Friday, December 14, 2007

Scary News about Longmont Comcast High Speed Internet Support

Quick Summary: If you're a Longmont Comcast customer, TV or high speed internet, be prepared to be charged if an outage requires a field service visit, even if the problem is theirs.

I've been having chronic outages for six weeks now on my High Speed Internet Service from Comcast. Some facts about my case:
  1. Outages most always happen during the evenings.
  2. Symptoms: cable modem loses signal, resets itself, all internet connectivity is dropped for four to ten minutes, sometimes more. Repeat this 4-6 times an hour, 5PM through 1 AM.
  3. I've been through four cable modems, as suggested by the Comcast evening technical support folks.
  4. I've had two service visits (so far) from the local Comcast field personnel.
  5. Core diagnosis, so far, is that my incoming signal is too strong.
With all of this going on, I was amazed to find a charge of $19.95 on my bill this month, for a field service visit. When the visit was scheduled, it was communicated to me that I would have to pay $30 if it was determined that the outage was my fault. I understood this.

A live chat (this method of problem resolution was suggested on my bill) with a Comcast representative reveals that Comcast now charges $19.95 per house visit, regardless of the source or responsibility of the fault. I've removed the name of the service rep in the chat transcript but I'll supply it to Comcast if they ask for it. Note, as the rep says, that Comcast will be glad to sell you a "insurance policy" for only $1/month to protect you from the $19.95 charges.

Me (Tue Dec 11 2007 23:11:29 GMT-0700 (MST))
Why did I get charged $19.95 for a service call? There was a confirmed problem at my house.

analyst Service Rep has entered room

Service Rep(Tue Dec 11 2007 23:52:05 GMT-0700 (MST))>
All service calls are now charged due to high costs of sending
field techs. However, you may add the Service Protection Plan
to your account and the Plan will prevent you from being
charged any future service calls.

Me (Tue Dec 11 2007 21:53:41 GMT-0700 (MST))
He found my signal way too high, and adjusted it...he
took off some Comcast-supplied equipment on my line and
put in a new 4-way splitter...his name was field tech...NEVER was
I told that I have to pay when the problem is yours...

Service Rep(Tue Dec 11 2007 23:54:01 GMT-0700 (MST))>
If you are experiencing intermittencies as recorded
in your account history, I would then add the Service
Protection Plan to your account.

Service Rep(Tue Dec 11 2007 23:54:29 GMT-0700 (MST))>
The Service Protection Plan is only $.99 cents/mo

Me (Tue Dec 11 2007 21:57:18 GMT-0700 (MST))>
I had the supervisor out on I get
charged for that?????

Service Rep(Tue Dec 11 2007 23:57:27 GMT-0700 (MST))>
You will however be billed all future service call charges by
your local market unless you wish to add the Service Protection Plan.

This is a stunning policy, when you think about it, and not intuitive at all to the way customers deal with other utility providers like electricity, water, sewer, and telephone:
  • What incentive would Comcast have to keep their network healthy if they knew they could get a nice steady stream of revenue coming from house visits? The charge is automatic and non-negotiable. Outages are good for Comcast now!
  • Enough problems like this and they'll amass a good number of $1/month insurance policies from subscribers; they win either way, you lose.
  • If there is a problem in your neighborhood Comcast pedestal (those greenish cable distribution points, perhaps in your neighbor's backyard) guess what - you pay if you report the problem and they come visit you.
  • Why wouldn't Comcast string out a problem into multiple house visits, getting them $20 a pop? Line up a bunch of houses in the same area and their margins get higher.
  • From the chat transcript, you can already see the poor behavior this policy is driving: Instead of focusing on the problem, the service rep is more interested in selling me an insurance plan. She/he mentions it no less than four times!
The ultimate irony? The first visiting field tech told me that I would get a $2 credit on my next bill if I returned a survey comment card. I did this, only to get the $19.95 additional charge instead!

No comments: