Monday, September 15, 2008

What I'm Asking For

Let's be clear about a couple of things: I'm not asking for Comcast to lower their rates. I'm not asking for them to make any undue sacrifices. They are free to charge whatever rates their customers will pay.

What I am asking for is the absolute cheapest HDTV package. After looking through their website at all of the packages available, I believe that the following combination is possible:

Limited Basic Cable. Covers channels 2-13 plus a few others like public access, and the Home Shopping Network (ugh). $12.85.
Limited Basic HDTV. An $8.00 add-on for any cable package. It gives me the HD versions of the channels in the other package, where appropriate.

Combined, this package should cost roughly $20.85, plus taxes and fees. But the customer service rep I spoke to last week insisted that I also needed to rent a converter box. She claimed that because the package I was trying to order "was not a digital package," a converter was needed to receive the HD channels.

Say what? What, exactly, is that converter box converting?

Perhaps she thought I had an "HD Capable" TV, which does need a tuner in order to receive HD channels. But not only is my TV "HD Ready," so is my TiVo Series 3. The latter even has CableCard slots, conveniently filled with two Comcast CableCards that I've been using the past two years.

Or perhaps the converter is needed to convert the analog channels into digital versions that my TV/TiVo can receive. That doesn't hold water. HD channels are by definition digital. I'm only interested in receiving the local broadcast stations in HD: KCRA, KXTV, KOVR, etc. Believe me, being able to watch HSN in stunning digital is the last thing on my list. It ranks even lower than the public access channels. I've got my TiVo configured to never, ever, EVER record that channel.

So there you have it. My request to Comcast is humble: bundle Basic Limited Cable with Basic Limited HDTV for roughly $20. Your website says it's possible. Will you do it? If not, I'm getting the antenna.

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