After recently completing a 2-year contract with Comcast Xfinity, I went through another round of price negotiations and came out much better for it. Through the negotiation process, I was able to drop the total price of my cable TV, HD DVR, high-speed (“Blast”) internet, and Xfinity Mobile (see my Xfinity Mobile review) package to under $95 per month – roughly a 34% cost savings versus my end-of-contract price.
Having AT&T U-Verse fiber recently launch in my neighborhood could have helped with those negotiations, as I was offered new customer pricing for a fresh a 2-year contract. What I discovered in the negotiations, is that Xfinity had changed a few things in its pricing structure on HD and DVR fees. At the end of my contract, I had been charged a $9.95 “HD Technology Fee” and $10 “Anyroom DVR Service” fee for my use of an Xfinity X1 DVR device:
Post new contract negotiation, the HD fee was gone and if I limited my DVR storage to 20 hours (the current maximum for cloud DVR), I could pay just $5 for the DVR to be downgraded to a set-top “TV Box” designation, as shown on my new bill:
Update: Comcast Xfinity raised the “TV Box fee” from $5 to $7.50 per month, per device, starting in January of 2021 and later to $8.50 per month for the first device.
I’ll take that trade any day. But where things get even more interesting is that I found out in the price negotiation that similar to replacing an Xfinity modem with your own in order to get rid of the Xfinity modem fee (now $168/year!), you can also do the same with Xfinity TV boxes and DVRs (now $102/year for the first device and $90 for each additional device in the home!).
How to Replace an Xfinity TV Box with your Own
In speaking with the Xfinity loyalty/retention specialist, I (unsuccessfully) tried to negotiation away the now $8.50 TV Box fee. He did note, however, that I could get rid of that fee if I replaced the Xfinity TV Box with my own customer owned-partner device and use the Xfinity Stream app (which includes live TV and cloud DVR).
Click on the “I’ll watch on Xfinity Stream” box and you can get rid of your TV Box and DVR fees by switching to Xfinity stream and a 3rd party device, using the following steps:
Step 1: Purchase a Compatible Xfinity TV Device
At the time of publish, it looks like a number of Roku devices are considered compatible Xfinity TV devices, including the following:
- Roku Ultra
- Roku Premiere
- Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick 4K+
- Roku Express and Roku Express 4K+
Amazon Fire TV is now compatible as well.
A number of specified LG and Samsung smart TVs are considered compatible partner devices too, but that’s harder to line up. As noted, all can be used with Xfinity Stream’s live TV and cloud DVR (if needed).
And, even better, according to Xfinity, usage of these partner devices does not count against your monthly internet data usage allotment, in most use cases:
Does streaming using the Xfinity Stream app on a Partner Device count against my Internet data usage?
No. The goal of using the app on your Partner Device is to give you more options outside of our rented TV Boxes to access your full TV service within your home. The service delivered through the Xfinity Stream app is not an Internet service, so our data usage plans don’t apply.
However, video services that are delivered over the Internet, like TV Everywhere content accessed through the Xfinity Stream app and web portal or content from NBC.com or the NBC and NBC Sports apps, are treated exactly the same way as any other Internet-delivered services, like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, and are subject to any data usage plans that might apply.
Step 2: Connect your New Xfinity TV Device
Connect your new Xfinity TV partner device to your Xfinity WiFi, make sure your firmware is up to date, and install the Xfinity Stream app on that device to log in and activate.
Step 3: Return your TV Boxes to an Xfinity Retail Location
You can initiate a TV Box return online, and send back your set-top TV Box device back via a UPS drop-off location with a prepaid label. Or, you can make an in-person return at an Xfinity store location near you. Make sure you get and photograph a receipt for your set-top return, and check your future bills for the credit for using your own device!
This simple process will save you $8.50/month ($102 per year) for the first device and another $7.50/month ($90/year) per additional device in the home, and is another of many of the crafty ways to cut your Comcast bill down to reasonable levels.