Cablevision Takes Away Analog Stations Before DTV Transition, Confuses Customers

Joe works at a Radio Shack store on Long Island. Lately, the combination of the digital TV transition and some recent lineup changes at local cable TV provider Cablevision has Joe concerned, since he has both a conscience and a brain, and is an avid Consumerist reader.

Most electronics store employees don’t know or care enough to straighten their confused customers out. They mistakenly believe that they need to buy an over-the-air converter box in order to receive the missing channels again.

Over the last 3 weeks, customers have been flowing into my local Radio Shack, asking for DTV converter boxes to use with their cable service. This seemed to make very little sense, as 1. The Converter boxes only convert over-the-air signals, and 2. Cablevision sends broadcast channel signals through the line in analog format, as required by their agreement with the FCC.

After doing a bit of research, I found out that Cablevision had taken 16 channels, including Lifetime, MSNBC and MTV, from the analog lineup. (See this article.) The message on the screen, reads “This Channel is now available with a digital cable box or CableCARD.” This message, combined with the DTV switchover messages that have been bombarding viewers, left them to believe that the need a DTV converter box, when in fact, they need a Cablevision Digital Cable Box.

After the 4th day of customers coming in for boxes that shouldn’t work, I called Cablevision and confirmed that the DTV boxes will not work for this, and that customers who want those channels will need a cable box. While the customer service representative swore that correct information was being given to customers, and that all their subscribers were notified, nobody I have talked to has heard anything about these notifications and some customers have even claimed that the Cablevision reps told them to come into Radio Shack to buy the DTV boxes.

While I have done the best to get this information out to my co-workers and other Radio Shack stores, I am still hearing reports of customers meeting confusion and the runaround when going to other electronics retailers (Best Buy, I’m looking at you.).

I cannot confirm if any other Cable Providers are doing the same (Cablevision is the service provider for a Number of Suburban Areas around New York City, Including, Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey.) But it appears that the Cablevision problem is widespread on Long Island. I have tested the channels in question without a cable box, and sure enough, they aren’t coming in on my analog TV. Furthermore, as a Cablevision customer myself, I have not seen any notices from Cablevision regarding this change.

On average, I personally have to provide clarification for 3-4 customers every day, and I am only a part time employee in a very small store. If this is any indicator, there is a large consumer base that may potentially be confused to the point where they are buying products they don’t need.

It sounds like what efforts Cablevision is making to get information out to the public—if any—aren’t working, and it’s easy to see how people could confuse digital cable boxes with DTV converter boxes. Bad time to make a drastic lineup change.

Cablevision to eliminate 16 analog channels [Newsday]

(Photo: reegmo)

Comments

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  1. HelloSailor_GitEmSteveDave says:

    When it comes to explaining the switch to people, I just fall back on Meg’s flowchart, and print out a copy for them:

    • Yankees368 says:

      @HelloSailor_GitEmSteveDave:
      But in this case, that flow chart does not work. In order to make way for more HD channels, Cablevision is taking away regular ole analog channels that do not require a digital cablebox.
      To keep getting those channels, these people will now have to pay for a box, rather than simply plugging coax into the back of their TV.

      • HelloSailor_GitEmSteveDave says:

        @Yankees368: @cc82: No, they would be right. They do not need a DTV converter box. They need to talk to their cable company. This article seemed(to me at least) to be about people trying to buy DTV converter boxes, and this extremely helpful/informed employee explaining that they do not need one, and need to talk to Cablevision.

        • rpm773 says:

          @HelloSailor_GitEmSteveDave: Under some circumstances, the cable company is the last person I’d want to talk to about this, lest I get badgered by a sales-pitching CSR. But that’s more of a customer-relations issue than a DTV one.

          I’m going through this with my 90 year-old grandfather who has cable, but no cable box. He’s in position to take on the mighty Comcast CSRs with their riddles and mind games.

        • katstermonster says:

          @HelloSailor_GitEmSteveDave: Read the article…some of them went to Cablevision and STILL allegedly were told to go buy a converter box.

