three-years-in-spaceThe PopCulteer
January 6
, 2017

Okay, that’s a bit of a misleading headline. Three years ago this week your PopCulteer ditched Suddenlink Cable Television in favor of DirecTV. It’s been a while since I’ve given you an update, so let’s see how things turned out.

First, a quick recap. After being a customer of Suddenlink and its predecessor companies, Charter Communications and Capitol Cablevision since 1971, I finally had my fill of increasing fees and deteriorating service and, with no small amount of trepidation, made the leap to satellite television with DirecTV.

The last straw was when my bundle of cable and high-speed internet started costing more than my electric bill, even in the dead of Winter. I was stuck with Suddenlink for high-speed internet, since no other provider services my area, but I was still willing to gamble that I’d save money if I got rid of their overpriced cable television service.

As things turned out, I did indeed save money…lots of money. Originally I was saving over seventy dollars a month. I’d signed a two-year contract, and I knew that my rates would go up in the second year, but even with the cost of my internet raising due to un-bundling, I’d wind up playing much less.

images-3As an aside, during my first year with DirecTV, Suddenlink got into one of their periodic blood feuds with a media conglomerate and ended up dropping all the Viacom cable channels. That included Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, Spike, VH1, Logo and tons of other prominent basic cable channels. More than two-and-a-half years later, Suddenlink still has not restored these channels to their line-up in Charleston. That means that Suddenlink customers locally were denied the chance to see the final Jon Stewart Daily Show and the last Colbert Report, and haven’t been able to watch South Park for three seasons. Local kids can’t watch SpongeBob Squarepants on cable.

Suddenly my risky leap to DirecTV looked like the work of a genius. I got out while the getting was good. I never seemed to get hit with any of the hidden fees that I’d been warned about. The stories of DirecTV cutting out in severe weather turned out to be greatly exaggerated. When I had Suddenlink, my cable would go out two or three times a month, sometimes for more than a day. In the three years that I’ve had DirecTV, I’ve had less than a dozen outages, with the longest one being less than an hour. I was loving my new life as a DirecTV customer. Oddly enough, in that same time Suddenlink’s high-speed internet has been more reliable than before, too. Maybe they finally got their act together.

directtv-dishWhat I didn’t realize was that, at the end of that first year with DirecTV, I would decide that I didn’t need all of the premium channels. I had way too much television to watch, so on my first anniversary with DirecTV, I dropped HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax and all of the sports channels that I never watched in the first place. When one of the premium channels has a series that my wife or I want to watch, I call up DirecTV and they usually give it to me for free for three months.

So after one year I actually ended up paying less than when I first switched. This was short-lived due to changes that Suddenlink made in their service that made it necessary for me to switch to a business account to avoid their ridiculous usage caps. My internet bill doubled, but I didn’t risk having it quintuple or worse from penalties assessed for exceeding the limit they’d imposed.

Since that time Suddenlink has been sold and the new owners got rid of the usage cap, but also raised their prices dramatically, so I stuck with my business plan.

Meanwhile, I hit my second anniversary with DirecTV in January last year, and free of my original contract, I called to renegotiate my service agreement.

2435296616_5a6fae9c9cTo say things went well would be an understatement. All I had to do was mention Dish Network, their competitor, and they buried me under so many discounts that, even with my newly-increased internet fee, I was still saving seventy-five bucks more per month for DirecTV and Suddenlink Business High Speed Internet than I was spending for Suddenlink Cable and Internet bundled two years earlier.

pc-12-13Just this week, I hit a new anniversary. One quick call to DirecTV and I discovered that my bill was due to go up on January 22. They were raising their fees about $8.50 per month. However, since my contract was up again (I only re-upped for 12 months last time), they gave me an extra ten-dollar discount, which means that my bill will actually drop a buck and a half.

In case you’re wondering, that means I’m still happy with DirecTV, and could not be happier that I bailed on Suddenlink. If you’re thinking about doing the same, I highly recommend it. Even though I use the Roku for a good portion of my television viewing now, I still think DirecTV is worth every penny.

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat

nucatOn The AIR Sydney Fileen returns with a brand-new episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat Friday at 3 PM. You can tune in for your weekly two-hour dose of New Wave Music at The AIR website on on this embedded radio player…

This week Sydney brings us a high-energy blast of crunchy New Wave goodness, kicking off with Chaz Jankel and winding up with Depeche Mode. Sydney’s Big Electric Cat replays Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 7 PM, Monday at 7 AM and Tuesday at 8 PM on The AIR.

Here’s this week’s playlist:

Chas Jankel  “Questionnaire”
The Cure  “Why Can’t I Be You”
Laid Back  “White Horse”
Propaganda  “Duel (Bittersweet)”
Yazoo  “Nobody’s Diary”
Ultravox  “Accent On Youth”
Wall Of Voodoo  “Back In Flesh”
Peter Gabriel  “Schok Den Affen”
The Knack  “Let Me Out”
Big Country  “Fields of Fire”
INXS  “New Sensation”
Mi Sex  “Inside You”
New Order  “Confusion”
Bow Wow Wow  “C 30, C 60, C 90 Go”
Thomas Dolby  “She Blinded Me With Science”
The Selector “Three Minute Hero”
The Cars “My Best Friend’s Girl”
Squeeze  “Cool For Cats”
Lene Lovich  “Lucky Number”
Julian Cope  “World Shut Your Mouth”
Hazel O’Connor  “Monster In Disguise”
Elvis Costello and the Attractions  “Pump It Up”
Eurythmics  “Missionary Man”
The Clash  “Let’s Go Crazy”
XTC “Meccanic Dancing”
The Police  “Truth Hits Everybody”
Depeche Mode  “Boys Say Go”

That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for all our regular features, and coming soon, the return of the Radio Free Charleston video show!