Freeing Yourself From Cable (or Fiber) TV

If you're living in Canada, there are few choices when it comes to television providers (Only Bell or Rogers in Ontario). As such, these few providers feel the need to gouge their subscribers (that's us!) for every penny we have. Each year, my provider (Rogers), has increased the price of their basic cable package by $1. With tax, that's an increase of $3.39 since I started subscribing with them. Originally, I started paying $41.45 a month. As of my last invoice, I was paying $44.84. This doesn't include the cost of renting their digital boxes, either. At the time I subscribed, I had the option of buying an HD digital box for $200 or renting an HD digital box for somewhere around $10 a month. I calculated the costs of both and decided it was better to buy the box outright if I subscribed for 2 years. Since we've had cable TV for 3 years, I consider this a small win. I was also offered a $100 credit at the store where I subscribed. Free money is free money, so I took that too.

The photo my sister sent me.
Anyway, back to my story. Frankly, I was sick of the constant increases.

Was I getting improved service? No.

Did I get more channels? No.

Did Rogers need to do more work to send me the signals? Not that I know of.

In short, I shrugged my shoulders and ignored it.

At least until my sister decided to move in with her boyfriend.

How did your sister moving in with her boyfriend make you re-evaluate your subscription with Rogers? I'm getting to that.

My sister works for one of Rogers' subsidiary companies. As such, she gets a 50% discount with all Rogers services. Since her boyfriend worked at the same place, he too got the discount. Since the two discounts didn't stack, she asked me if wifey and I wanted to take advantage of her discount.

I didn't have to give it another thought. Yes!

Better to pay $22.42 than $44.84, right? Of course!

Fast forward a few weeks and my sister sends me an SMS asking me if I want her HD antenna. She's in the middle of packing for her move and wants to get rid of some things. Hardly one to say no to free things, I accepted her offer. Moving day comes around and she drops off the antenna (among other goodies) and I eagerly plug it into the TV to see what channels we can pick up.

I figured we might pick up a few channels considering our house is south facing. We are quite far from the downtown core, so I was surprised to find that we picked up nine channels! Ten if you count the French CBC. Thirteen if you count the US channels (local Buffalo stations, I believe). Fourteen if you count Global twice. Why does Global have two channels anyway? Not only that, but the channels we received were sharper and clearer than the picture from the HD digital box! What?

I guess I really shouldn't have been surprised. For those outside the GTA that don't know, Toronto has a massive antenna that is broadcasting these signals for free over the air. It is said that the CN Tower is capable of broadcasting signals over 100km, but it's not like I bothered to find out before. Also, I already knew that there were bandwidth limitations to the signals being sent through the cable. While data sent over the air didn't have these bandwidth limitations.

This was quite embarrassing actually, as I was paying $44.84 a month for TV (not to mention $200 for a digital box, $100 if you factor in the credit) while I could have just paid $50 for an HD antenna and got TV in my house for free.

Anyway, now that the HD antenna worked like a charm, I called Rogers right away (after showing wifey the channels we had*, she wasn't 100% convinced yet) to cancel the cable. For those of you who don't know, in order to cancel your cable, you need to give Rogers 30 days notice. Yes, Rogers will still charge you for those 30 days. Just another way to gouge their subscribers. Of course, when you call to cancel they will lower the price of their package to entice you to stay. In my case, they asked me why I wanted to cancel. I told them that we mainly watched two channels: CBC and CityTV, and that we got both channels very clearly with an HD antenna. Without missing a beat, the girl on the other end offered me $14.99 a month (for 12 months) for the same package I had now. Considering I got the channels I wanted for free, I declined the offer. I don't blame her for trying, though. It is her job to ask.

However, knowing that Rogers would go as low as $14.99 a month further convinced me that this was the right move.

When I hung up the phone, I was elated. Whoot! Cable free in 30 days. Well, it's been over a month now since I called. After we cancelled the cable, wifey and I didn't watch cable TV as much. We had time to do other things like ride our bikes or do some grocery shopping. Hard to put a price on the benefits of less TV and more exercise.

Money wise, wifey and I will save $538.08 per year + $13.56 each successive year for fee increases. Doesn't sound like a lot, but that's money that can go towards our RRSPs or TFSAs.

Overall, this was a huge success! I think the main reason I didn't do this sooner was the fact that I was afraid any HD antenna I purchased would be a lemon or that the signal strength or picture quality wouldn't be very good. Well, I'm glad I was proven wrong.

After that success, wifey and I decided to take the plunge (after extensive research) and purchase another HD antenna for the living room. The second HD antenna turned out well. The one I purchased is a passive antenna, but it seems to work for the channels we watch. It took us a while to find a good position where it didn't look in the way and grabbed the channels without problem. One thing I noticed is that when we're watching the CBC, the channel gets disrupted when a car drives by. Hilarious, but it's not too bad. Also, CityTV's signal appears to be coming from INSIDE our house. Strange, but signals bounce and I suppose the one we're picking up is bouncing off one of our interior walls. Either way, not bad for $45 (coincidentally, the approximate cost we were paying a month with Rogers).

Obviously, it's better to get rid of all forms of TV if possible. However, if you're unwilling to cut your TV out completely (because you need to see what happens on Real Housewives or are an HGTV addict**) or don't have good over the air signals (facing away from a tower or in a rural area), you should at least call your TV provider to see if you can get a better deal. Sometimes it helps to know what deals your provider's competition is offering and see if they can match or better their offer. Sometimes, it's better to just call them to cancel and say that you can't afford it when asked for a reason. I have a friend who calls every 6 months to lower his bill. He's usually on the line for a good 30 minutes, but usually emerges victorious. I say usually because sometimes he has to call again to reach someone who will give him the deal he seeks.

Either way, that is real savings that can be put to better use.

*She was surprised to find that TVO (Television Ontario, a crown corporation owned by the Government of Ontario) contained the nature/Canada location shows she enjoys without the commercials. I always assumed she knew. My bad! She also didn't know it was on channel 2. We rarely went lower than channel 6 (CBC).

**Wifey is one. She especially loves Property Brothers and Love It or List It. Fortunately, we can watch these shows online for free. Throw in a Google Chromecast or hook up a TV with an HDMI cable and you don't need to pay for cable TV to watch these shows. Also, if you use the AdBlock Plus add-on with Google Chrome, you can watch those same shows online without adverts! How awesome is that?


Popular Posts