Warning about Cox Communications “Bundle” – Internet + Phone + TV

Never before in my 61 years have I seen so much creative accounting bullshit jammed into a single bill for services.

I had Cox Communications Broadband Internet and CATV for $14.06 per month during 2016. I cut it off when I went into the hospital in January 2017 and did not expect to return home. It was just a mild case of death, thanks to a new doctor and treatment plan. So after returning home I decided to restore Cox, but only for Internet.

I was lied to by the sales person about the cost of the Internet service by itself. It turned out to be $10 more than I was told. The modem was sent to me via USPS. I was told no installation charge and that I’d get free shipping, but I was not told about a $20 kit charge. So the total was $90.43 for a month instead of $60.43. I was told the first bill would not be due until 30 days from activation date – that activation would happen when I’d hook up the modem and start using it – which turned out to be February 7 – so I was expecting to pay for it on March 7. Wrong, the due date became February 26.

I had that service for one week only, February 7 to 15.

I called Cox to request a return to the former deal I had for Internet and CATV for $114.06 per month. I was told that option is no longer available,and was then offered the current “Bundle” special. I was led to believe the “Bundle” for Internet, CATV, and phone service would actually be slightly less than I paid in the past for just Internet and CATV. A total of $101.89 for Internet $37.98 + CATV $85.01 + phone service $28.88.

I got free installation of the Bundle deal and equipment on February 15th.

I ended up adding $7.50 to the CATV for the Movie Pak, and $8.98 for 2 movies I rented via On Demand. The billing details became more complicated than that, and like the old saying “the devil is in the details.”

TV $101.49
Contour TV
Includes: $79.99
Cox TV Starter
Expanded Service
Faith & Values Pak
Advanced TV Service
Contour Guide
Bonus Pak
Contour Receiver
Movie Pak $7.50
Other Fees and Surcharges
Broadcast Surcharge $7.47
Regional Sports Surcharge $6.53
Total TV $101.49

…Plus…

USAGE CHARGES $8.98
OnDemand / Pay Per View $8.98
Arrival HD movie Feb 25 $5.99
Interstellar HD Mar 01 $2.99
Total OnDemand / Pay Per View $8.98

The scam is in the phone service deal. I’ve not had a home landline since 2006 when I lived in Wichita Kansas. Just cell phones since then. The Cox service is over the CATV line – a normal phone plugs into a special box. The monthly service is claimed to be only…

TELEPHONE $28.88
Cox Digital Telephone Premier
Includes:
Basic Monthly Service
Voice Mail
Premier Feature Pak
Unlimited Long Distance
Cox Long Distance
Unlimited Long Distance To Mexico
Extended International Calling Plan
Federal Excise Tax Credit ($1.11)
Total Telephone $28.88

…But that’s not the grand total! There’s also…

Telephone Taxes, Fees and Surcharges $31.63
Taxes
Universal Service End User Charge ($0.56)
Telecommunications Relay Fund $0.16
E911 Fee $1.18
County Sales Tax $0.21
Federal Excise Tax $2.48
City Sales Tax $3.36
State Sales Tax $3.78
Total Taxes $10.61
Fees and Surcharges
FCC Access Charge $5.44
FCC Access Charge $6.28
Inspection & Supervision Fee ($0.37)
State Universal Service Fund Fee ($1.18)
Federal Universal Service Fund ($8.55)
High Cost Fund (RES) $0.18
Regulatory Cost Recovery Fee $2.98
Inspection & Supervision $0.78
Wide Area Calling Plan $0.02
State Universal Service Fund $2.07
Universal Service Fund $13.37
Total Fees and Surcharges $21.02
Total Telephone Taxes, Fees and Surcharges $31.63

…So the taxes, fees, and surcharges cost more than the service itself!!! Th total cost for phone service is really $60.51 per month – per this bill amounts noted.

There’s more of those for Internet and TV…

TV and/or Internet Taxes and Fees $11.00
County Sales Tax $0.02
City Sales Tax $0.32
State Sales Tax $0.36
FCC Fee $0.16
Franchise Fees and Taxes $10.14
Total TV and/or Internet Taxes and Fees $11.00

TOTAL TAXES, FEES AND SURCHARGES $42.63

Packed into my new bill is an overlap from the Internet only deal and the Bundle deal. The Internet only deal was just for one week, but the paper bill sent in US mail claims a full month. The online bill changed it from $90.43 to $21.11 for the one week of February 7 to 15. I paid it immediately. However, now Cox demands the balance of $69.32 for Previous Balance to March 5… while also charging $26.28 for Partial Month Services – the start of the Bundle deal on February 15 up to March 5. So that is the overlap. $69.32 is wrong, and $26.28 is right. They should not charge me both for the same February 15 to March 5.

As is, they are billing me for…

Total Due by Mar 26 2017 $265.58

…I’m offering to pay and am paying now…

MONTHLY SERVICES $118.37

…I’m contesting the $69.32 so $265.58 less $69.32 is $196.28 – less my $118.37 payment now is $77.89 balance due I can pay with April bill – should be about $161.00 new normal, plus $77.89 from this month – so I’ll owe about $238.89 – and paying that on or about April 7th will get me caught up and paid to about May 6th.

OUCH!!! Budget crusher. Big difference of $59.11 between normal $161 and original claim of $101.89 when sold the Bundle deal. But I added Movie Pak, and there are also the excessive phone taxes, odd fees, and bizarre surcharges of creative accounting.

Is it worth it? Maybe. Will I keep it? Probably. I do like Contour and its voice command. I do like OnDemand, and the Movie Pak that includes EPIX. So I’m getting plenty of use out of the entire deal – except the phone service. The landline will only save me minutes charged on the cell phone I have – if I use it to make calls and if people call me at that number instead of my cell phone number. It’s costing me $60.61 – and for $60 I could buy three 60-minutes cards at $20 each, 180 minutes – doubled to 360 by the TracFone deal. I don’t use phones like normal people. I’m a writer, not a talker. I make few calls and receive few calls, so 360 minutes could easily last me a whole year of cell phone service.

Business Review by Jim Lantern in Norman Oklahoma

LANTERN TIMEGLASS JOURNAL
Sunday 12 March 2017

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