      • Riff Raff says:

        @Yankees368: @cc82:

        This chart, and SteveDave, are referring solely to the broad switch to digital television, not cable companies’ underhanded tactics of moving channels to “digital” tiers (wonder what they’ll call those tiers after the switch?), which is what this article refers to.

        Yes, the customers in this story do need a cable box, and not a signal converter, and that is where the problem lies. Cablevision, at the least, is not explaining the situation well enough, and at worst, is lying to people.

        • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

          @Riff-Raff:

          It’s not underhanded. They move stuff to digital channels because that allows them to fit more HD channels. Analog cable is inefficient, and it is going away slowly.

    • c_c says:

      @HelloSailor_GitEmSteveDave:
      Yea except if they followed this flow chart they would be wrong. They would follow “Do you use an antenna?” > “No” > “Do nothing”, when in fact they need a cable stb to get those channels.

    • katstermonster says:

      @HelloSailor_GitEmSteveDave: Yeah, what they said…did you bother reading the article? These customers were told BY CABLEVISION to get a converter box, when in fact, they don’t need it.

      • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

        @katstermonster:

        Yeah, it’s not at all possible that people who don’t know the difference between a digital cable box and a DTV box could be confused about that.

      • godlyfrog says:

        @katstermonster: The correct question is: did YOU read the article? The article says that Cablevision has a message on the screen telling them that they need a digital cable box in order to view those channels, not a digital converter, and they do in fact need one to view those channels.

        The problem here is that most of their customers are already confused by the digital switchover, and suddenly the TV says they need something with the word “digital” in it without any word from Cablevision that the lineup is changing.

        • katstermonster says:

          @godlyfrog: “some customers have even claimed that the Cablevision reps told them to come into Radio Shack to buy the DTV boxes.”

          FAIL.

          • katstermonster says:

            @katstermonster: Sorry, to follow up…I agree with the second portion of your post. My point is that the flowchart that GitEmSteveDave does not help Cablevision customers at all because is has no 3rd option, for hey, what if my channels still won’t come through?

            • dark_inchworm says:

              @katstermonster: Someone is trying waaay too hard here…

            • coren says:

              @katstermonster: The point is – the converter box is not what any of these people need. In terms of the big switchover, the chart is right – they do nothing. If Cablevision is telling them to go get a converter, they’re lying about it. This isn’t a complete guide to how to get your channels – just for the analog to digital switch

      • bonzombiekitty says:

        @katstermonster: But I wonder how many were told they need a digital cable box, but interpreted it as needing a DTV converter. I can easily see people, who don’t understand how it all works, being told they need to get a digital cable box. They hear the word “digital” and understand it as needing a DTV converter (considering all the recent ads about the digital transition). Then think to themselves, “where do you get one? Radio Shack!”. So when Joe asks them why they think they need they need a DTV converter they say “A cablevision rep told me to get one at radio shack”.

        Sounds a bit convoluted. But I’ve experienced this sort of thing a lot. People have an amazing ability to alter and add information to fit what they think they know. When I worked tech support, I’d have customers calling me all the time telling asking me for things they definitely didn’t need. When I questioned them, they’d say they were told by another rep (that other rep being me sometimes), to get it. I’d then check their case history and see things like e-mails where they were supposedly told to get the thing in question. Except, those e-mails told the customer to get something completely different.

  2. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    Kudos to Joe for trying to help his customers. Minus several million points to Cablevision for their timing, which I wish I could think wasn’t a calculated effort to confuse their customers.

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

      @larrymac:

      Why should Cablevision have to delay their plans to move these channels because the government delayed its plans to do the DTV switch? Why would they be trying to confuse their customer? They’re not making money off those DTV boxes.

  3. NeverLetMeDown says:

    As a heads-up for Joe (and people who live in Cablevision-land) the company’s probably going to shut off analog altogether (which the exception of the “lifeline” service, which only brings in the over-the-air channels) by the end of the year. So, if you have analog, and want to get any of the “cable” channels (CNN, TNT, ESPN, etc.), you’ll need a digital box.

