I Hate You, Comcast

I have a beef with Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) -- and I swear it will boil over into an investable point.

The country's largest cable company is in the process of rolling out its Xfinity platform, and that's bad news for folks like me, perfectly complacent with my one digital set-top box and the countless other TVs around my home plugged in directly to coaxial cables at no additional cost. By early January, all of my televisions need to be hooked up to digital adapters or risk only accessing a handful of local broadcast channels.

There's a monthly charge for every set after the first three, so Comcast stands to rake in a little more money out of larger family homes.

I finally received my box of digital adapters last week, but they unfortunately don't work on newer TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) boxes. I need a CableCARD for that, and Comcast doesn't trust me with a self-install. We set up a technician appointment for yesterday, between 2 and 5 p.m.

Consumerist.com readers voted Comcast this year's Worst Company in America, so you can probably imagine that I was in for an afternoon of disappointment yesterday. If so, then you won't be disappointed.

  • A technician shows up at 2:30 p.m., but he's a contractor. He's not allowed to install CableCARDs. He doesn't know why he was sent. I don't know why he didn't read his paperwork.
  • I call Comcast. A handful of minutes later, dispatch confirms that another technician will be here in the scheduled time.
  • Comcast calls me at 4:15. It's going to be closer to 6. I ask her about the $20 account credit guaranteed when technicians miss their appointment windows. She then informs me that I won't be serviced at all today, because the warehouse where the technician needs to pick up the CableCARD closes at 4.
  • Blown away, I get passed on to a supervisor. He apologizes. A technician will come over, but closer to 7.
  • I call Comcast at 8. The rep has no idea why a technician hasn't come over, but a dispatcher will call me within 40 minutes.
  • I call Comcast at 9:15, since I didn't hear from dispatch. The rep will put in another request, offers me six free months of Showtime, and tells me that she will process the $20 account credit in case others forget.
  • A dispatcher finally calls me back. Today!

I've been with Comcast a long time, and I think the cable provider has come through with only a few of the dozen credits that I've been promised. It's just a rep's way to silence a customer it seems, hoping that they'll forget about it when the bill ultimately arrives. I know that I usually do.

I have to compare this to Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) . It has had streaming disruptions lately. Unlike my fellow Fool Seth Jayson, I haven't had any problems streaming through Netflix, yet I -- like every streaming customer it seems -- received an apologetic email twice over the past month. A 2% credit was offered each time, and a single link click sets it in motion. It will cost Netflix money, but it's better than Comcast quietly breeding a nation of resentful cord-cutting couch potatoes.

It doesn't surprise me to see that Comcast has 822,000 fewer video subscribers than it watched over a year ago. Cable television lends itself to disappointment, and service is universally rotten. Smaller rivals Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC  ) and Cablevision (NYSE: CVC  ) also lost net subscribers in their latest quarters.

The defections will continue -- and the whole Xfinity push may be the mother of all wake-up calls to those who were already fed up with the already lofty cable bills.

HDTV antennas are a cheap way to receive over-the-air broadcasts from local networks, with Netflix and a now cheaper Hulu Plus to fill in the programming gaps.

Then again, GE's (NYSE: GE  ) NBC Universal is one of the Hulu Plus backers. Who knows what Comcast will do to foil those plans once it assumes ownership of NBC Universal?

Consumerist was right about Comcast. 

Is Comcast the worst company in America, or do you have a better nomination for 2011? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Netflix is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz was actually showing off the Xfinity TV iPad app to his wife and its ability to change channels as they waited for the technician who never arrived yesterday. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, except for Netflix. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (16)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2010, at 2:22 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    Comcast is the ultimate case against government-granted monopoly privilege. They are a cesspool of human filth, not deserving of a single penny handed over by unwitting customers, and only in existence thanks to a political act that gave them an involuntary business partner: the American people.

    Only a complete and utter fool would waste their money on Comcast. Get a Satellite Dish and a DreamBox (I recommend the Linux based DM600 from Ebay) and a key sharing service.

    For $10/month I get over 2300 channels. Yes, $10 per month!!!!!

    David in Qatar

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2010, at 3:12 PM, timeinthewind wrote:

    I got rid of Comcast for the same reason. Those digital adapters are also heat generating and cost extra in electricity.

    HDTV antenna in the attic, Mac Mini hooked up to TV with Hulu, Netflix, ESPN3 (over Verizon FIOS internet connection) and the only thing we miss is NESN for the Red Sox games but can live with that for the amount we're saving in money and frustration.

