Sign up for Comcast, kill trees

By | November 6, 2007

I have received no response to the letter below, which I sent to Comcast over a week ago. I can’t say that I’m terribly suprised. My opinion about Comcast continues to plummet. Names preserved to embarrass the guilty.

Subject: [Fwd: RE: How are companies getting our address from Comcast?]
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 07:47:49 -0400
From: Jonathan Kamens <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]

Ms. Faria,

I recently signed up for Comcast internet and phone service.

Shortly after doing so, I was deluged with junk mail from all different kinds of companies, all of which seemed to think that I had just moved into my house. The only thing I had done recently that might suggest to these companies that we were new occupants was sign up for Comcast, so it was clear that these companies were somehow getting my name and address from Comcast.

Given that I am listed in the DMA’s MPS, requesting that junk mail not be sent to me, it was especially irritating that all of these companies were ignoring the MPS. What was even more galling was that I had just embarked upon a concerted effort to eliminate the junk mail coming into my house by directly contacting every single company or organization sending me junk mail and asking them to stop sending it. To see that effort reduced to a juke by the deluge of junk mail caused by Comcast was exceedingly frustrating.

Alas, things got worse rather than better when I contacted Comcast to find out how companies were getting my name and address and to ask for it to be stopped. This resulted in an incredibly frustrating, non-productive exchange with one of your employees, Arthur Lafond, shown below.

Lafond repeatedly refused to answer simple, straightforward questions with simple, straightforward answers about why my address had been shared, whether he had put a stop to it, and whether I needed to worry about it starting up again in the future.

It almost seemed as if Lafond was being intentionally obfuscatory, as if he did not want me to actually find out the truth about Comcast’s policies and practices in re sharing of my personal information. If this is a corporate policy, then shame on Comcast. If this was instead Lafond’s own initiative, then shame on you for allowing someone who treats customers like this to remain on your staff.

Oh, and double shame on Comcast for distributing people’s personal information for marketing purposes willy nilly without prior notice and explicit consent.

I paid Speakeasy over $60 per month for many years for a much slower Internet connection, because they were a good company with good support, good policies, and good customer focus, and I was willing to pay more for that. Now I’m paying less for Comcast, and look at the kind of shameful treatment I’m getting for my trouble! As I told Lafond, this is exactly the kind of greed-driven behavior that is going to prompt me to cancel my Comcast service the second my one-year promotional rate expires.

Is it good business to drive away your customers by treating them like this?

Sincerely,

Jonathan Kamens

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: RE: How are companies getting our address from Comcast?
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 09:44:30 -0400
From: Lafond, Arthur <[email protected]>
To: Jonathan Kamens <[email protected]>

Good morning:

The supervisor is Diane Faria

Comcast Cable

Box 6505

Chelmsford, MA 01824

Thank you,

Arthur Lafond


From: Jonathan Kamens [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2007 9:30 AM
To: Lafond, Arthur
Subject: RE: How are companies getting our address from Comcast?

The evasive, deceptive manner in which you have responded to my inquiries, culminating in your flat-out refusal below to answer my simple, straightforward questions, is completely unacceptable. Please give me the name and mailing address of your supervisor so that I can direct a complaint about the way you’ve treated me to the individual who can address it. The generic address below is not useful to me; a letter to that address will simply be read by one of your coworkers (or perhaps even by you!), which would be neither appropriate nor efficacious.

Jonathan Kamens

From: Lafond, Arthur [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2007 9:11 AM
To: Jonathan Kamens
Subject: RE: How are companies getting our address from Comcast?

Good morning:

Last week we mailed to your home our Privacy Statement which clarifies our policies regarding customer information. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these policies, you may write to us at the following address: Comcast Cable Communications

Attn: Executive Customer Care

And Communications

Box 6505

Chelmsford, MA 01824

Thank you,

Arthur Lafond


From: Jonathan Kamens [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 10:40 AM
To: Lafond, Arthur
Subject: Re: How are companies getting our address from Comcast?

Do they send you to a class to learn how to be evasive, or did you pick up the talent on the job? It is incredibly annoying and patronizing that when I asked whether you’d sold my name and address to anyone, you replied that you had not, but neglected to mention that you had given it away for free to “affiliated” companies, which is obviously exactly what I wanted to know.

I have no idea what “No Direct Mail and Do Not Share, Do Not Call, and Privacy” means. How could I possibly know what your internal account codes mean?

I have asked you to tell me, in plain, simple English, whether you have stopped sharing my name and address with other companies, “affiliated” or not. Can you please answer that question with a plain, simple answer that will actually mean something to me?

If you have indeed stopped sharing my name and address, can I trust that you will not resume doing so at any point in the future without my consent?

On 10/23/2007 10:33 AM, Lafond, Arthur wrote:

Good morning Mr. Kamens:

Information is shared with our affiliated companies, therefore, you started receiving mail from some of those companies. We have coded your account with the “No Direct Mail and Do Not Share, Do Not Call, and Privacy.

Again, I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Thank you,

Arthur Lafond


From: Jonathan Kamens [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 9:53 AM
To: Lafond, Arthur
Subject: Re: How are companies getting our address from Comcast?

Then you still haven’t explained to me why it is that immediately after I signed up for Comcast, I started getting all kinds of junk mail which from companies who seem to think that we just moved into our house. Can you explain to me, in plain, simple English, how they got our name and address as a result of our signing up with Comcast?

Jonathan Kamens

On 10/23/2007 09:23 AM, Lafond, Arthur wrote:

Good morning Mr. Kamens:

In answer to your question; No, we don’t sell customers information. I apologize again for any inconvenience that you have experienced.

Thank you,

Arthur Lafond


From: Jonathan Kamens [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2007 10:55 PM
To: Lafond, Arthur
Subject: Re: How are companies getting our address from Comcast?

Yes, I got it. It was full of legal gobbledygook that I could hardly make any sense of. Simple questions, to which I would really appreciate simple, straightforward answers: were you sharing my address with other companies before I wrote to you, and have you stopped doing so?

To be blunt, I don’t really give a flying fig what the Cable Act authorizes you to do. Selling people’s contact information for marketing purposes without their consent is just plain rude, customer-hostile behavior.

It’s greed-driven behavior like this that’s going to prompt me to consider getting rid of Comcast as soon as my promotional rate expires.

Jonathan Kamens

On 10/22/2007 01:56 PM, Lafond, Arthur wrote:

Good afternoon Mr. Kamens:

I was just wondering if you received my email last week. Please advise if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

Arthur Lafond

Executive Customer Care and Communications


From: Lafond, Arthur
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2007 4:35 PM
To:
[email protected]
Subject: How are companies getting our address from Comcast?
Importance: High

Good afternoon Mr. Kamens:

Thank you for contacting Comcast with your concerns. Please accept our apology for any inconvenience this may have caused .

Your services with Comcast became effective on September 17th, 2007, I want to assure you that Comcast considers account information contained in our business records to be confidential. However, the Cable Act does authorize Comcast as a cable provider to disclose personally identifiable information for any subscriber for the following purposes:

to conduct a legitimate business activity related to the cable service or other services provided to the subscriber

Comcast may disclose to others information in connection with features and services such as Caller ID, 911/E911 and directory services to public safety authorities

Comcast may publish and distribute, or cause to be published and distributed telephone directories in print

Effective today, we have added the following codes to your account: Do Not Share, Privacy, No Direct Mail, Do Not Call, Non Cable List.

Mr. Kamens, if you have any further concerns or questions, please contact me at our toll-free number at 1-888-309-2583, extension 55144, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Thank you,

Arthur Lafond

Executive Customer Care and Communications.