    • c_c says:

      @NeverLetMeDown:
      That’s alright by me, as analog channels use up more bandwidth than their digital counterparts, which (hopefully) makes room for more HD channels…

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        @cc82:

        That’s exactly why they’re doing it.

      • David Brodbeck says:

        @cc82: Except that it also means they’ll get to upsell everyone to the more expensive “digital tier.” IMHO they should give us a price cut for this, since it’s letting them do more with the same infrastructure, but since they’re a cable company they use everything as an excuse to wring more money out of us.

      • sponica says:

        @cc82: but why should I have to UPGRADE to a whole new package AND pay 8 bucks for a cable box to receive channels I had been receiving at a lower price?

    • Rachacha says:

      @NeverLetMeDown: Verizon did this with their FiOS TV service in my area several months ago. When I first had FiOS, there were a few channels (mostly the local broadcast channels) that I was able to receive without a STB on an analog TV. To cram more channels in and increase their HD broadcast, they converted to 100% digital transmission. They offered every home a FREE STB that would decode all non premium channels. You can’t do OnDemand, and you don’t get the on screen guide on these free STBs, but on certain TVs, I don’t care about those features.

  4. must hold harmless says:

    We don’t use an antenna at my house, however we’ve already started losing channels, so we bought the converter and got them back. I don’t get it because we were told to do nothing, but we still lost channels…

    • must hold harmless says:

      @sna: Oh, and I have Comcast in Massachusetts. Which could be the problem all together :)

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @sna: If you have cable, you’re probably losing channels because Comcast sucks and has reduced programming in its local stations, not because of the transition… what channels are you losing?

        • David Brodbeck says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: Comcast has started pulling analog feeds off their network, too, in many areas. Where I live they no longer provide any channel higher than 34 in analog.

  5. attackgypsy says:

    I hate to say it, but he needs to actually read his bills. These things are announced in every bill. I see them in mine. Time for people to enter the 21st century.

  6. ds says:

    This already happened on another network (can’t think of which one, but it’s whatever serves Highland Park, NJ), the cable company killed any digital channels from appearing on an analog box, no explanation (until I got to talk to engineering), no notice.

    • theysaidwhat says:

      @ds: I know Comcast is doing it. Several channels, including MSNBC regular definition, went poof from my upstairs TV that has no cable box.

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    How old does your TV have to be in order to not have a digital tuner?

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: What difference does that make? I have a very nice Apex 24″ set in my bedroom, I don’t recall when I got it – maybe 2003? – but it works just fine. Before that, I had a Sears 19″ from 1980 that still worked great, which I donated to a worthy recipient.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @larrymac: It makes a difference because according to the flow chart, you need a converter box if you don’t have a digital tuner. It doesn’t apply to me, since I’m going to have cable, but my grandma doesn’t and I’d like to know whether she needs a box.

        • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: OK, chalk one up for “internet does not convey tone”. Mea culpa.

          The FCC mandate was for March 1, 2007 – as of that date all TVs had to have a digital tuner (if they had an analog tuner – “monitors” would of course have neither). That was for “imported into the US or shipped to retail”. Some retailers probably continued selling off old stock.

        • theysaidwhat says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: Pecan, maybe get the model number off her TV and look it up online?

          • eelmonger says:

            @theysaidwhat: This is the best solution. I got a TV as a gift in 2006 and it does not have a digital tuner, so date (unless after the mandated date) is a pretty poor indicator.

      • merist says:

        @larrymac:

        That is my exact problem. My wife got a television when she graduated from High School (1989) and she thinks it is perfectly fine. I want my 1080p! dag-nabit. But I cannot convince her to replace it.

    • subsider34 says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: I’ve seen some being sold at stores right up until the time when the DTV conversion was supposed to happen (before it was pushed back). You’ll know if you have a digital TV tuner if you don’t get “snow”. The station should only pixilate with bad reception.

