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Television Media Businesses

Industry Insider Blasts Comcast 413

Posted by kdawson
from the dissected-in-the-trades dept.
gordette writes "I'm posting this because Comcast did the same thing to me that this journalist describes — held my HD channels hostage by insisting that I shell out for an expensive cable package. The journalist is blasting Comcast for their 'shakedown' of consumers, and is doing so in full view of industry insiders. She also links to an earlier blog post describing Comcast's Motorola DVR problems."
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Industry Insider Blasts Comcast

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  • "back charges" (Score:3, Informative)

    by farkus888 (1103903) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @05:02AM (#19562471)
    comcast once required a notarized letter from my landlord stating that I was not resident at a particular address while a previous resident was before I could turn on my service. unless of course I wanted to pay off the $300 in back charges said resident owed. left me without internet for a week since my landlord was on vacation. needless to say they are getting canceled the day FIOS is available in my area.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by SeaFox (739806)
      You'll be surprised how many deadbeats are out there when it comes to cable bills.

      A household of three people can easy amass a $1000+ debt to a cable company by having someone who lives there sign up for service under their name after someone [i]else[/i] there has been disconnected for non-payment. This is just one address we're talking about here.

      People balk at having to give their SSN's to the cable company to get service, but it's information they want so they can send you to a collection collections if
      • by russ1337 (938915)
        I actually had a similar issue, but the guy had lived in the house for less than a year and still had 3 months to go on his Dish service... which worked out cheaper for him to 'keep' but not use. SO when I tried to sign up with Dish, they said there was service already at my address and wouldn't install it.... the answer.. I went with DirecTv. no problems.

        But this is where your system is back to front.... (IMHO): I'm more than happy to pay a deposit for the first one or two months and the hardware, b
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by will_die (586523)
          I found an easy way to deal with services like that. Call them up and when they say someone else is already at that address tell them that person died and you just moved in.
          You can try to explain that the other person has moved, etc but when you add that the other person is dead it seems to clear most problems. People want to be a little more helpful and with the other person dead it cuts off most avenues that they can take.
          This also works with paypal, if you forgot your password don't want to go with th
        • Re:"back charges" (Score:5, Interesting)

          by FuzzyDaddy (584528) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @09:37AM (#19564183) Journal
          When I moved into my house, the elderly lady who owned it previously had moved out rather suddenly and unexpectedly due to health issues. She hadn't disconnected anything, so the phone was still in her name. When I called the phone company to have them terminate her phone service and start mine, they initially refused.

          It was the weirdest thing. I told them I'd be happy for her to keep paying for my phone usage, but I thought it would be fairer if I paid for it myself. In the end her daughter had to call up and cancel the phone service.

          I now use DSL and VOIP from speakeasy. I've ditched the phone company, and find my perpetual bile against the phone company is slowly, after several years, starting to wane.

          Now I'm starting to hate my bank.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zero_offset (200586)
        People balk at having to give their SSN's to the cable company to get service, but it's information they want so they can send you to a collection collections if you don't pay or run off with digital boxes (those thing can run $300-$500 [i]apiece[/i] depending on the model's capabilities.

        I've been wondering how much a DirecTV's DVR hardware is worth (in theory, not if I actually tried to sell it). I stopped the DTV installers from stealing my dual-tuner Tivo, but they left the DTV DVR here anyway. DTV was s
      • Re:"back charges" (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kwirl (877607) <kwirlkarphys@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @09:03AM (#19563853)
        For the record, you are NOT required to give them your SSN. They ask for it for account verification purposes, but in most states they are not classified as a utility service provider, and are not allowed to require your SSN. When I worked there, simply stating that you did not want to divulge your SSN was all I needed to hear before I moved along to the next item in setting up a new customer.
      • Re:"back charges" (Score:4, Informative)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @09:09AM (#19563915) Homepage
        The thing about the SSN is bullshit. Comcast knows it and had their asses handed to them with a SSN fiasco from 2 years ago. The Drivers license number or State ID number is enough information to find and "get" you. comcast knows this, but they want the SSN to credit check you so they can assess your risk from day one. (letting you float a full 28 days before sending reminders or sending you the nasty-gram 5 days after your due date based on your credit score, or even shutting off your box the day after your due date if your Credit score is low enough)

        That is the only reason they want your SSN.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Acid-Duck (228035)
      I'm guessing this is standard practice for lots of companies, think about how easy it would be for someone to run up a big bill and all of a sudden call the provider and pretend to be someone else who just moved in to avoid paying the huge bill. it probably has been done before (just show up to pay your bill caash every month, no credit cards to verify your name)and that's why they're so strict now. I'm with them on this one.