    Not surprisingly, I sold Comcast from my portfolio around the same time I dropped their service.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2010, at 5:47 PM, helpingu wrote:

    hate is a strong word

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2010, at 7:40 PM, TMFBreakerRick wrote:

    True helpingu, but "I Don't Want to Spoon with You, Comcast" may have missed the point.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2010, at 9:34 PM, comcastcares wrote:

    Rick, I do want to apologize for the trouble and inconvenience you have received by Comcast. A tech no show is highly unacceptable and not to mention not sending the right tech for the job in the first place as well. I will make sure your compensated for this. Can you please email me your account info and best phone number to reach you at so we can discuss further? William_Gerth@comcast.com

    Thank you,

    Bill Gerth

    @Comcastcares

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2010, at 10:39 PM, ynotdoug wrote:

    I'm a former executive from Comcast Cable and an investor. Tomorrow, Dish-TV arrives to supplant all of Comcast's entertainment services. I intend to call Comcast and offer to negotiate continuation of internet and internet phone services IF they come up with an acceptable plan. If not, I will find a respective alternative and drop ALL services with Comcast. I'm sure I will get a call from Comcast's customer retention department, but it is too late. I've negotiated with them 4 times in the last six months without an acceptable outcome. I personally believe they don't think I'll ever leave them. Guess again! Over the past 5 years, the pricing points have become completely unacceptable and the service has become sub-par. My next step will be to sell all of my interests in the company. I'm not a 'big fish' in either realm.. but let them figure out the impact as many, many of us do the same. I'm taking action because you became too egotistical and monopolistic, Comcast. Reconsider your position and power.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2010, at 8:45 AM, THEMATHISNEAR wrote:

    Note how "Bill Gerth" really CARES (ha, ha) because you actually have the power to influence others. Yeah, he cares about how much damage you can do him, not how ripped off you feel.

    I have Time Warner, and I hate them as much as you hate Comcast. The monopoly power they have is akin to Blockbuster back in the 90's. I can't wait to watch them die when someone 'Netflix'es them. When they're circling the drain, they'll be saying how much they cared over the years.

    Yeah. Cared about ripping off their customers.

    Hey 'Bill Gerth'. Why don't you go work for a company that has some ethics. That way, you won't have to shower when you come home from work.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2010, at 8:51 AM, captnjacksparrow wrote:

    Great article!! As a Comcast corporate user, I am going through the same deplorable customer service issues. We called three months ago, sent emails to our account reps and local service supervisors to upgrade one of our HD boxes to be able to view 3D content. I have yet to hear from ANYONE in the Comcast organization. Every time we call, we get passed around and then they hang up on us. We have over 20 Comcast boxes in my office so you would think they would at least do us the courtesy of giving us a phone call or replying to an email. Maybe Mr. Gerth will "care" about helping out one of Comcast's corporate clients and reach out to us, as our rep certainly could care less.

  • Report this Comment On January 15, 2011, at 4:11 PM, sarahs20 wrote:

    Comcast had a great idea with the TV everywhere. The down of Comcast is having TV everywhere but only inside the home, if they are working on it great. Working with DISH we have TV everywhere and being able to use it everywhere to watch my favorite shows is the best thing yet! From waiting at a doctor’s office to riding a bus or train I never miss my favorite shows!

  • Report this Comment On August 04, 2013, at 5:17 PM, bob5171996 wrote:

    In 40 years Comcast has earned a top spot in my hate bucket. After years of poor signal delivery service and poor customer service they hit a new bottom. I just received an unsigned letter saying they had not been charging me for my modem and that my next bill would be increased by $8.00. Since I purchased that modem 12 (twelve) years ago and used it in Charleston then Charlotte and back to Charleston I called my local number to complain. They said I owed the money and I should pay or bring the modem to them (50 mile round trip) let them verify. Was very unsuccessful discussion. I told them to check their records of modem purchases and get back to me. We'll see what happens. If no resolution I will get SC Attorney General involved. Maybe Dish will work better for me.

  • Report this Comment On October 11, 2013, at 3:19 AM, antonyluan wrote:

    analyst Archie has entered room

    Archie: Hello jing, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Archie. Please give me one moment to review your information.

    jing: My Issue: no HDMI or component output from set of box!

    jing: Hi Archie,

    Archie: Hi! I'm looking forward to assist you, Jing. I hope you're doing good today.

    jing: I got set of box today

    jing: after activation, there is HD output

    jing: no HDMI or componet output

    jing: only RF SD output

    jing: there is no HD output

    jing: is it the broken box?

    Archie: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that, Jing.

    Archie: I apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you.

    jing: or is it my service include HD channels? Your agent told me in the phone

    jing: my service should include HD channels

    Archie: May I have the model of the cable box please?

    jing: motorolla RNG150N

    Archie: Thank you for that information, Jing.

    jing: in the component, I can see the menu of the set of box

    jing: but no TV signals

    Archie: This model is HD capable. You need to use an HDMI cable to connect the cable box to your TV

    jing: in HDMI, nothing, no menu, no TV signal

    Archie: Oh, that doesn't sound good! I can’t imagine myself having those issues especially that cable TV is part of my daily routine, no worries, we’ll definitely work on a sure fix to resolve this one way or the other.

    jing: I google the internet. People said this box can have one HD output only

    Archie: Let me access your account to check the status of your service and equipment(s).