    • Rachacha says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: If it is a 4:3 aspect ration screen, it probably does not have a digital tuner…it might have a gigital tuner, but I think that manufacturers rolled out digital tuners in their HD sets, and just phased out the SD sets.

      Details on the rollout of digital tuners are available here: [hraunfoss.fcc.gov]

      There was apparently a revised ruling that changedthe date for smaller TVs which is detailed here:
      [hraunfoss.fcc.gov]

      But as you may recall, some retailers got into trouble for selling TVs without digital tuners after the required dates.

      You can check to see if you have a digital tuner now because most if not all broadcast stations in major metro areas are already broadcasting Digital signals

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Age is not a good metric to go by. Some manufacturers were selling TVs with digital tuners well before others were.

      The easiest way to check is to see if you have the ability to tune to a channel with a dot or dash. For example, in analog, you can tune to channels 1,2,3,4… With digital you can tune to 1-1,1-2,1-3,2-1,2-2,2-3,etc…

  8. Anonymous says:

    They’re doing it to free up bandwidth on their cable lines for more HD channels. By moving channels off of the analog spectrum and onto a digital spectrum they can provide the channels semi-on demand rather than always being there. This significantly lowers the bandwidth the channels take and allows for more HD channels.

  9. c_c says:

    Don’t analog channels take up a lot more bandwidth than digital? Therefore cutting out the analog should free up a lot of room for more channels, including sweet sweet HD ones.

  10. Erwos says:

    This is what I love about the constant “if you have cable, don’t worry about the OTA DTV transition.” It’s technically true, but misleading as hell – the cable companies are eventually going to be shutting off analog broadcasts, too, just not on the same time line. It’s less of a problem since the cable company will provide you with a box, but it’s still a hassle for people who use their own tuners, and now need a new solution.

    • subsider34 says:

      @Erwos: Those people don’t get the benefit of a $40 government coupon either.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Erwos: yeah, but considering cable cos. frequently charge $5 or more/month for the use of those boxes, cable customers that don’t need them NOW should be trying to put it off as long as possible.

    • sponica says:

      @Erwos: yeah they’ll “provide” me a box for 5 bucks a month or so, plus they’ll “provide” me with another whole package (for an added fee) just because I want to watch lifetime….

  11. pb5000 says:

    Not to sound like a total prick here, but as mentioned directly in the article: The message on the screen, reads “This Channel is now available with a digital cable box or CableCARD.” A Digital cable box and digital converter box are different things.

    Kudos for this radio shack employee for doing the right thing rather than simply selling them a box they don’t need.

    • nakedscience says:

      @pb5000: Yes, but I can understand the confusion to people who don’t know the difference between a “digital converteR” and “digital cable box”. A lot people think it is the same thing.

    • bones11 says:

      @pb5000: @larrymac: It’s also entirely possible that Cablevision is telling these customers they need a cable box because they live in an apt. complex in which the bedrooms do not have cable jacks. Cable companies have a contractual agreement with these complexes to not install additional outlets as it would greatly decrease the signal strength for others in the building. Thus, they need a digital converter box and not a cable box. Why would the cable company mislead these people in to buying something from another company when they could just try and upsell their own products whenever possible?? Sounds foolish to me.

  12. Carolyn Gabriel says:

    I work in LPTV and have had to answer more DTV conversion questions than any sane woman should ever have to. I am insanely glad that this company does not do business in my area or I would be in tears already. x.x

  13. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    One thing I’ve been learning is that Cox hates, hates, hates people who are on boring, regular cable. They don’t make as much money off those people, and I think they’re slowly taking channels away so more people will have to switch to Digital.

    And then they bundle Digital cable in with internet and phone so you almost have to do all of it just to “save” money, and to get the channels you want without the fear of Cox taking them away and telling them you can’t have them back.

    • vastrightwing says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: A: Drop cable/Satellite altogether. That’s what I did, and I’m happier and richer for it.

      I used to subscribe to Dish and when the economy tanked, I looked at my satellite bill and realized that I was only watching 1 channel and listening to the Sirius radio channels. I decided to not watch the 1 channel anymore and subscribed to Pandora to replace Sirius. Bill went from $90/mo to $35/YEAR!

