Ask The Consumerists: When Moving, Is It Better To Cancel Cable?

Reader Matt from Palatine, IL writes in:


Perhaps you can present this to your readership: Is it better to cancel cable service and start new service when you move, or just transfer existing service? I’m in suburban Chicago and deal with Comcast. I’m thinking about canceling everything, and starting anew with a bundled package (since bundled packages are not for current subscribers).

Any thoughts?


Well, Matt. When we tried to transfer our Comcast service many eons ago, we: 1) Were told we could. 2) Then were told we couldn’t. 3) Were charged for service at two addresses. 4) No one came to install the new service, but were billed anyway. 5) Ended up transferring the account to our parent’s house just to end the madness. 6) Are still sort of mad about it.

From our personal experience, we think it’s best just to cancel, especially if you can get a better deal that way. Then again, perhaps our experience with Comcast was unusual. What do the readers think? —MEGHANN MARCO


Edit Your Comment

  1. bluwapadoo says:

    I agree. Cancel. I have never gone from same cable company to same cable company when moving, but it seems like if you cancel and start again in a new city, you might be able to get their 6 month or a year discounts. Am I wrong about that?

  2. jeblis says:

    You’ll probably get updated equipment if you cancel.

  3. kcskater says:

    cancel and start fresh. Try and find out about the small authorized sales agents too. In my apt complex, two sales agents from the same company share the territory. I got some pretty sweet deals for the $ since they both try their best to make the sale.

  4. Might as well cancel. I have had issues with both cable and DSL providers where I explained it was very important that my disconnect time be limited to the time it took me to transfer the computers, and if necessary, I would pay for a month in each location to be certain that I had coverage no matter what. Sure enough. They canceled at my old address early, and it took two weeks to get connected at my new address.

    Also cable/dsl providers incentivize disloyalty with their “pay only $x for the first 6 months” crap.

  5. FunPaul says:

    I had a pretty positive experience keeping the same service when I moved. I think it took a phone call to get the TV tuner turned on. The cable Modem worked out of the box.
    I’ve never had a problem with my equipment because I frequently exchange anything that flakes out on me–BTW, if you can stop by one of their offices during business hours that has fixed every one of my problems much better than having a tech stop by.
    With that said, I’d try to play both sides and see what kinds of deals I can get with new service and what kind of promotions I could get by calling and saying I’m thinking of getting a dish. Take the better deal.

  6. Luxy says:

    I transferred my Comcast service this Saturday and it was a lot easier than the original set up. We have the phone/internet/cable bundle with them and the service guys were here for only about 15 minutes (as opposed to the 45 minutes it took when I first signed up). If you think you’ll be getting new equipment, then just cancel, cause it’ll take more time for them to set it up anyway. But of you’ll be using the same equipment, then I say just transfer.

  7. matto says:

    Comcast offers pretty sweet new subscriber deals, generally discounted service for the first six or 12 months. I can’t see a reason why you wouldn’t want to take advantage of those.

  8. Papa K says:

    Caaaanncel. I canceled, put it in my wife’s name at the new place, and if/when we move, I’ll put it back in mine. new bundles, new equipment, and never had a benefit of transferring.

  9. pete says:

    There’s no incentive to transfer – as identified, you will be eligible for new discounts if you cancel. From the company’s perspective, it’s a cancellation and new install anyway. I tried to transfer last year and they wiped everything out.

  10. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @Electoral College Dropout – Also cable/dsl providers incentivize disloyalty with their “pay only $x for the first 6 months” crap.

    As a rebuttal to this, I am a Qwest DSL customer. They are currently offering DSL with phone service for $26.99/month or $31.99/month naked. You get that price for at least a year (no contract). If you sign up for a two-year commitment, you get that price guaranteed for life. Sure you have to do a commitment, but that’s a pretty good price to be guaranteed long-term. I’d rather have a decent price like this forever than a great price for a few months, followed by a massive jack-up that forces you to haggle for a new price or switch service.