    Archie: Can you give me 2-3 mins, is that okay?

    jing: component of HDMI

    jing: It looks like right now I have component output, but not HDMI

    Archie: For future reference I want to introduce to you comcast.com, Comcast.com has an extensive series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that cover all of our products. Customers do not have to sign in to access the FAQs. Quick steps to do it. Open a web browser window and go to http://customer.comcast.com/Pages/HelpNFC.aspx?id=Comcast-He... On the home page, the navigation menus are on the left side of the window and click on Customers then Help and Support.

    jing: no answer there

    Archie: Thank you, Jing.

    jing: no correct manual for this box

    jing: the menu in screen I can see if very different with online version or the manual I got from the box.

    Archie: The box was added as regular box on the account only. We need to activate the HD service for $9.99/mo inorder to receive HD channels.

    jing: This is not right

    jing: in the phone , the agent told me clearly it is HD digital!

    jing: before this upgrade, I have 15M internet service only

    Archie: I'm sorry if you were not properly informed. Yes, the cable service includes HD channels, however, we need to activate the HD service with the corresponding charge to receive HD channels.

    jing: after upgrade, I should have 80 channels, some of them HD, and 50Mbps internet service

    jing: Your guys cheat me twice!

    Archie: You need to call the same number Jing.

    jing: I had basic TV service before

    jing: your guys encrypted

    jing: so I called your guys and an agent said he can ship me two HD decoders

    jing: OK

    jing: I got two SD decoders with RF connection only!

    Archie: Yes, that is correct. These encrypted channels are only received when you get a cable box or DTA.

    jing: I returned two boxed to the local store and canceled my TV

    jing: when I call your guys later, one agent told me that without TV, you will raise my internet price by 10.00$

    jing: but if I add this TV service which has 80 digital channels, some of them HD, and boost internet from 15M to 50M, I got 79.99 monthly

    jing: I said OK

    jing: Now your guys play the trick twice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    jing: where is your manager

    jing: I want to talk with him/her !!!!!!!!!!!

    jing: Right now!

    jing: You are wasting my time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Archie: Okay. Originally, this cable package only offeres digital channels. However, if you want to receive the HD channels we can activate the HD service.

    jing: Do you think it is fun to get the box, plug all cables and call your guys several times

    jing: and the answer is I have to pay 10$ more!

    Archie: Please give 2-3 mins to check for any available supervisor.

    jing: what is FXXX digital channels!

    jing: FCC has made analog channel illegal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    jing: There is no analog channels anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    jing: Do not cheat your customers!

    Archie: Would you still want a supervisor, Jing?

    jing: I want to talk with your manager

    jing: or who ever can make decision

    jing: enable the HD output for this box now!

    Archie: Im sorry for the delay, Jing. that's what I'm doing now.

    jing: by the way

    Archie: Can you hold for 2-3 mins? Is that okay?

    jing: the internet speed is not 50Mbps

    jing: it is 6Mbps now

    jing: where is the FXXXXXXX 50Mbps internet!

    jing: do not cheat your customers!

    Archie: You need a DOCSIS 3.0 modem in order to receive 50mbps speed.

    Archie: Do you have a DOCSIS 3.0 modem?

    jing: Where is this modem?!

    jing: Will you ship me one?

    jing: Why your guys do not tell me when I call you last time!

    jing: cheater!

    Archie: My collegues from our Internet repair deparment can assist you on that. However, I'm still documenting the account for the supervisor.

    jing: Is that FXXXXX modem free ?

    Archie: I'm sorry, where do you see that Jing?

    jing: when I call you last time. Your guys said my modem is good enough!

    jing: how come I need another modem now?

    jing: How much is this DOCSIS 3.0 modem?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Archie: The Blastspeed requires a DOCSIS 3.0 modem

    Archie: It is $7/mo if you rent one from Comcast

    jing: cheater!

    Archie: I will forward you now to my supervisor

    jing: now!

    Archie: Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst

    analyst CHRISTINE has entered room

    jing: My Issue: no HDMI or component output from set of box!

    Waiting for response from Archie

    jing: Hi Christine!

