If you live in any metropolitan area, by now you have probably seen the offers from cable and telephone companies offering you a bundle of services including cable TV, wireless, unlimited home long distance and internet service. Have you been offered this yet? If not, it is only a matter of time before you are. Here in Los Angeles, Verizon, SBC/AT&T, and Time Warner all offer bundled services, so I wanted to take a look and compare it to the plans I have with various companies to see if in fact it is a money saver to buy bundled services.
With Verizon, you can get what they call the Verizon Ultimate Freedom package, which includes unlimited local and long distance service, high speed DSL and Direct TV service, all for $139.99. But rest assured, that number is on the low side because not a single fee or tax is included in it. I know that when I had Verizon, the “$45 unlimited calling” plan was actually about $60 after it was all said and done. So right there, that $139.99 would go up to $155. Add in the tax and fees on Direct TV and your internet service, and you are looking at about $170 per month. $139.99 looks like a deal now, doesn’t it?
With SBC/AT&T (in the Valley), you can get the Quad Pack, which offers you home phone, wireless, satellite TV and DSL service…for $134.97 per month. At least this plan gives you wireless service, which the Verizon plan does not list for their package. But still, here we are at $135 a month plus taxes and fees, bringing your total to about $165.00. $30 more than what they are advertising this “deal” for.
Time Warner cable offers a package called “All The Best” where I live that runs about $115 for 12 months on a special promotion. This is for basic digital cable, digital phone, and cable internet service. With taxes, it would be about $140, without wireless.
So, do these bundled packages save you any money? Well, they wouldn’t save me any money, thats for sure. I know they bundle these things because most people assume that they don’t have a choice as to what services they get and people would like to just get one bill from one company. I am sure they sell a lot of these bundles; after all, the promote them pretty heavily. But let’s look at what I pay monthly for my services:
Wireless – I have been with Sprint for a long time, so when I threatened to leave them, they almost threw money at me. So our plan, for two lines, is $54 per month, including tax. But even still, you can have a 2 line plan for as low as $59 plus taxes.
Cable TV – We have Time Warner, and it is $45 per month.
Home Phone – Vonage, for $24.99 plus taxes, making it about $28.00 per month.
Internet – Time Warner cable internet for $19.95 a month, no tax.
Total for all of this at my house is $146.95, all fees/taxes included.
The closest bundle that comes close to this is the SBC/AT&T one, that includes all 4 services for $165, or $20 more per month than I pay for the same service, but I have more minutes, channels and faster internet speeds. The other 2 companies, only offering 3 services for even more money, do not even come close. Time Warner offers digital phone for $49/month by itself…why would you buy that when Vonage, Lingo, SunRocket and others charge $25 or less?
I guess the lesson is to never assume that a bundled package is going to save you money. They advertise and sell it like it will, but most of the time, it is the consumer that loses out. Also, keep in mind that Verizon and SBC/AT&T will require you to sign contracts of at least 1 year for DSL or wirless…and there comes a hefty termination fee if you decide to cancel. Shop around in your town to see if buying individually will save you money, I bet you will be surprised.