Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February 28, 2007

As of this morning we're a Comcast free household. Yesterday Dish Network came in and installed their dish on our roof, installed their DVR and with local channels and we're paying only $39 /month locked in for 18 months. Oh and we have the American top 100 package. Has everything we really enjoy including Sci-Fi, Disney, Nick, Food Network and so on.

At least it's cheaper and crystal clear compared to the static and snow we enjoyed with Comcast. I'm only sorry we couldn't have the dish placed so it was viewed from the street. I'd love each Comcast truck going by to look up and see Dish on the roof.

We were planning on replacing our TV this year because we thought it was going out. It never occurred to me it was the cable service. So we're looking at purchasing an HDTV next year and taking our $1800 (for the new TV) to the bank. I'm thinking the prices should be much better by 2008 (still a little pricy)

I'm amazed Comcast won't terminate the cable service. My wife was told the soonest they can come by to disconnect us is March 13th and they will need to bill us for the next two weeks. The only thing they are willing to do is suggest we may be able to get a credit for the next two weeks but so far have been unwilling to put that in writing.

I beg to differ. The pro-rated bill will be sent to the Attorney General's office and a suit for fraud filed if this happens. We've already called them 3 times just today to terminate the service and send either a fax or email to verify we're free and clear. The next call will be to the FCC as they regulate Cable and Telephone.

We always paid in advance every month for about 4 years. We're paid up until today and I'm unwilling to renew the monthly contract with them for any portion of March. I am under no obligation to continue the service. It feels like I'm dealing with AOL or something (I've heard the stories). We can't get HSI from them and can't get rid of Cable! Incredible!

My wife was very amusing today. When she was transferred to their cancellation department, the first words out of her mouth was "You're Fired!" (apologizes to Donald Trump). She couldn't resist. I only wish I was at home to hear the conversation.

DSL is now available in my neighborhood as of this morning. My wife spoke with a Qwest tech checking out the DSLAM yesterday. He was performing the final checks when she caught him. We signed up for the 7 Meg DSL service. It will cost $15 for the line and $22 for Xmission (the ISP). Again cheaper and faster than my old Comcast HSI service. I've had dozens of people in my neighborhood asking when this will be available. Guess Comcast will have plenty of bandwidth in our area to spare :-)

Utopia is still on my target for the long run. After my comments on the 20th to the City Council, I learned there were financial roadblocks to making this happen. After speaking with several people outside the City Council Chambers, I understand Qwest, Comcast and other's heavily lobbied the Utah Legislature years ago to pass a bill that prevents public funds to be used for projects such as this. The bill has a sunset provision set for June 2007. Roger Black (the COO of Utopia) was at the West Jordan City Council meeting that day and explained this a little more. I am very appreciative of his insight and experience.

So it seems I'll be back online next Monday. The DSL modem has been ordered and this time we're going for a business account and will be running a web server to share family photos. I figure I can do that now. In two years I should be ready to test code and move my wife's business to the Internet. Comcast was right. We do want to move the business to the Internet. They were just two years too early.

One more note, it seems there are many people here in Utah who have seen the FOX13 and KUTV/Gephardt spots and passed the word along. I've received emails and calls from journalists in California, Florida, Massachusetts and recently Georgia. I appreciate the opportunity to interview with them and provide my analysis of Comcast's statement describing what the top .01% are consuming monthly (13 million emails a month? come on. Nobody talks like that). I've only asked to be made aware when they publish their article as I'd like a copy to share.

That's it for now. I've heard rumblings of a class action lawsuit and would interested in learning more. While technically it may be legal for Comcast to terminate services according to their fuzzy Acceptable Use policy, I doubt a Judge would accept a one sided contract with undisclosed terms to stand up in court.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

February 20, 2007

I would like to express my appreciation for John Klemack of FOX 13 and Gephardt of KUTV/2 in airing the TV spot regarding Comcast terminating customer Internet accounts this past Tuesday. I believe it's important people understand what they really purchased from the company. BTW, I've had a busy week. I've given a few interviews with several journalists this week about the situation. As the articles are published I've asked for copies so I can keep track of what's going on and make people aware here and via direct email when I feel it's appropriate. So far I've found articles from the UK to Australia about this. Sitemeter has been very helpful these last couple weeks in tracking this :-)

So after watching the TV spots, I began thinking about several people in my neighborhood who regularly download over 200 Gigs and above month after month and I've warned them to be careful as they will be on the radar if it hasn't happened already. Since I'm no longer in the top .01%, they are next :-)

At the end of each TV spot, I began thinking about Comcast's copy/paste response which they provided to everyone including the Mayor of my city (more on that later). Comcast says we use 100 times more than the average Comcast user. We are in the top .01 percent. Comcast gives the following examples of what that means:

According to Comcast, the top .01 percent download something like

256,000 photos or
30,000 songs or
13,000,000 emails

(does this sound familiar to anyone?)

