Happy New Year From Comcast: Usage Caps, Rate Hikes, And More Sneaky Fees In 2017

from the innovation! dept

Comcast continues to perfect the art of raising rates in a variety of creative new ways. In addition to just straight rate hikes to TV and broadband service, the company has taken to using hidden fees to covertly jack up the cost of service even higher. These fees take some of the cost of doing business and bury it below the line, letting Comcast falsely advertise a lower rate. This is all before you even get to Comcast's slow and steady expansion of usage caps and overage fees, which are just glorified rate hikes being imposed on uncompetitive broadband markets.

This week the company began informing customers that they'll be paying 3.8% more for service starting in the new year. In addition to increases in most of the company's bundles, TV and broadband packages, Comcast will be raising the company's sneaky "broadcast TV fee," as well as the company's ever-skyrocketing regional sports fees:
The Broadcast TV fee is moving from $5 a month to $7 a month, while the Regional Sports Network fee is rising from $3 a month to $5 a month, according to notices sent to customers in several cities. Combined, that's a change from $8 to $12 a month, giving Comcast an extra $48 a year from each customer that has to pay the fees.

Comcast began charging these fees a few years ago, and has increased them quickly. Just over a year ago, Comcast raised the Broadcast TV fee from $3 to $5 and the Regional Sports fee from $1 to $3. The two fees have thus gone from $4 to $12, combined, in little more than a year.

...The Broadcast TV fee was introduced in 2014, initially as $1.50 a month, and the Regional Sports fee was added in 2015 at $1 a month.
You might recall that Comcast is currently being sued over the broadcast TV fee, which simply takes a part of the cost of programming and buries it below the line, again letting Comcast mislead customers as to what the service actually costs in advertising. When the company was criticized back when the fee was introduced in 2014, Comcast tried to claim that hiding the real cost of service was just its way of being "transparent" with consumers. While Comcast's certainly being transparent, it's not quite in the way they meant.

Comcast, for what it's worth, continues to justify the rate hikes with the usual statement about how gosh, programming these days sure is expensive:
"We continue to make investments in our network and technology to give customers more for their money— like faster Internet service and more Wi-Fi hotspots, more video across viewing screens, better technology like X1 and a better customer experience. Unfortunately, the costs we are charged to carry popular networks continue to increase significantly, especially broadcast television and sports programming, which are the largest drivers of increases in price adjustments."
And while Comcast certainly does pay a significant amount for programming, it certainly helps that the company owns NBC Universal, not to mention a number of regional sports networks. But these programming-related fees also aren't the only fees seeing an increase. The company is also informing users that the company's "digital adapter outlet fees" will be increased from $3.49 to $5.49 per outlet, and a fee to reactivate TV service is being bumped from $1.99 to $3.50. And again, this is all before we get into Comcast's usage caps, which penalize users looking to use streaming video competitors.

And if you're looking for things to get better anytime soon, you may be waiting a long while. Comcast may be facing greater competition from streaming competitors on the video front, but its monopoly over broadband is only growing as phone companies like AT&T and Verizon give up on upgrading unwanted DSL users. Combine that with an incoming Trump administration that's giving every indication it intends gut the FCC as a consumer watchdog, and there's going to be less market and regulatory pressure on Comcast than ever to offer quality service and decent customer service at a reasonable price.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: data caps, rate hikes, sneaky fees, usage caps
Companies: comcast


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread


  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 10:55am

    Perhaps it is time to admit they aren't free market players. They have been handed monopolies/douopolies & there is no choice for consumers. They are bending over consumers with the blessing of the government at every level often for paltry 'donations' to their war chests.

    Perhaps if they had to admit how much it actually costs them to deliver the product & explain why they are charging huge multiples more than that other than they face no actual competition.

    People could access other providers over the web, but its been blocked repeatedly & many of these providers put caps in place to make their services seem like a better value vs streaming from a 3rd party.

    Perhaps it is time to just make fiber part of the infrastructure of the nation. Stop allowing providers to inflate their profits while giving consumers less & make them compete with the upstarts who can make handsome profits chargeing 1/3 as much.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat

Warning: include(/home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395/includes/right_column/rc_promo_discord_chat.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395/includes/right_column/rc_module_promo.inc on line 8

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395/includes/right_column/rc_promo_discord_chat.inc' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/pear:/home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395:/home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395/..') in /home/beta6/deploy/itasca_20201215-3691-c395/includes/right_column/rc_module_promo.inc on line 8
Recent Stories
.

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.