    CHRISTINE: Hi Jing!

    analyst Archie has left room

    CHRISTINE: This is Christine supervisor on duty

    jing: This is a long story!

    jing: Your guys cheated me twice!

    jing: I have basic TV + 15 M internet before

    jing: FCC and Comcast decided to encrypted basic TV

    jing: OK. I called your guys

    jing: one guy said he can ship me two decoder for free

    jing: OK.

    jing: wonderful comcast

    jing: I got two set top boxes and found it has RF output only

    jing: where is HD program the agent told me in the phone ?!

    jing: I asked him clearly if it is a digital to analog converter. He said no.

    jing: it is digital output with all HD channels

    jing: However, I got these two digital to analog converter for my HDTV!

    jing: I went to your service center , returned the boxes and canceled my TV service

    jing: Then I found that my internet bill in raised

    jing: I call your guys again!

    jing: now an agent said 79.99, I can get 80 channel, which include some HD channels and 50Mbps internet. He said my modem is good enough. OK. I think that is fair.

    jing: I accepted the offer.

    jing: today I received set top box. Guess what?! your guys disabled the HDMI and component output!

    jing: play the trick again?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    jing: cheater!!!!

    jing: asking 10$ per month to turn on HD ,and 10$ more for another modem!!!!!

    jing: comcast can not do this to your costomers!

    jing: is it legal to cheat your customer in the phone?!

    jing: Turn on the HD now !

    jing: and ship me the 50Mbps modem now for free!

    jing: Or maybe you can turn on 50Mbps right now for my modem

    jing: you know what type of model I have!

    jing: Answer me please ?!

    CHRISTINE: I truly apologize when this was not clearly explained to you when your package was changed, Jing.

    CHRISTINE: Blast plus package which is what you have now only comes free with a regular box.

    CHRISTINE: Now, if you want to gain access of HD channels, we need to add another service for your account which is HD service.

    jing: I do not are "Blast" or whatever fancy name?!

    CHRISTINE: This is on top of your cable package.

    CHRISTINE: Blast Plus is the name of the package that you have now, it has Digital Economy TV and Blast internet

    jing: still same thing?! 9.99$ more for TV and 9.99$ more for internet?!

    jing: answer me please

    jing: DO NOT PLAY TRICKY NAMES?!

    jing: I will file BBB, past this story everywhere online

    CHRISTINE: HD is only for your cable service.

    CHRISTINE: This does not effect your internet.

    jing: on facebook, on twitter, and I will ask people make a song about this story and put it on youtube!

    jing: I will sue your guys!

    jing: so 9.99$ for HD program and 9.99$ rental for the new modem?

    CHRISTINE: Its $10.00 for HD. As for the new modem, do you need one?

    jing: I do not know if I need one! but I do not have 50Mbps now!!!!

    jing: Your agent told me my current modem is good enough!

    jing: Archie told me I need a new modem!

    CHRISTINE: If your modem is good enough, no need to get our modem.

    CHRISTINE: But if you want to get our modem, its $7 per month

    jing: You told me !

    jing: You know exactly my modem is!

    jing: Where is your manager. I need talk with him/her.

    jing: comcast is evil to play this kind tricks with your customers

    CHRISTINE: I think what Archie means is that if you're not getting 50mbps with your modem, you can get our own modem that is DOCSIS 3.0 version and can support faster internet. Or you can buy your own DOCSIS 3.0 modem, Jing. It doesn't necessarily need to be from us./

    CHRISTINE: I apologize for the wrong impression, that is not our intentions.

    jing: my modem is from comcast

    jing: your guys know exactly what is its ability!

    jing: you tell me what is the highest speed of this FXXXX modem? Now !

    jing: Tell me my modem's highest speed! Now!

    CHRISTINE: 20mbps on average.

    CHRISTINE: For your current modem.

    jing: what is peak speed?

    CHRISTINE: Your service speed is up to 30-50 mbps

    jing: No!!!! My modem's peak speed!

    CHRISTINE: Around 30mbps

    jing: If that is the case, why the real speed is 6Mbps only!

    jing: cheater!!!!!!!!

    jing: Enable HD output for this FXXXX box now and turn on 50Mbps internet service now!

    jing: Can you do it now?

    CHRISTINE: I can add the HD service now, but for your internet connection, we need to send in a technician to check on it and install a new modem that is docsis 3.0

    jing: I should see HD channels and around 20Mbps internet speed.

    jing: What do you mean add HD service?

    CHRISTINE: So that you can see HD channels

    jing: you still want to charge me 17$ more per month

    jing: right?!

    jing: You are wasting my time!

    CHRISTINE: We will not add the modem yet. Only after the technician comes in.

    jing: Go FXXX your HD and FXXX your modem!

    jing: I want to go back to my 15Mbps internet only. No TV service. Now!!!!!!!

    jing: Those people who screw their customers and play this kind of tricks to their customers and wasting their customer's time, will go to HELL!

    CHRISTINE: That would be Performance 64.95 per month, Jing, is that correct?

    jing: good

    CHRISTINE: Let me change your package now.

    CHRISTINE: Here's your confirmation# : 1000804686252027

    CHRISTINE: You can drop off the cable equipment at any service center near your area, Jing.

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