So this means 99.99% of their average users use 100 times less than my family which means:

2560 photos a month
or 130,000 emails a month (yes, that's 130 thousand emails a month for the normal Comcast user)
or 300 songs a month

Some basic assumptions I made to fill in the gaps. In my wife's business she creates photos and mp3's using “The Gimp” for photos and “SonicFire Smart Sound” for Royalty free music (I highly recommend it btw). So here are some averages we've seen after 5 years in business. I also generated a text email with 3 paragraphs and saved it to the hard drive.

avg song around 4-6 Megs for mp3
avg jpg = 512 k (and they do go much higher)
avg bmp = 1m (same here, this is a low number)
avg email = 10k

Ok. So that means

2560 Jpgs = 1.31 gig
2560 bmp = 2,.56 gig
300 mp3s (at 6 Megs size) = 1.8 gigs
130,000 emails (at 10k) = 1.3 Gig

So according to Comcast, 99.99% of their customers hardly use their Internet connection for anything but the most basic of needs. Multi-Media includes anything dealing with video, audio and photos. According to the letter FOX 13 posted from Comcast's spokesman Ray Child:

“99.99% of our customers use the service as intended, which includes using it to download and share video, photos and other rich-media. Customers are notified of excessive usage typically consume more than 100 times the average national Comcast Bandwidth usage”.

(transcribed by me from the FOX 13 TV spot):

So no Internet TV, no Internet radio, and not a lot of photos or graphics. If you hang around YouTube or Spikedhumor as we frequently did, you will surpass the average which they say 99.99% of their customers use. If these numbers are typical as Comcast claims, then Comcast customers are using the service for basic email and web browsing. Movies downloaded from, Walmart or will in a day consume more than their average customer. If you don't purchase and download movies from those services then DSL and wireless provide far cheaper solutions with adequate bandwidth.

Now the translation to what we do according to Comcast, they say we download:

songs = 180 Gigs
jpegs = 131 Gigs
bmp = 256 Gigs
email = 130 Gigs

So yes, we fully use the 6 Meg pipe we purchased and those numbers make sense. Streaming TV from Portugal or Internet radio takes more bandwidth than you normally would see :-)

Something else I noticed, we don't see anything in the agreement which states we purchased High Speed Internet with "acceptable use" of 40, 60, 80 gigs or more (hint hint). If this is what Comcast is selling their customers then it would be reasonable to advertise those limits and provide a solution so their customer can make an informed choice to meet their individual needs.

Here is a comment I recently received from a member of my local Linux Group (SLUGG):

- A 1600x1200 (3 Megapixel) digital photo as a JPG is about 1.3MB average in my experience.
- A 128kbps MP3 file is about 1MB per minute, so a 3:30 song is 3.5MB
- The average email is probably what, 5K-10K, depending on if it is plain text, html, or both?
For the photos, 2560*1.3= 3.33GB per month
For the songs, 300*3.5 = 1.05GB per month
For the emails, 130,000*5-10K = 650MB-1.3GB per month

The only place I know of at the moment that publishes quotas on usage is UTOPIA, which is 100GB per month. 1-3GB per month is way lower than that. Even back when XMission had quotas on DSL, it was 100GB/month, not including their unmetered times or within-network traffic. That usage expectation is ridiculously low.

I have to agree with his assessment. It sounds like Comcast needs to come up with realistic numbers of what their customers are really doing. 1-3 Gigs monthly is very low and not realistic in the least.

Oh and about our Mayor. It seems when he called Comcast he was given the impression they thought we were using our HSI connection for our business. I explained to him our business is very small and in two or three years will be using the Internet in accepting orders with video and photos. I haven't started writing the code yet but it looks like we'll be using PHP and MySQL. Occasionally a customer emails my wife for pricing information. Average is about a 12 email's for a busy month but I doubt this would be a problem for Comcast.

So how do we work with our customers? Here is our secret business model

- We receive via Fed-EX, UPS or US Post a package with negatives, photos, slides or perhaps video's
- We scan / import the media to our computers and render the movie
- We burn a DVD and create labels and/or DVD inserts
- We mail it back (insured) to the customer.

That's it. Comcast's role is... well... nonexistant.

I understand the Mayor is making a few more calls. It will be interesting to see what transpires. I'm hopeful he and the City Council will understand my situation isn't all that unusual as I've found over a dozen people in the Salt Lake Valley just in the last 4 weeks who were with Comcast. I'm also hopeful they look at bringing Utopia or something similar to our area. It won't happen this year or next year, but it will happen and people will join is en mass.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

I know I recently posted however I received some rather interesting email's today. It seems recent posts on a Comcast forum tries to explain their position on download caps and network traffic. I've learned something new but before I get to that let me address a statement "Jason1" on the Comcast forum made.

Your first link above discusses a blog entry which is completely one person's opinion and should not be taken as an official Comcast response. So please take caution when reading the info in the article as it is not completely accurate.

Yes this is a blog and NOT a Comcast web site. I do not represent Comcast in any way. We can also agree I am an individual posting my personal opinion of Comcast regarding an issue I believe was handled poorly. I hope to make Comcast aware of the problem along with it's customers and potential customers.

I have documented as best I can the events from day 1 and have presented them in the only way I have available. People deserve to know how things "could" turn out. If there are ANY inaccuracies then I expect Comcast to contact me directly and let me know where I am in error.