      Erik

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Buran (150348)
        So you support the notion that companies are going to blame this guy for something someone else did?

        Hell no.

        I would have told them "Thank you for informing me that you do not want my business. I will now be spending $x with your competitor, who is willing to not treat me badly for something someone I don't even know has done." *click*
        • Re:"back charges" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by _xeno_ (155264) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @10:09AM (#19564505) Homepage Journal

          I would have told them "Thank you for informing me that you do not want my business. I will now be spending $x with your competitor, who is willing to not treat me badly for something someone I don't even know has done." *click*

          And, in the majority of the US, the response would have been quite simple:

          "What competitor? There's a competitor? You mean satellite? Wait, you live in an apartment, right? Good luck getting that dish approved by your landlord."

    • by solitas (916005)
      That's an understandable request to prove you're not the same deadbeat who lived there before (who is just changing the name & payment method to get out of paying the bill) . _I_ wouldn't want to be accountable for the charges of whoever lived there before _me_ either.

      True, the companies ought to better police their own accounts and methods of ident verification of account holders, but the next-best thing is to prove that YOU'RE not who they THINK you might be.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bkr1_2k (237627)
      Well that will certainly teach them. Pay them now and punish them later. How is that going to prove anything? They've already gotten what they want from you. It's almost harder to cancel service than to get it started.

      This is the exact problem with Comcast. They have no problem telling people they don't need your business and we as consumers seem to think that's somehow acceptable. If you don't need hi speed for work, don't pay them a penny and suffer the dial up for a while.

      They tried to double charge
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OldHawk777 (19923) *
      Cable companies and executives has a lobby on /..

      This is corporatist welfare economics. Like the RIAA/DMCA/... US citizens are persecuted, until proved innocent.

      If companies can not control/secure their resources/assets, then they need to go out of business. Persecuting the innocent for proof of innocent, or make additional welfare payments to support a Bad-Biz model is the real crime to a democratic nation and a capitalist economy. The more BadBiz models (with Government permission/protection) being persec
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BodhiCat (925309)
      Bodhicat has an alternative. I spend my free time reading A German translation of the Lord of the Rings at the local coffee hang-out, Black Dog. When I get tired of reading I can usually find someone to play chess with or have a chat. And its only $1.75 for some really great coffee from a locally owned establishment. Now that is entertainment for nurds.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niceone (992278) * on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @05:15AM (#19562521) Journal
    I'm kind of shocked that anyone would shell out $2000 a year for TV. Is that common?
    • by Dogtanian (588974)
      To be fair, about a third of that was for Internet access, but that's still shocking; even more gobsmacking is how much they were expecting her to pay on top of that.

      Yeah, I know it's easy to be snotty about TV and all that, but she's a professional (I assume); how much time does she have to actually watch the bloody thing anyway?! I know it's nice to sit on your arse after a hard day and watch your favourite show, but when you consider the horrendous amount of crap and being f***** about she's putting up
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      I pay $120/mo for cable TV (HD, DVR) and Internet (6mpbs). I don't find it hard to believe that a decent movie or sports package on top of that would run another ~$46.

      My package is the 'standard' one with HD being another $10/mo, I think. It includes all the channels you expect like Comedy Central, Discovery and Scifi Channel, but none of the premium channels like HBO and Showtime.

      So, yeah, for people who are into both TV and Internet heavily, $2k a year is pretty standard.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

      by drawfour (791912) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @05:51AM (#19562681)
      Her breakdown was:

      $102.99 for the DIGITAL GOLD Package which includes: standard cable (limited basic and expanded basic), digital special interest channels, music choice, Starz, Starz Plex, Encore, Encore Plex, HBO, HBO Plex, Showtime, Showtime Plex, and Digital Converter and Remote where applicable;
      $11.95 for DVR with HDTV;
      $45.95 for high speed Internet

      So $46/mo ($552/yr) was for Internet. But to answer your question, I'd say it's fairly common for people to pay something close to what she's paying. Lots of people get the premium channels packages. A few years ago, I had it. Then I moved in with a friend who was a cheap bastard, and all we had was the non-digital expanded basic. Got used to not having all the premium channels, and I got along just fine. Now that I've moved into my own place, I didn't bother with the premium channels. No need, there's plenty of stuff to watch as is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Alioth (221270)
        But...she's still paying around $1500/year just for TV. I'm absolutely gobsmacked that anyone would pay that much each and every year to watch the box. That's more than I pay towards the fixed costs of a light aircraft!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Got used to not having all the premium channels, and I got along just fine.