—–Original Message—–

From: Jonathan Kamens [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2007 8:39 AM

To: [NE-Chelmsford ECC Reps]

Subject: How are companies getting our address from Comcast?

Greetings,

Since we signed up for Comcast service, we have received a deluge of

junk mail (paper mail in our mailbox, not spam) from companies which

seem to think that we’ve just moved into our house. They’re quite

explicit — “welcome to the neighborhood,” “new-neighbor special,” etc.

The only thing we’ve done recently which might suggest that we’ve just

moved into our house is to sign up for Comcast service.

I want to know how it is that these companies are getting our name and

address as a result of our initiation of service with Comcast, and

however it’s happening, I want you to put a stop to it.

I just asked one of your Live Chat agents to take care of this, and he

just kept repeating over and over again, “Comcast does not sell your

address,” without offering any explanation for how it is, then, that

these companies have managed to get their hands on it. This is why I am

escalating this issue to you.

Thank you,

Jonathan Kamens

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11 thoughts on “Sign up for Comcast, kill trees

  1. Paul

    We have the triple package. Phone, internet and TV. We have digital cable. Whoa, what a concept. I really don’t see any difference with the quality. As for our highspeed internet. What used to be lightning fast at 16mbps down. The downloads are that fast. However, surfing the internet feels a lot like dial up. It’s not as crisp as it was when we bought the package. We pay nearly $200.00 a month for all three services. Oh check this out. When I go to speakeasy speed test. The speed says 10mb per second at first and then it jumps to 16mb. It does this without fail every time. I know with Verizon and about 90 dollars cheaper a month. I could get 15mb down and 5mb up. It’s time to switch and kick these rat bastards from Comcast to the curb. Its the old bait and switch. All companies use it but Comcast has made it into an art form.

    Reply
  2. Virginia Eberly

    Comcast,
    I have worked at home for fortune 500 companies for 20 years. My service was all provided by the company. I retired in January and have had nothng but aggravation having things switched etc. On Sept 13 I decided to switch to Verizon for all my services and cancel Comcast for all my services. Both techs were in my home the same day and I have a receipt that Comcast equipment was removed. However I have been getting nasty letters from collection company saying I still owe for the equipment and services. I am frantic and I do not want to get my credit rating diturbed. If anyone reads this that can help I would appreciate hearing from you, Thankyou

    Reply
  3. jik Post author

    I got a letter from Comcast the other day informing me that they had randomly generated a PIN for my account. That’s all well and good, but this statement near the bottom of the letter caught my eye and made me laugh out loud:

    “At Comcast the privacy and security of our customers is a top priority.”

    Yeah, right!

    Reply
  4. jik Post author

    I don’t think we’ve seen them recently, but my wife was so put off by them that she’s unwilling even to this day to do business with them. Perhaps a year from how if they haven’t bothered us any more in the interim I’ll be able to convince her to consider them if we decide to look into leaving Comcast.

    I’m no longer hosting any services on my computer — I’ve moved them all to openhosting.com. I’m completely, 100% happy with the service at openhosting.com. They’re amazingly good. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, reliable place to host a Linux server with competent support people who respond quickly to support requests, then openhosting.com is the way to go. If you’re interested, let me know &mash; if I refer you, then they’ll waive your activation fee and give me a referral credit as well.

    Reply
  5. jont

    I remember those door-to-door RCN folks from when RCN first rolled out in our neighborhood, but I haven’t seen them in a few years. Have you or your wife had any such experiences in the last three years or so?

    I’ve had their internet service for just over a year, and haven’t had any complaints so far. I have gotten a few sales calls from them over the last week or so, but I assume that’s a followup from when I called them a couple of weeks ago to ask for info on their combined internet-telephone packages. I wasn’t getting sales calls *before* I called to inquire.

    The reason I had to inquire was because their web site doesn’t have details on the actual prices for their services once the one-year introductory rate expires. Now *that* is certainly a major annoyance, but I gather from your other post that Comcast also has its problems in that department.

