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TV Answer Man

TV Service: Should I Sign a 2-Year Contract?

By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (February 6, 2013) -- Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to swann@tvpredictions.com

Q. I've been thinking about signing up with Comcast for its HD Preferred package, which offers the Triple Play, more than 160 HD channels and other stuff. It's only $109 for the first 12 months, but I have to sign a two-year agreement. Should I do it? -- Don, Dunkirk, Maryland.

Don of Dunkirk, the answer is no!!!

That may sound like a great deal -- and it is, actually. But here's the problem. If you sign a two-year agreement, you're stuck. If you want to switch TV providers during that time, you'll have to pay an early termination fee. And sometimes that can be hundreds of dollars.

And this is not just Comcast. It's every TV provider who offers 'special' two-year agreement deals.

Now you may say, hey, I plan to stay with Comcast for two years or more anyway.

Well, that's cool, but what if Comcast has a fee fight with your favorite channel -- say, MASN, the regional sports channel that airs the Washington Nationals -- and is forced to take the channel off the air? Indefinitely.

Hopefully, that won't occur, but if it does -- and you want to switch to DIRECTV so you can watch the Nats -- you'll have to pay that early termination fee.

Also, if you're not in a two-year agreement, you'll have more power to negotiate with your TV provider for deals while you're a customer. If your TV provider knows you can switch anytime you want without a financial penalty, it will be much more receptive to offering you something to stay on board, such as three free months of a premium channel -- or who knows what. If you call them and say you're thinking of switching, it will get creative, trust me. (Just don't do this too often; your TV provider will catch on and be happy to see you leave.)

So avoid the contracts, Don, and keep watching the Nats no matter what happens. :)

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