I will retract anything I can't prove or haven't documented through this experience. I would also publicly post a sincere apology. I don't wish to "get back at Comcast" as some have suggested as I consider that shallow. As stated at the top of the blog, I intend to get the word out of what happened to me and to encourage wider competition. I believe competition is what makes mega corps take stock of what they are doing wrong compared to their competitors. I hope Jason1 after writing "Re: Comcast has made news world wide - and not for good reasons" or another Comcast rep posts here or emails me to explain where I failed to be accurate. Otherwise I would argue his statement is simply innuendo and should be dismissed. I have done my best but I am not perfect.

If their usage is several times greater than the average Comcast HSI customer, they will be notified of the issue and their service may be terminated if the excessive use continues and service to hundreds of other customers is degraded. This usage may be around around 200-500 GB/month or it may be up to 800 GB/month - the actual amount you download is not what initiates the termination due to excessive downloading so it is not what is focused on.

So then calling someone a bandwidth hog isn't accurate. Interesting. This would explain why they say there isn't an official cap. Downloading up to 800 GB/month is suggested and may be perfectly fine depending where you live. I believe this may be why Jason1 is suggesting my comments are not entirely accurate. Ok. I can accept that. What I don't accept is the harsh manner a HSI account is terminated so quickly after multiple phone calls are made to Comcast CS to try and resolve the issue (see the live chat posted last night). There should be a little more leeway than the "You get a call then you're gone" response as Geovanny from the Abuse department stated.

If a customer is terminated due to excessive downloading, they will generally be given an estimate on how much they downloaded but this amount should not be called the download cap amount.

I'm back to confused now. Despite the confusion over whether Comcast or an ID thief called my wife in December, we reduced our usage (though we had no idea what number we should target) and were terminated the next month despite our reduction. Given an estimate? MRTG and RRDtools give you exact numbers in 5 minute increments. RRDtools will do it faster but industry best practices for monitoring have suggested 5 minute intervals are typical. I'm wondering if this is why they say it's an estimate rather than an actual number.

Yes, the download amount makes a nice easy way to visualize to the customer on a quantity that they used over the month but again, the issue is that the customers connected to a node is exceeding the capacity that node can provide so everyone connected to that node will suffer a bad connection.

My research suggests a node provides service for about 1200 homes. Still it's a crap shoot. A Comcast customer is left guessing how much is too much and risks termination even though they reduced their usage. For example, an Editor for the "Deseret Spectacle" was disconnected in July 2006, called Comcast later that day and had the HSI restored and promised to reduce usage by 50% but was terminated again in August 2006.

They were directed to the Abuse department as their account had been flagged by the CSR's system. The Abuse rep stated "even though you cut your usage in half, it's still too much. You have been terminated for 12 months". The editor posted his experience on their online magazine and moved to DSL (lucky bum). I've found dozens of other's who have been disconnected over the last few months, several here in the Salt Lake Valley. Many were fortunate to have alternatives (such as Verizon's Fios), Utopianet or DSL.

In my opinion, people generally are reasonable and willing to help (well, aren't they?). If Comcast is the ONLY real solution around, would anyone really continue pushing the network and risk termination? I couldn't have been more surprised with how poor this situation was handled. I would expect a better customer service experience.

These bandwidth abuse notifications and terminations are a way of ensuring that one individual is not responsible for degrading the service to hundreds of others.

It sounds like there is no way for a Comcast customer to make an informed choice whether he is adversely impacting Comcast's network or not. Might I suggest Comcast take a portion of their record earnings from 2006 and upgrade their infrastructure to reduce this possibility. I respectfully request my HSI be re-enabled and I will be paying VERY close attention to my usage. It's not like I can't monitor traffic or throttle it. I say that here only because I've been completely unsuccessful in finding someone at Comcast who can do anything to solve the problem. Somehow I doubt this is what Brian Roberts meant when he said Comcast was responding to what consumers want. He should have added "Customer Service" to the list.

So again, the bandwidth abuse notifications/terminations you mention here are not based on the content of what you are downloading.

I don't recall suggesting it was based on content (maybe he is referring to another disconnected customer). After speaking with the Abuse Department, I may have mistakenly understood there was a bandwidth cap. Now I'm thinking the bandwidth I could use when I had HSI is even more of a variable if 200-500 Gigs could be considered “normal”. It sounds like he is saying it depends where you live and how many are connected in your node.

If this is accurate blink twice. Once if I'm still not accurate. Or perhaps Comcast should just do what many HSI providers have turned to and set a cap so we can all be happy. Comcast wouldn't do something like this with Cable TV. If today I have 100 channels and tomorrow I have 30, the next day 40. How do I know I'm getting the service I paid for? After all, it's very difficult to be a good customer when the terms of the agreement keep changing.

I found this petition some time ago. I'd like to suggest people sign up and respectfully send Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast their opinion on the subject. I also found this petition online. If so inclinded please at least read what they have to say. Even though Jason1 is suggesting there is no cap and I'm beginning to think perhaps this really is company policy, my conversations with Geovanny in the Abuse Department suggested there is.