        Well you're a far better man than I am. I once had to live with just basic cable. I thought I could do it. I thought I was tough. I told myself they have nothing but basic cable in Africa, and since I'm a rich Westerner I should be thankful for what I do have.

        I was wrong. SOO SO wrong.

        The trouble started right away. Shaking, sweating, constant stomach pain. Soon I was having splitting headaches and constantly masturbating. Then, I we
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:12AM (#19562795) Homepage Journal
      I know quite a few people with 1 or two kids who pay nearly $100 a month for cell service.

      Combine that with all the other monthlies people tend to accumulate and no wonder most are always "broke"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ka D'Argo (857749)
      Yea, very common. I've got a Digital Cable package from Time Warner Cable, we got it in early 2000, and the price of the package has gone up a lot. We didn't get their highspeed cable till a year or two later, so that tacked on another $50/month. I think atm we're paying around $180, for a package that has all the HBO's, Cinemax's, Showtimes, Starz, Encores etc including On Demand channels (though PPV On Demand still has it's own per movie price).

      I just love how every year, like clockwork, they increase
  • by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @05:43AM (#19562651)
    No, I mean, to criticize comcast in a public forum.. there must be a law against making libelous comments directed at corporate america.
    • No, I mean, to criticize comcast in a public forum.. there must be a law against making libelous comments directed at corporate america.

      There is. It's called Libel. However to be Libel, it has to be untrue. Posting the truth in your consumer relations is call Freedom of Speech.

      If I said Comcast cut 50% of my channels and doubled my fee only halfway through the 1 year subscription agreement and it was false, that would be Libel. If it were true, that would be freedom of speech.

      The above is an example only
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by MLease (652529)
        That whooshing sound you hear...? That's the sound of irony doing a quick flyover above your head....

        -Mike
    • by nysus (162232) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:06AM (#19562763)
      Remember when Oprah got sued by the beef industry for expressing her concerns about the safety of meat? Better watch what you say in public about the products you use. Unless it's gushing, fan-boy enthusiasm, you could have the "product libel" lawyers all over you. So, yes, it's safer to just shut up; don't make any waves. It's one of the small prices we have to pay for freedom in this country.
      • by nysus (162232) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:12AM (#19562797)
        "For more than 200 years, our country's legal system has refused to recognize 'product libel.' People can maliciously libel a human being and be required to pay damages; but not inanimate products like Corvairs, Pinto fuel tanks, asbestos, the Dalkon Shield, fruits, vegetables and meat products. ... One has only to look back at our history and see how the dissenters of the past -- criticizing tobacco, coal dust, useless over-the-counter drugs and a variety of health-damaging food additives and pesticides -- have been proven right again and again. ... These ranchers know they will not be awarded any money by the time their case is disposed of in Texas or before the higher courts. The main objective of these frivolous lawsuits is not money; it is to send a chilling message to millions of people that if Winfrey can be sued for speaking her mind about not eating hamburgers then they had better keep their opinions to themselves."

        -- Ralph Nader
    • by smchris (464899)
      Doesn't matter. What they'll do to you won't be legal either.
  • by calcutta001 (907416) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:04AM (#19562757)
    I am absolutely frustrated with the cable companies in my area. Be it comcast, RCN or WOW. First the charges are sky high, then the internet service is throttled. They keep pushing the phone service. If you have to get HD you have to 'rent' their DVR boxes. I dont need a DVR because I have a HTPC but I am still paying for it.

    I have wondered what would it take to start a community cable service, which provides basic HD (OTA reception is bad) and basic cable. Internet service offloaded in bulk to a competing ISP. Has any one any experience in such project, any links on how one can achieve this ?

    I know one has to get licenses from the local municipality for providing utility, besides the politics, what are the technical challenges. Is it even doable ??
    • by MarkGriz (520778) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @10:30AM (#19564767)

      I have wondered what would it take to start a community cable service, which provides basic HD (OTA reception is bad) and basic cable. Internet service offloaded in bulk to a competing ISP. Has any one any experience in such project, any links on how one can achieve this ?