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @vastrightwing: Not an option for me until ESPN decides to stream every football, baseball and basketball game on the internet for my husband. Also, can’t until Discover decides to stream everything as well.

        If you watch one channel, it’s obviously a waste. But we watch a lot of TV (it’s a way for us to unwind…we aren’t vacation people) and it’s definitely worth it to get cable.

      • nakedscience says:

        @vastrightwing: I don’t have cable, but some people actually like having TV, you know.

      • David Brodbeck says:

        @vastrightwing: Wish I could do that, but all I can get with an antenna is religious broadcasters.

  14. LegoMan322 says:

    Just noticed this last night. I do not have 23 and 47 which are MSNBC and History channel respectively.

    CableVision IO tv is the worst possible thing I have ever seen. From design, to speed to the shit ass remote.

    I would rather just have my Tivo with basic service.

  15. I Love New Jersey says:

    Well Cablevision is really trying to confuse people into getting their service, as this commercial featuring former WNBC reporter Joe Avelar illustrates:

    • Anonymous says:

      @I Love New Jersey: I’ve been really pissed by these ads. I don’t know what it is, but it’s just deceptive advertising. They fail to mention anything about the antennas and the converter boxes, or even new TVs with built in receptors. And, then, they play off of naive consumers’ fears by telling them their TVs won’t work. If I didn’t need Cablevision here in NJ, I’d definitely get something else.

  16. usa_gatekeeper says:

    We have Comcast cable (Mass); one set equipped with a digital box and several other sets just hooked to cable w/o the box (Hey! They charge extra for the %*&^$ box and “digital starter” service!)

    We’ve been watching channels disappear from the unboxed sets around the house but they continue to exist on the one with the digital box, sometimes in the same spot, sometimes they’re moved to upper channels.

    It’s easy to see how this would be blowing people away and causing confusion.

    We received – out of the blue – a letter from Comcast the other day, promising “up to 2 more digital boxes at no extra charge – more to follow”, but have heard nothing more yet.

  17. Nick Wright says:

    All digital confusion aside, MTV et. al. on the digital tier is ridiculous. They’re charging extra money on channels that previously were going out with the most basic service package. Now if you want to watch MSNBC in your bedroom, you’ll need a second cable box, rather than just hooking the coaxial line up to your TV.

  18. kjherron says:

    This is partly a case of selection bias. The people who read and understood the notices from Cablevision didn’t go to Radio Shack. RS only sees the people who were confused, and assumes the problem is more widespread than it is.

    • nakedscience says:

      @kjherron: LOL, go ask any random person on the street about this, and you’ll find they are likely confused.

      • theysaidwhat says:

        @nakedscience: Agreed. No matter how many times I have told my mom, who is an intelligent woman, that she doesn’t need to do anything at all in order to keep receiving her service, I get a very confused question from her once or twice a month.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is. Congress delayed the move a few months, then set another deadline for June, altghough most could move ahead if they want to, but from what I heard when I spoke to Insight Cable (my cable provider). They do NOTHING with the signal, they just pass it through.

    So its up to the broadcasters to decide. Personally, I only get 14 channels on my digital feed and I was hoping I would get much more during the last allowable period so my HD Homerun (its a media center thing) would pick up more stations but alas, they didn’t.

    Congress did set some kind of restrictions for certain markets to ensure that they had analog signals to watch until the June switchover, but bottom line, I don’t think its any fault of the cable companies, but I could be wrong.

  20. subsider34 says:

    When I grow up, I want to be a RadioShack employee!

  21. merist says:

    Some MSNBC television programming is available via podcast.

    A little off topic, but don’t let the cable company tell you that you need a set top box and pay for digital cable to get HD broadcast stations. Most cable companies provide a clear qam signal of your local channels.

    Not that this can help people who think cable channels like MSNBC et al are part of the digital transition.