So there you have it. I still don't know what to make of these guys.


In speaking with a buddy working at Qwest, I'm told not to worry, DSL is coming to my area very soon. My wife the other day noticed a DSLAM box going in 2 blocks from our house. Been hearing this for months but maybe it will really happen now. We'll see. If this situation isn't resolved in the next couple weeks I'm dropping the remaining Comcast services and going with Dish or Direct TV plus DSL. I'm ready to deal with top notch customer service after this experience.

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 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.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

February 10, 2007

I really appreciate the work of the Consumerist and Digg in getting the word out about Comcasts practice of terminating HSI service.

I've been accused of many things these last few weeks. Let's be clear. The reason my HSI service was terminated was because I violated a monthly download limitation which Comcast is not willing to disclose. People online have mentioned they were happy to see me gone as I was a "bandwidth hog". Those same people however have been unwilling to post what they believe a internet user should be using monthly. In my research I've found people terminated for downloading anywhere from 60-100 Gigs. The number seems to change depending which state they live.

When I signed up, here is the advertisement I saw on Comcast's web site. They stated they were offering "Unlimited Use for a flat monthly fee". This was many years ago. If you speak with someone from their abuse department, they will tell you "it's not unlimited use, it's unlimited access. "It's true they currently don't advertise unlimited use anymore and I'm ok with that. If there is some limit I am required to obey then they should state what it is. Other companies are not afraid to disclose the limitations. It should be noted that Cox Communications fought for some time to hide the limits until consumers forced them to disclose.

I've been asked why not fire Comcast and go with another provider (like DSL or utopianet). I'd love to. Unfortunately it's either Comcast HSI or a 28.8 dial up connection. Comcast has 90% coverage of the Salt Lake Valley and Qwest keeps pushing DSL availability back month after month. In my research I've learned that Comcast isn't Clark Howard's favorite company. I found an article here and here which clearly shows how he feels about them. The issue he has seems to be their "very strange and unprofessional way to let customers know." For those who don't know who is he, Clark Howard is a self made millionare who is involved in consumer advocacy. I've been listening to him for years on KSL radio 1160.

So here we are. According to Jackie and Sara of Comcast's escalation department (did you guys know they had one?), we don't qualify for a residential OR a business account. Our only option now is to sign up for a Commercial account. For only $1700 and $1000 monthly we can have Comcast HSI back to our home. Of course I've been asking for a quote for the last week and am still waiting. In all fairness, the one guy who could provide the quote was away most of last week. I'll be following up with him on Monday.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

February 7, 2007

I've been busy these last few days and have much material to post. So much that it's difficult to decide where to start :-)

I believe I'll begin with a couple of short links.

Ed Foster and I have discussed the problem of Comcast disconnecting it's customers from HSI. He wrote a nice article here.

And then there is the online magazine "The Deseret Spectacle". Seems Comcast disconnected one of their editors for downloading too much. The amusing thing is he was told to reduce his usage in half (which he did) and yet the Abuse department disconnected him anyway . Needless to say he's a little peeved Utopia isn't in the area thanks to Comcast's heavy lobbying. It's pathetic the company is this transparent. Building it's monopoly in the area, promising to take care of everyone, then kicking off the top 20% so they can get more bandwidth.

No I'm not 100% certain that's what they are doing. I've discussed the Comcast issue with a few people. I'm 90% certain this is what they are doing. Oh and here is one such person who also believes it.

Finally, did anyone know that Comcast was getting into providing movie downloads? I'm seeing a pattern here. But of course they want to compete with companies such as Amazon and Tivo. Especially since today's annoucement of Hollywood movies available for download.

I look forward for further comments. Let's try to keep the ad hominum comments to a minimum. I'd rather discuss the issue myself :-)

Friday, February 2, 2007

Feb. 1, 2007

My wife's conversation with Sarah, head of Comcast's escalation dept. about 10 am.

