Review: Comcast High-Speed Internet and Digital Voice®

By | September 17, 2007

I recently switched from Speakeasy DSL and a Verizon land line to Comcast High-Speed Internet and their Digital Voice® local phone service. The executive summary is that I’m very happy so far.

Everyone at Comcast with whom I’ve dealt has been friendly and helpful. This includes the sales people with whom I spoke when ordering the service, the telephone customer service representatives, and the man who came to install my service. Every time I’ve called on the phone, I’ve been connected to a person quickly rather than waiting on hold for a long time (although I had to navigate an annoying menu hierarchy to get there).

The sales person who took my order scheduled installation for the very next morning. I ended up rescheduling that visit (which was very easy to do over the phone), so I don’t know if it would have actually happened, but the installer showed up on time for the rescheduled visit five days later and successfully installed everything during that visit.

One minor problem: I mentioned to the sales person that I wanted my new phone number to be unpublished, and he added that to my account without informing me that there was an additional charge for an unpublished number.

One gripe: How can any telephone service provider get away with charging extra for an unpublished number? It’s not like it costs them anything extra, nor does it take them any extra time — it’s just a checkbox in the computer. This isn’t much of a strike against Comcast, since all of the companies do it, but it’s still exceedingly annoying.

When I showed the installer my wiring closet and informed him that I was going to wire the cable modem into the house phone jacks myself after he left, he understood what I was saying and left behind the appropriate cable, with a phone jack on one end for me to plug into the modem and bare wires, which he stripped for me, at the other for me to punch into my punch-down block. I was impressed with his speed and competence.

I’m not getting quite the advertised download speed of 6Mbps (well, actually, they advertise up to 6Mbps), but it’s pretty close — the highest speed I’ve seen in my periodic tests is 549kb/s. Upload speed doesn’t fare as well — they highest I’ve seen is 45kb/s. If I continue to see mediocre upload speeds, I’m going to talk to Comcast about it, but as for the download speed, it’s more than three times faster than my Speakeasy DSL connection, and for less money, so I’m extremely pleased.

I’m very impressed so far with the phone service. The sound is clear, even when I’m maxing out my download bandwidth. The voicemail is easy to use and quite accessible online, as is most other significant functionality. However, there are a few features, e.g., call waiting, which should be configurable online but aren’t. The features I like include:

  • All of the main calling features (e.g., caller ID, call waiting, voicemail) are included in the price of the service.
  • I’m enjoying having caller ID (it wasn’t worth paying Verizon extra for).
  • It’s very useful to receive email when new messages arrive, and to be able to listen to the messages online.
  • It’s nice to be able to access the voicemail by dialing “*99” instead of my entire phone number, and also nice that it doesn’t require the password when accessing the voicemail from my home phone.
  • The voicemail is easy to use.

The biggest complaint I have so far is that www.comcast.net and its associated Web sites are slow and unreliable. Comcast Web pages hung on me many times over the course of the day, as well as returning numerous application errors. At one point today I was not able to contact Comcast using either the “Live chat” feature, which returned an error, or the “Send email” page, which was hanging.

Overall, I am very happy so far with the service.

I have to admit that I am surprised that I am so happy. Comcast isn’t rated terribly well at dslreports.com, and because there are plenty of Comcast horror stories floating around. I was expecting the process of getting service installed and working to be rather painful, and it hasn’t been that way at all.

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7 thoughts on “Review: Comcast High-Speed Internet and Digital Voice®

  1. Guy

    It’s been a long time since I initially did this, but there used to be no conditions placed on the name used for the listing…so, for example, my wife’s name is used, not mine (which is the billing name).

    So — I wonder how many listings there are for “Seymour Butts” already, if you catch my drift.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Something better to do » Blog Archive » Comcast: The bloom is off the rose

  3. Covenation

    I currently have Comcast as well and I am rarily happy with the services I am recieving. I also wanted to have my number unlisted but they told me there would be a $3.99 monthly charge for the service, which I found to be rediculous. I could see the charge maybe one time but every month? Give me a break!

