Cox Gives a Discount, Then Extends your Subscription

Mr. Nguyen knows that you can get a cheaper cable bill just by asking, and he did just that. What he did not ask for was to be signed up for a contract plan because of this discount, and he especially would have preferred to be told this before he received a big nasty warning. His letter, inside.

Dear Consumerist,
I’ve been a reader for quite long time now. I almost wrote to you ranting about how I got Cox Cable(Fairfax, VA) to give me discount by simply calling them. But I could not maintain that excitement for so long. Yesterday, Cox surprised me with a notice (attached) saying that by accepting the discount offer, I have to maintain the subscription for 12 months or early termination fee of $168 will be applied. The funny thing is that I was never informed of that contract during my previous call to Cox.
Here is the full story. On 01/13/2009, following Consumerist’s advice, I called Cox asking to reduce my bill. The Cox rep. offered me a $14 per month discount for the period of 12 months. I tried to ask for more discount but was not successful so I decided to go with the offer. The rep. told me that everything would be kept the same. (By the way, I currently have Expanded Cable Service and Preferred Internet Service without contract). At no time during the call did he mention any contract or commitment. I should have asked for confirmation of no contract involved but somehow I forgot (silly me).
My thought is either he “conveniently” forgot telling me about the contract or he, in a deceiving way, tried to get me into a contract. In any case, I was so upset when receiving the notice. I would not mind had them told me about the contract since I will be staying here at my current resident for a long time. I will try to call them up this weekend and give you updates. I think it is fair for me to ask for that same discount without the burden of a contract, don’t you think?
Please remind other readers to always ask for no-contract confirmation. By the way, the confirmation email that the rep. promised to send to me, never got to my inbox either.
Have a good day!

Sounds fishy to me, Mr. N. It’s always a good idea to make very explicit the terms of any offer given to you by a CSR – make sure they note the specifics where applicable. In Mr. N’s case, this is nothing a quick shot to the BBB or a nice EECB couldn’t patch up.