    I did have an interesting marketing experience with Comcast recently. They had a van with an animated billboard double-parked on a street I was going on. No one was behind the wheel, but someone *did* come out and move it out of the way fairly quickly when I was spotted phoning the police.

    BTW, be sure to check Verizon’s terms and conditions before signing on with them. When I was checking them out, I thought I saw something about not being allowed to host internet services via their service.

    Reply
  6. jik Post author

    Verizon won’t have download speeds comparable to cable for anything near a comparable price until FiOS gets to my neighborhood. Having said that, I’m sufficiently disillusioned with Comcast than when the dust has settled on the other things complicating my life, I may very well decide to switch to Verizon’s 3Mbps service. It’s not as fast as cable, but it’s a respectable speed, and it’s cheaper than what I’ll be paying Comcast after the promotional rate expires.

    RCN has an even worse customer-service reputation than Comcast. Not only that, but they have repeatedly literally harassed my wife about signing up with them. Once, an RCN rep accosted her on the sidewalk in front of our house when she was returning from a shopping trip, carrying groceries and with children in tow, and not only refused to take no for an answer but followed her up our stairs onto our porch as she continued to tell him to go away. Thanks, but no thanks.

    Reply
  7. jont

    First you wrote:

    It’s our only practical choice right now.

    And later:

    I can already get service from Verizon, RCN and Comcast

    So why are Verizon and RCN impractical choices?

    Reply
  8. jik Post author

    Seems a bit ironic that you blame Comcast, a company that basically exists, as all companies do, only to make money,

    The claim that all companies basically exist to make money is false, but that’s mostly besides the point, since I agree with you that it’s certainly true that Comcast in particular has profit as its primary motive.

    for being greedy just before you mention that you will only stay with them until you are no longer receiving a promotional rate.

    Aren’t you doing the same thing Comcast is, looking out for yourself?

    Making money and being greedy are not synonymous. It’s greedy to increase one’s profits by treating customers poorly. Obviously, I want Comcast to make a profit, because if they don’t make a profit, then they won’t be around to provide me and others with the services I need. However, I categorically reject any assertion that they cannot make a profit without treating their customers badly.

    Furthermore, companies which achieve short-term profits by treating customers poorly are being extremely short-sighted. As competition increases in the high-speed internet, telephone and cable markets (e.g., I can already get service from Verizon, RCN and Comcast, and with any luck within a year I’ll be able to get FiOS service in addition to the copper-wire service that Verizon is offering now), the companies that haven’t figured out how to treat their customers properly will lose market share to those who have. That’s hardly good for long-term profits. (As I noted in the complaint letter I posted in this blog entry, I paid Speakeasy well above the market rate for years for high-speed internet service because they treated their customers properly. I left because that changed.)

    In any case, Comcast has the right to treat customers poorly, and in exchange customers have the right to demand better treatment, and to go elsewhere if it isn’t forthcoming.

    Frankly, it’s patently absurd and illogical to equate a business treating its customers poorly with a customer choosing to take his business elsewhere as a result.

    Reply
  9. Mike

    Seems a bit ironic that you blame Comcast, a company that basically exists, as all companies do, only to make money, for being greedy just before you mention that you will only stay with them until you are no longer receiving a promotional rate.

    Aren’t you doing the same thing Comcast is, looking out for yourself?

    Reply
  10. jik Post author

    Have I posted a comment to your blog yet to the effect that Comcast is evil? Mmmmm…yep, I think I already have. 🙂

    It’s our only practical choice right now. Who knows, perhaps by the time the promotional rate I’ve got expires, FiOS will have reached my area and I’ll be able to try that instead.

    Reply
  11. John

    Have I posted a comment to your blog yet to the effect that Comcast is evil? Mmmmm…yep, I think I already have. 🙂

    Reply

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