And Comcast went ahead and added the service program that I specifically declined numerous times anyway, according to this email I just received. Out of spite or stupidity? Who knows.
This is a letter I sent today to Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council:
I urge the Mayor and City Council to reject any renewal of extension of any exclusive franchise contracts with Comcast. Our city is in dire need of competition, and the amount of money that Comcast pays us for their exclusive access is not with the trouble.
Their service performance and operational performance – especially their customer service performance – remains generally subpar. A variety of competitors exist who can take over some of their market share in time, and we can surely make up the loss of any dedicated money from them through other fees.
In short, our area had some sort of service outage. When speaking to them, all efforts seemed to fail to resolve it and I was told that a service technician must come out, but no sooner than Saturday evening, leading to 60+ hours of both cable TV and Internet without service.
I asked repeatedly: is there any sort of wide outage? It seemed unlikely that both cable and Internet would be out at the same identical time, both dropping at once. I was working and my system went offline, at the same time as the television my child and wife were watching. Comcast was adamant that there were NO widespread issues, and that ONLY I was affected. Then, I was told that I had no “wiring protection plan”, which I have never in 10+ year of Comcast heard of before.
For only “$4 a month extra,” I can get protection against wiring issues. If this turned out to be a wiring issue or a non-issue, I could be charged $50 for my Saturday service appointment without the “protection plan”. I declined and insisted on a supervisor, and only after asking several times was I finally transferred.
I asked the supervisor if there was an outage, while I watched both the cable modem and cable TV box come online again – at the exact same time, as they had dropped earlier in the day at the exact same time. He insisted again that there was NO outage and that ONLY our home was affected. I told him what just happened with the service restoring itself. The supervisor seemed surprised by that and seemed pleased. I then asked if he was aware of the current review of Comcast’s exclusive franchise here in Seattle.
The supervisor instantly changed to a tone of urgency and put me on hold. When he came back about 45 seconds later, he confirmed that – surprise! – There was indeed an “outage” in our “area”, but he declined to say how broad it was or how many people were affected. I asked what time their office knew about it.
Ten to fifteen minutes before I called them, and before the first person insisted I get a field technician that “may charge me $50 dollars” and who insisted the problem was on my side somewhere. The supervisor provided a series of excuses.
#1: “The supervisors all received notification of the outage.” When I asked why wasn’t it passed down to all staff,
#2: “This person’s supervisor is out today.” When I asked if that’s the only method of delivery – as that seems unlikely,
#3: “There is a notification board,” which may not have been read.
The ‘up-sell’ opportunity and profit margin of Comcast was more important than people in the city, and it seemed more crucial to avoid admitting or broadcasting that there was an outage. There was no alert on their phone system.
I’ve worked in the IT field for all of my adult life. I’ve worked for an ISP like Comcast, a web host, and many other disciplines. I understand quite well that “stuff happens”. I have generally been neutral on this topic of exclusive franchises personally, due to the fact that the Comcast service has been ‘good enough’. While the experiences with them when issues have occurred have generally been unsatisfactory on telephone calls, the incident today took it to new lows of mediocrity.
Do not directly re-engage with Comcast under any circumstances. Our city needs a better set of options. The lost revenue can be recouped through other means. We’re paying it all ourselves anyway – we’d be fools to assume Comcast isn’t just pulling those few million dollars a year out of our bills directly.
Seattle has literally nothing to lose by going against Comcast. Cut our exclusive ties.