Wednesday, April 4, 2007

April 4, 2007

I was recently contacted by Chloe Albanesius at PC Magazine. Here is the article online for your viewing pleasure. I really appreciate the opportunity to clarify a few points and explain my view on this issue. People have the right to know what they really purchased and silence will only encourage the company to continue abusing it's customers.

I'm concerned that Comcast is disconnecting people with next to no notification. One phone call should not be considered sufficient. If you had an issue with a company, who would you call? Most people I've asked that question say, you guessed it, Customer Service :-) With Comcast who should you call? The Abuse Department. Don't ask Comcast Customer Service if you get one of those calls. They don't know a thing about problems with your account until after you are terminated. Your Comcast bill only has Customer Service listed btw.

At least that was my experience. I've uploaded my phone records from T-Mobile as proof that my wife and I called them multiple times on December 12 and 13 (I have been keeping detailed records of this experience just in case). They even called me back on December 13th to tell me it wasn't Comcast calling that it must be a prank!! You will also find my online chat with Comcast which I took screen shots for your review. They said the same thing. When asked if there were bandwidth limits their online CSR said "No.". I believe this can't be any clearer.

That being the case, Comcast really needs to resolve a few internal problems. I don't care really how they do it but it's obvious to the dozens of disconnected ex-Comcast consumers I've spoken with that they have a problem which needs fixing.

I've finally received a response from Comcast through the BBB regarding my complaint. They said (you guessed it) "abusers using 100 times the norm", "13 Billion email's a month" (ok, they really said million...), "256,000 photos, 30,000 songs", blah blah blah. Ugg. Microsoft Cut and paste to the rescue.



Comcast needs to speak to their technical people and ask THEM what on earth their response means in english. I've provided my analysis of this in February. Comcast's response translates to 1.3 - 2.7 Gigs consumption a month. This means if you download 2 movies from Amazon.com's Unbox then you could be the next lucky customer to switch to DSL (or Verizon FiOS or Utopianet). Each HD-DVD is around 2 Gigs and costs about $10 for a 2 hour Hollywood video. Cheaper than paying $30 for the same thing.

Here is my response to Comcast through the BBB



I'm sorry to sound so harsh as that's not my style. I thought it was interesting to see Sara provide a number to call. No thanks. I don't need another quote for a commercial account (I received a second verbal quote of $10,000 to connect and up to $2000 a month). I did find it interesting they didn't send me a written quote. Pity. I'd love to post it here.

Sara did mentioned something I thought rather interesting. They "Proactively contact customers violating acceptable use" (one call is proactive???), they "value the business of all high speed internet customers" (Huh? You mean before you disconnect them right?), and they "work with customers to find a more appropriate Comcast product". Hmmm.... Comcast Business had us back on for about 10 minutes on January 23rd until the Abuse department noticed we were back online.

Ryan and Larry in Comcast's Sandy office clearly stated we could upgrade to a business account and despite the issues with the Abuse department, we will be ok as they are seperate from the residential side of the business. For the record, Ryan and Larry went to bat for us. These guys were awesome. Somebody please contact them and give them a job. Their Customer Service is second to none!

So, here is a scanned copy of the business contract Comcast violated





It was signed and faxed to them. In essense breach of contract is what I'm seeing here. Yes I've spoken with a couple of lawyers. Is it worth the trouble? Not really. At this point I'm saving $30 a month going with DSL and Dish Network. My Counter Strike / Team Fortress game has seriously improved now that my uplink is 896k instead of only 384k :-)

What do I want?

I want the truth. Define Acceptable Use and be done with it.

25 comments:

LowGenius said...

This whole situation is absolutely outrageous, and I'd like to thank you directly for helping to bring it into the limelight. As a high-volume internet user myself, I'll definitely be avoiding Comcast...and as the new IT director for a company with multiple high-speed accounts, I'll be examining our contracts very carefully; if Comcast is getting paid anything by *this* IT department, that's going to change posthaste.

Again, my many thanks, and keep up the good fight. It's absolutely insane that any business would attempt to operate in this fashion.

Therra said...

Reading through, in general, I understand what they seem to be saying. They're looking at a percentage instead of hard numbers, "so they don't have any to give."

Right there, we're fine and dandy. Some people use the service heavily, and they don't want service degradation. So far so good.

