All-Digital changes anger some cable customers

February 28, 2018 08:25 PM

Spectrum customers have been writing to News10NBC, and we're listening. Many of you are upset, frustrated, and confused about the company's switch to all-digital.  You’ve asked whether the switch ultimately means that you will have to pay more. And if so, what are the alternatives?

One of those customers asking lots of questions is Keith Spindler.  We interviewed him as he sat with his parents watching the late 80s Science Fiction drama “Quantum Leap.”  He'd rather pick his own program and watch it in his room.  But when he turns on his TV, he gets a message that reads, "Great news. Spectrum is now all-digital in your area.” 

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Even though he pays for cable, he hasn’t been able to watch television in his bedroom since February 13th because he doesn't have a digital receiver on his bedroom television.

"They said that I needed to have an additional set top box," said Spindler. 

If you're a Spectrum customer, you likely got a letter alerting you to the switch to an all-digital format. That means every television in your home must have a set top box.  The letter reads, "We will supply you with one spectrum receiver at no cost for 12 months."

But if you have more than one TV, you have to rent an additional box for each television.  When Spindler called Spectrum, he was told each box would be $8.50.

“That’s roughly $102 a year per box," said Spindler. 

But News10NBC learned it will actually cost the family even more than that.  On their bill, the box is itemized.  They are billed $8.50 for each box and $3.25 for the guide.  So an additional box will actually cost 11.75 per month.  That’s $141 per year.

News10 NBC consumer investigator Deanna Dewberry asked Spectrum for an on-camera interview.  The company declined but did answer questions by email saying Spectrum's digital upgrade will free up network capacity so it can provide "even faster broadband speeds, more HD, and on demand content and new features."

"I say that that's a bunch of bull," said Spindler 

After all, he asked, why should he have to pay for Spectrum's upgrade? 

"If it's not broke, why fix it?” asked Spindler.

Spectrum argues customers will see the benefits in the months ahead as internet speeds increase.  But as Spindler and his parents watch their cable bill increase, they believe their long-time loyalty should be rewarded.  His message to Spectrum?

"Stop being so greedy and listen to your loyal customers of over 30 years,” he said.
Again, you get one set top box free for a year.  Additional boxes cost 6.99 or 11.75 each monthly, depending on your plan.

Here's Deanna's Do List: 

  1. After you get your free box, check your cable bill.  Folks in Albany have complained they were billed for theirs.
  2. Consider alternatives to renting Spectrum's set top box like Roku, X-box One, or a CableCARD-enabled TV. A Spectrum spokesperson told News10 NBC THE Spectrum TV app is also compatible with some Smart TVs.
  3. If you're considering alternatives to cable, read our consumer story about streaming services available and pricing


Deanna Dewberry

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