Thursday, January 22, 2009
Last year a new Twitter account opened called @comcastcares and Frank, the leader of a new department inside Comcast, was working hard to improve the image of a company who has, quite possibly, one of the worst set of morals of mainstream companies. Frank really was making an impact and word quickly spread about this new department and people began to think there was hope. I posted a blog about some frustrations I had and a couple others about how Frank had helped me. Frank was able to get me on a promotion and gave me some options. One option he gave me was only 6 months long but he was excited to get me to try the high end plan so he said that after those 6 months were up he'd get me on another promotion.
Somewhere in all of this I felt like Frank was the rebel that could really save the image of Comcast but that once his impact started to be known the company would step in with the "business types" and again show how the books are more important than customer satisfaction or company image. I hoped I was wrong - but I wasn't.
My promotion ended last month and my bill skyrocketed. I contacted Frank and he told me to email his department which got me the response that someone would contact me the next day. When I was contacted I totally felt the same old Comcast feel. The person who called me didn't care about anything and the end result was I downgraded to the economy plan. I contacted Frank on Twitter and really received empty responses.... and it highly reminded me of a guy who did care but who had hands tied. Despite my emails to Frank, Frank's department, and another Comcast employee about how I was told that I could get another promotion after the 6 month one finished ended up with empty responses or absolutely no response at all.
Here's where things get worse. Apparently with the economy package Comcast says streaming video may not work and, well, I've had some issues. The best part is that if you want to go one step above economy the price more than doubles. Oh but wait, it's cheaper if I subscribe to cable TV as well is what I'm told not only by Comcast but Frank as well. Oh, really? So I can get something I need cheaper by buying something I don't need or want. Where am I saving money here? This is certainly the work of "business types". To another level, you can also tell this is another attempt at Comcast killing innovation. Think about it - if you can now watch TV on the internet and don't need cable TV then Comcast loses revenue so the solution they have is to force you to pay them for TV anyway or to charge you more than double to have a plan that should support streaming video. I mean, really, why would you innovate and allow the customers to have what they want.
Its certainly sad to watch Comcast grab their monopoly and do all that they can do to rape their customers and absolutely destroy any innovation. They are a very important part of why the United States, the founder of the internet, is one of the worst countries to be in for accessing the internet. Right now all we can hope for is the FCC to step in and make sure we have real competition and start holding Comcast responsible for their horrible practices.
(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Comcast DTV lie?
Every Comcast customer has seen these commercials but is it really accurate? Sure it's accurate if you have digital cable with a set top box which is the same scenario if you have Dish Network or DirecTV. But about the people who still have the regular analog cable packages? I've been trying to figure out the answer to that question for about 2 weeks now. @comcastcares and Bill (a member of his team) have been looking into this as well.
What happened was about 2 weeks ago my MythTV system started recording some shows as just total static. I had initially thought that one of the tuner cards had gone bad in my server but later found that the recordings of static were only on the shows on channels above channel 30. As a result I found that it wasn't a bad tuner card but, rather, that I was not getting a signal from Comcast on these channels. Interestingly enough this occured about the same day that Comcast did some work on the pole near my house to improve my internet speed. Fortunately, my speed certainly did improve so at least I have one good thing. What is becomming extremely frustrating is that Bill has been trying to get in touch with the local Comcast office and they aren't returning his calls. There is no solid answer on what happened. The initial report that Bill had given me was that those channels were, in fact, converted to digital only. Now there are people I know in Front Royal that still get those channels without a Comcast set top box but if the signals were converted to ATSC it would explain that because she has a newer TV and I have older analog-only tuners in my system. Could I upgrade my tuners? Sure but that isn't the point. They are advertising that NO ONE that is a comcast customer is affected by the DTV transition. False Advertisting?
I just got a call from Bill and he had an answer to what was going on. Basically Adelphia cable used to have all the channels on their analog package and when Comcast took over their packages were different. Essentially what I was told was happening was that every analog customer was receiving more than what they paid for and they were fixing the "problem". What really upsets me is that there is no way to get these channels on analog because now you only have the option of signing up for digital cable.
