Comcast cut me off and I’m not even a customer!

*This post comes with bonus material: The stupidest question ever asked by a customer service representative. *

There’s a battle being waged on my little island community. The players are Comcast and the local electric company, which offers high-speed cable Internet service for $20 per month.

Comcast’s first response to this plucky little upstart was to flood the island with door-to-door salesmen, who had the unenviable task of convincing residents that they should pay more than double for what is, essentially, the same service.

That probably didn’t work well since they began using more unscrupulous methods, including (I believe) payoffs to apartment owners for exclusive rights.

Now, however, they’ve gone too far. For the past several weeks, they’ve been randomly disconnecting residents’ existing Internet service and switching it with their own (cite). This happened to me on Thursday.

I started my web browser Thursday evening and got nothing but a “Welcome To Comcast” screen, which explained that I would have to download and run an installation wizard before I could start using my new Comcast account. Other than that, I was completely cut off. No Internet or email, and since I use a VOIP line, no phone. BASTARDS.

Here comes the bonus material. I called Comcast on my cell to complain. I explained to the CSR that I did not order Comcast and they shouldn’t be switching people over without authorization. Her response: “Sir, what is your Comcast account number?” :smack:

Today, a technician for the “other” cable came out and switched me back and all is well, but this has been gnawing at me all day. It isn’t being cut off from the Internet for a day that bothers me so much, it’s the fact that Comcast thinks it can bully its way to market saturation. The fact that there will be no punitive punishment measures against Comcast. And the fact that so many people are such FUCKING SHEEP that their underhanded methods probably have brought them hundreds of new customers.

IANAL, but: Class action lawsuit sounds like an appropriate response to ME.

Where do YOU live, where you can get high-speed internet access for $20 bucks?

Call up whatever agency regulates utilities in your state and ask for the consumer protection division. (Your electric bill quite likely has the number printed on it somewhere.) Explain what happened and ask if your state (a) regulates cable access, and (b) has an anti-slamming* law that applies to cable service. If your state does regulate cable access, the consumer rep you speak with will tell you what remedies you have and whether it makes sense for you to file a formal complaint.

Filing a complaint will likely not get you any monetary award, but can help to build a record of violations that the regulatory agency can eventually use to impose sanctions on Comcast.

If your state’s anti-slamming laws and/or regulations don’t cover Comcast and other cable providers, get ahold of your state rep and agitate for expanding coverage from telecom services to cable access.

*Slamming is regulatory lingo for unauthorized switching of service from one provider to another. Up to now I’ve only seen it applied to telephone service.

I second that…both parts (and I generally despise class action lawsuits as they usually only get the attorneys any money but in this case busting Comcast’s chops if they really are doing this would be payment enough).

I live in Alameda, ca. My ISP is Alamedanet.

I suppose if some hotshot lawyer files a class action against Comcast, I’ll sign on to get my $20 or whatever it is, to make up for the inconvenience of not having Internet access for one day. I’ve never been involved in a lawsuit before, but Comcast really should get spanked for this.

I’ll definitely complain as soon as I find out what agency to complain to.

Yes, definitely complain. And if they slam you again, do what you did and don’t execute the wizard. If you do, Comcast can claim you voluntarily signed up for their service.

I am generally against the “sue their asses off” mentality. In this case, I make an exception.


Isn’t there a local TV company you could talk to? Local stations love exposing this kind of sleazy behaviour.

The California Public Utilities Commisson would be more than a little interested in your story, I am sure. This is the place to start.

In addition to local TV stations, consider writing a letter to the editor.

Thanks for the link to the CalPUC, adam yax. Looking through it, I see that their anti-slamming regulations are aimed at telephone service providers. It’s not surprising that cable Internet access isn’t covered at this point, since up until recently it’s been a monopoly service, near-universally.

That’s changing, though. What with the development of DSL broadband from the telecom companies, voice over cable telephony service from the broadband companies, and electric companies using fiber-optic capacity to get into the game, I expect we’ll see slamming of Internet service become a growing problem.

Who knows, Baraqiyal, but your complaint could help to set in motion legislative and/or regulatory actions to deal with this.

I’m sure that network news people would be interested in this: “Comcast switches unsuspecting internet users to it’s more expensive service, cutting off internet connections for users of a seperate service and forcing them to use it’s own service. Could you be next? More at 11:00.” Stick in an angry person who was victimized by Comcast and a comment by a Comcast representative and it’s good to go.

Sadly, however, Comcast may have the right to seize complete control of the lines:

“Information service” is unregulated, while “telecommunications service” is not. I don’t know for sure what those terms mean in a legal sense, but they seem to have very little difference.

That depends on whether Alamadanet is using Comcast’s infrastructure or its own. It’s entirely possible that Comcast is indeed within its rights, but the fact that a technician had to come out and undo the damage makes me wonder. In any event, pulling the switch without notifying the (prospective) customer is more than a bit crappy.[SUP]*[/SUP]

A few years ago the local municipal utility strung its own lines to make a fiber-optic drop available to every residence in the city. The stated reason was energy deregulation (more efficient usage monitoring), but a side effect is that I have cable internet and television for about 60% of what Comcast charges—and last time I looked, Comcast was charging customers here considerably less than customers in other service areas. If they sent someone out to unplug me from the municipal system and plug me into theirs, you would hear some hollerin’ what is hollerin’.

[SUP]*[/SUP]It wouldn’t surprise me if their defense to the slamming charge was “But we put a notice in with his/her Comcast bill.”

I filled out the online consumer complaint form from the link that adam yax provided.

polgatio, I’m pretty sure my ISP (which is actually a city agency), owns its own lines. I remember a proposition going through several years ago which gave it funding to lay down new fiber optic lines. I got several calls from AT&T Broadband (which was the predecessor to Comcast), urging me to vote against the measure.

I certainly hope that Alamedanet is billing Comcast for the service calls … I think $10,000 per call sounds about right, how about you?

I’m no lawyer, and even if I were I wouldn’t presume to give any sort of legal advice.

I’m given to wonder (again, hypothetically speaking, of course) if there’s any merit to a suit for “Tortious Interference with Contract”. And whether it would properly be a single-party suit filed by your utility-company ISP, adding claims for lost business and illegal monopolistic practices, or whether it would more properly be a class-action suit with you and the other slammed customers as plaintiffs? Or maybe both?

And since you mentioned that Comcast’s slamming also deprived you of your telephone service, it would seem to me you have a valid complaint there, too, especially since phone slamming is so much more closely watched.

The phone part concerns me as well. They’re fucking with 911 service by doing that, putting you and your neighbor’s lives at risk. You should really be pissed.

Alamedanet should go to the local Comcast HQ and connect their internet service up to Alamedanet’s. I’m sure one of their employees will sign on for it…

I used to have Comcast for cable only. I got an ad for a company called WOW that had cable and DSL for less money than Comcast charged for cable.

I called Comcast to see if they could match the price.

Me: Well I got this ad from WOW that offers cable and internet for XXXX

Customer service: Well we have internet, it’ll only ad 29.99 to your bill

Me: But I can get both cheaper

Customer Service: Do you want me to sign you up? (I could hear the “potential sales” excitement in her voice)

Me: No thank you

I proceeded to switch to WOW which I’ve had ever since.