Recently, I’ve gone to “war” with Comcast.Â This year marked the final turnover to digital and the end of analog broadcast.Â For the past 18 months, I had kept in contact with Comcast about the effect this would have on my analog cable.Â See, the basic cable – channels 2 thru 78 – are all I really watch, so that’s all we have, and you don’t need set top boxes for that, which allowed me to build Medusa, my 6-tuner PVR running Snapstream’s software.Â I admit I watch a lot of TV, but the main problem is that quite often even if I only watch three or four shows on a single night, they’ll always air at the same time.Â Years ago I managed this by having four VCRs, but times have changed and I upgraded.Â In any event, Comcast assured me that nothing would change, my analog devices would continue to work just fine.Â On many occasions over this time period, I inquired about the future of analog service, and every single time I was assured that Comcast had no plans to end analog service for the cable package of channels 2 thru 78.
So, one day there was a problem with my cable.Â It seemed I was only getting channels 2 thru 29 or 30, everything above that was gone.Â I called in to Comcast customer service and asked what was going on.Â They explained it was an outage, and regular service would return soon.Â Seeing as I already had them on the phone, I again inquired about the future of analog services.Â I asked if this division of 2 thru 30 and 31 thru 78 was a precursor to them moving 31 thru 78 to digital only.Â I was assured that there were no changes planned.Â None.Â Channels 2 thru 78 would continue to be available for all analog users.
In the meantime, over the past couple of years, I have watched with anticipation the development of digital tuner cards for PCs.Â At first the support was iffy, but now pretty much all software supports them, and given a good enough PC they’ll even watch and record HD channels broadcast “in the clear”, like your local network affiliates.Â I’ve been budgeting my money in plans to upgrade my PVR so that I could take advantage of digital, but its not exactly cheap to do, and besides, I still had time.
Imagine my surprise when, the day after the outage above and being assured that analog was not going to change, I received a letter in the mail explaining that channels 31 thru 78 were being moved to digital only on August 11th of this year.Â That couldn’t be right since just the day before I was told it wouldn’t change, and mailings like this take weeks to plan out.Â So I called customer service again, and with letter in hand was told again that there was no planned change for analog service, channels 2 thru 78 would continue to be available.Â But a quick search of the Internet found several locations, including Comcast’s own website, telling people about the future and channels being moved off analog.
Now, here we come to the “war”.Â See, I’m not actually upset by the digital switch.Â I expected it would come eventually, hence why I’ve been planning to upgrade my PC… next year, when my budget can afford it.Â And I completely understand and even agree with the need for change: when you move analog to digital it takes far less bandwidth and allows you to have more channels and services.Â My problem is that I was lied to.Â As far as I can see, one of two things had happened.
- Failure of Management: The customer service group was not properly trained or informed about the August 11th channel moves to digital, and therefore the reps I spoke to were telling me what they believed to be true.
- Failure of Employee: The customer service reps, not wanting to deal with a possibly irate customer, chose to not inform me of the digital change, on which they had been fully informed and trained.
There is no other possibility.Â Either the reps lied to me, or the reps were not properly trained.
I decided, for the first time in my life, to actually write a complaint to the Better Business Bureau.Â I wrote in detail about my 18 months of contact and the day of the outage and the mailer I received.Â I even wrote that I understood why the change was being made and that Comcast had every right to do so, but that I was lied to through one of the reasons above and I would like something done about it.
Since writing this complaint, the case has gone back and forth between Comcast and myself.Â I have been called on several occasions and emailed a number of times.Â Every time they contact me, I get a spiel about how there were two digital changes (the government mandated change and the Comcast channel moves) and this lead to confusion (despite my most recent calls being AFTER the government mandated change), and that I can continue getting all my channels by simply getting a set top box, which they will provide, or replace my analog tuners with digital tuners, which I will have to do myself.Â Every time, I report the resolution as unsatisfactory because there is only one thing I want: Admission of fault.
I want someone from Comcast to call me and tell me the staff was improperly trained, or tell me that reps have been found lying to customers to avoid confrontation.Â I want Comcast to admit that the failure existed on their end, in their processes or with their people, and to apologize for it having happened.Â I want someone to say they are sorry and that the customer service department should have informed me of the impending channel moves on all calls made after some date.Â This is the one thing I have not heard from Comcast.Â And I probably never will.
It is not just them, of course, its systemic.Â Companies do everything in their power to never admit fault.Â Well, I’m tired of it, and this time, in my only piddling and puny way, I’m fighting back.Â this case through the BBB will never be resolved until someone from Comcast admits fault.
As for my personal resolution for Comcast’s change of service, since my budget will not allow for rebuilding my PC (not only do I need new tuners, since the best ones are PCI Express and my PC is old enough to only have PCI, I have to get a new motherboard, processor, memory, video card, etc… the hard drive is IDE, not SATA… in fact the only thing I can keep is the case), and with budget being the main concern in this economy, I’ll be canceling my cable TV service.Â Thanks to Hulu and individual network web pages, everything I want to watch is online anyway.Â In the end, Comcast’s refusal to admit fault is probably going to wind up saving me over $50 a month.