With an increasing amount of service providers offering bundled services to their customers, you might find yourself wondering, what’s all the noise about? Well, bundles are handy little service packages that not only consolidate some of your bills, but save you money with good introductory pricing.
While some consumers swear by the convenience of bundled services, others say that bundles are there only to get consumers to pay for additional services they wouldn’t purchase in the first place. One thing is for sure, bundle pricing seems to be a fixture among most service providers, which won’t be going away anytime soon, so let’s take a closer look.
Why Use Bundled Services?
One of the main reasons people subscribe to bundles is the convenience. Besides the fact that you only need to pay one bill for all of your subscriptions, bundling is also very convenient when it comes to customer service. Instead of having to call different sources for help, you have one number, and one company to deal with.
Another major advantage to bundling is that it can save money, if you already buy each service separately. Heavy users of the provided services can save hundreds of dollars a year by bundling their subscriptions, getting the biggest savings with the “triple play” variety of bundles: ones which include Cable TV, Internet, and Home Phone service.
Issues with Bundled Services
Discounts on bundled services don’t last forever, unfortunately. Often, the discount earned by bundling is part of a promotion to attract new subscribers to the company. Once the promotional period is over, the price increases, and you lose some of your savings. If your budgeting relies on your bundle savings in order to work, that eventual increase in your bill is something you’re going to have to look out for. When you sign your contract to subscribe to the service, make sure to make note of when the pricing changes; you might want to cancel before then.
Another negative about bundled services is that you might end up paying for a service you otherwise wouldn’t be interested in obtaining, like a home phone. With cellular phones being so convenient and ubiquitous, many people have decided they don’t need a landline service at all, but some triple-play bundles require a landline in order to get the best rate.
When it comes to television, instead of focusing on how many channels a bundle has, you should focus on which channels are included: your favorite television channels may be already offered on a cheaper bundle, and more channels are not necessarily better as any channel surfer can attest to: a lot of channels are simply “fluff.”
Let’s look at some of the current specials out there.
One of the more popular bundles is the Verizon FiOS Triple Play. In it, you get FiOS TV Prime HD, FiOS Internet (15/5 mbps), and Home Phone service for $79.99 a month, in addition to taxes and equipment charges. After 1 year, however, the price is increased to $89.99 a month. FiOS TV Prime HD has over 215 channels included, at a normal standalone price of $64.99 / mo, making this bundle a great deal if you would normally be paying for TV and Internet separate.
For the same price, AT&T offers a U-Family TV + Internet + Voice bundle, with up to 130 channels, and internet speeds of up to 6 mbps. Overall, this package is not as impressive as the Verizon bundle, which offers more features for the same price.
Also at the same price, Time Warner Cable offers TV, Internet, and Home Phone as a package. With TWC TV, you get access to over 70 channels, as well as the local news stations and weather. Time Warner Cable Internet has download speeds of up to 3 mbps, upload speeds of 1 mbps, and free internet security/parental control software. You also get unlimited calls to the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico with their telephone service.
It seems that each day, more companies are leveraging the growing popularity of bundled services. Consumers like the convenience of a consolidated bill from one company, and are willing to sacrifice a bit of choice in the long run for it. You can expect even more services to be bundled in the future, as companies develop more technologies to add to their offerings, and packages become much more competitively designed.
For people who can afford the higher price points, bundling is a great time and energy saver. However, for those on a tighter budget, avoiding bundled services and only paying for what you need might be a better idea.