Matthew R. Bisson

Comcast: Making Customers Cry Since 1963

Yeah… I’m looking at you, Comcast. I had been keeping my “basic” cable and Internet service for a reason, and that reason is that you suck. My girlfriend couldn’t stand your basic cable service any more, though, and so she finally upgraded us to digital HD cable. HD cable. Now as far as I know, all TV in the United States was legally required to broadcast digital signals with the intention of providing High Definition pictures as of 13 June, 2009. That you charge extra for something that is essentially mandated by government law is comparable to the phone company charging extra for touch-tone phone service (incidentally, I believe the phone company still does charge this fee). Could I blame her for wanting to see her favorite cable programs, and have the ability to record live TV for later viewing?

Basic cable does suck, but it does provide me with one service that I do appreciate in the age of digital TV — not having to fiddle with an antenna. In the city, finding a signal can be a chore, and with digital signals, you either have a perfect picture, or no picture at all. There’s no middle ground to tell when you’re close to getting a good picture. It’s infuriating. Comcast, I find your nominal fee of $19 per month acceptable (but barely) for this service. Also, with a cable-ready TV tuner, I didn’t need your stupid cable box. Let me tell you that it’s already a rat’s-nest of wires and plugs behind my entertainment center, and you seem to offer only crippled service without “renting” a cable box — crippled, meaning no on-demand programming, and a service department that is incapable of dealing with CableCARD issues. With no CableCARD, forget it. Everything is encrypted except for the legally required on-air channels.

Thanks to your (supposedly) better service package, I get to rearrange all the wires and components around my television and try to find a place to plug the damned cable box in. Thanks so much. I addition, my cable service bills will increase from $19 per month to $69 per month. That’s more than 3.5 times the original price! Add in Internet, and I’m shelling out $114 every month. What else could I buy with that amount of money? That’s $1,370 per year! I could go to Paris for that. How’s that sound? Hm, Paris… or TV… tough choices. Well Comcast, enjoy Paris! It’s on me.

Despite the cost, we upgraded. Your man did a real bang-up job setting up the new cable system. Apparently, what’s installed in our neighborhood is such a piece of shit that it’s having difficulty providing enough bandwidth to all the customers. In addition, the building itself was wired so poorly that there’s insufficient signal strength coming out of the wall socket to run both an HDTV signal and an Internet signal. Your man decided to set it up anyway. He finally admitted to us that the signal strength wasn’t good enough, that his/your own network sucked, and that we’d probably need to buy a better signal splitter at Radio Shack to (possibly) improve the situation. Then he left. He did tell us that we could see how lousy our service would be for 30 days with a money-back guarantee. What great pride in craftsmanship your man had! You know what? Why don’t you buy us a better goddamn cable splitter if you value our business so much?

Now our “improved” cable gets a horrible, pixilated image on all the HDTV channels — even the on-air channels that we used to get perfectly. I can only assume that this is because your network is so horrible that in order to stuff as much (pay-per-view) On-Demand HD content into the system, you must compress the shit out of all the HD content. Not only that, but most of the HD channels are unwatchable. It’s exactly what we’ve been looking for all along: constant stuttering HD television at an exorbitant price. I wish you had just punched me in the sternum — which, by the way, is how it feels to watch a channel that skips and halts every few seconds. “Oh fun, my favorite TV show!” *oof!* “…but this episode…” *ack!* “is just…” *whomp!* “getting…” *hee!* “good…” *thunk!* “Fuck it.”

Please, Comcast, tell me why you even bothered to send the second guy to our house and fumble around with things? After the first failed attempt to install our cable, your support person assured us that this time, you were going to send over an expert. This time, you were going to send someone capable of physically climbing up the utility pole to the cable box and boosting our signal strength. This sounded much better than the first technician who arrived in an old pick-up truck, and who just as well could have been a buddy of yours that lives in the basement, drinking beer all day while talking about how popular he was back in high school. Sadly, this second technician did just as little as the first, informing us that he was going to have to send someone else out to run a line directly from the cable box on the pole to our outlet because the wiring in the building must have been damaged in some unknown location. Wait… aren’t you that guy, Mr. Second-Comcast-Technician? What the Hell is your point in coming here exactly? Why did you waste our time again?

Did I mention that the Internet constantly disconnects as well? Are you serious? I really wish that the gentleman that showed up just said, “You know what? Even though we said we offer it, I don’t think you’ll be getting HD service from us… and I’ll just take all this crap out of your living room, and refund your money so you can go back to your normal life.” …Oh yeah, and sorry about getting our hopes up.

Well the Hell with you, Comcast! I’m going to take my business elsewhere… Oh, my mistake — there is no one else. You’re a monopoly. Verizon (another megalith in their own right) continues to advertise their amazing FiOS technology, without providing any service to large chunks of the city. Satellite is not an option either, because… well because I live in the city and I don’t have a “clear view of the south-western sky.” Here we are then. You don’t give a rat’s tiny ass about me, and I hate you to pieces. This is going to be fun.

Further Reading

  1. A New York Times article describing Comcast’s (successful) suit against the FCC, thus allowing them the right to deliberately slow or block content that they don’t like (or charge extra for it): “U.S. Court Curbs F.C.C. Authority on Web Traffic.”
  2. The Consumerist: Comcast Tool Shows You Just How Great Metered Broadband Is.
  3. Comcast renames one of its customers to “Bitch Dog” in this Washington Post article.
  4. And So on…

Enjoy a printable version here!

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