Comcast lies about the speed of its high-speed internet offering

By | November 6, 2007

I wrote previously about how absurd it was that Comcast was selling a 6 Mbps internet connection whose upload speed was only 384 Kbps. As shown in the email exchange below, the problem was even worse than I thought — the speed of my connection was only 4 Mbps. After several rounds of arguing with someone at Comcast about the fact that I was lied to about the speed of the service before I purchased it, I managed to get them to increase my speed to 6 Mbps. Still, they refused to admit that their Web site is misleading (probably intentionally so), and they haven’t fixed it, so I’ve filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, not that I actually expect that to do any good.

(I’ve elided the name and extension of the individual with whom I corresponded about this problem, because in the end, something helpful was actually done about it, albeit without admitting fault.)

Subject: RE: Comcast service issue.
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 10:38:52 -0400
From: [elided]
To: Jonathan Kamens <[email protected]>

Dear Mr. Kamens,

Thank you for being patient while I investigated the web site information. Since the web site did not clearly state the Mbps as being 4, I have increased your service to 6 Mbps. While we disagree that Comcast’s website contained any false or misleading information, I am issuing a courtesy month of service to your account to thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Your voice mail box was reconfigured on 10/11/07 and a message was left for you that this was completed.

The issue with the live chat and the send us e-mail was caused by a malfunctioning server which has been resolved. I apologize that this service was not available to you when you needed it.

I have forwarded your complaint concerning our customer service representative to Management.

Thank you,

[elided]

Executive Customer Care


From: Jonathan Kamens [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2007 12:18 PM
To: [elided]

Subject: RE: Comcast service issue.

[elided],

I was not dialing 1 to access my voicemail box. Please re-provision it.

Your IIS Web server was returning errors to me at the time I was unable to access Live Chat or Send Us Email. These errors were indicating that my request was rejected because the Web site was too busy. These errors will also be logged on the server. Your technical staff should be routinely monitoring your servers so that conditions like this are detected and addressed proactively. You should not need me to tell you at what time the problem occurred. Also, as I’ve already said, it has happened to me multiple times. Do you expect me to keep a log of every time your Web site is broken when I try to access it? Surely it’s your technical staff’s job to know that, not mine to tell you.

The negative experience I had with your phone representative occurred at around 11:30am Eastern time on October 9. I do not know the name of the woman who refused to fix my problem and then hung up on me. Surely you already have access to this information, since your customer service representatives log all calls?

You have completely missed the point about my speed complaint. The pages you sent me do not say a single word about what speed is actually included in the bundle I purchased. No page anywhere on your Web site provides this information, nor was it provided to me orally or in writing at any point while I was ordering the service. Let’s look at the information your Web site does provide:

  • Under ‘Internet and Voice Bundle”, nothing about speed is mentioned.
  • Under “See All Features” beneath “Internet and Voice Bundle”, 6.0 Mbps and 8.0 Mbps services are mentioned by 4 Mbps service is never mentioned.
  • In the same location, the “Powerboost” feature is mentioned, with the caveat that it is only available for 6.0/8.0 Mbps customers (and it is thus reasonable to conclude that the bundle in question includes 6.0 or 8.0 Mbps, since otherwise why would Poweboost be mentioned on this page?
  • Under “High-Speed Internet”, 4 Mbps is mentioned, but there is no indication of which service gets which speed, and there’s no reason why anyone buying the bundle would need to look at this page before purchasing.
  • Under “See All Features” under “High-Speed Internet for Non-Comcast Cable Customers”, you finally find an explicit reference to the speed of the service, but as I said before, there’s no reason why anyone buying the bundle would need to look at this page before purchasing.

To be blunt, I was ripped off. I was never told by your Web site, your sales people, or your written documentation that I was purchasing a 4 Mbps service, and there are, as I’ve indicated above, several pieces of information on your Web site which would lead a perfectly reasonable person to conclude that the service was at least 6 Mbps.

So, here’s your choice to make, which I’ve already given you once and will give you this one last time before I act on it. Either you upgrade me to 6 Mbps at no charge to make up for the fact that you misled me about the service I was purchasing AND fix your Web site so that the speed of your service is clear to other people considering purchasing this bundle, OR I file complaints about your deceptive marketing and sales practices with every agency and official I can think of and spread the word in my blog and elsewhere on the Internet about how you managed to create yet another dissatisfied customer and are continuing to knowingly rip people off.

