An open letter to Comcast

Dear Comcast,

How are you? I hope this letter finds you well, because when I am finished with you you will be bleeding from every orifice in your body. We are now in our eigth month of a relationship, having started off beautifully when I first signed up for your television and cable internet combo. And now… and now we are in our third month of ‘rockiness.’

Let me refresh your memory.

It was November of 2004, only a stones throw in the past, when I suddenly was informed that apparently someone in my house was ordering Video-on-demand, it was around $50 worth and as we had not put a protection code on the box, I accepted it as a possibility that no roommate would step forward and take credit for it. So we paid it with minor upset, mostly talking to support finding out if it is possible that there is a mistake. That maybe we hadn’t actually ordered this, but when we were assured that it could not be a mistake and that it was someone in our house, we let it be and found out how to protect it.

Or so we thought.

On that first period of rough road, I had been told about setting a number or password to prevent anyone unauthorized from calling and ordering anything.

Or so I thought.

It seems you failed to make it clear that this phone number would not thwart any attempts to order on the cable box.

Now I am sure your corporate entity believes I am just a member of a house of college guys hellbent on ordering bad porn for over priced amounts and then skipping out on the bill. Since we all know college students, much less engineering students who are well acquainted with the Internet, would actually order porn off the tv. Absolutely.

And so the month changed and we entered December. Our house emptied and we all went to our respective homes to be with family and enjoy the break between semesters. While the house was locked and we were all snuggled at homes, as far reaching as Kenya (that’s in Africa in case you didn’t know), we apparently had a thief break into our house and order more porn!

Oh no!

No electronics were snatched, no valuables gone missing, but I’ll be damned if this thief didn’t order us a bill of over $150 in late night porn.

And yes, one of your employees actually suggested that as a possibility.

Fucking morons.

And it was at this point I was informed that the phone code was not all encompassing, instead I needed to also set a code on the box. Which I did, while I was still the only one home, so no one in this house knows the code except me. No one. Are you with me so far?

So after five calls to your various off shore offices I finally got ahold of a woman who saw a glimmer that maybe I was serious and this was faulty, so after having been assured multiple times that there was no way that this could be a mistake, she forwarded our problem to the technical services department and promised I would hear from them within a week.

I let ten days pass and then I called back, to talk to a barely english speaking employee who told me that my account would be credited for all invalid orders. Apparently it wasn’t a thief in the house, apparently it was my cable box ordering porn on its own.

And at this moment my heart swelled, angels sung, and I hoped that our rough times were over and we could enter a period of happiness and tranquility. And yet… it was not to be so.

Here we are today, January 26th, I’ve received the latest bill in my mail and upon opening it I am rather dismayed at what I see. Sure enough you did keep your word and credit me for last months ‘troubles’ but what do my despairing eyes behold?

$112.90 in Video on Demand porn orders.

I sit down at my desk, anger rising in me like bile preparing to be spit into the toilet before I flush the turd that is Comcast down the toilet.

I dial the local offices and after several minutes I get a hold of a “service agent” or whatever your catchy title for them is. It doesn’t really matter, I’ve got a new name for them, “Masons.” Why? Because you have them trained to the T to brickwall any upset customer.

“I’m sorry sir I’ll take this information and forward it to our technical services department.”

So let me lay it all out for you Comcast. Unless you get your fucking act together I’m going big with this, I’m going to find anyone else having this problem and I’m going to build a coalition. I’ll call news channels, I’ll write to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. This is bullshit, and I’m done with it. And unless you call me back in two days with a solution and promises that it will never happen again, on top of paying the outstanding bill, you’ve lost this customer, and whoever else I can convince to turn away.

You think just because you have a monopoly on local cable tv you can pull this kind of shit?

Fuck you.


As a matter of fact, they DO.
And by the way, Comcast, what the fuck is up with you moving your payment location? There was an office in my nice, relatively safe neighborhood. Now, if I have to visit the office like I did Monday, I’ve got to go to a rough ass neighborhood. Thanks, assholes.

But only because your local governing body (city council, township trustees, whatever) have granted them a monopoly. That austere body could just as easily grant a franchise to any other/additional cable operator if they wished, or one would apply.

And by the way, did the post office move all the mailboxes to that same rough neighborhood, too? Or is your cable bill so high, that you can’t afford a $0.37 postage stamp?

