The Hidden Costs of Spectrum

You might think to find the right package for yourself and to subscribe to it was the last of your worries, but most people find themselves in a conundrum soon after, when they are delivered their monthly bills. Navigating your way through it is no easy task. With several charges popping up that you had not even thought of when you signed up, you could end up paying double the money.

If you’re a stickler in terms of budgeting, you might find yourself in agony and if you’re strapped for extra cash it could mean a certain degree of doom. Even if this weren’t the case, nobody wants to pay more than the agreed amount and they shouldn’t have to. Getting surprises may feel nice but getting surprises in bills is not.

A cable subscription is an essential addition to any household and getting the service should be easy. To ease your process we have compiled a list of all the charges you might find on your bill so that you are aware of what extra payments you might be expected to make and know exactly what you are charged for.

Charter, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks

Before we move forward, it is important to note that Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Bright House networks are different subsidiaries of the same company i.e. Charter Communications. TWC and Bright House systems were migrated to Charter Communications’ brand Spectrum following a merger.

Mega corporate mergers are time-taking and Charter Spectrum is still in the process; until the merger is complete, you will hear the brand referred to by varied names depending on where you are in the United States. Here too, we will mention these names, but to avoid any confusion remember they mean essentially the same thing, i.e. Spectrum – Charter’s brand under which the company markets consumer cable television, internet, and phone services. Thus for example when we talk about Time Warner Cable installation fees, it means the same as Spectrum installation fees.

Hidden costs in Spectrum TV plans

Hidden costs in Spectrum TV plans

There are different costs involved in different plans. To start, we will talk about the hidden costs in Spectrum TV plans, followed by Spectrum internet plans. A summary of the costs is shared below.

Summary of Costs included in Spectrum TV plans

Category Fee
Professional installation $49.99
Broadcast TV service charge $13.50/mo.
Reconnection fee $4.99
Spectrum Receiver & Remote (per outlet) $6.99/mo.
Category Fee
DVR service fee (For 1 DVR Receiver) $12.99/mo.
DVR service package (up to 4 DVRs) $19.99/mo.
DVR Equipment Rental $11.99/mo.
Premium Channels (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, etc.) $5.99 -$15.99/mo.
Late payment fee $8.95

Spectrum TV Promotional Cost: $44.99–$89.99/mo.*

Spectrum TV subscription charges are pretty straight forward. If you buy the TV package, as a standalone service, you’ll be paying the following:

  1. TV Select: $44.99/mo.*
  2. TV Silver: $69.99/mo.*
  3. TV Gold: $89.99/mo.*
*For the first 12 months.

This is the price which does not include taxes and other fees mentioned in the table above. It is the addition of itemized costs listed above which is probably the cause of a surprise increase in your total bill. Since it is the base price on which your bill is built, these are important numbers to remember.

Price Increases After the Promotion Period by Up to $35/mo.

Spectrum bundle prices may increase by $10 to $35 per month after the first twelve months. Depending on the service you use your bill will go up. For example, Spectrum TV prices increase by approximately $25 per month while phone prices increase by around $10 per month.

Since there is no contract binding you to the service provider, you are free to select a new promotional deal or switch providers. Many of Spectrum’s promotions, however, are only applicable if you haven’t been a Spectrum customer for 30 days. You might want to check out which other cable providers are available in your area.

Taxes and Fees

Spectrum Hidden Taxes Fees

It is the fine print that traps many of us and this is the ominous category under which taxes and additional fees fall. The providers face a number of regulatory fees imposed by the federal government, which are then passed on to the customers aka you. These fees vary by region, but there are a few that are common nationwide.

If you think you can get around these, then you are mistaken. There’s literally no escape. And while knowledge of these costs prior to subscribing would have been a balm to you, the advertisements of promotional plans hardly go into these pricing details, leaving you perplexed and sometimes angry when you get the first bill, the number on which does not match your expectations.

The common regulatory fees that you are expected to pay to include the Broadcast TV fee, which is currently $13.50 per month. The Regional Sports Fee, which is another common charge, but for some reason does not seem to be applicable to Spectrum.

To help you further, we have compiled a thorough rundown on Spectrum as far as what each fee is and why you might be billed for it.

Spectrum Installation Fee: a One-time $49.99 Charge

This fee is charged on your bill when a professional comes out to your residence to set up your service. It is a one-time charge, however, and at $49.99, it is reasonable compared to what is charged by other cable service providers.

If you want to avoid the cost, you could opt to use the self-install kit that spectrum offers. The self-install process is pretty simple so it’s worth considering and we’d recommend people to take that route.

Spectrum TV Equipment Fees

The equipment fees generally include $6.99 per month for the DVR equipment and up to $19.99 for the DVR service. Spectrum is known to charge $11.99 a month for its TV receiver that comes with a built-in DVR, and that isn’t really an anomaly if one looks at other cable providers. Bear in mind though that you’ll be additionally charged $12.99 to $19.99 each month for the DVR service, depending on the number of boxes you use.

Many find equipment fees to be a real bummer but rest assured that is a standard practice among cable companies. You might want to factor these charges into your budget to avoid surprises.

Subscribing to Premium Channels

There is a variety of premium channels like HBO, Showtime and Cinemax that you can add to your Spectrum TV package for an additional amount up to $15 per channel per month.

These premium channels are however included in the higher tier packages. With Spectrum TV Silver, you get access to HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime along with the NFL Network. If you subscribe to Spectrum TV Gold, you get HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, NFL Network as well as NFL RedZone, TMC, STARZ, and STARZ ENCORE to mention a few.

If you’re someone who’d be interested in these channels, we’d recommend you buy the Silver or Gold plan rather than add on premium channels.

