Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Time for a Diatribe

The saga begins a few weeks ago.

In an effort to save some money I had been going over our monthly bills to see where we could make some adjustments. Our biggest monthly bill by FAR, aside from rent, is our Comcast bill. We had been in a bundle for the past few years (for those lucky enough not to be involved with Comcast, it is usually cheaper to bundle your phone, internet and cable service into one package than it is to pay seperately for each). As a result of this bundle timing out, our monthly bill leapt to about $250 a month (up from about $160).

Now, I know there are adjustments we could make at home to drop this bill down. We get the movie channels, the NHL Package (sigh), have two DVRs, plus high speed internet. And we like having these things. So I am not expecting to pay small money, neccesarily.

But I am also not expecting to be reamed.

I casually twittered about our Comcast bill a few weeks ago and within minutes @ComcastBill contacted me with an email address of someone at Comcast who could help me. That was helpful. Thanks Comcast Bill! So I sent off an email about what we had and what we were paying and what can you do for us? Within a few hours a woman named Nancy called me, cited my Tweet and told me she wanted to help me lower my monthly bill. What a doll!

"Ain't technology grand?", I thought.

So I talked on the phone with Nancy for about twenty minutes and while she was nice and helpful, I deduced almost immediately that she was also clearly a Company Gal. Someone who was not as much interested in helping me save money as she was in helping her company get the most money out of me. She would give me pricing info but it was vague. She would answer my questions about induvidual pricing but always steer me back to bundles.

And every bundle she tried to sell me came in a THREE YEAR CONRACT that costs $275 to get out of if you try to before your three years are up. I am not at all interested in committing myself to a cable package for three years. Especially one that increases by $20 a month every year you are in it. Are you serious?

I told Nancy that I would be moving in the Spring and could not guarantee that I would be sticking with Comcast when I moved. Perhaps this was not smart to say but I wanted her to understand how little sense it made for me to lock myself into a 3 year contract that comes wth a $275 early termination fee when I knew I would be moving (and if at all possible leaving Comcast) in LESS than a year.

So after some hemming and hawing she told me I could lock in a somewhat reasonable price for the next six months, that included all of our channels and the internet (but not AS high speed) and I would return the DVR in the bedroom (sob!) to save an extra $25 a month. I would have to call after the six months was up and see what new pricing was availabke but I am willing to do that. Easy peasy.

A few days later I realized that I may have been misled about keeping all of our channale since some had dissapeared (TMC and Turner Classic Movies). Now, I don't watch these channels every day and it's not the biggest of deals. But I found it a little suspect that I had been told I could keep all of my movie channels and I clearly could not.

I had it on my list to call Comcats back and find out what had happened when a surprise came to me in my mailbox. And what was it? AW! A two year contract from Comcast. That included none of the things I had spoken to Nancy about. How lovely. Especially after I told her I wasn't interested in signing a contract. She shouldn't have!

Really, she shouldn't have.

I called Comcast with the contract in hand and spoke to another woman about my confusion. Hadn't I just spoken to Nancy and she quoted me a price for a six month contract with no early termination fee? And she also told me I didn't have to bundle in a phone since we don't have one and dont use one. Oh no, this rep assured me. Nancy was dead wrong. In fact there was no record on Comcast's end of Nancy making ANY changes to our current contract. This is fishy to me since

1) Why did two of my channels suddenly dissapear
2) What prompted me getting this bullsh*t contract in the mail?

I expressed my dismay to this rep who assured me "IF" Nancy had told me those things, she was incorrect. I loved the "if" casually thrown in there to let me know that she doesn't entirely believe me. Then I was informed that it is impossible to bundle your services for anything less than a two year contract but at least the two year contract only comes with a $75 early termination fee. But still! Why do they need thatmoney? Why can't the accomodate a normal person who doesn't know what their living situtation will be in a year and doesn't want to have to pay a fee for being in this situation. I mean I love a money hungry monopoly as much as the next person but really?

If you are thinking I should just not bundle my services then I am right back to paying over $200 a month because that is what our cable package and internet cost together without a bundle.