      You might try here [vatican.va] and click on the "Request a Miracle" link.

  • > ..."Oh," he sneers, "you must have talked to our Morgan Hill [California] office. I'm not supposed to say anything but..."

    but *what*?....talk about a cliff hanger :(
  • by Belacgod (1103921) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:15AM (#19562807)
    I've gone completely computer. I buy a lot of DVDs, download through Itunes, and watch off network websites (specifically Heroes on NBC.com). The last one is free, but relatively low-quality (but will tide me over 'til the DVDs arrive). A whole season of a good show goes for

    I think this is the future of content provision--over the internet, straight from the content companies' websites. Speed and quality will increase, the content companies will start charging on a pay-per-view or subscription basis for the good stuff/good quality, a large number of individual plans will proliferate, and the cable companies will be reduced to ISPs.

  • just cancel (Score:3, Informative)

    by nanosquid (1074949) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:29AM (#19562861)
    I have Comcast for Internet access and am reasonably happy with them. I think their cable TV channels are way overpriced, so I'm not subscribing to anything there, but, then, I have never watched much cable.

    So, why not just cancel? You have alternatives: DSL, satellite, OTA, other cable companies.
    • Re:just cancel (Score:4, Informative)

      by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:47AM (#19562929)
      no he doesn't. In most of the areas serviced by comcast, and time warner they are the ONLY game in town. They are fighting like mad to keep it that way too, because if they have to compete on price they will lose, fast.
      • In most of the areas serviced by comcast, and time warner they are the ONLY game in town.

        No satellite dishes? No DSL?? No DVD rental stores??? No Netflix???? Get real!
        • by peragrin (659227)
          Satellite locally is problematic with the constant overcast we get, and our long winters. reception quality is okay but not that good.

          The only DSL in town is done by the local phone company, who is bundling with the satellite provider and requires a 2 year contract with a $500 get out of contract clause. Time warner has been using that little bit of information in it's advertising like mad.

          Both companies want your complete package, internet, phone, and TV trying to get less than those three items they ch
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by trogdor8667 (817114) *
          I'm in a Comcast town. Back in the 70s it was the Atlanta Cable Company. They came to our small city and said "We'll pay every dime to wire your entire city for cable television. You simply have to agree to not let any other businesses come in and wire the city for cable for 30 years." My city agreed. The non-compete agreement ended a few months ago, and Atlanta Cable became Comcast well over ten years ago. However, Charter is the only other cable company within 100 miles of here, and from what I can tell,
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Aqua_boy17 (962670)

            You mention satellite. Satellite is great. I'd get Dish in a heartbeat, if my landlord allowed it.

            We have a law in Florida that prohibits landlords from denying tenant's use of the dishes, as long as they're the small version. It's comforting to know that there's at least one thing about my state that isn't completely screwed up. Someone in your state should start a petition drive to enact the same sort of law.

            During our last round of hurricanes 2 years ago, I got lucky and the cable line was the only t

          • Re:just cancel (Score:5, Interesting)

            by man_ls (248470) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @09:56AM (#19564375)
            Federal law stipulates that your landlord doesn't have the slightest choice as to whether you can put up a satellite dish if there exists a location where you can place it that doesn't involve bolting it down to his property. It's called the OTARD rules, and while IANAL, I've successfully challenged a large holding company and their attorneys ended up siding with me against the management based on my interpretation of the law to allow me to erect a satellite dish on my patio.

            If the landlord tries anything, you're entitled to either petition the FCC directly, or sue in your District court for an injunction, during the process he is prohibited from taking enforcement action against you either.

            If you'd like more information, feel free to e-mail me at jkoebel#gmail.communism and we'll talk.
      • They are fighting like mad to keep it that way too, because if they have to compete on price they will lose, fast.
        Its really quite pathetic and telling of our government that they have any sway on the matter.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kwirl (877607)

        Your perspective is skewed from the blind hatred of large corporations that is harbored by so many readers here.

        The costs of building and maintaining an efficient broadband network on a nationwide scale is tremendous. Just how many companies do you think could afford to build a system of that scale? Now, the FCC limits Comcast and ALL other cable providers to a MAXIMUM of 30% market penetration. This means in order to provide the entire country with high-speed cable internet, you would need FOUR financi

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Your perspective is skewed from the blind hatred of large corporations that is harbored by so many readers here.