What's WRONG is their response to it. Instead of asking if you're running a business with it, a server at home or some such, they're stopping at the numbers and not listening.

If I had any say in it, the process would go:
- note high use.
- Check for servers (if they're not allowed, I know many don't allow servers after all.)
- If none, contact the user and *ask what they're doing.* "We see you're consistently among our highest bandwidth users. What is your typical use?"

... then when they see downloads from iTunes (who do sell movies now,) streaming video, etc. start upgrading service in the area so they're ready when this gets even more popular.

Are there some instances where shutting down or moving to another type of account is justified? Sure. But this sounds heavy handed and just not well thought out.

PX76_RuthlessRuler said...

In short... Comcast stinks! If you email them they ask you to call. If you call them their reps are clueless. It's an endless cirlce. Everything takes double the effort and even then you still can't be sure. Thanks gawd for Verizon.

Given the choice between Comcast and hell - choose hell. At least then you can be sure of what you're getting yourself in to.

Douglas Muth said...

Thank you for writing about this. I've seen complaints about Comcast before, but none in as much detail and with as much supporting documentation as you provided.

Keep up the good work. This mistreatment of their customers must be brought into the public eye if we want things to change.

Jeff said...

I just learned of your issue from the PC Magazine article, and have to add my voice to the list of appalled and frustrated ex-Comcast-customers (I switched to DSL 1 year ago).

I do not have the same issue, but I agree that Comcast has no concept of "customer service" and no interest in abiding by their agreements.

My nightmare included a six-month period during which service was out 11 times, 3 of those times lasting more than 3 full days. Comcast denied any outages at all, and in one case, after a particularly challenging "customer service" call, had a supervisor call me back and yell at me (rather viciously) that I had no right to demand any level of service up-time.

I think no comment is needed.

Thank you for bringing yet another Comcast fiasco to the light, and pursuing it with such vigor.

In my house, we have a whole new definition for "Comcastic" - one which I'm sure would not please the Comcast marketing department. :)

PovertyPimp said...

Comcast has a terrible track record of customer abuse everywhere.

Here in Minneapolis Comcast aquired TimeWarner RoadRunner. Montly fees from RoadRunner customers were to be 'grandfathered in' until Oct 1, 2007. Well guess what in March of 2007 our montly fee increased over 25% without any notification / justification from Comcast.

When I made contact with the ?'customer service'? dept I was totally blown off.

A report will be sent to our state Attorney General for what that's worth.

Municipal wireless will be available in my area in August 2007. DSL in not an option for me. (no phone)

If Comcast wishes to continue doing business anywhere they should seriously re-think who pays them.

PovertyPimp said...

Comcast has a terrible track record of customer abuse everywhere.

Here in Minneapolis MN Comcast aquired TimeWarner RoadRunner. Monthly fees from RoadRunner customers were to be 'grandfathered in' until Oct 1, 2007. Well guess what in March of 2007 our montly fee increased over 25% without any notification / justification from Comcast.

When I made contact with the ?'customer service'? dept I was totally blown off.

A report will be sent to our state Attorney General for what that's worth.

Municipal wireless will be available in my area in August 2007. DSL in not an option for me. (no phone)

If Comcast wishes to continue doing business they should seriously re-think who pays them.

Seth said...

I'm actually very concerned about this entire issue. My neighborhood is entirely Comcast now (they bought out Adelphia in my region) -- I have no escape from these freaks.

And I use well over 10 gigs of bandwidth a week, easily, between iTunes, YouTube, Google Video, gaming, Linux ISO downloading and so on. I'll probably be the next victim in the scam that is Comcast.

And yes, I agree with everyone here that calling them is laughable at best. No one knows anything at Comcast customer service. Nothing at all. It's hard not to think the entire company incompetent based on their face people.

If I could switch, I'd do it TODAY.

the_email said...

Comcast has never seemed to answer to anyone. I still don't know what it is you are doing with your account though. I doubt you are entirely innocent in this but Comcast is being way to vague.

maby652 said...

Excellent blog, and very well documented! I must say that if Comcast or any other providers treats you this way, it is well worth expressing that to others. The only hope for Comcast is that this doesn't become too widely known for them to take any steps ( which truly puts them against the wall with other providers.)
Keeping updating us on the situation, and remind them occasionally:

Who's the customer?