I'm extremely upset with this. I don't know if it can be called false advertising or not but one way or another it's shady. I canceled my TV service with them. It's time to go back to REAL TV -- aka sattelite.
Quite honestly if I had another viable option for internet I would be going another route for that too just because I'm tired of the games that this company plays. I could have had another TV service set up by now if I would have just known what was going on -- or imagine the concept of a warning that this was going to happen.
I continue to appreciate the help the Frank and Bill's team has been offering to people but it's obvious that Comcast is still the same old Comcast.
(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Comcast vs Comcast?
Anyone that has talked to me since I moved into my house knows that I have an ever growing hatred for Comcast and it's business practices. They have violated so many people on moral issues that its not even funny. My biggest problem with the company is that they put a ton of money into figuring out ways to keep traffic off their network (read: screw their customer) instead of using that money to actually build a network capable of supporting what the customer wants to do with the service that they are paying Comcast for. It doesn't make sense that you would work on finding ways to force someone to stay with you (monopolies, legal issues, etc) instead of actually creating a product that people want to stay with. This is why we are falling behind in internet access.
So isn't this Comcast vs All and not Comcast vs Comcast? Well, it depends. Recently there is a new twitter account, @comcastcares, that has really been showing a different side of Comcast. What's so different? Well, the username that Frank Eliason (the owner of the account) picked is actually a true representation of him. He works for Comcast and he actually does care. My first interaction with him was less than a week ago and we debated for about an hour on Twitter about topics ranging from net neutrality to business practices, etc. Many did see me as outright attacking him but the truth was I really wanted to see how the response was handled... and I have to say I was VERY impressed. Frank responded as best he could to all of my comments and, as he should as an employee, he never once bashed what Comcast was doing but he was very understanding of the concerns that I was bringing up. That night I had a slightly new view of Comcast. A few days later I explained the customer service scenario I had when I called because my rate doubled and the CSR I spoke with literally told me to cancel my account and, when I asked for a manager, was told that no manager can speak with me but she assured me that the manager would say the exact same thing that she did. Frank was infuriated over the situation and said that he was going to pull up my account and look into the matter. Yesterday he got back to me and told me he was going to put me on a promotion of my choice and I selected a 16meg down and 2meg upstream connection for $24.95/mo for 6 months. Surprisingly my bandwidth test this morning is showing that I am getting the full 2meg upstream (which is actually more important to me than the downstream since I use remote access software) and I am getting 25 meg down. I'm impressed.... but I really am not going to comment until I see that speed sustained because I've noticed a lot of packet shaping in my bandwidth and I've seen connections during downloads start out super fast and then slow to almost unbearable before.
But while Twitter is being used for good by Frank to help Comcast, it also is allowing consumers to share their experiences with Comcast and yesterday and today we were painted a picture of who Comcast is and, well, it's still the same old Comcast business practices that are consistently reminding customers of how horrible it is being trapped with a company and having no alternative.
It's really sad when the only way to get any comfort from a company is to find a person that works for the company that is more excited about the product than the people who actually run the service. Business take such a focus on the financial aspects of their company that they are blinded from seeing what it's supposed to do to keep that product desirable. Fortunately, for now, we have Frank and his @comcastcares account on Twitter helping us out. What worries me is that he is single-handedly holding up a huge monster that's only desire is to crush people and I don't know how long he will be able to keep that up without the corporation actually getting behind him. Comcast should certainly take notice of Frank because he is literally the only good news that has come from Comcast in YEARS but, sadly, I'm more worried about the company attacking him eventually instead of embracing him.
Either way, Frank, I appreciate what you have done and I hope that Comcast improves and that the company honors you for what you have been doing. With so many corporations grabbing twitter accounts in the interest of spamming people it is refreshing to see a corporate presence on Twitter that is actually a real live human being who is interested in helping. Kudos to you.
(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
(C)2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
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