After my father passed away my mother needed to transfer the household utilities accounts into her name.
Some service providers made it easy and changed things over for her while she was on the phone. Some were a little less convenient, requiring that she fill out a form which they would mail. Some were ridiculous, telling her that she’d have to pay a new deposit to secure an account she and my father had regularly timely paid on for almost 30 years.
Then there was the cable company.
It took four hours on the phone and a total of 48 hours for them to successfully make the change. This was after shutting off the cable, internet, and phone service to the house while she was talking to them (she had to call them back on her cell phone) instead of simply transferring the account into her name.
Her story was not unfamiliar to me (and probably not to many others). Between the seemingly unceasing rate increases, and similar surreal phone experiences, I am definitely not a fan of cable companies.
Which is why, when we were looking for ways to reduce our expenses after I quit my job to work from home to support the Navigator after his Autism diagnosis, it was a very easy decision to cut cable television from our household.
We started streaming all of our television entertainment and watching DVDs.
We primarily use two streaming services: Netflix and Amazon Prime. (We tried Hulu but I objected to paying a fee to watch commercials.) We might also choose to pay to rent a single movie or show we are interested in.
With Netflix and Amazon Prime we have access to almost all the shows available on cable television, and we can watch them a week at a time, like they were broadcast, or we can binge watch — whatever we feel like.
We watch what we want to watch when we want to watch it.
It has been three years and we love it because not only are we paying less than half what we were paying before, and there has been a wonderful unanticipated benefit:
No commercials. Zero. Zip. Nada.
No seasonal toy commercials to send our son into a consumer “I must have it!” frenzy. No commercials with scantily clad partying people causing my son to question and worry about social situations he won’t experience for a decade. No obnoxious shifts in volume from a quiet moment in a show to a used car sales pitch.
And this year, no political shouting and snarling in our family room.
Learning about social and political issues, getting updates on culture, history, science, etc., and research about buying things take place via reading; quietly and when we want to take in that information, not having it shoved at us.
When we made this decision, it was primarily for financial expediency — supporting the health of our family did not really enter our minds as a possible outcome.
I am absolutely certain now that our lives are calmer, and less stressed and frenetic because we don’t have commercial marketing bombarding us all the time.
Cutting the cord was truly a great decision for our family.
Originally published on Autism Mom June 2016.