          Gee, what would it take for a type of organization to get indifferent, uncaring americans to hate them? Oh yeah, piss us off by combining the worst bureaucratic aspects of the DMV (paperwork, employees who are clueless and don't care, expense, lack of internal communication, inability to perform) with all the worst aspects of a ticket scalper (high prices, gouging, differential pricing, bribing police). Large corporations have earned the way we feel about them.

          The costs of building and maintaining an efficient broadband network on a nationwide scale is tremendous. Just how many companies do you think could afford to build a system of that scale?

          Do you mean with or without the hundreds o

  • by frostycellnex (571215) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @06:51AM (#19562951)

    I recently added HD to my Comcast subscription, and admit to still being a bit confused by the specifics of Comcast's scheme. On their channel listing, they indicate that with their most basic digital cable package, the HD versions of the broadcast networks (NBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, and PBS) should be accessible. What they don't tell you in that listing, is that currently the only way for you to decode the HD signal transmitted by Comcast is to get their tuner (either in DVR, or standard tuner models), and presently, the only way to do that is to rent the device from Comcast. Now, as I understand from the Comcast sales rep, the only way to get that device is to upgrade to a more expansive cable package, which includes SDTV channels such as ESPN, MTV, etc, and naturally costs more.

    However, the installation technician clued me in to a possible new option. He thought that the tuners would soon be available for sale at Best Buy stores. Now, from Comcast's own channel listing, I'm presuming that I should be able to purchase one of those tuners at a one-time cost, drop back to basic digital cable, and reduce my monthly bill by some $40 a month while still getting at least the broadcast networks in HD. Of the channels currently available to me with my chosen package, the only HD channels that really are of interest to me are the broadcast networks, ESPN (occasionally), and Discovery HD. So it's certainly not worth an additional $40 a month. Were my cable TV subscription not also tied to a lower rate for my cable internet connection, I'd probably just plunk down the cash for an over-the-air tuner and antenna. Come to think of it, at $40 a month, that option might quickly become more cost effective.

    • by SIGBUS (8236) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @08:26AM (#19563497) Homepage
      My Sharp Aquos set has a QAM tuner for cable, as well as an ATSC tuner for over-the-air reception; also, I have a pcHDTV HD-5500 in one of my systems, and it also works with both QAM and ATSC. Both work just fine on the unencrypted local HD broadcast channels. I'm on Comcast in the Chicago area (Romeoville front-end).

      When I was shopping for the HD set, I specifically made sure that what I was buying had a QAM tuner. I was not about to take a salesman's word for it.
    • On their channel listing, they indicate that with their most basic digital cable package, the HD versions of the broadcast networks (NBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, and PBS) should be accessible. What they don't tell you in that listing, is that currently the only way for you to decode the HD signal transmitted by Comcast is to get their tuner

      I can't believe that people take this crap. I'd take the following steps:

      1. Order most basic digital cable package
      2. Don't receive channels in HD
      3. Write a letter (with reception c
  • by tekrat (242117) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @07:11AM (#19563003) Homepage Journal
    I had Comcast when I lived in Jersey City. I was one of their first broadband customers in that area. I was also one of their first "Digital" customers in that area.

    #1) I often had to go for months without internet service.
    #2) More than half of my digital channels didn't work.

    I had to buy a new phone every month because their customer service (or lack thereof) had me so frustrated, I would throw the phone against the wall, and I would scream so loudly, my neighbors would call an ambulance.

    I eventually returned their "Digital" box, and told the rep that their service wasn't ready for prime-time. The nail in the coffin for me was when most of the channels showed up as pixelated blocky bits with no sound. It was a waste of time.

    The internet problems, as well as the Digital TV problems, all turned out to be a lack of signal coming into my building. I repeatedly had technicians come over, determine the signal was bad, and proceed to clip the cable coming out of my wall another inch shorter and then leave.

    Finally, they couldn't make the cable any shorter.

    I called Comcast time after time to explain to them that the problem wasn't the short cable in my wall, we'd been through that already. I wanted them to run another cable in from the street, since the cable from the street split 20 ways after it came into my building.

    After about 2 or 3 years of this back and forth issue, a guy came by with an amplifier that sat under my couch to try and amplify the 1/20th of a signal I was getting. That worked for about a week and then I couldn't get the internet.

    A technician replaced my cable modem. That worked for a week, and then stopped.

    Then I was told that they'd have to replace the wiring in the building. That was unfeasible.

    So, again I complained. By this time, I was seriously considering moving.