    • theysaidwhat says:

      @merist: I receive a surprising number of HD channels without a box on my hdtv that just has cable plugged into it. They’re a pain to find, because they are all channels like 71.8, but they’re there!

  22. farker says:

    Cable companies are pieces of s**t. I’m happy Comcast hasn’t done too much to alter our analog cable lineup. The only channels we’ve lost to digital have been NASA-TV and the TV-Guide channel.

    Forcing customers to switch to digital cable is a sleazy move, especially since doing so requires a set-top box for every analog TV (or a cable-card for compatible digital TVs), which cost a monthly fee.

    With regular-ol’ analog cable, you pay the same for 1 TV as you do for 5 (we have that many!), so the switch to digital would be rather painful given the higher bill per month, plus the $5 or $10 fee per month per STB.

    I hope Cablevision does right by their customers by immediately phoning and notifying them of these changes they’ve forced upon them, but I’m not too hopeful that will actually happen…

  23. mizmoose says:

    Reason number 39238 why I don’t own a TV.

  24. JGKojak says:

    This is turning out exactly as you could predict-

    What we once used to get for free, we will now pay for.

    I want to know who the idiot is who designed the digital TV spectrum– I’m a techie and it was slightly confusing to me at first (channel 29-1, 29-2, etc.) What happened to Channel 2,3,4,5… etc. Would have made a lot more sense.

    • morlo says:

      @JGKojak: My new digital converter box receives…0 channels. Good luck trying to get me to pay anything, though.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @JGKojak: The weird numbers are because each physical channel can now carry more than one video feed. So channel 29, for example, might have more than one subchannel. This is one of the benefits for broadcasters of switching — they can now send two or three programs at once instead of one.

      Some cable companies are repacking channels, as well, so on cable 29-1 and 29-2 may not even be the same broadcaster. Their set-top boxes get a data feed that lets them map these to familiar channel numbers, but if you have a digital TV plugged in without a set-top box you’ll see the raw numbers.

  25. Anonymous says:

    How can you see this as anything but Cablevision using its monopoly to screw us over. The Dolan family is a bunch of criminals…

    Have you noticed which channels they’ve elected to take away. Fox News remains, but MSNBC is gone. Could this possibly be a political statement at the customers expense?

    As AbsurdHero says, they are taking away channels that have always been part of the basic package. I guess they need more cash to settle those sexual harrassment suits…

    -Mike

  26. prag says:

    A converter box of some sort on each TV is a fact of life. Fios needs one. DirecTV needs one. Dish needs one and soon all CATV subscribers will need one. It’s the only way they can offer the same number of HD channels as their competition. There’s no point complaining. My only gripe is how expensive the rental fees are for the boxes. CableCARD is cheaper but few TVs can accept them. CATV companies should offer a stripped down box with only analog outputs for a minimal fee for these people. It would go a long way to making them happy.

    • Joeb5 says:

      @prag:
      Direct tv seems to be the best box rent $5 /m for any box.

      $20.25 for 3 boxes likely sd only ones is a big ripoff.

      Will true2way be the same $3 – $5 per tv card fee / system access fee + guide fees. More if you want HD / dvr guide info?

      dvr need a fee for each tuner after the first one?

  27. bizzz says:

    Comcast seattle just turned of a big block of their analog stations. For a while they had a static image on the channels telling you to call them to get a box, but now it’s just snow.

    Supposedly Comcast seattle is offering a free “DTA” converter box so you can get your channels back, however I don’t know if that “free” actually means free for six months, then they start charging you a monthly fee. I need one of those boxes for the guest bedroom, so I guess I’ll be finding out.

    I’m not sure if other cable providers are offering the same type of “free” box, but it wouldn’t hurt to inquire rather than getting shoehorned into a regular digital box and the monthly fees.

    • Rachacha says:

      @bizzz: Verizon does offer a truly FREE box for FiOS, but for them it was a requirement because they converted everything, including broadcast OTA channels to digital. No On Demand, and no on screen guide on these free boxes, but for the bedroom, office or basement where you generally have the TV on as background to other activities, it is perfectly fine.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @bizzz: The free ones are cut-down versions without on demand or component outputs. I have two of them for bedroom TVs. Good question about whether they’ll start charging for them later; I didn’t think about that. Nothing in the agreement says that it’s just a free trial, though, so my guess is if you get one now you’re probably grandfathered in.

