Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to best pay for TV...

So, I posted a question on twitter via #lazyweb - if anyone had experience with Apple TV and what their thoughts were on paying for tv shows? After I sent it, I thought I'd probably should clarify the reasons behind the question.

We've recently moved into an apartment from a house. Our tv service at the house is through a satellite company. We've been happy with the service, good picture, we get all the channels we want and we don't pay enormous amounts of money each month for the "privilege."

Our apartment landlord gave us a blanket "no we don't allow dishes" when we asked about tv service (more on that later), so I tried to deal with the local cable company for internet and tv. Bad idea. As for as internet goes, I'm not paying a company $100 to attach two jumpers together and not even bother to call me to tell me it's done (especially, since I've sat at home ALL DAY, and waited for them to show up). And since the CSA couldn't even explain to me what the "installation" fee was for beyond "they install what they need to," I decided to look elsewhere for internet. That left tv.

Granted - my household doesn't watch much "live" tv. While my 8 year old as seen every Spongebob episode and is now getting into iCarly, we don't need tv service just for those shows. The local news (and by extension, local weather), football and the Oscars. That's about what I really can't get in another tv form (dvd sets, hulu, downloads, etc.). BUT there are two stations that I really really REALLY don't want to be without - SciFi and BBCAmerica. Yes, I know SciFi changed their name - but I refuse to call my favorite channel something that rhymes with a venereal disease. Getting back to my point. The package that I picked out - you know, that "introductory" priced type package - didn't have those two channels in it. And because the upgraded package wasn't "on sale," I would pay over $100 a month for tv. AFTER installation fees. That is beyond my point of reason.

In the meantime, hubby discovered the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and subsequent ruling of 1999. Which states, in it's most simplistic form, a landlord cannot deny you a dish if you follow some simple rules. For apartment dwellers, you cannot connect a dish to their structure (or roof), you can't place it in a common area, you can't put it out on the fire escape. Our new place - well, we're on the 4th floor and have a private balcony that faces west. PERFECT! We can pop that puppy on a pole stuck in a cement filled flowerpot, place it on our balcony and off we go. Except that we still have to deal with a satellite company that isn't really interested in just letting us do all the work. In subsequent communications with them, they've shown a distinct lack of understanding that no, we don't want to call you to schedule an appointment for your installers to come out. We're trying to avoid that. We just want to get the correct dish (1 meter or less across) and install it ourselves. Hubby, he was 1st in Navy A-school, this would not be a problem for him.

So - that leads me to my twitter question. If I'm going to be paying for tv, doing it in as stress-free a way as possible holds quite an appeal to me. I don't like dealing with companies who sole purpose seems to charging me so they can put up as many roadblocks as possible. Having been a CSA, I understand that many of these corporations give their first line of customer service employees the least amount of power to deviate from the script sitting in front of them. And really, me, I'm ALWAYS the exception to the rule. Believe me, I don't try to be, but those already prepared flow charts NEVER EVER work for my situation. And for once, I'd like to deal with a company that acknowledges that without having to spend 8 hours talking to 4 different 1st level reps. But that's a personal issue. Back on point - ordering an Apple TV appliance and using iTunes (which I do already for my Nano), might not get me my Bears games, but hey - I get the play by play on my radio and that just might be good enough.

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