Joshua said...

I want to commend you on trying to get this out. I hope that you can get a class action suit together against Comcast. I had stopped using them because when I called about service degradation I found out that they will not guarantee you any service level. When talking to the Customer Service I was told. "You can possibly reach 6 Mbps and in the future you will be able to get burst up to 12 Mbps" When directly asked about service level I could not get an answer till almost 4 people and 3 hours later. All of this for only 59.99 a month!!! I have changed to AT&T (The Death Star rises again) because I am guaranteed 3 Mbps and max out at 6 mbps for $39.99. After a few glitches I have been able to get a consistent 5.6 Mbps.

Viraf "Willy" Reporter said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. There are some general "cable vs DSL" differentiators that come to mind:

- Cable had always had limitations which they refuse to specify because with cable, bandwidth is a group consumption limitation. You share bandwidth with others wired to your particular relay. DSL is a direct or private pipe to the network switch. All that hokey about cable being faster by multiple times is only true under specified conditions. If they specify the limit, they are exposing their limitations to competition - as well as their pricing model. Most users consume a fraction of what you consume so they make bucks of those other consumers but still use you as a scapegoat.

- The customer service and security/abuse department (left arm - right arm) is probably due to outsourcing of the customer service issue. That still makes it the company's problem, but it probably explains another matter that they can't publicize. Their cost-saving initiatives aren't accomplishing the required task. I bet the FCC would (should) be interested in all this except that they are not working for the consumer anymore either!

I am in the New York/New Jersey area. Comcast has a big presence here. Thanks again for sharing. These are the stories that need investigation - even if they do come back to you after publicity whiplash!

Willy Reporter
Hoboken, NJ

Joanne said...

I absolutely revile COMCAST and wish i did not have to do business with them at ALL! Unfortunately, their tentacles control the cable service in my area so I am forced to subscribe to them for cable TV (unlike Internet service, NO competition is allowed in cable TV which really sucks!).

Believe be if I had a choice I would not give them one dime! They are horrible!

Right on with your fight, bro. If there is anything I can do let me know!

u235sentinel said...

LowGenius said...

This whole situation is absolutely outrageous, and I'd like to thank you directly for helping to bring it into the limelight.


My pleasure. It's time Comcast come clean or stop telling people there are no limits. Their CSR's tell you there are no limits. I know because I called again this afternoon from a buddy's phone. He didn't believe me until the call :D

As a high-volume internet user myself, I'll definitely be avoiding Comcast...and as the new IT director for a company with multiple high-speed accounts, I'll be examining our contracts very carefully; {snip}

I would certainly exercise caution. Comcast has been frustrating to work with. At this point I'm not interested in having contact with them again. I'm just glad their customer service has stopped calling me asking how did I like my recent experience with their customer support. I educated them, they know what I thought btw.

Again, my many thanks, and keep up the good fight. It's absolutely insane that any business would attempt to operate in this fashion.

I'm working on bringing Net Neutrality forward and Utopianet to West Jordan Utah. Net Neutrality wouldn't help in this situation however the company has already demonstrated arrogance in how they treat HSI customers and companies such as google.com (for example). Without Net Neutrality who knows what Comcast would do.

u235sentinel said...

maby652 said...

Excellent blog, and very well documented!


Thanks. I have learned through journal writing that it pays to keep detailed records. I've been posting most of those records here to help other's know that it's much more widespread than they thought. They are NOT alone!

I must say that if Comcast or any other providers treats you this way, it is well worth expressing that to others. The only hope for Comcast is that this doesn't become too widely known for them to take any steps ( which truly puts them against the wall with other providers.)

This is why I speak to everyone about this practice. Broadband reports.com comments suggest this is a tiresome discussion which comes up time and time again. Well, if that's the case then why isn't this problem resolved?

IMO, Comcast doesn't care. So I continue talking. I will continue pushing for things they DON'T want such as competition, Fiber to the home and Network Neutrality. Never piss off a Portuguese. We are very loud :-)

Keeping updating us on the situation, and remind them occasionally:

Who's the customer?


I certainly will. Keep checking. I'm hoping to post regularly. At least once every couple weeks but only if some new article comes to my attention or some other bit of new information pops up. I'll try to keep it on topic as well.