      • David Brodbeck says:

        @David Brodbeck: Oh yeah, and make sure you get the right box. Comcast screwed up and sent me full-fledged cable boxes instead of DTAs, at first. (If your remote has an “ON DEMAND” button, you have the wrong one.) I took them back to the Comcast Store ASAP because I didn’t want to get billed for them.

  28. veg-o-matic says:

    Comcast has been pulling a similar stunt for almost 2 years now.

    They began moving some channels to their digital tier (a purely profit-driven business decision) that just happened to coincide with the (federally-mandated and not a simple business decision) DTV transition in an effort to confuse customers and scare them into purchasing ridiculously expensive Digital Tier packages.

    So, our available range of channels shrinks, while our bills get more and more expensive. Comcast doesn’t pay that much for their content, so it doesn’t make any sense and it takes a long time on the phone tree to get anyone who understands what you’re talking about.

    Yet, at the same time, ran commercial after commercial comforting people by saying “if you have cable, you’re all set!”

    They send so many mixed signals, I don’t know if I should ask them on a date or assume we’re just friends.

  29. katstermonster says:

    @dark_inchworm: Excuse me?

  30. SugarMag says:

    Why is the digital shift federally mandated anyway? I’ve never why it is serious enough to federally mandate.

    Thanks for the Comcast info with disappearing channels. I’ve lost AMC, Style, and the country channel. I’ve never inquired because I don’t pay for basic extended anyway. On initial hookup they didnt turn off the channels saying they were missing a piece of equipment. Three times after that we discussed the channel shutoff. Each time they shutoff ALL the channels, even the ones I pay for. When they turn them on again, yep, you guessed it, they leave the channels I dont pay for . :/ I’m afraid to call and complain about my “free” channels disappearing so I’m glad to be clued in.

    veg-o-matic said: “They send so many mixed signals, I don’t know if I should ask them on a date or assume we’re just friends.”

    Thanks for the larf!

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @SugarMag: The digital shift for cable isn’t federally mandated, only the shift for broadcast TV, which uses the public airwaves.

  31. FrugalFreak says:

    Cablevision reps told them to come into Radio Shack to buy the DTV boxes.

    Good Advice, Buy DTV box, disconnect cable. when calling to disconnect and they ask why, tell them cablevision reps suggested it.

  32. synergy says:

    This brings up another topic. What happened to the person sueing for the requirement to rent a box from the cable company for digital channels??? If I didn’t have to pay every month a fee for a box that I could buy and pay off in one go, I’d bother getting digital cable.

  33. lmarconi says:

    Ironically I emailed Consumerist tipline over a week ago about this. Cablevision has a contract with our Connecticut town and reduced the channels arbitrarily (without reducing the price of cable’s “family package.”) If we want to get those channels back, the Cablevision people have informed us that we must pay $7 to rent a digital box per month for any TV we want to receive those channels. That means that for families like ours with multiple TVs (yes I know it’s unnecessary, but let’s face it, quite common in middle America), we’d need to pay an extra $28 per month to get the same channels we got last week for the monthly cable fee.
    Frankly Consumerist, even though I’m a huge fan you really let me down a week ago when I emailed about this – I received an email back that said simply “This is why monopolies are bad.” Gee, I didn’t know that.
    People in town are writing to the Attorney General to request renegotiation of the contract with Cablevision, but so far no response and no luck. Absolutely unacceptable.

  34. magnoliasouth says:

    “Most electronics store employees don’t know or care enough to straighten their confused customers out.”

    Hmmm. I wonder where you got that. Is that an assumption or a fact? My daughter also works at Radio Shack and our transition was a couple of months ago. She worked hard to help out her customers.

  35. Bs Baldwin says:

    More reasons the cable industry sucks a big one.