Thursday, June 01, 2017

**REVIEW** HBO Now Trial Subscription (Android app)

Let me start by saying I'm really glad that I got to use the trial subscription. As you guys know by now, I plan to be living in another state very, very soon. I don't own (and really don't want to) own a TV set, I get all my news and entertainment via my computer and phone.


Image result for hbo nowI wanted to test out some alternatives to Netflix, Hulu, and cable subscriptions. When I saw that the HBO Now app had a trial, I went for it.


Image result for thumbs upThe PROS: 

The service is pretty nice. I like that it can be used on a phone or tablet or PC. You can add your selections to a Watchlist. That was great. The viewing selections haven't been bad this month. I don't watch a lot of movies until long after they are first released so it's always a treat to binge watch when I'm doing things like... Oh, I dunno but let's say, packing. (Sidenote: I have packed 15 boxes of assorted sizes - from Medium and Large USPS Flat Rates to Medium cardboards from UHaul. I will never in my life move again if it involves my packing anything more than a suitcase!)


I watched some stand-up comedy (I laughed so much at Adele Givens that I got a stitch in my side); The Wizard of Lies (about Bernie Madoff) was soooo fascinating, and my favorite documentary was Mommy Dead and Dearest - which is about a crime involving a mother and daughter named Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard. (If you like documentaries or true crime, this one will be riveting. I first heard of it via a podcast.)

So, yes, the selections were great and I might even actually get a full subscription somewhere down the line. However...

Image result for thumbs downThe CONS:

The app (online and via phone) is a bit clunky. The Search mechanism is downright hideous. It's case-sensitive! Also, it's not great for guessing at partial actor/movie names. Probably I missed a lot of offerings just because I got tired of scrolling and scrolling.

The streaming was bad, bad, bad! At one point while watching Ride Along 2, the video locked up for over ten minutes.  This freezing up happened (for not quite as long) with almost every video I watched. I thought it might be my phone or PC, but every other kind of video was fine. (It still might be a user-related problem.) Those were minor cons compared to - I don't even know how to label this so I'll call it ...


Image result for this sucksI'm glad that I and so careful with my budget, which is why I like to test things out with a trial plan.

"Trial" subscriptions can be sneaky and I have, in the long ago past, ended up being billed for a service I didn't like. All because I forgot about the end-of-trial date. It happened only once. After that, I learned to bill to a reloadable debit card or - and this is what I usually do - I mark every calendar I use with a big ol'  "DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!" notice set for a week before the end date. I hadn't run into a lot of cancellation problems. Until now.

It's a good thing that I have a week-ahead cancellation system because it's kinda hard to cancel HBO Now. I don't know if this is just my experience, but - oh my aching head was it a pain in the butt.

I've been mostly using the service via my PC so when I got the calendar alert to cancel, that's where I signed in. The first place I went was to my Profile. There is no "cancel service" button anywhere else that I could see. From my Profile, I selected Billing Information. And that's where things got annoying.

There is no Cancel option on the Billing screen. There was a notice that I purchased the service via Google Play and a detail of "paid through" date of the subscription. There is no Cancel option shown but there is a Manage Subscriptions button. Alrighty then.

Guess what? When I used the Manage Subscriptions option, it led me offsite to the Google Payment Center. From there, I should be able to "manage" (aka cancel) the service.


I basically went back and forth a couple of times (between the HBO Now site to Play store to Payment Center) before I just changed the Payment Method in my Google payments from my debit card to my Google Play Balance (a whopping $0.52). But I still wanted to get the service properly canceled.

What I ended up doing was contacting Google Help. And thank goodness I did get the help I needed. The rep was very nice. She got the service canceled and I am a little less stressed.

Bottom line: the service is pretty good but you better be ready to deal with the cancellation process.

That's it for now, folks. I am ragged tired and I still have many miles to go, as they say.