So after going back and forth with the rep I excercised my right to t ake 30 days to sign this wretched contract and in the mean time weigh my options. Within the 30 days I will continue to pay what I have been paying and recieve all of the services. Fine. Whatever.

The next morning I was treated to another surprise, Comcast style! I opened up a web browser on my laptop and lo! The comcast homepage comes up asking me to log in and confirm my infofmation and accept their terms and conditions.

How curious!

I opened up another web browser and lo! The same thing. Internet Explorer. Firefox. All with this comcast homepage beseeching me to log in and create an account and confirm my contract information. Or else I can't get on the internet


Once again I hopped on the phone and called my very good friends at Comcast. They were TOTALLY surprised. "We don't see the comcast homepage showing up on your computer on our end". Really? How interesting. How interesting that the day after I tell you I don't want to sign my contract you basically make it so I have to sign my contract before I use the internet in my own home even though it says right on the contract that I have 30 days to decide.

So after almost an hour and a half on the phone during which I was led to disable my router and my modem and then Adam had to swoop in and save me from breaking everything, we finally were able to get online without signing our souls over to Concast.

But the clock is a ticking. I now have 23 days left to make a decision. And what stinks the most is we probably WILL have to sign that contract because doing so and paying the early termination fee is still cheaper than not being in a contract at all because Comcast makes it so that is the case.

So enjoy my $75 when you get it in April. It is worth it to finally cut ties with the devil.


J said...

I'd like to say that surprises me, but it doesn't! Comcast sucks. I cannot wait until the day I move (which isn't anytime soon) and can switch to Verizon.

Jenn said...

Oh my God they are SO EVIL. I am pissed too because they're still the cheapest way for us to have TV and internet so since money is an issue, we have them too. But I had to fight with them over something similar where someone on the phone told me I could add internet for a low price for 6 months with her and then I was later told that rate was only available if I signed up online. And, that "if" someone had told me that they could give me that rate over the phone, they were wrong. Sound familiar?

Well, it only took me 3 months in a row of calling and yelling at them and threatening to just cancel service entirely for them to remedy the situation by crediting my bill for the right amount of money.

But I entirely hate the bundling and the fact that there is no other semi-reasonable way to get these services!

Yes, you can get DirecTV for like $30 a month but you have to live somewhere that lets you put a satellite on the roof. And then what do you do for internet?

I hate hate hate hate hate Comcast.

KK said...

My Comcast bill was about $170/month for internet, cable and two HD DVR's. I think we had some extra NFL something or another that was $5.99/month. No extra movie channels though.

I called and got our bill down to $99 for all of the same stuff plus free HBO. I had to sign a one year contract though.

It's annoying though! Keep trying.

Melissa said...

I've heard nothing but terrible things about Comcast! I'm glad we have Cablevision! I hope you can get them when you move, they're much better!

Lindsey said...

That's a ripoff. Where we live, instead of Comcast there's Time Warner that's everywhere and it's the only place that will service our apartment complex since they signed a deal. However when we moved in there were no good deals. So instead of just take what was offered, we only signed up for their internet, which they were pissed about. Of course the next year our internet price nearly doubled.

I still really miss cable but it feels like I'm getting a lot more done now. Plus we use the extra money towards DVD's.

Anyways, keep the faith and keep shopping around for an alternative.

M said...

Grrr... that is definitely frustrating! Spending hours on the phone to have customer service people talk you in circles and have nothing solved is my biggest pet peeve. Maybe look into DirecTV? They have some pretty good starter deals.

Feministy said...

I am dealing with these union-busting, consumer-screwing nazis myself! I hate them.

capegirlindc said...

I believe every word. Comcast is just awful. No customer service. I also had "ComcastBill" tweet me once when I was kvetching about the ills and "promises" of Comcast on Twitter. We have the regular/basic OnDemand package with no extras and random channels do not work. They tried to blame us first, and came three times in ONE week to assess the situation and it still doesn't work right. I don't understand how cable companies get monopolies in areas and you can't do anything about it.

Joe S said...

We dont have comcast here, we have Charter for cable, but I swear you could subsitute "Charter" for "Comcast" in your write up and everything would read the exact same.