Me- Hello
S- I'm looking for Frank or Elizabeth
Me- I'm Elizabeth
S- This is Sarah from Comcast ...
Me- Oh yes you called last night and I tried to call you back and left you a message.
S- I know, I had to leave early yesterday.
Me- Ok, So what's going on?
S- Well we aren't able to give you residential or business acct., but we can give you a commercial acct.
Me- What is that?
S- It would be a direct line for your own use connected to your house.
Me- Wow, how much would that be?
S- About $1700 to install and then about $1000 a month service fee.
Me- What the? Are you kidding me, we can't afford that!!
S- Well that is your only option.
Me- Why not the business account?
S- You use to much to be eligible for those accounts and since you have a business that uses so much broadband, you need to have your own direct line.
Me- We have a very! Small business and have had it for 3 + years and never had this kind of usage as has been the last few months. That is a ridiculous thing to suggest and doesn't make any sense. We have 6 children and a budget. This is outrageous and I can't believe you would even consider suggesting such a thing. Would you do it?
S- No, I don't need it and you have a business that apparently does use that much.
Me- Haven't you heard anything that we have been saying as to our ideas of why the usage was so high. Like the spyware that my husband found on his machine that was piggy backing and downloading through our line. Also it isn't a coincidence that the same month our modem was switched that the usage went through the roof. That would cause it if it wasn't capped.
S- We have never had that happen before. It was checked and it doesn't seem to be the problem and as to spyware you should be using an application to detect such things so you don't have those problems.
Me- He does have those and it still can happen and did, and as to the modem I don't believe you could have checked it, since it isn't running right now and it is too much of a coincidence to ignore.
S- What is done is done, we can't reverse it, but you can get the commercial line.
Me- No we aren't going to do that. There is no way we could afford that. You are basically leaving us without any real options and that is unacceptable. We don't have any other ways to get high speed internet and DSL isn't in our area. But that doesn't matter to you.
S- I understand how you feel but we can't do anything about it.
Me- I don't think you really do understand or you wouldn't be doing this to begin with.
S- I am sorry you are having this problem, but you ignored the warning.
Me- Are we back to that again. As far as I am concerned you all are responsible for our loosing the internet acct. If the customer service had actually confirmed to us that there was a problem we would have looked into it and tried to resolve it last month. We wouldn't have ignored it. We rely on internet a great deal. My husband needs it for work and we wouldn't have wanted to jeopardize that.
S- We are sorry that the customer service didn't deal with you properly and we are dealing with that. All the same you were called and you were given a direct number to call the abuse team directly.
Me- We tried with what we had and just got messages and so we tried to call customer service to help us. They told us it was probably a hoax and to ignore it. They should have had some kind of note logged in our acct. to confirm a problem. Based on what they told us, what were we to seriously think. Want to talk about confusing.
S- I can understand how you feel and they shouldn't have said that.
Me- It seems to me that you all should take responsibility for your part in this mess. Your customer service should have given correct information to us. As a result you should be dealing with the result and be apologizing and trying to rectify the problem.
S- I understand how you feel, but we can't do anything about it.
Me- You know thinking about it, when I did talk to the abuse team that they even had suggested a business acct. upgrade and based on what you are saying we wouldn't have been able to do that either.
S- They shouldn't have suggested that. Based on your usage the business acct. would have been to light for your use.
Me- So they gave us the wrong information too. So how can we be blamed for something you all are telling us. How are we supposed to know what to do?
S- Well you should have limited your usage for starters.
Me- We don't normally use that much. We have been with Comcast for about 4 years and have always been doing the same thing, nothing has changed and now we have excessive usage. I just don't see how that is possible. We need a residential or business acct. We will make sure we don't go over our limits, whatever those may be.
S- I understand your dilemma. But based on recent history, you would be back to square one and we can't take that chance of reversing the acct. and letting you back on to do the same thing again. You will have to wait til Jan 2008 to get reconnected.
Me- I don't think you are getting it. Aren't you caring at all about the predicament you have put us into? There is no way we can wait a year and you know it. That is nuts.
S- We apologize for your inconvenience, but you should have dealt with it.
Me- It seems to me we are just running this around in circles, not getting anywhere. So it doesn't matter our reasons and no matter what I say nothing will change your mind. Is that where we are at?
S- That is right, we can't help you at this time.
Me- (Looooooonnnnnnngggggg pause, trying to keep from crying). I finally say, well I guess there isn't anything left.
S- I'm sorry.
Me- I'm sure you will be. Bye
S- Thank you and have a nice day.
Me- (mumbling and rolling my eyes) yeah right.

Both hang up.

At this point my wife calls my cell and gives me the run down.

We decide it's time to get the word out and tell everyone what Comcast is doing. Neighbors are shocked to hear what's going on and express concern. I called Bill Gephart, spoke with Matt at the news desk and will be working with him to setup a time to be interviewed. He said “I'm not blowing you off but we have the next few days booked. Give me your Comcast account number so I can call them and start investigating this”.

Gave the number ... “Ok. I'll call them and find out what's going on”. What would like like them to do?

I said “turn on the service as I'll be watching it and throttling anything that would cause problems. I also promise once their competition visits West Jordan I'll be jumping ship. This has left a bad taste in my mouth”.

Matt. “I understand... I'll get right on it and thanks!”

So now it's time to bring competition to West Jordan Utah and time to get even more involved with my cities politics. It's time to bring UTOPIANET.ORG to West Jordan.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

January 31, 2007

So it's been nearly two weeks without internet. I've had family and friends calling my cell these last few days wanting to know if we were ok. Heck, my Mother called the other week all worried if we were still alive. These days people depend on their internet service. Watch TV and see how many commercials go by with a web site or something to learn more about their product. At least 65% is what I'm seeing so far.

After reassuring family/friends and explaining the situation I've had a few more people switch to DSL or UTOPIANET.ORG if it was available. Just last night I had a couple of neighbors come by with concerns that their emails to me were bouncing. They are concerned (as they should be) they are next. One uses over 200 Gigs every month and everybody wonders what happened to the "Unlimited Use for a flat monthly fee" we all signed up for. BTW, you can still see the advertisement at It took me some work but I was able to find / print it for my records.

