Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Comcast's FCC Smokescreen

Today I received a call from the regional sales manager (at least I think that was who it was) at the request of Bill and/or Frank so that he could better explain to me what was going on and how they were not misleading their customers. He did accomplish that and he set it straight that they are not removing the stations that I lost from analog at this time but that they are in an analog package that costs around $50 per month. Sounds pointless? Well, it's not if your Comcast.

If you think that the concept of a set top box is solely to give you a better quality and user experience, you're wrong. While those things are very true there is another aspect of this that people don't realize. If you subscribe to a service that is one way then your experience can not be interactive and, of course, interactive experiences are generally better. Another thing is true if a service is one way communication: there is no way to raise an income above the base subscription level. Now think about your set top box. How many Pay Per View movies and events are on there? How many additional services can you sign up for or order at the press of a button. The difference between a customer with a set top box and a customer without a set top box is very different to Comcast. It makes it a little clearer on why for me to continue the service that I had (or at least thought I had) without a set top box Comcast would want to charge me a much higher fee than if I get a set top box. Additionally they also are collecting a monthly fee for each TV connected instead of just a signal that can be sent to any TV in my house without extra equipment.

So what's the answer? Is Comcast falsely advertisting? Well... the answer is no. Because of the fact that I *CAN* still subscribe to the channels I had been getting via an Analog signal then I am "not affected by the digital conversion because I am a Comcast customer" .... The uneasy feeling comes in finding out that the pricing goes up for people in my scenario.... Oh... and I was specifically told that they may still remove the channels above 25 from analog signal later anyway....

Are you ready for this one?

Here is what completely pissed me off to no extent. The words that I had been waiting to hear to confirm that Comcast IS using the digital TV conversion as a way to fool people came not once, not twice, but AT LEAST 3 times in this conversation. What were those words..... "Due to the FCC mandate"..... Oh yes.... Comcast is telling their customers that all of this is because the FCC is mandating them to switch to digital signal. The first time I heard these words I stopped him and said "Sir, I know exactly what the FCC is mandating and the mandates are in the 700mhz over the air frequencies and DO NOT pertain to your signals broadcast on your own network" .... Apparently I caught him by surprise and he said "well, yes, your correct" .... Now he continues on to tell me how Comcast is doing me a favor because they are going to receive the channels digitally and then convert them to an analog signal for their analog customers. Does this sound like they are doing you a favor? Well, to someone that doesn't understand the technology, I'm sure it does. But if this is a true statement than that means that Comcast has been using an analog antenna to receive the signal from the TV stations and then they push the signal through a cable and just charge us extra for the same thing we could get with a antenna on our roof. Bull. Not to mention that there is no market that has 25 over the air stations that someone can receive. Regardless, I am being told to buy a story about how we live in an age of sattelites and growing technology and Comcast still receives the signal to their network using tin can and string technology. While it's true that the picture quality can certainly make you think that its primitive I think the reality is that the entire story was bull. The beauty of this story is that no matter which way you look at it Comcast is horrible. Either they are using technology that is older than dirt and they haven't been upgrading their system like they have continually been telling us OR they are outright lying to their customers in telling them that they are doing us a favor by converting signals for us.

But you think it's not bad enough? Well, try this on for size. After I explained to this guy that I knew what the FCC mandates where and that I knew they did not affect Comcast's signal on their network he continued to tell me the same exact story twice more. Either this guy has an EXTREME short term memory loss or he has been programmed to hide behind a false FCC mandate so deeply that he can't even break out of it when someone calls his bluff.

To be quite honest with you if this guy would have explained that all of the channels I had could be subscribed to via an analog signal for a higher price I probably would have been upset that it was going to cost me more money but I wouldn't have been pissed or really even thought much about the shadyness of the situation. It was the moment that he pulled that FCC mandate out of his hat that really, truly, reminded me of what the true motive of the company that is Comcast is: Fool your customers into staying with you instead of actually being a decent company and making them want to stay.

I want to again stress to everyone that @comcastcares (Frank), Bill, and their entire team is REALLY working wonders for Comcast customers. These people TRULY do care about their name and about their customers and I can only hope that corporate would start to learn from these guys who are trying to be as open and honest as they can be and are going WAY out of their way to help people. I just really hope that someday we might see some evidence that Comcast as a corporation wants to adopt the same policies.

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(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?

UPDATE: 3:10pm

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.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

(C)2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
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