    By the time they installed the amplifier in the basement as well to amplify the signal before it was split 20 times, I was house hunting (I needed a garage anyhow, and I'd outgrown the condo).

    That worked for a while. But not long.

    I can only wonder if they EVER ran a second line into my building. All I know is that I now have Verizon DSL and Direct TV.

    The only way I'd ever go back to Comcast is if they paid me. I spent more time teaching their tech support people how to do basic networking than I spent at my own job. Frankly, I should send Comcast a bill for $72,000 for consulting.

    They are possibly the WORST corporation I have ever had to deal with. How they got so big with such crappy service I cannot understand. They make Verizon look competent, and that's saying a lot.

    • by jimicus (737525)
      They are possibly the WORST corporation I have ever had to deal with. How they got so big with such crappy service I cannot understand. They make Verizon look competent, and that's saying a lot.

      A number of possibilities occur:

      1. They didn't. The crappy service is a result of recent cost cutting, prior to that it was OK.
      2. Relatively few people include "customer service" in their list of things to consider when choosing a provider.
      3. A monopoly in some areas.

      As I'm not an American, and I know zero about
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      My worst customer service experience I ever had was with Comcast, and I was never even a Comcast customer. I was turned over to a collections company for the sum of $19 that I supposedly owed 5 years ago. Like I said, I was never with Comcast but they bought a cable company I was once with and had dropped 5 years before and switched to satellite. I only found out about it because I applied for a car loan. When I called Comcast to ask what this was about, they said they couldn't tell me what the charge was f
  • by dino213b (949816) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @07:56AM (#19563245)
    So I lost the ability to renew my IP address. After a week's time and numerous attempts to regain it, including minimizing my equipment and cabling, the techs finally showed up. They did their job as they were trained; afterwards, they witnessed four or five different pieces of equipment experiencing the same problem I was having and promptly said "Oh, why don't you upgrade to a dedicated IP?"

    "Sure, I'll consider that .. if you can get me a dynamic IP address."
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @07:56AM (#19563249)
    ... Rogers cable here in Canada tried a stunt called "Negative Option Billing" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_option_billi ng [wikipedia.org]) which sounds sort of like what Comcast is doing. This caused a major outcry across the country that included thousands canceling their cable service. Rogers eventually caved and the practice was made illegal shortly thereafter.
  • Rabbit Ears! That's what I use. Picks up approximately 10 stations. That's more than I can handle. If I want more, I go to the library and borrow it. Cable offers little for quite a lot.

    \ /
    |-----|
    | t v |
    |-----|
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @08:06AM (#19563319) Homepage Journal
    The funny thing is that companies REALLY DON'T care if you drop them or not. This is not a rhetorical statement.

    MCI - My MCI Neighborhood phone line. It started out at $49.95. Now it's up to $54.95 for 100% exactly the same service. Of course between junk fees and taxes the true cost is about $77/month

    Sprint - My cell phone bill has 'errors' in the vicinity of 5% every month. Every month. For the last 3 years. I would rank customer service somewhere between Gitmo and prison rape. And the retail stores are in fact useless for anything other than new customers. That's actually a fact they will verify if you ask them. It's debatable whether the level of lying they perform when you try to buy something from them crosses into the realm of fraud. In either case they don't care. As an experiment ask them to verify the price they tell you with what's on their website. They will simply hang up on you without comment.

    CIGNA Healthcare - Cannot verify over the phone whether I am a subscriber or not, to the pharmacy. I could understand if they refused to because HIPPA is the new holy grail of an excuse to refuse to 'do' customer service. No CIGNA actually can't. Their online systems don't work well enough to do that. But hey my call is very important to them.

    Time-Warner - well their service relatively speaking is ok. It works and the bills keep coming. But when the service drops out because of some technical glitch, even in some cases for more than a day they suddenly speak only Ebonics when it comes to rebates.

    Xbox support - Just give up. They're in India. They can't understand what you're saying and you can't understand them. They literally cannot speak English well enough to communicate with you. Hang up the phone and keep calling till you find someone who does.

    Mitsubishi USA - Their official policy is to have their lawyers send you a threatening letter if you complain about one of the dealerships. In this case Leith Mitsu of Raleigh, NC. Even though they have service bulletins up the wazoo they will not address any of the issues unless you pay for them. And the dealership told me with a straight face that parking my car outside invalidated the warranty. The national network's response to a complaint is to send out a letter telling you to go to hell and if you persist in writing to them they will sue you for something.

