse is interesting (many friends have told me U-Verse isn’t all that great). On second thought, I can’t get what I want (fast internet, interesting channels, reliable service at half of what I’m paying) so I’m stuck with what I have: Cablevision for internet, TV and VOIP, and AT&T for landline and mobile — and lousy customer service all around. Good luck!