Oh, and what do I do to download so much data in a month? Here is a break down. Notice I don't mention running ANY servers (which is what they were accusing me of over and over again):

* Email
* Internet browsing
* Download DVD's from services such as MSDN (for example)
* Downloaded DVD images for Linux and other OSS applications
* Download movies from "The Fan Network" (
* Download DVD movies from bit-torrent services such as (I highly recommend reign of the fallen DVD but don't download it if you are a Comcast subscriber. It's about 4 Gigs!).
* Team Fortress/Counter Strike Source gamer (very heavy gamer)
* Youtube, spiked humor, internet radio...

and the list goes on. Needless to say I'm not a light internet user despite the fact Comcast reps say the above doesn't explain the heavy utilization. I guess they need to take a computer class and get a clue how the internet works.

So there you have it. I've tried to keep good notes and keep a timeline as things happen. No call back from Comcast yet. Personally I don't expect them to be professional. Oh they will speak patiently with you... at least most of them will. At this point I'm ready to write off Comcast and have become very politically involved in getting UTOPIANET.ORG in my city.

Funny how when this went to a vote, Comcast was there and said it wasn't necessary since they already provide broadband internet to us already. UTOPIANET.ORG was voted down as a result of their testimony and promise to support the residents.

Now I'm attending city council meetings (held 3 times a month), speaking with the City Council members to establish a relationship with them, I've visited UTOPIANET.ORG's new headquarters and spoke to their engineers for 1 1/2 hours (very impressive technology guys), and I understand after my wife called City Hall the other week they are receiving hundreds of calls from my fellow citizens for broadband diversity and choice.

I'm in it for the long haul now. I'll do everything I can to see Comcast's monopoly significantly diminished or eliminated. They know they can't compete against the UTOPIANET.ORG infrastructure. And now after all this, so do I.

More tomorrow. I'm hoping Comcast will call as promised and provide a positive resolution. I'm not holding my breath though...

Update - 2/11/2007

I've received several comments and emails about how bittorrent is a "server" and I was in violation of the TOS/AUP. Realize uploads were disabled and I wasn't accused by Comcast for running a server. They accused me of using too much bandwidth. It should also be noted that bittorrent is a common protocol used by companies such Blizzard (for example) to submit patches. WoW patches (for example) are pushed through bittorrent.

January 30, 2007 .. that evening

Later that evening. . .

I can't believe it. Scott from the Abuse department actually called me! In my voicemail to their answering service I told them not to bother unless they can provide a positive resolution to this. He said "well... you did leave a message and we're required to call back". I asked if anything has changed since our conversation. "Nope...". I asked what bug crawled up Geovanny's @#$@#. He asked "Why did he call you?". I said "Because he wanted to let me know we were terminated... 10 hours after you and I spoke ".

He apologized for Geovanny's abrasiveness. I said "No your not, you don't give a flying crap". At this point I was yelling at him. I had it with these people. The gloves were off. After yelling at him for 3 minutes telling him if they worked closer with customer service this would never have happened and they had no @#$% clue there was a problem. I then hung up. Man that felt good :-)

January 30, 2007

Received a call from Jackie in the escalation department. She said either her or her boss will give me a call to work out the details. They apparently were still trying to figure out what to do with me. There are concerns they can't meet my bandwidth needs. I carefully explain to her that I'm building a new linux firewall with bells and whistles so I can monitor my traffic. I mention I'm a Sr. Systems Engineer with 17 years professional experience :-)

Running Debian Linux with rrdtool for the firewall. I can monitor my traffic and throttle it with other linux tools. I should have done this years ago. I don't have a clue what my monthly usage has been and of course Comcast doesn't provide a link for me to check (unlike other companies with a professional staff such as They could be lying and I wouldn't know. If this doesn't work out with them, my next ISP I'll be watching closely. Just in case.

We discussed other options which in my mind sounds doubtful they will pan out. At this point I'm losing confidence in Comcast's ability to deliver anything but frustration. What truly amazed me was she tell's me I was using the entire bandwidth for my neighborhood's node. I'm very surprised a 6 Meg pipe can saturate a segment of their network (called a node) unless Comcast “forgot” to cap my cable modem when they replaced a faulty cable modem in November 2006. It seems this is when they began to complain about my traffic.

My wife shows me a bill from Comcast for a business account. I emailed Ryan asking why did I receive a bill for a business account if I'm not getting the service? He said he would "take care of the bill" and it should be no big deal. While I respect him, I can't help but feel I'll be getting a call from a collector asking for their money. So far Ryan has (I believe) been treating me with respect and honesty which is a far cry better than I can say about his company. I'm almost positive those collectors will be telling me I should have taken the bill seriously. Don't laugh. You never know with these guys.

I also mentioned to Ryan I'm telling people everywhere about my situation. By now I've had a dozen people who were considering Comcast, decide go with DSL or UTOPIANET.ORG which was available in their city (lucky them!!). Ryan must be twitching every time he hears the phone ring and sees my caller id :-) Poor guy. If someone is looking to hire a customer service oriented super salesman then please hire Ryan and his boss Larry. They deserve to work for a better company than Comcast.

