Get ready to dig a little deeper to pay that cable television bill.
In what has become an annual rite, Comcast announced Monday that it is raising prices beginning Oct. 15.
The typical customer in the North Bay ? those who subscribe to the digital starter service ? will see their bill rise 3.4 percent. Their monthly bill will go from $59.95 to $61.99, an increase of $2.04.
Those with other packages face varying increases. The cheapest plan, called basic cable, will climb $1.50 a month to $17.75, a 9.2 percent hike. Internal company documents put the overall rate hike at 3.7 percent.
Company officials said the price adjustments reflect the increased cost of doing business, rising programming costs and investment in next generation technology and equipment.
?It?s outrageous,? Comcast customer Sandy Hamilton said after hearing of the pending increase. ?Their rates are constantly going up, that?s what?s frustrating.?
Hamilton, who was stopping off at Santa Rosa?s Comcast offices to pay her bill, has the basic cable package, but she said she doesn?t watch that much television anyway. ?I?ve considered shutting it off altogether,? she said. ?I like to read.?
Other Comcast customers also were displeased with the increase.
Since 2003, Comcast has raised it cable rates by 43 percent, according to their internal documents.
?It?s nuts, common now,? said Sarah Vasquez, a sales representative at Macy?s, who?s been a Comcast customer for six years.
?I?m just trying to pay my bills, my rent and not be in line for a handout. This is really crazy,? she said.
Comcast officials say their competitors, AT&T, and particularly satellite TV companies Dish and Direct TV, also have raised their rates significantly.
Although Comcast?s latest increase goes into effect next month, a spokesman said some customers will not see an immediate hike because they previously obtained promotional rates that can last for a year and even two.
?The majority of people won?t see an increase because they?re on a promotional package,? said Bryan Byrd, director of communications for Comcast.
That was little solace for Rene Kampsnider, a Santa Rosa caregiver whose two elderly clients will see a jump in their bill.
One is on the basic cable plan and the other on the expanded basic plan that will rise from the current $43.70 to $44.24.
Even an increases modest increases have an impact, Kampsnider said. The 74-year-old man she cares for is ?barely making it. He will have to cut off his cable. He?s down to $3 at the end of the month after paying all of his bills and getting food. It?s really tight.?
Her other 77-year-old client, she said, will be ?totally upset,? because she can barely afford her cost of living now and her prescription medications.
The $1.50 monthly increase in basic cable represents the cost of a bottle of vitamin pills that the elderly woman may have to forego.
Some Comcast customers interviewed Monday at the Comcast office said they had been dissatisfied in the past by satellite TV companies, too.
Comcast is the predominate cable provider in the Bay Area and has a total of 2.2 million subscribers, including service to all the cities in Sonoma County.
Besides TV, Comcast also provides high speed Internet and digital voice service. The monthly fee to lease a cable modem from Comcast for high-speed Internet service will increase from $3.00 to $5.00.