A survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center finds that while you needn't compromise service quality to buy a telecom bundle, you can get a good deal if you ask these questions:
NEW YORK — A daily bombardment of pitches to receive your cable, Internet and phone service from one provider can be overwhelming.
But don’t let your weariness with junk mail and routine commercials dismiss bundle offerings too quickly.
They might save you enough money to be worth the disruption of switching some services.
A survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center finds that while you needn’t compromise service quality to buy a telecom bundle, you can get a good deal if you ask these questions:
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• What’s the total cost?
Your first month’s bill will probably include charges for an additional month’s service, plus activation and installation fees, which together can top $80.
Factor in taxes, surcharges and one-time charges for cable boxes and remotes, as well as add-ons such as premium channels. Ask the company to calculate and itemize a bill for the first and second months, then trim extras you don’t really need.
• Are there service limits?
Providers might terminate your “unlimited” calling privileges if you make an unusually large number of calls. They might also restrict your Internet upload and download speeds if your file transfers exceed monthly bandwidth limits.
• What’s the post-promotion rate?
Promotional bundles might allow you to try out some add-ons, such as additional TV channels, at no extra cost.
But you might be automatically billed for those extras when the promotion is over, unless you instruct the company to cancel. Near the end of the promotion, decide whether you want the premium services that were included at the outset.
• Can I continue to use my existing telephone number and is there a fee to do so?
Most companies must allow you to transfer your old number to your new service.
However, this might not be possible if you’re moving or if you are trying to port a nonlocal number — say, because you want your mom in Denver to be able to call you in New York on her land line without incurring long-distance charges.
If there is a charge, try to get the company to waive it; most bundle providers would consider losing a small fee to gain a new customer.