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October 25th, 2013

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The move is going well. It could be going a lot worse, but right now we've got a place to sleep and a place to eat and a place to keep our stuff, and right now that's what counts. The outside world, however, has some problems.

Earlier this week we had the unhappy realization that we could not transfer my RCN cable account over to the new house. Turns out that while RCN provides service to most all of Somerville, our little street is apparently small enough to be one of the streets which isn't on the "most all" list. I am legitimately upset about that; I have been a satisfied RCN customer for eight years now. I hear some people don't like their television options, but I really never used it except to watch Turner Classic Movies so I didn't mind it. Their cable Internet service has been reliable and, with only a few exceptions of brief spotty service, fast and steady. Sonya used them briefly without complaint when she lived on Winter Hill; their setup was quick and service fine.

It was to my chagrin on Wednesday that I found that Comcast is the cable provider of our little street. I have yet to hear anything good about Comcast. I dislike their Internet policies, I dislike hearing about arbitrary bandwidth caps, and I admired RCN for being one of a small handful of ISPs which didn't roll over and say "Okay, DMCA guys, you can grab whatever information you want from us whenever" when asked a while back. Comcast? On its back, wagging its little paws in the air, waiting for a belly rub from The Man.

However, short of leeching someone else's wireless service, which isn't the nicest thing to do to someone else's bandwidth and we couldn't find any open access points besides, Comcast appears to be the only game in town. So it goes.

On Wednesday we called Comcast and set up service: high-speed Internet and a basic enough cable television package so that we could get TCM. We declined the DVR option; we can do that much more cheaply on our own should we wish. A technician was scheduled to come out Tuesday, and when we said we could at least set up the Internet portion ourselves, the customer rep said he could ship us out a cable modem which would arrive on Friday.

Nothing arrived today. Sonya checked her credit card and saw she had been billed and charged for Internet, Cable TV, and the DVR which we explicitly said no to. Upon calling Comcast, she learned the following Ugly Truths:
  1. The order for the cable modem never went from Sales to Shipping. It was never sent out. Nobody anywhere acknowledged it. The rep Sonya spoke with today said she could send an order to Shipping now, and it may come by Monday. We got an order number for this; we never received an order number from the guy on Wednesday.
  2. No technician was ever scheduled to come out Tuesday, and the earliest another one can come out now is November. This may be because Comcast thought "well, they're getting the stuff shipped to 'em, we don't need to send anyone out", which brings us back to #1.
  3. There was indeed a charge for the DVR, but the rep today said she took it off our service. A refund is supposed to be forthcoming, but there's still been a charge.
Basically Comcast charged us, charged us extra for stuff we specifically refused, and then did nothing. Absolutely nothing. And it wasn't as if they were actively working on things and were just slow at it, no, they had no further plans to make. I don't wanna be the Internet Law Guy who goes "WELL THAT THERE'S TECHNICALLY FRAUD EVEN IF UNINTENTIONAL" because I don't want to go down that road just yet, but good goddamn this is insulting.

However, the second rep did a lot today in an attempt to make good; time will tell if what she did works. I'm really expecting to get the package on Monday only to find, surprise, the service was never switched on at the house. Neither Sonya nor I can afford major lapses in Internet service right now. We have contingency plans, places to go in order to do our work and our communicating which is very helpful, but goddammit I'd really like us to have the damn service at home.


(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 26th, 2013 07:47 am (UTC)
Oh dear, that's a terrible "welcome to your new home" story. Or rather, Comcast has a lot of making up to do.

But I'm glad to hear you are settling in and I look forward to seeing the new place, eventually. Here's hoping that Comcast will make good on their word and it will be smooth sailing from here on in.
[User Picture]
Date:October 26th, 2013 03:04 pm (UTC)
I have no information on how viable or reliable they are, but Clear (WiMax) may cover your area, as an alternative to Comcast for internet. Not so much for TV.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:October 26th, 2013 10:34 pm (UTC)
We had Verizon FiOs in both Malden and Belmont and were always happy with the internet (and later, TV). Andy works from home and does computer stuff, so we did need reliable high speed internet -- ours was often more reliable than at his job. We never had any big problems. We did have to get it installed but they did a very nice job of it, and came out very soon after we moved in.

We would still have FiOs except they don't have service in Boston. We did sign up with Comcast, but we did it all online, which went smoothly.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:October 26th, 2013 09:50 pm (UTC)
In another life, when I worked in Comcast's sales department, there was another sales rep who... well, for lack of a better sentence, every single person who called up asking for cable TV also got the platinum movie package for a month. This was, how you say, whether they asked for it or not.

When I brought it up to her boss, said boss investigated briefly and said that all of the other rep's sales were legit. Since I got multiple phone calls where people complained about what this one rep gave them, I am pretty sure she was covering up for her. As said boss later got me fired, well... (oy)

Not having been part of the Comcast inbound sales team for very nearly a decade now I cannot say what incentives they have for people on the sales team, but I would suspect they have bonuses for people who can upsell TiVo service.

My suggestion is to complain up the line. I have the feeling that calls into the call center are probably all recorded ("this call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance and training purposes"), so asking a supervisor to pull the original call and find out just how badly the person screwed up would be appropriate.
[User Picture]
From:Elizabeth A Davis
Date:October 27th, 2013 01:28 am (UTC)
there may be a tape of that call, but they wont pull it. I have asked for it when (as always) there is dispute about what they sold me and what they charged. I literally have to keep a file of the promotion and my pink paper equipment papers so that i can file my biannual complaint with the AG
[User Picture]
From:Marjorie Peskin
Date:October 27th, 2013 10:14 am (UTC)


I live IN the city of Boston and the only way to get a TV signal is Comcast. No rcn, no fios, no DirectTV or other sat services. The choice is nothing or Comcast. Since we reluctantly signed up for internet and TV our bill has gone from a barely affordable $99/month to $153 in a year. The DVR box is the only box they offered, according to their customer rep. I hate them, but I need internet.
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2013 03:38 am (UTC)
I have clear.net service and am happy with it. My officemate (who lives in Cambridge, I believe; might be Somerville) has clear.net service and is not happy with it. I suspect it depends on the neighbourhood, and in particular on how many people you share a tower with (and to some extent on topography and buildings). But it might be worth considering as a backup. (In addition to their standard residential service, they have mobile hotspots which could serve for that and also for use when travelling — modulo possible spotty service — so you’d get some use out of it even when your Comcast service was working.)

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