If you’re an Optimum customer, watching TV will cost you more in 2020.
In some cases, much more.
Some of Optimum’s most popular plans are increasing by $20 or $30 a month starting Feb. 1, according to the company’s website and inserts that were added to customer bills this month.
The $30 increase means $360 more per year. A $20 price increase means $240 more per year.
But if you ask, you could get a reprieve, even a temporary one. More on that in a moment.
The $30 per month increase (actually it’s $30.04 – because Optimum really needed to charge customers those extra four cents too?) will be taken from the Optimum Silver plan, which includes a variety of movie channels HBO, Showtime and Starz. The plan today costs $89.95 per month, but in February it will cost you $119.99 per month.
This is a monthly increase of more than 33%.
Optimum Premier, which is actually a higher tier package and includes the movie channels as well as many sports channels and even the World Fishing Network channel, is increasing by $20 per month to $129.99 from the current cost of 109 $.95 per month.
An increase of 18%.
Optimum’s other plans will also cost more.
Optimum Preferred, for example, which features the popular Disney Channel, as well as Hallmark, Teen Nick and BBC World News, will drop from $74.95 per month to $94.99.
You can see the full list of price changes and what each plan includes here on the Optimum website. Check the fine print below the larger price list for details on increases.
NJ Advance Media contacted Altice, who said the price increases shown are the company’s standard rates, but may not apply if you have multi-product discounts or flat pricing.
Translation? Different customers will pay different amounts for the same services.
The spokeswoman essentially regurgitated language found on customer bills: “Our recent rate adjustments reflect the rising cost of programming, which continues to impact pay-TV prices across the ‘industry. We continue to invest in our network and services to bring more value to our customers, including launching faster broadband speeds and making enhancements to our Altice One platform, and we offer a variety of premium plans. speed and video to meet all needs and budgets.
Is it worth an extra $20 or $30 a month for cable TV?
The spokeswoman said customers should visit a page that offers “more information about the value and benefits we deliver, from Altice Mobile to our network investments and more.”
MY CONSUMER HAT
After NJ Advance Media contacted Altice I decided to call a second time, but this time I called the 800 number as a customer – not as a reporter – which the Bamboozled column already has do.
My family is an Optimum customer with cable TV, internet and a cable phone line. Although we know we’re probably paying too much, we’ve always been happy with the service – although it’s gone down somewhat since Altice bought Cablevision in June 2016. My husband and I have talked about cutting the cord, but neither of us was willing to take the time to do the necessary research.
Maybe now is the time.
While I was waiting, I pulled out my most recent bill. There was an insert titled “February 2020 Prices and Packages”. He gave a price list for each package – the increased prices – without comparing it to what customers are currently paying.
Nowhere does it say, “Hey, we’re raising prices.”
But elsewhere on the invoice, on the second page (and let’s be honest, many customers don’t go past the first page to see what they owe and when it’s due), the fine print says, “As the requests on our network and programming costs are rising, the standards and costs of delivering world-class products and services continue to rise.While we are working hard to minimize the impact on you, price adjustments will be made to select Optimum rates, starting with your February bill. There will be no more than $14.50 increase to your current monthly rate.”
It’s different from what the price chart says, but ok.
After about five minutes, a representative came to the line. After checking my account he confirmed that yes my bill will go up by $20.04 next month.
As a consumer columnist, I know full well that there are often discounts available to consumers if they ask for them, especially if you threaten to cancel a service. So I used that knowledge to see what the company might be willing to do to keep my family’s business.
I politely told the rep that it was a ridiculous raise and that I could cancel. I then asked if there was anything he could do to mitigate the damage. He said he couldn’t, but I could speak to the “cancellation and retention department”. I asked if there was another number I could call, and he said no. But he could transfer me.
“Yes, please,” I said.
After nine more minutes on hold, I spoke to a very friendly representative.
I explained my anger and displeasure with the increase, noting that I’ve been a loyal customer for over 20 years and didn’t blame the rep for the increase – of course it’s the company and no his fault – but come on… you do anything, throw me a bone, to stop me from leaving?
He put me on hold to review the account.
When he came back he said, “Let me see what I can do to help you with the pricing. Let me see what offers we might have for you.
He put me back on hold and I waited happily.
The rep came back and said, “Starting today, I’m going to reduce your bill by $45 a month.”
He said it looked like the monthly increase for the TV portion of my bill would have been around $14, not the $20.04 confirmed by the first rep. But still, with this deal, I’ll save about $30 a month, net.
The offer is only valid for one year, so it’s a stopgap.
I contacted the Altice spokesperson again to share my experience as a consumer, but there was no response.
I’m going to research my options and see how much we could save by cutting the cord permanently without losing the programming I want.
In the meantime, I hope you will add to the comment section with your successes and failures.
Also let us know how it goes if you contact the company.
After this story was published on NJ.com, an Altice spokeswoman sent an email with a clarification.
She said the reason my family’s rate was increasing by $14 instead of $20 was because “depending on your bill wording, we cap bill increases to minimize the impact of our rate card changes on our existing customers No customer invoice will increase by more than $14, and some will see increases less than that.
She said it’s not accurate to say that some customer bills will go up $20 to $30.
“These are changes to our rate card and not what customers are experiencing,” she said. “Customers will see their respective price changes on their invoices based on their plan and the price adjustments we provide.”