Friday, September 05, 2008

Adventures in Billing

Followup to last week's report on the Film Fest aka My Latest Comcastic Adventure: Looking at my statement, I found that Comcast credited me $36 for the incident. But I had expected a credit of $47.86, composed of two $20 credits for the two failures of technicians to arrive within the promised windows and then another $7.86 for the pro-rated outage. The billing department representative said there was no explanation for the $36 in the notes. (How many times have I heard this?)

I asked if she could correct the credit but the billing representative could not get her head around the issue. "The tech didn't come to your house because he called but no one answered, so no one was home, so it's your fault no one showed." It didn't matter to her that my phone service didn't work so there was no way that technician could've called me. Nor did it matter that I had made sure the original service request included that my phone service didn't work and I had specifically instructed the tech not to call before coming. "There is no explanation in the notes of that, sir."

After a half hour on the phone, she gave up trying to understand and just gave me another $40 credit. I asked her if she could remove the $36 credit (now an over-credit) and lower it to $7.86 but she said, sorry no, "I cannot remove the credit."

I also discovered that Comcast put me on a different plan. The new plan lowered my monthly internet fee from $57.95 to $33.00 for 12 months. But I found this out only when I saw my statement, whereupon I immediately called Comcast to find out the details of the plan that had a 57% cut in price. Would there be a corresponding cut in speed? At first, the Comcast rep insisted my bill was wrong and there was no such plan was available. However, after some research, he came back on the phone and sheepishly admitted that, yes indeed, my plan existed and what's more, it had a higher speed than I was getting before at $57.95.

So was I overpaying before, I asked. Without directly answering my question, he explained that the $33 plan is usually only provided by the marketing department or the retention department.


I've been through this before. The retention department, like other parts of Comcast, appears to be unreliable. They get involved when you call to cancel your service. Sometimes Comcast will ask why you're cancelling. Sometimes they won't. If they do ask, presumably the answer is that you're switching to Verizon for faster, cheaper, and more reliable service.

But, cheapskate that I am, I have stuck with Comcast due to their willingness to compete with Verizon purely on the basis of the price. I would really appreciate competition on speed and reliability too but I guess that's too much to ask for. And, clearly in my case, reliability - or lack thereof - doesn't seem to be a showstopper. I must enjoy being mistreated or having an unreliable connection. Why else would I stay? Laziness? Masochism?

In contrast, my neighbors have switched to Verizon. My community surveyed everyone last year and again this year - everyone who responded asserted they had switched. If there are any Comcast subscribers left in the neighborhood besides me, I'm not aware of them.

One neighbor did complain about problems with Verizon's billing, a problem I have seen with regularity at But Comcast's billing department has a history of problems too and, if my experience is any indicator, it appears as if nothing has changed.

One more thing that hasn't changed: The telephone pole in front of my house still has that malignant splitter in my connection, more than a month after Comcast promised it would be removed.