Posts Tagged ‘Comcast’

This is why your Comcast bill is so high

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

In the last six months I have received no less than 16 promotional mailings from Comcast, many of them only a few days apart.

I have tried repeatedly to get them to stop sending me these mailings, to no avail. I filed a complaint about it with the Better Business Bureau; not only did Comcast fail to respond to the complaint, the BBB has failed to respond to multiple inquiries from me about its status (way to go, BBB!).

I live in an area with a heavy student population, so I could understand several mailings per year at the times when students tend to move in and move out. But 16 mailings in six months just doesn’t fit that profile.

Comcast isn’t a monopoly in very many places anymore. Even if they’re the only cable company in an area (and that’s not always true, e.g., I also have access to RCN service), there’s always satellite TV, FiOS, ADSL for Internet, etc. The odds are that anybody who hasn’t taken Comcast up on their offer after receiving a few promotions in the mail isn’t going to because they already have another service they’re satisfied with.

In short, the continuous stream of promotional mailings from Comcast simply makes no sense, and anybody who’s already a Comcast customer is paying for it in the form of higher fees.

Comcast Tech: “Comcast already disconnected? But I’ve got to disconnect SOMETHING!”

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

As I’ve discussed at length, I recently switched from Comcast internet & phone to RCN + Vonage because of dissatisfaction with Comcast’s business model (i.e., rip customers off at every opportunity), pricing (i.e., not at all competitive) and customer support (i.e., awful).  I thought this afterthought might be amusing to some…

When the RCN installers came, they disconnected the Comcast cable from the side of my house and connected the RCN cable in its place.  There’s a second cable entering my basement in the same location, to which is connected an antenna cable descending from my attic (as I described here).

One evening a few days after I canceled my Comcast service, I turned on our television and discovered that none of the channels were working.  After spending about a half hour verifying that the antenna was the problem (by restarting the Media Center computer, moving the antenna cable from the computer to the TV, and checking all of the cable connections in the basement), I went outside to check the connections at the side of the house and discovered that someone had disconnected the attic antenna cable.

Apparently, the Comcast technician sent to our house to disconnect our service couldn’t handle the fact that it was already disconnected and felt compelled to disconnect something.  Either that, or he couldn’t tell the difference between a white antenna cable descending from an attic exhaust vent and a black Comcast cable connected to the house from the street, even though the Comcast cable, conveniently enough, had a tag with “Comcast” written on it.

(Oh, and by the way… Hey Comcast, thanks for almost causing us to miss the penultimate Glee episode of the season because Media Center had no signal to record it from.  Good thing Glee episodes are available on-line!)

Bye bye Comcast, hello RCN!

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

In response to my recent letter to Comcast, I received a call from a friendly woman named Nancy in Comcast’s New England executive customer care office.  The call went pretty much how I expected.  She had read my letter and understood what I was upset about, but she let me vent at her about the whole thing anyway.  She said she would pass on my concerns to the people in management who are responsible for determining pricing, fees, etc.  She then offered, as a token of appreciation for the fact that I had been a Comcast customer for a long time, to give me their faster Internet service for six months at the the same price as their slower service.  I politely declined her offer.

The conversation was entirely civil, which didn’t surprise me at all.  Most of the Comcast customer service representatives (the ones in America, at least) I’ve dealt with have been both civil and knowledgeable.  Generally speaking, the Comcast employees that you and I deal with on a daily basis are not the problem.  The problem is the people higher up who have constructed a predatory, customer-unfriendly business model.

Last week when I was considering switching to Comcast, I called their sales department to ask some questions, although I wasn’t quite ready to switch yet.  A couple of days later, I received a very friendly voice-mail message from a sales representative at RCN named Lloyd.  He said it was his job to follow up on a “certain number” of sales inquiries from potential customers and wanted to speak to me to make sure that all of my questions had been answered and to see if there were any additional available offers or incentives that I hadn’t been told about.

I called Lloyd back on Thursday.  I am now a happy (so far!) RCN customer, and I a few minutes ago I canceled my Comcast service (again, the woman with whom I spoke was friendly and helpful, and she even wished me good luck with RCN at the end of the call and didn’t sound snarky about it).

Let me tell you all the reasons why I’m happy with RCN right now: (more…)

How to lower your phone + internet cost from $80 per month to $50 per month: buy your own cable modem and kick Comcast to the curb

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Comcast was charging me $95 per month for internet and phone service.  That was too much.

I got them to lower it to $75 per month, but I had to pay extra for all non-local and long-distance calls.  That was still too much.

They raised the equipment charge for my cable modem from $3 to $5 per month.  That pissed me off, so I bought my own cable modem.

Not only that, but I decided it was time to send Comcast a message for being so slimy, so I switched to Vonage for phone service for $25 per month.  You would think that would have lowered my total cost, except that when I canceled my Comcast phone service, I was no longer eligible for the special “bundle” rate on internet service, so they jacked up my internet service to $60 per month.

That pissed me off even more, so when I called today to swap out Comcast’s cable modem for my own, I also told them to downgrade me to their $40 per month internet service.

Believe it or not, what you get for that ridiculously high price is a 1mbps internet connection.  Yes, you read that right, one megabit.

