Moving is stressful. Not only do we have countless boxes to pack and unpack, but moving involves setting up or moving utilities, television, internet, and other services.
Moving is also expensive as we work to re-arrange and re-fit our previous lives into our new spaces -- bigger and smaller.
Of these hassles, probably the area that creates the most stress is the establishment or changing of basic services --including and especially television and internet.
Advertisements for deals on internet and television services abound. It seems like everyone has some great "bargain" they want us to buy. The problem is in the fine print: those offers almost always involve discounts on just the most extensive services where we buy unlimited local, regional, and long distance phone, hundreds of television channels, and the fastest internet speeds -- at equally high prices.
But what if we are on a budget (who, besides Mitt Romney, isn't?)? What if spending $300 per month on telecommunication services just ISN'T an option? What if we want fewer or less extensive services? What if we want just the basics and nothing else?
As I'm finding out in my efforts to connect internet to my new apartment, getting just the basics is (almost) out of the question.
My television needs are simple. My favorite shows are ABC News programs (Good Morning America, World News, This Week, 20/20), plus Dancing with the Stars, Shark Tank, and Once Upon a Time. I also like watching Star Trek on ME TV and catching the occasional movie on THIS. Nova is my favorite program on PBS which I like to watch every wednesday or thursday, depending on the schedule.
These are all local broadcast choices. In my area, they are channels 3-1, 6-2, 23-1, and 23-3.
They are supposed to be FREE. At my friend's home in Cresson, Pennsylvania, they are ALL FREE thanks to his roof-top antenna.
There's just one catch: Johnstown Pennsylvania is located in a valley surrounded by mountains; the only station from the above list that is broadcast in Johnstown is 6-2, ME TV.
And so I called Atlantic Broadband to ask about perhaps also connecting some television service to my order for internet service to be installed on Thursday.
Typical of most telecommunications providers, the answer to my request for an affordable broadcast television became an exercise in frustration.
Yes, Atlantic Broadband offers a more limited service -- but it's 25 channels, only three or four of them I would actually watch.
The cost for just the basics? $30 after taxes -- that is on top of the $50 for my internet service I ordered.
So what about a "double play" option? Not available with their basic cable -- but there is one if I go up in number of channels.
Interested in what my options are, I asked them what their least expensive television and internet package would be. The answer: over 200 channels plus my internet for a pre-tax fee of over $90 and after tax fee of over $100.
But I only want one, maybe three, channels that I cannot get with my antenna from Radio Shack.
The customer service guy apologized empathically, but restated that this $100 package was the "best" they could do.
So I can spend $80 for just basic cable and basic internet (no discounts) or $100+ for a basic double play?
But all I want is one channel!
Faced with their utter lack of affordable options and with the telecommunications monopoly in the area (I actually wanted my service from Verizon -- but they don't offer internet, only basic phone, in my new neighborhood), I had to decline and keep my order for service exactly what I ordered last week: basic internet and just the basic.
But all I want is one television channel!
Is it too much to ask for ABC either for free or less than $10 per month?
Why can't I get my television a la carte? Or at least affordable?
Streaming broadcasts from ABC would solve all of this, of course. Then my broadcast television would be free again -- even living next to Laurel Mountain (the irony of this location is not lost on me).
Shouldn't I be able to get ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS for free?
Why are cable companies getting away with these insane rates for what amounts to just local broadcast television that normally would be free if topography were not an issue?
And why not offer more choices that can be customized to my needs?
Why is it so easy to get a custom coffee mug but impossible to buy only what I want and need when it comes to something so basic as internet, phone, and television services?
Why are the suppliers dictating to the customers like this? And more importantly, what can we do about it as consumers? Shouldn't demand be dictating supply?
All I want is my one channel!!!
Laurel A. Rockefeller, author
The Great Succession Crisis
E-Book ISBN: 9781476243344
Print book ISBN: 978-1479144808
More from entertainment