And thanks for your support. It's people like you which makes all this worth it.

u235sentinel said...

the_email said...

Comcast has never seemed to answer to anyone. I still don't know what it is you are doing with your account though. I doubt you are entirely innocent in this but Comcast is being way to vague.


I accept the challenge. I'll post shortly what I'm doing under my new ISP. Oh and btw, the screen shots are from xmission.com stats page. It shows how much I'm using week to week with the 4 week total.

Since I switched to Qwest DSL on March 5th, I've been doing the same things I've been doing over 4 years with Comcast. The ONLY difference is now we're running a web server for family photos. So I would expect to have a problem with bandwidth.

FYI... I'm unaware of any wrong doing. If I'm using 250-300 Gigs then I should have a problem as I'm limited to 100 Gigs a month with the standard residential tier. Xmission provides higher bandwidth consumption tiers up to 500 Gigs a month for a mere $249 a month :-)

Spazz said...

I am glad we switched to Verizon FiOS as soon as they had trucks in the neighborhood putting in fiber-optic cable- we have their TV service too, and phone- we NEVER have to give greedy Comcast anymore of our money, and our connection is 30 to their 6!

Solomon said...

I must know how you use 550 gigs a month. Please describe your internet usage habits! Team Fortress and the like 24/7 wouldn't do it...very curious!

Bob said...

http://i147.photobucket.com/albums/r281/FireStarterBob/comcast_pissed_edited.jpg I got disconnected for passing an unstated bandwidth limit several years ago... I linked a pic of the letter I got if you're interested. I went from probably over 200GB to less than 60GB the next month but it didn't seem to matter...

u235sentinel said...

Thanks for the link.

In my research I heard they did this in the past. Comcast support now says they prefer giving it a personalized touch and contacting the abus....errr.... customer directly.

I don't know. They are beyond understanding.

Lonnie Hill said...

I used to work for them, and I totally understand what you are going through. Customer Service/Technical Support is actually supported by a third-party call-center called Convergys. We don't know what is going on...to be honest, we're the last people to know what is going on until it happens. When you call up, all we're told to do is direct you to the Abuse/security department, or inform you to upgrade to a business account.

It totally sucks. I go well over 10Gigs each month, and what you are using is an average of the normal user. Thankfully, I don't live in the United States, and if I did, I would NEVER GO ON COMCAST. I know how their business model works and that the customer doesn't mean anything as you can be replaced by the next person on hold.

It sucks man. But I feel your pain. Thankfully, I haven't had to deal with things like that up here. Good luck.

u235sentinel said...

Solomon said...

I must know how you use 550 gigs a month. Please describe your internet usage habits! Team Fortress and the like 24/7 wouldn't do it...very curious!


Solomon, I'm sorry but it sounds like your information is in error. Comcast terminated my internet account for downloading 250-300 Gigs in a month not 550 :-)

I recommend looking at my new post coming here shortly. I took screen shots of my ISP's DSL stats page. It shows my usage for the last 30 days. It shows normal usage (what we've been doing on Comcast for years).

I've even setup a web server now (since I'm allowed with my ISP). We're hosting a family photos web site (LAMP server). Soon I'll be hosting it for my whole family. Only a few are testing it for me right now.

Anyway, check out the post. Coming soon!

Efrem said...

As a former Comcast customer, who was terminated for the exact same reason, I thank you for fighting the good fight. Comcast needs to define "acceptable useage", provide a hard number for how much can an end user download and provide better custumer service for resolution of these types of issues.

u235sentinel said...

As a former Comcast customer, who was terminated for the exact same reason, I thank you for fighting the good fight. Comcast needs to define "acceptable useage", provide a hard number for how much can an end user download and provide better custumer service for resolution of these types of issues.

If they insist on terminating HSI because people are consuming too much bandwidth then they need to give better direction. Their customers have no guidelines. No way to stay in compliance (whatever that means to the company).

Comcast customer service has no idea what's going on. If my wife and I treated our customers this way we'd be out of business. Soft Skills mean a great deal to companies (and customers) these days.

Efrem said...

I find it interesting that, when presented with this situation, that the first thing that people ask is "What are you downloading?" Why does that make a difference? I paid/pay for the internet service, I would be willing to pay for more if it was offered, but Comcast doesn't provide any guideline for service. What I am doing should matter.