Tuesday, February 13, 2007

February 13, 2007

When I arrived at work this morning I received an IM from a buddy who is closely watching this situation. He pointed me to this link mentioning I really needed to read it. Seems Comcast has responded after all. Or did they? BTW, Before I get into it, a BIG thanks to The Consumerist.com for following up on this story. It's way beyond the call IMO!

After spending a few minutes going over Comcasts response my heart dropped. It's the same old story I've been hearing these last few weeks. While I appreciate Comcast taking the time to cut and paste their response, It doesn't address the core issues. It's very possible I haven't been very clear. So here is what I've been asking them. IMO these are normal questions people would normally ask. Ok, geeks like me :-)

1. When calling Customer Service, why are the Comcast CSR's not aware of a problem with a customer account? Geovanny of the Abuse department mentioned the CSR's don't have access to the Abuse database for "our protection". A flag is currently in our account and the CSR's point me to the Abuse department if I call them today. A similar flag would have been VERY helpful in December. Even live chat failed to catch the problem. I'll post that conversation below.

2. When changing the terms of service from "Unlimited Use for a flat monthly fee" to something else, shouldn't the "new terms" be just as clear? After all, when I go to a Sizzler (for example), and order the "All you can eat Shrimp", it's pretty darn clear what I'm ordering.

3. If there is a limit I am required to follow or risk termination, why is the limit not made public? Is there a link I can view my monthly usage? Ok so that's two questions. Other companies providing HSI already have this capability. I was with Xmission for years before Comcast came to our area. I had ISDN then (yeah I know it's expensive but dialup? ugg).

Xmission advertises their cap openly. DSL subscribers can view their totals here (login required) and Utopianet subscribers don't have any at this time. They also provide detailed information about their network usage for geeks like me. No really, I've used it years ago when troubleshooting issues back then when I was with xmission.. Heck, almost two years ago I even called Comcast to let them know they had a switch messed up. The poor CSR didn't know how to put in a ticket once I showed him how to find the problem ::grinz:: But I'm a geek what can I say :-)

I think they are using MRTG. I highly recommend it if interested. I've been using it for years. They even have 3rd party perl scripts that will give you the monthly totals Comcast customers need to make an informed decision about their usage. MRTG is great but I recommend RRDtool . It's Next Gen.

4. When we were advised by the Abuse department to upgrade from a residential to business account, why was the service turned on for 10 minutes (give or take) then shut off again after the upgrade? Either we were supposed to upgrade to a Business account or we weren't. Which is it? Ryan H. of Comcast did say he would take care of the bill. I am concerned somehow I'll get charged for services even though Ryan said it was resolved. Don't misunderstand, my experience with Ryan has been top notch, It's the rest of Comcast I'm unsure about. (can you blame me?)

BTW, when I first spoke with Ryan about our situation and our willingness to upgrade to a Business account, I understood they were a seperate division and not under the Abuse departments jurisdiction. He said it would be no problem for us to switch over. After we signed the contract, Comcast re-enabled the connection for about 10 minutes. Ryan and Larry (his boss) were baffled when service was disconnected (again).

5. Does Comcast normally advise small businesses to upgrade to a Commercial account? $1700 connection fee and $1000 monthly sounds a little extreme to me.

I think that basically covers it. (::whew::)

On to more interesting topics. Several people have asked how to file a complaint against Comcast for unfair business practices. You can easily do it here. It takes a couple minutes and they will email you a reference number. It takes a long time for this to get some traction so be patient.

What is this Utopianet I keep talking about? In a nutshell it's a fiber infrastructure which would provide unbelievable services to residents of Utah. Heck, I'm surprised Comcast hasn't figure it out yet and jumped on the Utopianet bandwagon. Comcast actually sent a rep a few years ago to argue against it in a City Council meeting. If I recall their argument properly, they said it was unnecessary as they would take care of our needs. If Comcast would join Utopianet, I believe they would be able to provide incredible services to our area but I suppose that would mess up their monopoly here. A customer such as myself would be able to drop Comcast and go with another provider if desired.

Here is the live chat from December. I guess I could have pressed the CSR harder. When asking if there are any bandwidth limits and they say no, what else should I think he means? Don't forget, at this point I still thought everything was ok with our account and believed they understood what Comcast offered.


keebler said...

From the link you listed:

"256,000 photos, downloading 30,000 songs, sending or receiving 13 million e-mails"

These numbers are totally meaningless. Are the photos 1280x1024 bit map files, are they tif, are they jpg encoded at 75bpi or 300bpi??

I just created a 1280x1024 bitmapped file and the file size is 3841KB. So according to Comcast math:

3,841,000 times 256,000 = 983,296,000,000 bytes is excessive.

The file I created was a white background, I converted this file to JPG format and the resulting file size is 21KB. So using this "standard" for photo size. Excessive use is:

21,000 x 256,000 = 5,376,000,000 bytes.

Quite an order of mangitude difference of 182 to 1. What is it Comcast??

Again a useless statement that is meant to portray the "Abuser" as the bad guy.

Comcast define your photos, songs and emails? If not they are meaningless. I have mp3 encoded songs on my PC ranging from 240KB to 8MB. I can email a 20MB home video to a freind of or a single sentence that is 50 Bytes.

u235sentinel said...

Again a useless statement that is meant to portray the "Abuser" as the bad guy.

Of course. Otherwise they would have a hard time getting away with it.

The most amusing thing is nobody in the IT industry speaks like this.

I would recommend anyone curious about this to ask someone Cisco certified and watch their amused reaction :-)

neeber said...

I'm a Utopia/XMission subscriber, and they do have a web page where I can view my bandwidth statistics.

They've also just introduced tiered service on utopia: http://www.xmission.com/cgi-bin/announcements?num=151.new.tiered.service.on.utopia

Kevin said...

"256,000 photos, downloading 30,000 songs, sending or receiving 13 million e-mails"

I did a statistical analysis of my MP3 collection about 4 years ago (I needed a large number of data points and file size is works pretty well) and it turned out that my average MP3 was between 3 and 4MB.

This would suggest that their limit is 3MBx30000 - 4MBx30000. Somewhere between 90GB and 120GB. But then there are the reports of people being cut off with less, and I'm sure there are others who are tripling the limit without warnings.