    • by Peyna (14792)
      Time-Warner - well their service relatively speaking is ok. It works and the bills keep coming. But when the service drops out because of some technical glitch, even in some cases for more than a day they suddenly speak only Ebonics when it comes to rebates.

      Perhaps it's your local Time-Warner office, or perhaps you just don't get mad enough on the phone, but when my service was out for a week, because one of their technicians accidently disconnected my service while connecting a neighbor, I received a credi
  • Crock (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @08:08AM (#19563331)
    Digital cable is a crock anyway. It's wrapped up tight in DRM, and not just the DRM that the cable company needs to ensure you're not stealing from them. There's no chance of being able to use a custom-built PVR, for example, to record digital cable, which means you're either at the whim of TiVo or your cable company, neither of which has a stellar track record when it comes to not interfering with your rights as a consumer. They charge you extra money to get you on board a service that is a net benefit for them due to the reduced bandwidth, and then they charge you even more any chance they get.

    And now the various states are passing legislation to take away regulatory power from municipalities. They're pretty much the only thing that stands between us and monopolistic abuse in many cases, because the states sure don't care.

    And some people actually think that net neutrality is a bad thing. What's going on with cable TV should be proof enough that without net neutrality, we're screwed. Lack of enforcement of net neutrality is the same as subtle deregulation of the cable TV industry - it lets the cable companies use their monopoly (or duopoly, if there's a DSL-providing phone company in the area) to abuse their customers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Sorry, that just isn't true in all cases. I know that some cable providers encrypt the digital cable feed, but it seems that there are a number that don't, as was discussed a few weeks ago: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/06/05/19522 5 1 [slashdot.org]

      In my case, I have a home-built PVR and digital cable (RCN Chicago). Works like a charm. The digital cable is unencrypted QAM, so I have an HDTV card (Kworld HD PCI-115) that supports QAM. No DRM, no encryption, works well. I was worried when RCN was pushing to go
  • The second part of the article, he wonders why Comcast doesn't offer HDNet or HDNet movies. It's because Marc Cuban and Comcast are currently engaged in a corporate game of chicken. Cuban wants a couple of bucks per subscriber (which, frankly, I would be more than willing to pay just for HDNet Movies alone) and Comcast claims they don't want to tier-ize their HD programming. I've heard rumor that Comcast has started to cave in Houston, offering both channels for a few dollars, as a test.

    My experience wit
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @08:47AM (#19563681) Journal
    I've had comcast service for about 5 years now, and I have not had a single Internet outage. I also have not had any TV outages, except for the initial setup time when I moved to my townhouse.

    When I ordered digital cable, the guy came out to drop off the box and asked if he could measure my signal level. It was just good enough (3dB of margin) so just to be safe, he replaced the cable ends on both sides of the cable from the basement to the jack in the living room, made me a new cable for the TV using their ultra-high-quality coax and ends (they do NOT skimp on cable), and a new splitter in the basement.

    A while passed, and I ordered a second box with DVR capability and an HDMI output for my panel. The installer came out and dropped off the box, and when I called to activate it, it wouldn't activate. They had him back at my house within 20 minutes. He again measured the signal and discovered there wasn't enough at the new box. So, he checked the feed into the basement - still too low. He then went outside to the outdoor junction box and measured there, and it was fine. Apparently, my neighbor had some contractors doing work and they nicked the underground cable while they were installing a new sliding door.

    Anyway, the technician said the underground cable was bad. I asked what my options were, and he said he could call for a digging crew to come out in 4-6 weeks. He then walked over to his truck, grabbed a shovel, and buried me a new line from the outdoor junction box and the feed into my house, and everything worked fine after that.

    So, if Comcast is so universally evil, I've certainly never seen it...
  • Who is this woman? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LMacG (118321) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @09:03AM (#19563855) Journal
    TFS calls her both an "industry insider" and a "journalist," but I can't see any evidence of either. She's a blogger with a complaint about Comcast - something not in short supply. She's not really a very good writer either, but that's another topic ...
  • Simple (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @09:12AM (#19563947)
    Get rid of your TV, don't own a cell phone, get a basic land-line account and a dial-up service.

    After getting totally screwed over by Bell's DSL 'service' for several months, I got fed up and dropped back to a third party dial-up ISP. Wow. No more headaches, and I realized that there was very little about the internet which I needed high speed for anyway.