    This is the first time I’ve ever seen a cable/internet provider do anything like this. It’s good for you (good price for a long time) and good for them (they get you for at least 2 years). I hope that more companies begin to do this.

  11. missdona says:

    Bastards at Comcast refuse to transfer promotions to new addresses.

    You gotta cancel. They suck.

  12. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I agree.. cancel. Actually, you should check out your local Best Buy. They re-sell cable and broadband for your local providers. But they usually offer some sweet deals. The Best Buy near me is offering Verizon DSL at a discounted rate for 6 months. Plus, a $100 gift card. I think they have freebies for cable sign-up also. It doesn’t hurt to check.

  13. mtander says:

    When you are dealing with the same company I would transfer service. If you cancel and then use your same name to get new service many times you cannot get the good deals. There is usually a fine-print clause that defines a new customer as someone who has not had service for 6 months or so.

  14. Don't be Silly says:

    Cancel, cancel… and make sure you get new equipment when signing the new contract. I have been calling the idiots to come and exchange my cable modem but nobody ever shows up even after the second confirmed appointment. Worst of all, they made me stay home from 1 to 5 P.M.

  15. This is what is wrong with cable. They come up with packages, and then you have to be a “new subscriber” to get them. Hello? doesn’t this country have like a 90% cable footprint? Why cause all of this for a few customers?

    All packages should be available to anyone, regardless.

  16. Hawkins says:

    Cancel. But record the call, during which you’ll doubtless be forced to endure all manner of foolishness and idiocy, even though you’re canceling because you’re MOVING.

    Then post the recording here for our amusement.

    Be sure, at some point in the call, to say, very slowly: “Just cancel… the… account…”

  17. Scazza says:

    I am going to swing the other way then what most say here. IF, like me, you have “deals” with your cable company for threatening to leave. Then you may want to hold out on canceling. I am with rogers up here in canada, last summer we threatened to cut off most of our service because we just couldnt afford it. They gave is a fantastic deal on our already cheap bundle packages (phone x3, internet, tv). This past december we moved, so before hand we called to ask what to do.

    They said we could cancel, get the new sign up bonus but because it only lasts 6 months, after about a year and a half our current bonus would easily be saving us more money. Before you move, threaten to cancel and see if you get a better offer. Explain you are a loyal customer, who has been with them for X years.

    call 2 months before you move and ask them their procedure….call 30days before you move to set it up… call 10days before you move to verify… call day before you move to make sure 100%. Even after we did this, they STILL fucked up badly. The guy who came out said the service takes 30minutes to start working, and ran out the door. Called support, and not a single person could understand why it wasn’t working. Another guy came out, was baffled, then we spent days on the phone escalating the problem. SEVEN FUCKING DAYS LATER they got the problem fixed…

    Anyway, good luck with your move….

  18. Fisher says:

    Cancel Comcast. But make sure when you turn in your equipment that they credit your account accordingly. When I turned in my cable box, they said that they would credit my account and that I should disregard any final bill that may come. Big mistake.

    I got a bill from a collection agency (only about 60 days after the fact) for the amount that they claim I owed them for equipment, despite whatever they said.

    And once it’s in a collection agency’s hands, you have to wait for them to sort out the mess even though you may have cleared it up on Comcast’s end. It’s now 60 days after I disputed this claim and I’ll still haggling with the debt agency.

    Plus, don’t expect to find help from the Comcast office to wherever you’re moving – they’ll tell you that each Comcast office is separate and they can’t deal with accounts from other areas. I did this on the advice of a Comcast rep over the phone and found out that Comcast customer service is worthless.

    Ironically, just a few weeks ago, I then received a refund check of $4.74 for a balance on my account. So the moral of the story is: make sure to tie up any and all loose ends with Comcast otherwise they’ll screw you.

  19. kiloman says:

    During college in Pittsburgh (circa 2004), I was moving between apartments in the same building. The building management strongly recommended canceling Comcast service for the old apartment and reapplying as a new customer in the new apartment. While not offering any specific incidences, she indicated from years of experience in assisting other tenants moving into/out of the building, that Comcast would usually screw up the transfer in some manner.