At this point I'm ready to call Bill Gephart back and get that interview scheduled. I've now filed complaints with the FTC, FCC, City Hall and the BBB. I'm done being a nice guy. Before all this I left a message with the Abuse department (they are properly named as they are good at abusing people) and basically tell them I'm filing complaints against their "unfair business practices". At this point I'm even looking at replacing their cable service with Direct TV or Dish. Just wish I had something available for Internet. Dial up isn't acceptable.

January 29, 2007

No call back from Comcast about the
investigation. Emailed and called Ryan.
He's got a great attitude despite the
frustration in my voice. He says he will find
out what's going on. Seems there were a
couple of conference calls to discuss the
situation but he doesn't know the details.

January 26, 2007

Ryan calls and says Comcast needs 24 hours
to investigate this situation. I reluctantly
give the go ahead. Something tells me that
Comcast is under the control of a small group
frightened to publish their policies. Yes I've
read the AUP and TOS. Guess what? They are
worthless unless you are a lawyer.

I leave Matt with KUTV news a voicemail to update
him on the situation. Personally I believe
this is simply an opportunity for them to
CYA in case it goes bad.

January 25, 2007

Several calls to Ryan today. Left a few
voicemails to find out what's going on.
He eventually calls back. Both him and
his boss are having trouble getting in
touch with the "Policy and Abuse Department".
Apparently a Ted or Tim (didn't write
the name down) is the roadblock here.

More to follow.

January 24, 2007

I'm hearing we may have a problem getting the
business account now. Lots of comments about
my bandwidth usage. Against whatever the cap they
won't disclose is. Nobody has a @#$@ clue or
can't divulge it! Amazing! Ryan H. is awesome
and goes to bat for me. His boss Larry S.
I understand spends hours calling to find
out what's going on. I'm told it will be
resolved quickly.

Later that day and after several calls to
and from Comcast business. I quickly learn
the "Policy and Abuse Department" has emailed
these guys telling them NOT to give me a
business account. WTH! Something really stinks

Frustrated I email Bill Gephart at
and start researching avenues of filing complaints.
This company is frustrating to work with. How
did I stay with them as a customer the last
four years?

Received a call from Matt working with Bill Gephart.
He wants to interview me if the business account
doesn't work out. I mentioned I'll let him know
once I hear the final word.

January 23, 2007

So I contact Comcast's business sales and explain
my situation to Ryan H. Very nice gentleman who
explains they can resolve the problem. I receive
an email to my gmail account, signed the paperwork
and figure I'm following the recommendation of
Comcast's "Abuse and Policy department". After
all they did say I needed to upgrade to a
business account right?

Everything will be back to normal now right?

Guess again.

January 22, 2007

I'm on and off the phone with a variety of people
at Comcast. It's a convoluted mess trying to
find somebody to help resolve the situation.
I didn't realize they were this difficult to
deal with. At lunch I search the internet
at work and learn just how difficult Comcast is.
I hadn't realized just how bad their
customer service was.

I save a few links of interest to my hard drive
for later printing. I'm amazed to learn this problem
has been going on for years. I also notice Comcast
has changed their advertisement and removed after
we signed up the statement
"Unlimited use for a flat monthly fee". They still
need to educate their customer service. Apparently
they still don't know this. I gladly educated
a few along the way.

January 19, 2007 That evening

Later that same day at 7:52 p.m., I received
another call from the Comcast
"Policy and Abuse Department". I spoke with
Geovanny for several minutes going through
my situation. At first he interrupted me
every other sentence then he became abusive
and rude as I tried to remain calm (no small feat).
After a couple minutes of unsuccessfully trying to
bring the conversation back to a civil tone I
became annoyed and told him to chill.

Here are some highlights from our conversation
as I was taking notes:

Me: Can I please speak with a manager. I
would like to escalate this and find a resolution.
Geovanny: There is nobody available. I'm the
only one in the department and my word is final.
Me: I thought Scott was also part of the
"Policy and Abuse Department". So you have more
than just one employee. I'd like to speak with
whoever writes your checks.
Geovanny: It's just me here.
Me: Even the CEO of the company has to account
to somebody such as the board of directors.
Geovanny: "As far as you're concerned, I am the CEO"
Me: I understood Brian Roberts was the CEO of
Comcast? If a complaint was directed to him and the
board they would need to take action in resolving
this problem. We did not receive sufficient
notification and your customer service was clueless
to the problem with our account last month.
Geovanny: He would just bounce the complaint to me.
Me: I'm looking at the caller ID number. It says
you are calling from 856-638-4000.
Customer Service last month said I shouldn't see an
856 number if it was a legitimate call from Comcast
to my state.
Geovanny: "We're an up and coming department
and don't go through the normal Comcast lines".
Me: So how do I know it's not some guy trying to
gather information on me. Ever heard of
Identity Theft??"
Geovanny: "I don't know. You should have taken
the call seriously however"
Me: "You have to be kidding me". People can spoof
a caller ID phone number easily (I checked Google
in December). So how can I take it seriously? I would
have expected a letter or something.
Geovanny: We prefer to make a phone call to
personalize the communication.
Me: That being said, how come Customer Service
didn't know of the problem with my account?
Geovanny: Customer Service doesn't have access to our database.
Me: Why the @#$@ not?
Geovanny: It's to protect our customer information
Me: Somehow I don't feel very protected. Your
customer service has access to my name,
phone number, address and other personal
information when we signed up. Your organization
has failed miserably. Don't you understand. I have
no other options for internet without Comcast. Not
even DSL is in the area? Had I known there was a
problem I would certainly have taken action.
Geovanny: There is nothing to be done now.
Me: In my research I've learned that
Cox Communications had the same problems
as you guys and in 2003 they caved in to customers
demanding they post the bandwidth/data caps...
and it will happen with you guys sooner or later.


