Bundle Bargains

February 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Is it time to bundle your phone, internet, and TV? Competition is fierce these days as companies vie for your telecom dollars.Really low introductory rates and incentives like free TV's are all part of the push to get your triple play business.

David Berliner had a very practical reason for bundling his TV, phone, and internet. "I didn't want to have to deal with three bills."

He also liked the $99 promotional package Verizon Fios offered him. Consumer Reports just checked to see if it pays to bundle.

Paul Reynolds, Consumer Reports, says "If your telecom and TV needs are simple, say you don't make a lot of long-distance calls and you get only basic cable, bundling may not pay off. But we found for typical homes it can save you hundreds of dollars a year."

You have to compare offers carefully. And Reynolds says you have to be on your toes so you don't end up paying more than you bargained for.

"Remember you are getting a bundled price and if you drop one of the services the rates may rise for the services you're still receiving," Reynolds says.

So before bundling your phone, TV, and internet, here are important questions to ask:

  • Are there installation or activation fees?
  • What will the rate be after the promotion ends?
  • Is there a penalty fee if I decide to "unbundle"?
  • Who should you go with?
  • A just-published survey of Consumer Reports subscribers puts Verizon Fios at the top of the list for user satisfaction, but it may not be available in your area. What then?

    Reynolds says, "If you're happy with one service from your provider, our survey suggests that's a pretty good indicator you'll be satisfied with the other bundled services."

    And while David is happy with his bundled services, he does have a caution. "Now after a year I still remain pretty satisfied with it. But I would warn anybody to watch the bill because it can just go up and up and up."

    There are a couple of ways to keep your bill from going up and up. When your promotional offer ends, cancel any services you don't want. And don't be afraid to negotiate. Letting a company know, politely, that you're prepared to take your business elsewhere can be a very effective negotiating tool.


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