Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Comcast is Deceitful, an Unfair Monopoly, and Does Not Deliver What They Advertise

[UPDATE]  As much as it pains me to say this (because I feel like an idiot): I was wrong in this post regarding the speeds.  I was using an outdated modem.  Comcast’s advertised “super speeds” utilize a new protocol that requires modems designated as DOCSIS 3.0 which enables faster transfer of data over the same lines (regular old coax cable).  DOCSIS 3.0 enables “channel bonding” of up to 8 downstream and 4 upstream channels.  This means the user could actually see speeds of 300Mbps down and 100 Mbps if the service provider was offering it.

After installing my new Motorola/Arris SB6141, I ran a check on SpeedTest.com and got this:


Wow.  That is fast. So my apologies to Comcast for making a post which stated they do not provide the speeds which they advertise.  Perhaps they should have made it clear that there were new protocols (DOCSIS 3.0) that could only be harnessed by new hardware (like the Moto SB6141), but it’s completely my fault for not thinking about/addressing this possibility before writing this post.

My opinions on the “unfair monopoly” and the fact that Comcast won’t post their pricing online (and instead provide only information on their “new customer” and “bundle” promotional prices) stand.  My opinion on the abysmal Streampix service stands.  My opinion on suddenly charging customers for equipment they’ve been using for years stands.

My “basic cable” requires a little box that causes clutter and requires me to use Comcast’s crappy remote.  Comcast charges me $1.99/month for equipment rental for this box even though I’d been using it free for years before “upgrading” my internet package.  I get only 4:3 SD picture (which means most programs are missing 25% of the picture which gets cut off on the edges).  It cracks me up that 4:3 SD is even an option anymore.  Also, I have to scroll through HUNDREDS of channels I do not receive.  In other words, when using the up/down buttons on my remote, I will see a “you don’t get this channel” many, many times when scrolling from one station to the next.

But again, my apologies to Comcast regarding the speeds.  I am achieving the advertised speeds, and the only reason I wasn’t is because I was using an outdated modem.


I’m sure there are millions of “this is why Comcast sucks” type posts out there (there certainly are millions of angry comments on any post with Comcast in the title).  I’m adding my voice to the throng.

As I research and type, I find there are more and more things to write about, so I want to just get this out up front:

I pay for 50Mbps internet.  I realize it’s “up to” 50Mbps, but when you NEVER receive anywhere near that, and in fact receive, on average, only the speeds advertised for TWO FULL TIERS BELOW THAT SERVICE, it is a blatant lie.  Comcast is selling me something they KNOW they absolutely cannot and will not deliver.  Here is a screen grab of my internet connection speeds (from SpeedTest.net) over the last few months.  I’ve just been clicking “check now” at random times; I know it’s not very scientific, but it definitely illustrates the point.

Please click to enlarge and take a look at how incredibly abysmal my ACTUAL internet speeds are.  Feel free to make sure my testing times don’t target typically busy times (i.e., 3.5Mbps down speed at 11am on May 18?!).  Also, can you find the point where I “upgraded” to the 50Mbps service?  No.  You can’t.  The speeds consistently SUCK across the entire polling time.  But for the record, it was back in April.


Not once, not even ONCE, did I get close to 50Mbps.  The fastest my internet speed has EVER been is 35.41Mbps (I broke 30 only twice).  My average is 11.10 Mbps.  The speed is OFTEN below 5Mbps.

The first “explanation” Comcast would give is that their data is shared on neighborhood hubs and at any given time there are many households sharing the same connection so speeds will suffer.  First of all: what an incredibly frustrating way to set up your service –the times when you want internet most your speeds are slowest?!  Second: I am the ONLY household on our point of service.  I know this because I complained for THREE YEARS (and the neighbors for another five years before that) because the apartment complex behind my house receives Comcast, but we could not. Finally Comcast relented and put a hub waaaaay out in front of our house near the street (the hubs that serve the apartment complex are all behind our house, on the other side of the fence, about 20 feet from the house).  There are no other houses anywhere near that hub.  I had a long conversation with the service tech who installed the line.  He had nothing but wonderful things to say about Comcast. Ahem.

My connection is ideal. So why can’t I get anywhere close to Comcast’s advertised speeds?

Ignoring the fact that they are lying about what they can/will provide, my theory is that they don’t want to enable you to “cut the cable.” If you were really getting 50Mbps, then the dream of purely internet served media entertainment could be realized, and cable is where the vast majority of Comcast’s revenue comes from.

Conspiracy theories aside, it’s almost comical that it’s nearly impossible to watch Comcast’s new “Streampix” service when you have their fastest high-speed internet, because your internet connection isn’t fast enough and/or consistent enough to allow for streaming an online television show (we tried to watch an episode of The Newsroom at 9:30pm via Xfinity Online and had to turn it off after about 10 minutes of buffering, super-glitchy, garbled garbage).

Speaking of “cutting the cable,” I recently was going to cut cable entirely. I had the most basic cable package, which was pretty much 20 channels or so (less than my current ultra-basic cable package) about 1/4 of which were in Spanish, which unfortunately I don’t speak. They were/are also all 4:3 SD, which means (not including the language barrier) I’m missing around 25% of everything that is shown (a 4:3 screen only shows 75% of a 16:9 screen) and I see it in horrible resolution!

