I Finally Canceled Comcast Cable…Before It Hurt More Than My Wallet
I have written about my sketchy relationship with Comcast before, including a popular article about threatening to cancel cable to get a reduced (but still excessive) bill.
I would love to report that my relationship with Comcast has been a rosy one since then, but alas that’s not been the case. Not even close. The prices have continued to rise, the customer service has been sketchy, the services have had troubles and outages beyond the norm, and the billing statements I received never matched the ones I saw online. That caused no end of confusion.
However, the latest gem from Comcast happened around six weeks ago. I say that because I can’t pin a specific date on it — all I know is that it was around that time that I noticed problems. It was also the same time we got new neighbors.
Specifically, we were getting some very annoying disruptions in sound and picture throughout the day. Sometimes the sound would cut out every 30 seconds, for about 1 second at a time. Sometimes it was more spread out. The picture would pixilate, then return to normal.
We had experienced occasional problems like this in the past, but they were rare. To have it happen time after time was odd. I figured it would go away — it was probably just a problem in our area. When I called Comcast, a recorded message said there were issues in our area anyway.
But after a few weeks with no subsidence with this issue, it was still going on. I was confused, and once again I called Comcast to get a recorded message indicating service problems. “Wow, they’re having issues” I thought, and like the ostrich that I am sometimes, I stuck my head in the sand.
That weekend, I decided to blow the winter dust off my lawnmower and give my front and back lawn the first cut of spring. I took the small gravel driveway from the garage to my back garden, with the intention of taking the padlock off the gate. That’s when my foot caught on something and I went flying face-first into that same gate, scraping up my hand and my head and landing pathetically on the floor.
What I caught my foot on turned out to be a wire going from the cable box on the side of my house to the cable exchange box in the neighbor’s back yard. After some swearing and a little hydrogen peroxide, I came back to the scene to investigate the huge wire. I’d had Comcast since I moved into the home in 2002, and this wire had never been there before. Very odd. Was the new neighbor stealing my cable?
Well, no. And the reason I know is that this wire was providing the feed to the cable box, it wasn’t someone tapping the feed. And besides, it would be much easier to tap the exchange directly. No, this was a brand new wire.
I whipped out my phone, grabbed a few pics (below) and called Comcast customer service immediately.
As it turns out, they had no idea what it was. I called on a weekend, and they said they would send someone to my home on Monday to investigate. I stressed that this was a wire just flying loose above ground, and that it was clearly not just a tripping hazard but was no doubt the cause of all the service problems we’d been having.
On Monday morning, Comcast called to say that my wife needed to call them back to let them know she would be home for the appointment we had scheduled. Why? We made the appointment the day before, we specified the time. Anyway, my wife called back, stayed home, and Comcast decided not to show up anyway.
We called back requesting a new service appointment. We were then told that we could be charged for this call out if it was considered unnecessary. What?! A loose wire running across the main path between my front and back yard, a path used by two young children (3 and 5) is, in my book, something that needs immediate attention. Not according to Comcast. And by the way, my monthly bill is not exactly small. Including Internet and Phone, my Comcast bill is around $180 per month. And that includes a special promotion I’m on. When that expires, my bill will be closer to $220! For that kind of money, I want decent service.
After no luck with Comcast to resolve this wire, and the increasing costs being directly proportional to the decreasing customer service, I decided after 7 and a half years that I would call it quits. I met with a representative from DirecTV, told him what I was getting from Comcast and asked if he could beat it.
He could. Oh, how he could. My new bill will be around $80 less per month than the “special” I’m getting from Comcast. The only difference — I won’t be getting the Starz movie channel in that package, which is $10 a month to add on. No worries. And next year, when my introductory offer ends, I’ll still pay $50/month less than I pay on the Comcast “special.” Plus, I get way more advanced technology, including an HD DVR that holds 400 hours (as opposed to 60 with Comcast) and can be hooked up to every TV in the house. But I will miss On Demand and a few other cable luxuries.
What bugs me most about this is that Comcast is a GIANT of a company. They have no real competition, being the only cable company in Colorado and several other areas. They say satellite is competition, but it’s a different technology. If you want cable, with those great services like On Demand, you have to choose Comcast. They know this, and they abuse that knowledge. So much so that they are now hemorrhaging customers at an increasing rate. And when you lose a customer who has been with you longer than most people are married these days, you have big problems.
I should have been easy to keep. Comcast should have jumped on that dangerous wire (which is still there at the time this article was published), they should have apologized, they should have made good, they should have done a lot of “customer service 101” things. They could have said “hey, we are really sorry about that, we’d like to pay your cable bill for two months to make up for the poor reception and dangerous wire.” They could have given me a TV package upgrade for one year. The second doesn’t really cost them anything at all anyway — they just open a feed. As I used to work in the cable TV industry, I know what they can do. Instead, they basically just decided I wasn’t worth it. Is it any wonder Comcast recently won the WCIA (Worst Company In America) award after twice being runner-up?
And that’s why I’m writing today. Take from this what you will, but what I say is that you should not have to put up with the kind of BS that huge corporations like Comcast dish out on a daily basis. You are not just a number in a spreadsheet, you are not a statistic. If you’re getting rotten service, vote with your hard-earned dollars and take your custom elsewhere. Don’t feel trapped and told feel useless or apathetic. Sure, DirecTV doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Comcast Cable, but man, they are about to have the chance to make up for that with how they treat me. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll try Dish Network. If that fails, I’ll figure something else out.
Bottom line, you are the customer and you have rights. Not just that, you have power. If every single disenchanted Comcast customer left for DirecTV or Dish Network today, Comcast would have a huge problem on their hands. They may have to lower their prices, or improve customer service. The power lies with us. And we can choose how to use that power.