Spectrum Late Fee is $8.95 Per Missed Payment

If you’re late at paying your bill no matter which cable service you are using, you will be expected to pay a penalty and Spectrum is no different. On the bright side though, Spectrum does have an unusually long grace period. You have thirty days after the due date to clear your outstanding charges. Failure to do so results in a late fee of $8.95.

Cost of Cancellation is Zero

Since Spectrum does not require you to enter a contract with them, when you cancel your subscription you won’t be charged a cancellation fee.

Many people complain that when they canceled their subscription they were charged for the whole month. You should be aware the payments are on a monthly basis and if indeed you don’t want to pay extra charges, you might want to cancel the package towards the end of the month and not the beginning.

Our Recommendation

If you’re confused as to which package you should buy, we’d recommend you go with Spectrum TV Silver. This will give you access to more than 175 channels including popular ones like HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime. It will cost you $69.99 a month for the first year and the plan also includes a couple of premium channels giving you a bit of everything at a reasonable price.

Hidden Costs in Spectrum Internet Plans

Hidden Costs in Spectrum Internet Plans

The hidden costs involved in Spectrum’s internet packages tend to vary. We are however listing the more common categories and respective amounts that you may be charged on the monthly bill.

Summary of Costs Included in Spectrum Internet Plans

Category Fee
Standard installation $49.99
Wi-Fi activation fee $9.99
Reconnection fee $4.99
Internet equipment rental Included
Late payment fee $8.95
Data overage fee None

Spectrum’s Internet-only Price

The price list for Spectrum is just as simple as its TV packages. There’s one plan that costs $49.99 a month and gives you speeds starting at 100 Mbps. The internet speed varies depending on the area you live in because of the infrastructure Spectrum has in that region. Network companies i.e. Time Warner Cable and Bright House, each had their own infrastructure prior to the merger with Charter, hence the Charter Spectrum framework for the provision of telecommunication services is not uniform nationwide nor is the internet speed. This means you might be paying the advertised rate for speed below your expectations. In that case, you might want to reevaluate your options.

Just as in the case of Spectrum TV plans, standard price kicks in a year or two after subscription depending upon the package you have opted for. If you find the regular rates do not fit your budget, you can always cancel your subscription without incurring any additional cost.

There are other packages available too, but it really depends on your locality. Most people only have access to the standard plan we have discussed above. Spectrum is working to update its network so that it can offer speeds up to 400 Mbps and 940 Mbps to a broader customer base. These speeds are available to only a cross-section of the provider’s current clientele. Spectrum Internet Ultra, offering speeds up to 400 Mbps and Spectrum Internet GIG providing speeds up to 940 Mbps, are available for $69.99 and $104.99 respectively in certain areas.

Taxes and Fees

If you’re only subscribed to an internet-only plan, you’d be happy to learn that Spectrum is light on recurring fees. The only extra charges that’ll make an appearance on your bill are the state and federal taxes. If however, you have subscribed to the TV service as well, you will see relevant additional charges included in the package.

Installation Fee: $49.99

Spectrum charges a $49.99 one-time installation fee for its internet-only service and bundles as in case of its TV packages.

In addition to this, Spectrum also charges $9.99 to activate Wi-Fi once you have set up the internet service. To avoid this cost, you could opt for the self-install kit, which will cost you only $9.99.

Spectrum Internet Equipment Fees are: Zero

Unlike Spectrum TV packages, there is no additional cost involved with using Spectrum internet equipment. It all comes included in the cost of the package itself.

If you want, however, you can use your own router or modem, albeit there’s little reason to do so. You might see a performance gain but that’s not always the case.

Spectrum does offer the choice to add in-home Wi-Fi for which it bills you $5 a month. Wi-Fi signals are transmitted by routers, while it is the modem’s job to connect your house to the local cable system, which begs the question as to why would anyone pay for in-home Wi-Fi from Spectrum. The company’s Wi-Fi charge is however for your modem’s integrated router service.

If you want to skip this recurring fee, you should consider buying a Spectrum-compatible router. Bear in mind though that Spectrum will not be providing any technical support should an issue arise with the equipment.

Spectrum Late Fee is $8.95 Per Missed Payment

Just like in case of TV packages, if you’re late at paying your bill, you will be expected to pay a penalty of $8.95. On the bright side though, Spectrum does have an unusually long grace period. You have thirty days after the due date to clear your outstanding charges. Failure to do so results in a late fee of $8.95 being charged.

Cost of Cancellation is Zero

As we’ve said before, Spectrum is a contract-free provider. This means there are no cancellation fees or early termination fees (ETFs) you need to worry about. Service is on a month-to-month basis, and if you find you are dissatisfied with their services, you can easily cancel the subscription, return the company’s equipment and sign-up with another provider.

Data Overage Fee: Zero

Spectrum Data Overage Fee Zero

Many providers allow you to use a certain amount of data and charge you an overage fee in case you utilize in excess of your data limit. This is not the case with Spectrum. There is no data limit hence no overage fee either, allowing users to download, stream and play online games to the content of their heart.

Our Bundle Recommendation

Bundling together the internet and TV can save you about $20 per month. If you’re looking for a bundle that offers the best value, you might want to buy the Silver Triple Play. This package offers more than 175 channels on TV, internet speed starting from 100 Mbps and unlimited nationwide calling with added benefits, all for a total of $114.98. Given the unlimited data it offers and the freedom from a binding contract, this plan is definitely worth the money.

Conclusion:

There, that’s it, the answer to all ambiguities about the hidden costs in Spectrum TV and internet plans. The fees might seem a lot but they are quite standard among all cable providers. Spectrum’s pricing structure is not as complex as it seems and hopefully the next time you buy a package or receive the bill for one, you’ll know exactly what you’re being charged for.

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