    Interestingly, the trouble with my DSL account, (my login and passwords being locked out and nobody on the service help end being able to figure out why or how to fix it, setting up new accounts where the same thing would happen, lots of head scratching, blah, blah, blah), all started when I began posting mountains of political stuff during the launch of the war in Iraq. It had been a fine service up until that point. --The crap the establishment was trying to pull at that time was amazing, and the holes in all the stories were typically open only during the first few hours/days of an operation, so research speed was a priority.


    -FL

  • by Zero_DgZ (1047348) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @10:17AM (#19564597)
    I mean, while we're all complaining and such.

    I've tangled with them a couple of times. The first insult was raising my cable internet bill five bucks but dropping my download rate by about 256 k/sec. But that wasn't the good one. I live in a house that's been subdivided into apartments, and Comcast was the only outfit that consistently got my address wrong. My phone people? Fine. Electricity? Fine. Water? Fine. Comcast? Half the time they'd send my bill to my neighbor, and after a while they apparently got confused and insisted that I hadn't paid a bill at all for one month (I did) and demanded the payment and late charges. I got the check returned from my bank as well as the statement showing Comcast mysteriously cashing this check and taking my money, despite their claims to the contrary. After going 'round and 'round with them on this for over a month their position became "we're bigger than you, therefore it is impossible for us to make mistakes, so it must be your problem." At this point, they quit sending me bills entirely, but felt the need to draft rude and nasty people to call my cell phone at all hours of the day and night insulting me and demanding payment for bills I never got, trying to push me into giving them my credit card number (ha!). I dropped their sorry asses about a week into this and went to Verizon. Even without FIOS, Verizon's higher-tier package is cheaper than Comcast and about half again as fast in my area. Duh.

    At my sister's place everyone is a lardass stereotypical American TV watcher, so they have Comcast digital cable. Comcast mysteriously tried to charge my sister for over 300 dollars worth of pay-per-view porno one month. Obviously, my sister was a bit miffed. This is a household of three women and my nephew, who shrewdly points out that he has no need for pay-per-view because he has internet access. Comcast claimed that the charges came from the ID number of the cable box in my sister's room, which is barely ever used and when it is... Is used by my (straight, 35 year old) sister. After threatening my sister with legal action, putting black marks all over her credit report, &c., Comcast finally figured out (not that this was much of a stretch) that this actually precipitated from someone using a stolen/hacked cable box randomly trying ID's until they got one that worked. My sister suggested that she get a new cable box from Comcast, even pay for it, and they refused to do it. Naturally, two months later, it happened again. And despite documented phone calls and a letter from Comcast stating that they knew about the problem, they threatened my sister again, and again refused to provide her a new cable box or ID number.

    I'm trying to push them to go FIOS and/or take Verizon's digital cable package when it arrives in their area.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:49AM (#19565735)
    Got a telephone call from Comcast Internet last night. They pointed out to me that I currently have 6Mbs download service, and that I could upgrade to "blazingly faster" 8Mbs download speeds for free for the next three months. I had to drag it out of them that my current $36/month rate ($46 after 6 month promotion expires) would jump to $52/month.

    I then pointed out that I had yet to get 6Mbs downloads even on testing sites that can really pump out the bits to you, and why pay more for 8MBs that I also won't get on my very congested local loop? They had no answer for that one, because Comcast had never guaranteed any level of actual service, and in fact I believe their ToS specifically denies any guaranteed level of download performance.

  • by tji (74570) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:26PM (#19566297)
    Since the late 70s there was a continual migration away from OTA antenna reception onto cable and later to satellite services. But, there is a small, but growing, trend back towards antenna.

    Digital TV services offer high visual quality high definition broadcasts from the local broadcasters (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox). The digital reception is a big improvement over the old analog stuff. As long as you can get a strong enough signal (which may require a bit of initial antenna tweaking) you get a perfect picture.. no static, shadows, etc.

    If there were more OTA DVR options available (like the HD Tivo, but at a decent price) I think many people would be completely satisfied with OTA-only. With a DVR, you can replace the need for a bunch of channels to surf through with a queue of pre-recorded programs to browse through. Theoretically, those pre-recorded programs should be closer to your viewing preferences than the random garbage on cable.

    There are some good roll-your-own options, like MythTV. But, few people want that much effort for TV viewing. Sony and LG both made OTA/ATSC DVRs, but they weren't very popular. Maybe this will be more of a hobbyist thing for a while.

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