by David Gracey

ban comcastIt has been several years since I have griped about Comcast so I figure it is long overdue. I have somehow managed to lull myself into a sense of calm with our home Comcast service, or maybe it’s just that Comcast hasn’t done anything in a while to ruffle my feathers and I have a short memory. But their consistent lack of commitment to customer service and delivering a quality product is so astounding that we all need to be reminded. Unfortunately their service has been this way for years.

The Gracey family has a fairly simple setup at home. The irony is that I run a technology company but we have a pretty low tech home system. We have a three TVs that each need a cable box, one DVR, Internet and telephone.  Louise and I watch only a handful of channels, including the big broadcast networks (If we are home on Fridays, 20/20 is on.), the news channels and occasionally History or The Weather Channel. The girls watch Disney, Nickelodeon, Animal Planet (Shark week, Cupcake Wars and Phineas and Ferb are favorites) [it bothers me that I know the correct way to spell Phineas and Ferb!] and we rent an occasional movie. When I can pry the X-Box controller out of my 13-year-old son’s hands, he watches ESPN. So we are talking, what, 10 channels or so? (I would complain about only paying for the channels one watches but that’s an entirely different rant for a future Tuesday Tip).

Three years ago when we switched to the “triple play,” we reduced our overall monthly expenses by eliminating another abomination of a company, AT&T, and moving our phone line over to Comcast. A small victory eliminating AT&T but I was now all in with Comcast, which makes me twitch.

So my latest bill came from Comcast and showed a 30% increase from the prior month. A voice in the back of my head said that the “special” pricing we had gotten years ago had finally expired. Louise volunteered to call their customer no-service department to inquire. Sure enough (and an hour later) we confirmed we were now on their regular pricing model and had to fork over almost $200 per month. And we don’t even have premium movie channels!

But the biggest problem of all is that Louise has a Comcast email address. A year ago when we faced the prospect of having to fire Comcast, I told her that she would have to get a Gmail account. That was a grim day in the house of Gracey. Animals and small children hid. She was depressed for days and we hadn’t even made the switch. But the situation was avoided when Comcast relented on their price increase. Time has a way of making things better so this time around, Louise just said “let’s get this thing done.”  So regardless of the Comcast issue, we are going to climb the “email change” mountain so we are free-and-clear to fire Comcast if we can’t get a better rate.

So thus here is the pain I must endure:

1. Get on AT&T’s website to get a competitive price for similar service.

2. Call Comcast (another hour), ask for the retention department and then threaten to jump ship if they can’t match the pricing.

3. If that doesn’t work, call AT&T and have one of their cavemen come rip up our house.

Wish me luck.

Network 1 Consulting is a 15-year-old, IT Support company in Atlanta, GA. We become – or augment – the IT department for professional services companies: law firms, medical practices and financial services firms. Our IT experts can fix computers – but what our clients really value are the industry-specific best practices we bring to their firms. This is especially important with technology, along with regulations and cyber threats, changing so rapidly. We take a proactive approach to helping our clients use technology to gain and keep their competitive advantage.

2 Comments

  1. Brent on May 22, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Thanks, David. We switched our home service to AT&T Uverse a couple of years ago and haven’t looked back. However, when it comes to using Comcast for business, it’s frustration times ten. As you know being in a full-service cloud environment, we are hugely dependent on our ISP and invested in Comcast’s Business Class service. When it works, it’s great, but when it doesn’t, the answer seems to be “Well, that’s Comcast – they’re having issues … again.” They’ve created such a low expectation among us, and there doesn’t seem to be any recourse or consequence to them for the poor service. It makes us all look bad and definitely impacts productivity. I know there’s no magic fix, but what options are out there to better “guarantee” up time that doesn’t cause our budgets to tilt? How can we force their hand on this issue?

  2. Free Polazzo on May 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks for this story, David. We are dealing with the same exact issue, although we do get 2 premium channels for about $160.00 a month. The service is failry consistent and our problem with switching to a lower cost alternative is that we use 2 TIVO boxes to record our shows. That service is very addictive in its ease of finding and recording shows and even finding shows to recommend to us.

    My wife is disabled so we watch more TV than your family does since we don’t get out that much.

    When I checked ATT a year or so back, they lied to me about working with TIVO. (the salesman said I could hook it up, but I found out before the service people arrived that it wouldn’t work! Yikes. Ma Bell is not dead. Then I went to the ATT office so I could “demo” their DVR. After watching someone else get a demo (always a good tactic for demos) I asked if I could try it myself. I was told that I could not as it was a PRE_RECORDED demo and was only programmed to do certain things. The store had not wanted to pay to get hooked up to the “real deal” so they were showing smoke and mirrors and passing it off as “real”. (Ma Bell laghting in the background).

    When I checked with TIVO, they said Dirct TV works with their system but NOT the boxes we had already paid for. And the support would come from Dirct TV, not from TIVO (5 star support, btw). So, while I would save money of the monthly fee for the 2 Tivo boxes, I am jumping in bed with a company I know nothing about.

    You don’t mind Google accessing all your email, it seems. I’m not so sure that is a great thing. How do you handle that problem? of course you could get an email address from Microsoft for no charge. Do they do what Google is doing?

    Seems there is no good answers. Maybe get a second job to pay for all the tech stuff we seem to believe we can’t live without.

    Let us know how your conversion goes.

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