Cut the Cord

cut cableI cut the cord on a couple of things this week; I skipped class and I cancelled cable.  Class will commence again for me next week, but never will I be tethered to a cable company again.  Rather than write about the balance between justice and mercy (curriculum I missed), I prefer to evangelize about the revolution I joined to liberate people from cable bills.  Cut the cord!

Television is not something I watch during the day and in the evenings my husband and I will fire up Netflix or Hulu.  On weekends, we’ll binge watch something on one of these services or maybe rent a movie.  CD’s and DVDs are allowed into the house only if they can be expeditiously returned to Redbox or the library; I’m diligent about reducing this kind of clutter.  Although my viewing habits would make cable unnecessary, my husband likes ESPN, CNN, game shows and The Rifleman.  Until recently, the thought of disconnecting from cable would have made his head explode.

How did I do it?  Well, we actually started the transition two years ago when we took a look at our cable bill, made changes, and avoided being sucked into services we didn’t need.  However, the amount we paid kept increasing every few months.  Then we were required to get an adapter for each television in our home because the area went one hundred percent digital.  Of course, we would be charged five dollars per month for each one of our free adapters after a few months.   Something had to be done so I got online.

It must have been divinely guided because I found a great website  almost right away.  I’m not one of those gifted people who hook up electronic components intuitively.  Finding this resource was a gift.  Reading through the information once gave me the courage to plan an assault and take back my TV.

After convincing my husband he would never be without CNN and ESPN, he agreed to phase one of my strategy.  Since we already had a streaming device, I went to Sling TV  and downloaded their service that provides CNN, ESPN, etc for twenty dollars monthly.  This is a significant saving over cable and very much in our control.

Within minutes, we just clicked on the Sling TV app and started watching CNN.  My excitement was euphoric.  Immediately, I called the cable company and reduced our service down to the most basic thing possible which turned out to be ten channels; the channels we used to watch for free on television when we were kids.  I’d like to add that the most basic service was twelve dollars.  “After taxes and fees,” the representative said, “your bill will be twenty-four dollars.”  Are you kidding me?

I was not willing to start phase two of my plan until I had safely viewed the final episode of Downton Abbey on PBS.  No, I did not want to wait and watch it online.  However, this gave me time to mull over the significance of being charged double the amount of the actual service.  This fueled my fury.  The next morning, I dove into phase two and cancelled cable completely.  I hadn’t bought an antenna yet so this was a leap of faith.

When I think antenna, I envision the unsightly, leggy metal thing perched on my parent’s house in my youth.  In order to get enough reception to watch the Bruins games on channel 38, my father, or one of my brothers, would climb onto the roof and move it around while someone in the house would shout up, “Cold, cool, warm, warmer, hot, stop!”  Other televisions had rabbit ears or coat hangers wrapped in tinfoil.  These were unfortunate to look at as well, but what was the alternative?  Having no TV was not an option.

It occurs to me that this anecdote may be aging.  There are viewers out there who have never actually lived without cable.  It has been like an umbilical cord or lifeline for a lot of people; unless one is brave with technology, cutting cable is a scary proposition.

Energized by my bold action, I drove off in pursuit of a Mohu Leaf 50 indoor HDTV antenna.  There was a Mohu antenna in Walmart (Mohu Leaf Ultimate) for a little less money and I wondered what the difference was (later I learned they are the exact same antenna); I wanted to be sure to buy what Mr. Cable Cutter recommended.  With my Mohu in hand and a can do attitude, I raced home.

I pulled out the ladder, set it up in front of the TV, and read through the installation instructions.  They couldn’t have been easier.  The antenna was surprisingly small, the size of a piece of paper.  Then I climbed up into the area behind the television, the hardest part of the installation process by the way, and made all the necessary connections.  After inching my way out from behind the TV in order to avoid any kind of catastrophe, I climbed back down the ladder and grabbed the remote control.  In the north we call it a clicker.

It didn’t work: all I saw was snow, I started sweating, I called the Mohu help line.  The gentleman on the other end of the phone couldn’t have been nicer.  Learning Mohu is a North Carolina company, I must admit that I felt a little proud.  After asking about the Mohu Leaf Ultimate, he informed me that renaming is a requirement of Walmart. Following the obligatory amount of chit chat, I explained my dilemma and asked for help. He responded, “How old is your TV?”

Apparently, if a television is older than 2009, a digital to analog converter is required.  I am now feeling a mixture of relief and panic all at the same time.  The problem is identified, easy and inexpensive to fix, but I only have a couple of hours left to get this thing hooked up before my husband comes home from work and starts channel surfing.

Back out I schlepped in search of a converter box.  Several stores were visited before I found one and I’m thinking the whole time, “People must be joining the revolution in droves.  Good for them!”  Once the antenna was connected to the converter box instead of the TV, twenty channels came in; two times more than I get with cable and I own all the equipment.

I’m feeling quite liberated now and have shared this story with several friends who are delighted to start the process.  Next, I’m going to use the internet deal comparison search tool provided on http://www.cutcabletoday.com/ to investigate whether or not there is a better internet value available.

Perhaps this post is about justice and mercy after all.  The cable company is losing my business after years of overcharging and questionable customer service.  This is a kind of justice and I feel no mercy.

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