The Ruse

I just find it highly suspicious that two years running AT&T has offered free HBO exactly when Game Of Thrones starts for exactly as long as Game Of Thrones runs. It’s like they want me to… watch their channel and… enjoy it. Enjoy it so much that I decide to keep paying $16 a month to watch it AFTER the free preview is over. Those magnificent bastards. They nearly had the perfect plan. Of course they weren’t expecting to go up against my vastly superior intellect and unparalleled tightwadedness. Oh man, is my wad ever tight. I sure hope Veep season two runs during those three months. Pirating shows is just too hard these days.

COMMETNERS: What’s the best deal/worst deal you’ve ever gotten out of a “free preview/ no interest/ quadruple coupon” situation? Ever been given the world in order to keep you from canceling a service? Ever gotten the “Don’t let the ETF hit you in the ass on the way out!” routine?

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  1. A friend of mine has had HBO for free for more than two years. She keeps signing up for the free three moneths, cancels it during the last week and then calls again after a few minutes and asks if they have any specials on HBO. She once did it during the same phone call.

  2. I used to work for DishNetwork. For a couple years we ran a promotion that bundled HBO and Cinemax with our mid-grade programing for a couple cents LESS than the just the mid-grade package and HBO. And I can't count the number of people who would not take the extra channels and (marginally) lower bill when I offered them.

    • I used to work for HP, and we had a repair program that was similar…

      Keep in mind, this is what was pitched to the customer, for a computer that was buggered:

      Send computer in to repair centre (slow): Free
      1 Year warranty extension: $75
      Have someone come out to replace broken part… just once: $89

      1 Year extended warranty + unlimited in-home parts replacements: $99.

      I sold a lot of those warranties….

  3. Installation costs on my internet connection + tv that I don't use were €80.

    For just 2 euro's a month extra I could add telephone & digital TV and not pay those installation costs.

    Now, if I want Horizon (which is wi-fi TV for your computer or tablet), I'd pay €2,- less for the same package + horizon.

  4. I used to milk AOL like it was it was a sex-starved cow. Free half year after free half year. Eventually when I moved in with a buddy that had the coveted high-speed (ok, this was over 10 years ago) I called to cancel and they tried to convince me that their AOL for High-Speed was actually worth paying for. Instead I told them I'm not an idiot and that gives me everything for free.

    Standard marketing tactics, but I don't think I've ever known a company that was as bad as AOL was for really praying on the under-informed.

  5. It doesn't matter if Veep is running while GoT is running. Once you are officially subscribed to HBO with your cable provider, most of their stuff is available to watch online at 2 years ago, we got a free 3 months just in time for True Blood. There was a marathon of Game of Thrones on the day we started, so that was icing on the TiVo!

  6. Let's see… there was my dad shouting at the phone for 3 hours trying to get some answers from Directtv… and finding out that they were still charging us for a box we hadn't used since he moved… 9 years ago. Lots of shouting and threatening to leave and basically getting, "Good for you! You're still going to pay us."

    • I used to work for a satellite company (a lot of them actually) and we have unpublished numbers that went straight to "give them whatever they want not to cancel" tech support level a million. We used those all the time for ourselves when a contract was out. You could usually get $20 or more taken off your bill, plus free movies for 6 months.

      I remember buying the first HD DirecTV Tivo right when it came out. There was no subsidized price for it and the sticker was $1100. You could only get maybe 10 HD channels at the time (im guessing 2005ish?) but it was the only HD DVR on the market that actually worked and had a good interface. Some guy on the DirecTivo forum had layed out a plan to get the box for free which involved calling certain numbers and saying VERY SPECIFIC things over the course of several different phone calls in order to get nearly $1000 of rebates. It was intensely insane. I had a legal pad with me and before it was over I had filled 2 pages with who i talked to and what they had promised me in case anyone tried to reneg on the deal. In the end I think I ended up $350 out of pocket for the receiver, but I had another $700 in programming rebates (both instant and amortized over the next year), Visa prepaid cards of various amounts and mail in rebates. It was bonkers.

  7. When I was in high school I did a summer program at a college. We lived there for 6-8 weeks in the dorms, took classes, whatever. Well, this was back in the day when college campuses didn't all have WiFi overflowing their walls, and you had to jack in to get your internet. Since I was just some high school student, they didn't give me access to the campus internet. So I decided to sign up for AOLs free trial thing, which was 2 months long, so it should have been perfect.

    Well, when I called to cancel at the end of the two months (slightly before, actually), they had already charged my card for the next to months. When I told them to reverse the charge and cancel the subscription, they told me that since I could only remember 2/3 of my security passcodes, my password, my username, and my credit card number, they couldn't give me back my money. I was a teenager, I didn't know what the hell was going on, so I cut my losses and figured that would be the end of it.

    Two months later, the fucking assholes tried to charge me again. I had to call my credit car company in the end and get them to take care of it because AOL was being such a fucking dick.

    On the other side, HBO has been awesome to my house. When we first moved in, about 2 years ago, we got 3 months free. Then, when we threatened to change cable providers (it was getting expensive), they gave us another free 3 months. So out of 24 months of living here we've had 1/4 of it free, 6 months worth. In addition, I just bought a new car that has free Sirius Radio for 3 months, which is perfect because I've got some long road trips ahead of me in the next month or so.

    Overall, mostly great experiences with free stuff from companies, one absolutely BULLSHIT situation from AOL. Go figure.

    • From what one of my coworkers told me, you can milk the sirius subscription for a while. Tell them you're going to drop it because it's more money than you wanted to spend or something and they should give you some kind of discount between 25% and 50%. She did it for about 2 years before they finally refused to give her a discounted price.

  8. Charter at my house keeps shutting off our service at random times. Sometimes because our payment arrived ONE day late, other times because we payed it online a day EARLY.
    No shit.
    My wife has threatened to leave them so many times, we now get all of thier channels, including all the premiums, for the price of the most basic package.

  9. I worked for a call center that was a overflow center for a cable company. I can't say their name but it rhymes with Shmom-Shmast. After about a year of being yelled at Monday – Friday, I stopped sending them to my Supervisors (who had the same amount of power as I did) and started sending the to our Retention/Cancellation department.

    My thinking was, if they are unhappy with their service, make them happy or let them quit.

    My bosses did not see it that way though.

  10. That's kind of exactly my job working at Time Warner. And man, do people get pissed when they forget the added a free month or HBO or Cinemax or whatever. It's crazy the things people say to me once they finally remember that they have to pay for the premiums. Or they could just, y'know, cancel them. The best ones are the insane who say that because of their bill, they can't feed their kids.

  11. After I cancelled cable tv with the aptly named Cox Communications, I went to At&t dsl for a bit. That was a horrible mistake as I was basically paying for dial up speed in 1985. So, I went back to Cox for just internet. There's literally no other choice in town. They sent me an offer of double the speed for the same price if I contracted for two years. Since there's literally no other choice in town I took it. And now my tv bittorrents dl at 3mb/second! Suckers.

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