My advice? Cut all premium channels, the 2nd DVR and the NHL package (sorry Adam). Trust me, you'll be surprised how little you miss those things, especially with all the travel you guys do and the wedding planning. Good luck.

San said...

We have Comcast, too, here on the West Coast... besides a satelite dish, it's our only option. It sucks. The first 6-month deal was ok, but after that our bill skyrocketed. J was on the phone with Comcast over and over - and they keep rebundling their cable stations, so you always have to make changes (which of course comes with a price).
I hate it.

Briana S said...

I agree with Joe. I cut all ties with cable because it was just absurd at how much it costs. I use just the internet and with so many shows online now, and, etc you can pretty much watch anything you want. I also pay 8/month for netflix which helps on those Sunday afternoons when nothing is on! Just a thought though, I know cable companies in general are just super irritating to deal with!

Sarah said...

If Adam were willing to give up the NHL package I would totally concede every movie channel but HBO (which he also watches/enjoys).

Alas we are at an impasse.

andreacs said...

Do you have Verizon FIOS in your city? Threaten Comcast with going with competition if you do.

Anonymous said...

i am having Comcast issues as well, though more minor than yours. Still trying to work them out, but I take breaks for days at a time because if I don't then I become THAT person yelling at the "customer service" COUGH representative!

Sarah said...

I wish I could have Verizon! That is my greatest dream. Have you seen all their HD Channels? Mon Dieu. Unfortunately they don't service my building. So sad.

M said...

I signed a two-year contract recently, you can take it with you if you move to another comcast area. as much as comcast may be a pain, i am under the impression that no company is really any better. if it makes you feel any better, my friend was suckered into signing up for verizon recently and have the paperwork sent to her - only to find out that they hadn't actually set up her neighborhood yet! thankfully she realized this before doing anything. i hope things work out for you. i have found that you can get remarkable deals if you just get the right rep on the phone! good luck!

ryssee said...

What about RCN? Probably no NHL package, but you could still stick it to "The Man."
We fired Verizon a couple years ago and have loved out land line/internet service since. We're Direct TV people too (though I don't really care about the football package, my beau does-otherwise RCN would have that service too!)

Annie MacKenzie said...

I hate Comcast and we are very lucky not to be with them any more. We have Verizon Fios and LOVING it! So sorry for all the trouble they are causing you.

Anonymous said...

Ha, and I always thought watching TV and getting great channels in the US is so easy.
I was so envious after our holiday this summer when I saw all the great channels and the good movies they showed nearly every day.
But when I read this I am quite thankful for the German system again. Never thought I would say that!

Sarah said...

The reason I would prefer verizon is because they have scads more HD channels. I wouldnt mind paying more if I was getting more! And as for RCN they dont service our building either. Its seriously a Comcast monopoly in our apartment building. Not cool

Sarah said...

The reason I would prefer verizon is because they have scads more HD channels. I wouldnt mind paying more if I was getting more! And as for RCN they dont service our building either. Its seriously a Comcast monopoly in our apartment building. Not cool

Anonymous said...

I went through practically the same thing when I moved to Quincy 3 years ago. A comcast guy named Matt set me up with a great deal, whereby I was supposed to get HBO free for 6 months, plus digital cable. Every month a bill came in with charges for HBO and every month I'd call about it and they'd say "oh, that will be applied next month." Finally, after 3 or 4 months, I called and complained all over the place. They told me they'd never had anyone named Matt working for them and that no such deal had ever existed. I made such a stink that I got them to refund me the HBO charges (after another couple of months of calls, of course) and I cancelled HBO, but they suck. And they continue to offer deals that don't exist.

Doesn't help either that my apartment complex made a deal with the devil so that you have to get comcast phone. Verizon isn't even wired for the building.

I ended up cancelling my home phone.

The Word Slinger Upstairs said...

can you get direcTV? also, I subscribe to ATT internet and they have a good high speed dsl for $29 that you don't have to have a phone line for it's called direct connect.

Disney Checks said...

Don't you hate when they try to lock you in those contracts? I'm so tired of 2 and 3 year contracts that I'm seriously considering internet tv. No contracts at all, just one flat fee. Shucks, I don't mind watch the reruns of Sanford and Son everyday for the next 5 years.

comcast bill pay