Which is it going to be?

Jonathan Kamens


From: [elided]
Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2007 11:48 AM
To: Jonathan Kamens
Subject: RE: Comcast service issue.
Importance: High

Hello Mr. Kamens,

I apologize that you have had a problem with a representative, Live Chat and Send us Email. Comcast wants to provide you with the best in customer service and takes this type of behavior extremely seriously. I am looking into the reason you were unable to access the Live Chat and Send us Email. If possible, please tell me the date and time of day when you had difficulty with Live Chat and Send us Email. In order to pinpoint the negative experience you had with our representative, it would be helpful if you could tell me the date of the call and the name of the person you spoke with. This issue will be forwarded to the Manager in order to address the issue.

I contacted our Provisioning Department concerning your voice mail and we didn’t find any problems. They did question how you were putting in your phone number as you should not need to dial “1” before the number. Please try it again and if you still have an issue, I’ll request to have your voice mail totally reprovisioned. If we need to do this, you would want to remove any voice mail saved so that you don’t lose it.

I have attached the information concerning your current Internet service. The speeds are noted as to the level of service that you subscribe. Your package gives you the 4 x 384 as I explained in my previous e-mail.

Thank you,

[elided]

Comcast Executive Office

888-309-2583 X[elided]


From: Jonathan Kamens [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2007 6:50 AM
To: [elided]
Subject: Re: Comcast service issue.

[elided],

The problem with my voicemail is still not fixed. When I dial *99, I am connected directly to my voicemail inbox, but when I dial my home phone number, it treats me like I’m calling from the outside and asks me to leave a message.

As I’ve already reported, before I ported my Verizon number to Comcast, when I called my home phone number from my home phone, I was transferred directly into my inbox, just as I am with *99, and I want things fixed so that it works that way again.

Jonathan Kamens

On 10/10/2007 10:43 AM, [elided] wrote:

Hello Mr. Kamens,

We have received the e-mail you sent concerning problems with your internet and telephone service. We have changed the password to your voice mail to 7904; you should be able to access the voice mail as requested. Please contact me if you are still having an issue.

The speed on you internet service 384 is our standard upload. You currently have 4×384 which is the speed for the promo package of $69.00 for 12 months you are in at this time. If you would like to upgrade to 6×384 you would have to add at least basic video service at $8.55 at month. If you want to go out of the promo you are in; you can upgrade to our 8×768 speed which, would be $52.95 per month with the telephone at $44.95 per month.

If I can be of further assistance please contact me at 888-309-2583 X[elided]

Thank you,

[elided]

Executive Customer Care

888-309-2583

“This message and any attachments to it contain PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION exclusively for intended recipients. Please DO NOT FORWARD OR DISTRIBUTE to anyone else. If you have received this e-mail in error, please call (888) 309-2583, to report the error and then delete this message from your system.”

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4 thoughts on “Comcast lies about the speed of its high-speed internet offering

  1. tom

    its a good trick…they tell you that you are to expected to have this amount of upload speed.i am supposed to have 1mps as a standard rate. everytime i do speed test to a server in chicago i get around 400 kbs upload. When i asked about upgrading my service it was extra.
    I received a letter today saying that my service was doubled for free. Once again i did a speed test (with no other connections active in my network) and it is the same.
    When you complain about it they can blame network traffic or other factors…and they dont support speed tests.

    Reply
  2. jik Post author

    Chapter 93A requires that the consumer send the merchant a demand letter, and allows a consumer to file suit against the merchant only if the merchant fails to respond to the demand letter or responds inadequately. In this case, Comcast increased my speed to 6 Mbps in response to my complaint, so I don’t think I have grounds for a private Chapter 93A action. The Attorney General could take action against Comcast for false or deceptive advertising, but I doubt they’ll bother *sigh*.

    Reply
  3. Lalun

    I suggest that if you have the time, you may want to file a claim for deceptive trade practice under Mass. General Laws chapter 93A. You would be entitled to treble damages and reasonable attorney’s fees if you prevail.

    Reply
  4. Young Sul

    Ha! I’m glad to see you’re as irascible as ever! 🙂
    You got posted in theconsumerist.com.

    Right on!

    -Young

    Reply

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