    We followed her advice and has no serious problems, other than a few days without service before the new plan was enacted.

  20. mathew says:

    Cancel. Never trust the cable company not to leave service active in your name at the old address and then turn up demanding money 6 months later.

  21. eliza says:

    When I moved from Palatine to another suburb, I canceled and got a new account. You’ll probably need a new box anyway, as I have never been able to just transfer one box to another home in Illinois. For whatever reason, Comcast always says that the boxes don’t work in different areas.

  22. HawkWolf says:

    When I recently transferred my service, despite telling the rep that I wanted it cancelled in half a week, they cancelled it retroactively earlier in that day, and also scheduled the install of the new cable retroactively, earlier that day.

    It took about five people in a row to fix it. I just kept getting transferred. “Wow, how’d that happen? Hang on, let me transfer you to a supervisor.” finally, they got it done right.

    How the hell did they schedule me for an install for a time before I even called?

  23. krunk4ever says:

    I recently moved and can comment about this. So I actually was in the position where I had an overlapped housing period of 2 weeks. My lease at my old placed ended at the end of August and I purchased a place in the beginning of August. I called Comcast immediately to transfer my service and decided that I’d move in once the internet is up (another test to see if you’re an internet junkie).

    Anyway, we setup an appointment to install the service in the middle of August. I then asked if I could have a different ending service date at my old place than my beginning service date at my new place. They said no problem. I wasn’t sure when I was going to move exactly and didn’t want to be left without internet at my old place if I wasn’t ready to move (even if the internet was installed).

    So I had a beginning service date of 8/20 at my new place and an ending date of 8/31 at my old place. I even got to sign up for a new $35/mo promotion at my new place (which I wasn’t expecting, since I wasn’t a new customer) Of course I was being billed twice at this point, but I was expecting that.

    Of course Comcast services a wide region and different locations may have different rules. I was rather satisfied with the transfer experience.

  24. Absorber says:

    I could write out my whole story, but there’s plenty like it already up there, so let me just say: CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CANCEL AND JUST START FRESH.

  25. Hoss says:

    Ask the CSR for the number to call to cancel. Call that number and tell them you’re moving and prefer to cancel now and enter as a new customer on any provider’s new customer program. They will almost certainly make it easy for you by offering to transfer your current service at a greatly discounted price (over a limited period). This will also avoid any new installment charges.

  26. qazwart says:

    If you’re an old cable service subscriber, and you want to get the goodies that new subscribers have, call up the cable company and ask for them. They have a special department of customer retention which is willing to make deals to keep you as a customer.

    When we signed up for cable, we got a special three month package. At the end of three months, I simply called them up and asked them to extend the deal for another six months. After six months, I asked for another six months extension.

    For almost two year, we paid the initial three month rate until we switched to satellite service.

  27. Floobtronics says:

    We got so utterly sick of Comcast’s lousy service that when we moved back in July, we just ditched them entirely. About 6 months before the move, we had shot them for TV service, in favor of Directv. While it hasn’t been completely hunky-dory every moment, it’s been night & day better than the crappy service that was Comcast Digital Cable. So, before we moved, we only had their Internet services. Even that stunk, going out at least weekly. They alternated back & forth between telling me the signal was too strong and too weak. After months of that, we kicked them to the curb at move time.

    The new house was in a neighborhood that was already lit up for FiOS, so we took it. Comcast-less, life has been much nicer. No weekly (or more than weekly) service interruptions, better tv, faster Internet, oh yeah, and it’s all cheaper too.

  28. pearlandopal says:

    We transferred our Comcast cable a few months ago and it was a huge pain in the rear. We had to actually go down to their office during limited business hours with proof of residency and some other paperwork.

    Of course, we only pay for basic cable, but the last people in our apartment must’ve had the big package. They never shut it off and we’re not being billed for it, so I guess it works out.