Funny all my Concast bills come with an envelope, $0.37 later voila, simple drop in the mail box.

I swear UncleBeer’s post wasn’t there when I typed mine! :smack:

In many places, like here, the cable company bribed county officials to get the franchise. Once in place, they made it economically impractical for anyone else to build a competing system.

To be quite honest, I don’t see why Comcast would randomly decide to charge you random amounts for porn unless someone or something (hardware problem?) is ordering it. I’m not saying you are, or your roommates are, but if you live in a dorm or an apartment building, it’s possible that someone else in the building is riding off of your cable line and ordering porn on their tv.

In that kind of living situation, it wouldn’t be that hard to steal cable.

Your district attorney bring those government officials and the cable operators up on charges? Or is this just bluster?

And how? I engineer and design CATV systems for a living. I assure you existing systems are overbuilt by other MSO’s quite frequently. If an incumbent operator is charging exorbitant prices, then that makes it more feasible for a competing carrier to overbuild - not the reverse.

That would make sense to me, but they refuse to hear any such discussion. They stonewall and repeat it as a mantra that it can only be ordered from your box in your house at your tv.

They won’t send a tech out to check or anything.

Well, again, to be honest, it’s really not their problem or their fault. It’s one thing to be irritated that their Customer Service staff are trained to be entry level rock sorters, but it’s another to blame them for the charges without investigating your end. Did you tell them that you believe someone may be stealing your cable? If you have, and they refuse to investigate, tell the FCC. Cell phone companies, anyway, are usually pretty quick to get the FCC off their back-- I’d imagine cable companies to be the same way.

It’s not a “bribe” per se, but MSOs who want a franchise occasionally have to sweeten the deal to make it worth it to the municipality. The city will sometimes get free channels to broadcast city business like city-council meetings and lunch menus, or any number of inducements. Once it’s attractive enough to grant a monopoly, the cable company can do pretty much what it wants.

Ronincyberpunk, you might want to exchange your cable box and have the cable guy out to check the wiring to your apartment to make sure someone isn’t tapping into your cable for free.


Huh? You’re at Georgia Tech, according to your location. Main campus? Both DISH and DIRECTTV offer local channels in the Atlanta area. If Comcast can’t fix your problem, fire them. You can keep the internet or go with SBC’s DSL offering, which is among the better ones out there.

Monopolies are soooo 20th Century.

Having sat in on these negotiations several times, the exchange I’m familiar with goes the other way. That is, the franchise granting authority, ultimately having the upper hand as they do, are the guys extorting the free services from the cable operators. I’ve never been witness to a cable company making the initial offer.

Did it occur to any of the engineering students that getting rid of that cable box (in exchange for a new one) might be part of the solution?

I told them. My landlord told them. And they openly refused to come out and do anything. They said it wasn’t possible it was a problem on their end as it can only be charged to our account by using our box.

So yeah, FCC might be the next person to contact.

Where, for example? I don’t doubt you, and I’ll try to avoid hair-splitting over the meaning of the word frequently ( :slight_smile: ), but in my (limited) experience, I’ve never lived anywhere there were two CATV’s competing over the same territory. (What’s MSO mean?)

In fact it did, and when we asked them to send the tech out to do so they said that the ‘problem’ had been in their software and had been repaired. So… we assumed it was fixed.

Now, we’ve all agreed it is the last straw and I am only concerned about clearing my bill and making sure they don’t put a file on my credit report. And we will be leaving for greener pastures.

As a matter of fact, I usually follow the prescribed method, however because we recently decided to upgrade, and because of that ever-so-reliable fucking MAIL system you two pixies are so hung up on, there was a 30 dollar discrepancy in the bill, (we never got the proper bill, that Comcast INSISTS they mailed) which I had to pay in order to restore service that was THIRTY DOLLARS OVERDUE FOR A TOTAL OF 11 DAYS. NO NOTICE, NO PHONE CALLS, just wake up one morning and BAM, no TV, no internet, nothing. This after several YEARS of good payment history. No, fuck comcast, AND their fucking monopoly.

Jeez, again with the monopoly. In Chicago, not only do both DISH and DIRECTV carry local signals but many areas of the city are overbuilt by a wired competitor of the type Unclebeer is talking about (RCN in Chicago, specifically). That’s four companies competing for your multi-channel business, and three for your broadband business.