Thursday, April 24, 2014
If you're fed up with rising rates and a lack of help from Time Warner – or any cable/Internet provider in Maine, for that matter – here are some things you might want to try.
Try getting your TV stations from an over-the-air signal for free, like we did back in the day. With all broadcasters using digital signals, the picture quality can be good, though the signal is still often dependent on weather and your location.
You’d be surprised how many channels you can get for free by using a $75 indoor-outdoor antenna or a combination of antennas. Many people in Greater Portland find they can get the local ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, FOX and CW stations over the air, plus a few extras, like PBS World and the rerun channel MeTV.
Find out which antenna or antennas you might need to get specific stations in your area at antennaweb.org. Find out which channels are available over the air in your area, and what the channel numbers are, at titantv.com.
Stories abound of customers complaining to Time Warner and ending up with a discount, so it's probably worth a try. Time Warner says a majority of its Maine customers are enjoying “promotional pricing” so they admit they give different prices to different customers. Consumer Reports magazine advises that, based on responses from more than 50,000 of its subscribers, negotiating with your cable or Internet provider or threatening to leave can lower your bill.
If you don’t feel like negotiating, switch to a satellite TV provider and get their promotional rate for a year, often as low as $20 or $30 a month. Then switch back to cable and get their promotional rate for a year, also sometimes as low as $20 a month for basic low-tier channel packages.
The Roku Internet video set-top box (AP photo).
Explore the TV-watching options on the Internet. You can often go to a network’s website and watch shows there, but maybe not when they’re brand new. Streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix are worth checking out too. For about $75, you can get a TV “smart box” (Roku is a well-known brand) that allows you to stream Internet video services on your TV.
The next time your cable TV goes out for six hours or more, go to your provider and ask for a refund. And tell them it’s the law. Specifically, it’s a Maine statute found under the heading “Title 30-A: 3010. Consumer rights and protection relating to cable television service.” The first part of the statute says that if cable television service is interupted “for six or more consecutive hours in a 30-day period” the provider will, “upon request,” grant the subscriber a “pro rata credit” or rebate. But it’s not automatic – you have to ask.