At this point Geovanny was very combative, made
some obscure remark and hung up on me.
Good riddance. In my opinion he wasn't very stable
and needs to take a sensitivity class or something.
I didn't appreciate his rudeness one bit.

January 19, 2007

Woke up early to check my email. I was
amazed it wasn't responding. In fact I
noticed the cable modem lights blinking
in a bizarre manner. Seems I've somehow
lost my connection to the service. Power
cycled the cable modem and went to work
thinking nothing of it. I've had Comcast
for years and occasionally I've had problems
with their service.

That afternoon...

My wife called Comcast customer service for
support to figure out why we still didn't
have internet access in the afternoon.
It seems now they had a note in our account
for us to contact the "Policy and Abuse Department".
They provided a number which is basically
an answering service. They have to call
you back if you want to speak with someone
and it can take up to 24 hours so the message says.

My wife calls me and asks me to also follow
up. So I also call the number and leave a
message. I also called a number of other
times. Customer Service has no idea why we
have been flagged but reassure us it will be
all resolved soon.

Both my wife and I receive a call from Scott.
He was very cordial as I learn the call in
December was a legitimate contact and we're
now suspended for 12 months. He said the
decision was final and we had no recourse,
no escalation available nor supervisor we
could speak with. He said we had used
(downloaded) 305 Gigs in November and
297 Gigs in December. If usage is exceeded
2 times in a year the account is suspended.
I explained I didn't see how that's possible.
Our internet habits have not changed in the
4 years we've been with Comcast. He was
unwilling to give more information at this
point. I was baffled.

I've used online services such as Azureus Zudeo
to download movies for example as
"Reign of the Fallen" (both the film and later
the DVD). I don't run a server and have been very
happy with the service until now. It didn't
matter. We're without broadband for
12 months. Period.

Update... Seems Scott gave different numbers
to my wife when he spoke with her that same day.
We're using 305 Gigs in November and 250 Gigs
in December now. I'm wondering which number
for December do we believe? My wife said to
Scott "Doesn't this show we had reduced our usage?".
Scott mentioned we were to cut it back drastically.
My wife asked what is the limit? Scott said
"I'm sorry but I cannot divulge that information".

But wait... the story get's more bizzare.

Dec 13, 2006

Still not convinced I jumped to Comcast's live
chat and took screen shots of the whole
conversation. Again I was told there were
no limits to my residential account. I asked
maybe it was something like a phishing attempt
at which the service rep agreed.

I called Comcast Customer Service a final time
(yes I'm paranoid but I needed to be sure
everything was ok). They said they would look
into it and see if there was any department
with the reference ticket my wife received
in the call. He called me back a few hours
later from 801-485-0500 and told me we were
ok. I mentioned "I understand I sound paranoid
but I depend on high speed internet access".
Again I was reassured by the rep who said if
we receive a call from Comcast it will be
trunked through the 801 number. Otherwise
it's not legitimate.

Finally I asked what an upgrade would cost us
should we decide to do so. The rep said it was
an additional $10 a month. Funny. The guy
who called my wife said $20. Something is
not right here. Maybe I am being paranoid.
I stop calling and don't give this any further
thought until we're disconnected on
January 19, 2007

Dec 12 2006

Remember that day when Comcast came cheerily
knocking at your door advertising
"Unlimited Use for a flat monthly fee"!
I found it amazing that my definition of
"Unlimited Use" matches their customer service
definition but not the Comcast "Policy and Abuse department".

It seems after we signed up years ago that Comcast
has silently changed the terms of the agreement.
I've setup this blog to warn people and tell my story.
The nightmare started on December 12, 2006...

Dec 12 2006 ... in the afternoon

My wife calls me in the afternoon wondering
if we had a problem with our Comcast account. She
mentioned someone claiming they were a Comcast
employee called telling us we were using the
internet too much and needed to upgrade to a
business account or cut it back. I found it strange
that Comcast would call about something like this.
After all, we have unlimited use as advertised right?

I spent half an hour on the phone with Comcast
customer service trying to understand what's going
on. I was reassured it was probably someone
working some identify theft angle (it's been in a few
newsreports recently) and we could safely ignore it.
I told them we were instructed to call 856-234-3025
with a reference number they provided to my wife
(2278555). Comcast customer service checked the
phone and reference number. Again they reassured
us we were ok and nothing was flagged in our account.