Fortunately, Comcast isn’t the only game in town.  RCN will sell me a 1.5mbps connection, 50% faster than Comcast’s, for $25 per month, i.e., 37% less.  That’s not even a promotional rate.  Or, if I feel like spending $5 more per month, I can get a 10mbps connection, i.e., ten times as fast as Comcast for 25% less.  And although that is a promotional rate, unlike Comcast, RCN will let me sign up for any new promotion that becomes available after my 12-month contract is up.  Heck, even Verizon charges only $20 per month, half of what Comcast charges, for a 1mbps DSL line!

I haven’t switched to RCN yet, but I’ll probably be doing it some day soon when I’m in just the right mood.

Below is the letter I just sent the CEO of Comcast explaining how they managed to lose an $80 per month revenue stream over a lousy $2 per month. (more…)

Comcast sneaks in back-door rate increase by increasing “equipment charge”

Monday, October 19th, 2009

UPDATE: If you would like to help me call attention to this, Comcast’s most recent attempt to cheat its customers, please Digg this article.

In a classic Gotcha Capitalism strategy, Comcast in Boston has just informed their VoIP and Internet customers that they are raising their monthly rate by $2 without actually admitting they’re doing it.

Note the text circled in red on my most recent Comcast bill:


Here’s what it says, in case you can’t read the picture (and for the benefit of search engines):

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Effective with your next billing statement the monthly equipment charge for your Comcast CDV and/or Internet modem will increase from $3 to $5, excluding applicable taxes and fees.  This change does not affect your monthly CDV and/or Internet service prices.

Let’s translate that into English: “We’re going to start charging you more for your service, but we won’t be charging you more for your service.”  Wow, it sounds stupid when you put it that way.


The latest on the Comcast service emails debacle

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Last week, Comcast exceeded expectations; this week, not so much

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I just sent this:

Mr. [name elided],

Thank you for your email and voicemail message.

I’m sorry to say that it appears the issue with my account is not yet resolved.

Early Saturday morning, Comcast sent out a service announcement with the subject “The new is now live”. Like all the previous service announcements, this one was sent to my wife’s email address and was not sent to mine.

It’s disappointing that not only was your customer service organization proven to be woefully inadequate, by virtue of the fact that it took me several attempts over six months, culminating with an email blast to all of your executives, to get your attention about this problem, but now your engineering organization has also proven to be inadequate, by virtue of the fact that when the issue was finally escalated to them, they were unable to successfully determine the root cause and fix it.


Jonathan Kamens


Comcast is better at damage control than Continental

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

A letter I just received from Comcast:

Mr. Kamens

We can contact you the next time we send a service email to ensure you properly receive it. If that is something you would like us to do just let me know.

Regarding the data discrepancy, our first task was repairing your account. We will continue to look into this in a broader way as you suggest to seek a root cause and repair any similar discrepancies that we find.

I agree with your remaining questions/comments pertaining to customer service. There is no explanation for our failure to respond and properly escalate. We will perform a root cause on this aspect of the issue by looking at the history of you calls and use the learnings to improve.

These root cause investigations are part of our normal process for an escalation of this type because it clearly shouldn’t take this level of exposure for you to receive proper support and issue resolution.

Once again, I apologize for the issue and associated inconvenience. Please let know if you would like us to contact you to confirm the next service email.

Thank you,


Although I’m obviously not pleased that it took six months and an EECB to get this issue resolved, I can honestly say that, at least today, Comcast exceeded my expectations.

Comcast fixes problem <8 hours after “executive email carpet bomb”

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

I received voicemail and email messages from a Comcast employee less than 3½ hours after I sent my “executive email carpet bomb” (EECB), asking for more information about the issue.  I replied with details.

A few hours later, less than eight hours after the EECB,  I received a voicemail message from a Comcast employee indicating that the issue had been caused by a “database discrepancy” which was now fixed.

Here’s the email message I sent in response to that voicemail message.  I don’t actually expect a substantive response, but I figure it was worth a shot:


Comcast continues to send service announcements to wrong email address, six months after first complaint

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Subject: Comcast sends service announcements to wrong email address for six months, ignores customer’s efforts to fix

Mitch Bowling
General Manager and Senior Vice President, Online Services

Dear Mr. Bowling,

For over six months, Comcast has been sending important service announcements to the wrong email address associated with my account.

Briefly, you have been sending service announcements to my wife’s address, which is a secondary address on our account, and not sending them to my address, the primary address on the account.

I’ve contacted Comcast repeatedly to try and get this fixed, and yet it keeps happening, most recently in an email message you sent today with the subject, “Free Tips & Tools to surf safer this Summer.”

Here’s the time-line of my efforts to resolve this and your failure to provide acceptable service:

  • January 1:
    • I contacted your customer support department through your Web site and went three rounds with them in email, each of which was less helpful than the one before.
    • After your customer support department failed, I sent an email message (attached) to your New England Executive Customer Care department.
    • My message was ignored.
  • April 13: I sent you a letter, a copy of which I posted on my blog, which gets thousands of hits per day.
  • April 14:
    • I received an email message from [elided] in your Executive Customer Care department.
    • I sent a response to Ms. [elided]’s message, explaining in detail why her answer to me was useless and had done nothing to solve my problem, and posted it on my blog.
    • My response was ignored.
  • July 2: I am sending this “executive email carpet bomb” (to borrow The Consumerist’s term) in an attempt to get someone at Comcast to actually solve this problem, and of course I will be posting it on my blog as well as submitting it to The Consumerist.

So, are you going to continue to ignore me, or are you actually going to fix the damn problem?


Jonathan Kamens