    The best part about my experience with Comcast is when I initially called to have the services installed. I chose the time slot in which the technician was able to come to my house. I believe it was scheduled between the hours of 1pm and 3pm that he would show up. I am guessing he had a light day that Friday and wanted to cram his appointments in as early as he could finish early for the day, so what does he do, he calls me at 6am and asked me if he could come to my apartment early for the installation. I replied, normally I would be all for getting it hooked up early but since you rudely and unprofessinoally called me at 6am and woke me and my wife then no, between 1 and 3 will do. He showed up at my door at 11am and as a result I got a credit on my installation fees and my first month waived.

    -Jik- I don’t think Comcast does credit checks for new customers as you mentioned in your post. They didn’t run my credit anyway.

    Reply
  4. jik Post author

    I don’t think I would have gotten quite so upset over the $10 charge. You certainly have the right to be upset, but I think you overreacted just a bit.

    Also, changing the owner of an account probably requires running a credit check on the new account, which I suspect sucks up a good chunk of that $10 fee.

    Besides that, fees of this sort are frequently intended not to recover costs directly, but rather to discourage account “flipping” by customers, a not unreasonable thing to try to do.

    Note that when Comcast charged me $4.95 for having an unpublished listing without telling me that there was a charge for it, and I complained, they refunded not only the $4.95 charge but also the $1.99 fee they typically charge to make changes in the services tied to an account.

    Reply
  5. Chris

    I used to share your rosy view of Comcast. I thought you might enjoy this letter I sent earlier this year. I’m particularly fond of the brief second paragraph.

    Comcast Cable
    Box 6505
    Chelmsford, MA 01824-0905

    February 16, 2007

    Dear Comcast,

    I am writing to express my outrage over your ten dollar charge for transferring the name on our account from my departing roommate to myself. The only things changing are the name, social security number, and backup phone number associated with the account. What does this take, maybe 30 seconds for one of your employees to change the information in your system? A minute if they really suck at typing?

    My sense of decency barely prevents me from checking the box saying that my roommate is deceased, which apparently would get the charge waived.

    Until now, I’ve actually had nice things to say to my friends and family about Comcast. Our DVR system has its quirks and occasionally shuts down altogether, but anytime we’ve had a problem, I’ve called Comcast, spoken to a polite person, and had the issue promptly resolved over the phone. I have actually mentioned to friends many times how much better Comcast seemed to be than the other local utilities like NSTAR, which seem to be staffed entirely by slackjawed monkeys with personality disorders.

    No more. Comcast is now on my **** list, along with Walmart, Exxon/Mobil, and Bank of America (welcome to the club!). Any time your company comes up in conversation from this point forward, this is what I’m going to talk about.

    I hope that the ten dollars is worth alienating me as a customer, having me complain about this to anyone who is choosing a cable company, and ensuring that I will certainly NOT be a Comcast customer at my next address. The only reason I’m not switching right now is that the ten dollars doesn’t quite outweigh my desire to make sure that I don’t miss 24 on Monday night.

    Regards,

    Christopher xxxx

    P.S. Where can I order Comcast toilet paper?

    Reply
  6. jik Post author

    Yes, I’m obviously aware of the concept of “what the market will bear,” but in this particular case, with identity theft running rampant and people rightly extremely concerned about protecting their personal information, I don’t think it’s reasonable for the phone companies to be allowed to charge people a fee to prevent their information from being made public.

    I’m not usually gung ho about regulation, but in this particular case, I think regulation is appropriate. Their should be state or Federal regulations prohibiting phone companies from charging a fee for not releasing someone’s personal information.

    Reply
  7. abbasegal

    With respect to why they charge for an unlisted number: a fact of life in a reasonably-efficient market system (perhaps unfortunate, perhaps not, depending on your point of view), is that the price of something (whether it be product or service) has very little relation to the cost. The price is in general based on what the market will bear, and if the market will bear charging people a few dollars to have the sales agent click one box instead of another box, then so be it.

    Of course it is an overstatement to say there is *no* relation between cost and price, for, in general, if the price that a given product/service can get be sold for isn’t enough to cover the cost plus some reasonable profit, then in general the product won’t be sold for long (i.e. the seller will either stop selling it or go out of business!). Of course even for this general rule there are exceptions, e.g. a seller may sell something at a loss if it will reap business in some other realm, like IBM selling an ink-jet printer in order to sell ink, or a cell phone company giving a way a cell phone in order to sell 2 years worth of service.

    Reply

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