Cutting Costs: Make TV Stand for True Value

Utilities are becoming more and more an item in the budget that is subject to comparison shopping. Cell and landline providers and even deregulated electrical markets give savvy consumers more opportunity than ever to find the best deal.

But while electricity is the same no matter who generated it, other services aren’t so consistent. Television programming is the most obvious example of the apple-and-orange dilemma. You can negotiate and do a lot of other things to lower the cost of TV, but you also need to spend some time researching the value of what you are getting. Cheaper TV isn’t better if it doesn’t include the channels you want. Here are some ideas for assessing the TV options available to you.

Mobility of Packages

Coverage by cable TV providers is a patchwork arrangement. Borders between competing companies were often randomly drawn years ago, potentially putting different providers into the homes of people who live very close together. As a result, a cross-town move can completely uproot your entire cable system and force you to sign on with a different one. Never mind forgetting channel numbers or losing DVR content; the real headache is the potential loss of channels, poorer service, or lower reliability. All from a simple change of address.

Satellite providers can box up and relocate right with you. Once you start getting your new home in operation, you can go right back to familiar television content and operation.

Size of the System

Most cable systems are locally owned, or used to be and are now owned by national chains. They typically have a limited number of local personnel for repairs when customers report malfunctions, so the wait can be extensive for diagnosis and correction of problems. In addition, such work must be done in person and with hands on the equipment.

Satellite TV incorporates extensive options for remote service and repair. These steps can be taken very quickly and by any of dozens of employees in many locations around the country. As a result, turnaround time is much faster when something isn’t right.

Bigger is better in terms of channel packages as well. When a new network emerges or an existing source is renegotiating, the larger satellite companies have a larger palette of customers to entice them into making a good deal. That lets you view more channels for less money.

Finally, cable must be physically run to your location for you to have service, whereas satellite can beam to literally anywhere on the planet. Rural customers or those in vacation homes often have no other option but satellite.

Vulnerability

Cable TV has certain weaknesses because of their means of transmission. While a satellite signal is wireless and comes from many miles overhead, cable comes via a cable (sure enough!) from miles down the road. What is between you and the source of your cable? A falling tree? A car crashing into a utility pole? Copper thieves robbing materials?

Think of how simple it can be to lose your service for potentially hours or days. Imagine your area being hit by an ice storm or hurricane–a time when critical information is being broadcast on television–and having absolutely no access to the information.

The take-home message is this: Cutting the cost of your TV shouldn’t cut the content. Review before you save!

Moms Living Thrifty Disclosure


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