It took me a while to get up the gumption to actually make the call.  After all, the price of basic cable and internet “bundled” was only $5 more than the internet service alone.  It’s a pretty good scam they have going to nickel and dime the customer.  In fact, they got me with it again when I went to downgrade to internet only.

I was already paying nearly $80 a month for high speed internet bundled with ultra-basic cable, and I was planning on dropping the “bundle” to pay $61.95 a month plus additional fees (the price offered at the time for stand alone 25Mbps service) for an internet only plan.

This “bundle” I had included two services: 25Mbps high-speed internet for $48.95 and Economy Cable for $21.62. In addition to all the miscellaneous charges (network fee, franchise fee, etc.), they were also charging $3.99 a month for a service protection plan, since last time I had a major problem with my service, they wouldn’t even take my call because I didn’t have the “service protection package” –even though the problem was ABSOLUTELY outside my house at the service point near the street. The “service protection plan” is specifically for covering problems inside the house… hilariously, I have only ONE cable jack inside my home –and it’s immediately on the other side of the wall from where the cable physically touches the house.

When I called Comcast, they did their typical “we can offer you this” to keep you from cutting services.  They offered to upgrade me to a “special” existing-customer-only bundle they were running: their NEW AND IMPROVED 50Mbps “Blast!®” internet with basic cable bundle, with the addition of their streaming television/movie option called Streampix.

So now for $79.95 my bill clearly states, and I quote: “Blast Plus Includes Blast! Internet Service And Digital Economy With Digital Converter, Streampix”

When I got my first bill, I found they are now charging me $1.99/month for a digital adapter (DTA) which I’ve had in my possession for YEARS, even though my bill specifically states that Blast Plus “INCLUDES” my “Digital Converter.” What the eff is up with that?

My old bill was usually around $77.03 (the specific amount on an old bill I grabbed). My new bill is $85.57 (this month’s bill). My internet speeds are exactly the same (and only around what is offered via their bottom tier package).  The only thing that changed is that I now have to pay every month for my digital adapter… oh, and I have access to the world’s shittiest online streaming media selection via Streampix.

imagesStreampix’s content is horrible.  Just plain horrible. “It’s JUST like Netflix” said the salesperson when I upgraded to my new Comcast package back in April. I can assure you it’s NOTHING like Netflix. It’s honestly the worst selection of movies you’ve NEVER HEARD OF offered ANYWHERE. It’s not just bad movies; it’s movies you’ve seriously NEVER heard of.  Titles like Jack Hunter and The Lost Treasure of Ugarit or Daryl Hannah in Storm Seekers are the cream of the crop.  Even their PROMOTIONAL graphic (seen to the right) touts a bunch of shows YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT (and it’s definitely the BEST of what they have to offer).

Speaking of “upgrading” to new services… one of the many complaints you’ll see online about Comcast is this: try figuring out how much their service costs for an established customer (not a a promotional rate used to ensnare you into their web of lies).  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Couldn’t find it, could you?  That’s because there is NOWHERE ONLINE WHERE COMCAST LISTS THEIR REAL PRICES.  They litter the web with all kinds of promotional deals, and they tease you with “click here”’s promising to take you to “real” pricing, but they all re-direct to promotional pricing and bundled packages.  In fact, just click around the Comcast/Xfinity site for a while.  There are THOUSANDS of links that all go to the same damn page (which contains no valuable information).

There is NOWHERE you can find a clear listing of what Comcast’s services cost.

For the record, at the time of this posting, here are THE REAL stand alone high-speed internet service prices from Comcast:

The cheapest internet service Comcast offers is called “Performance Starter” and is $49.95 a month for up to 6Mbps down and 1Mbps up. The next tier is “Performance” which boasts 25Mbps down and 5 Mbps up for $51.95/month (that’s right, only $3 more, but good luck seeing those speeds!). Finally, the third tier is “Blast!®” which claims to offer up to 50Mbps download speeds and 10Mbps upload for $61.95 a month. However, I can GAURANTEE you will not see those speeds on a regular basis (if EVER).

Regarding my claims of “monopoly:” I have two choices for internet service, and two choices only.  I can have Comcast, or I can have Century Link.  The absolute fastest speed Century Link can give me on DSL is 10Mbps, and you almost NEVER hit that speed (I used to have it, and my neighbor still does).  Service from any “dish” provider is pretty much the exact same thing rebranded (definitely DSL) and still mind-bogglingly slow.  Comcast is the only provider who can even touch the cable running in my neighborhood.

So, there are two choices for “high speed” internet, and both suck.  Is there ANY room for competition?  No.  Can you imagine trying to “break in” to the high-speed internet market?  What an hilarious thought.  I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of a monopoly.


ComcastCares1 said...

Hi there! I work for Comcast and I just wanted to apologize for the troubles you are experiencing

Based on your post, it looks like there are a lot of things that needs to be addressed. If it is not so much of a trouble, will you please contact us at we_can_help@cable.comcast.com? Please include your full address and a best contact number and a link to this page as a point of reference. We will look into the matter and make sure that your concerns are addressed.

National Customer Operations

The Invisible said...

Hilarious. I make calls for years and the problem is never fixed, but the moment I make my complaints public Comcast comes out of the woodwork with an offer to help? I guess I'll give them (yet again) the benefit of the doubt and e-mail the address.

Anonymous said...

Did you notice - they left you an incorrect email

Thorsten said...