Cable Out? Ask For "Refund For The Day"

Matt has Comcast and whenever service goes out he calls up, does a little bitching softshoe, and then asks for a refund for that day of service. Depending on your subscription plan, this could be anywhere from between $2 to $5.

Matter says he’s come to, “consider it “motivation” for them to get the problem fixed. They have never complained to me and always gladly apply the credit.”

A pittance compared to the frustration of downed connectivity or television, but at least you take a little back from them. Plus, if you really do it every time the cable goes out, it could add up to a decent amount. — BEN POPKEN

[Photo: SkyShaper]

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  1. faust1200 says:

    It sounds like you would go through $50 dollars of frustration to get your $5. And if your cable goes out enough to make this cost-effective for you then why do you tolerate such bad service? At any rate my DirecTV has been out about an accumulated 20 minutes in the 6 years I’ve had it . The only thing that would motivate comcast is people canceling comcast. Simply taking a teaspoon from the ocean will do next to nothing.

  2. InsaneNewman says:

    Actually, it shouldn’t be hard to get a daily credit at all. First of all, calling should (in theory) inform them of a problem they may not be aware of, thus getting your service back up faster. Second of all, they can’t (again, in theory) bill you for services unrendered. Likewise, if my cell phone service went out for 3 days due to network failure, I would expect 3 days’ worth of credit.

    Really, if they wanted to be really proactive in providing customer service, they would automatically apply credits for time the service was unavailable.

  3. MasonMacabre says:

    I did this when my cable went out for three days and was able to get an 11 dollar credit on my bill.

  4. The guy in the middle of the photo is smiling because he is a comcast agent and just took a big dump in your toilet and didnt flush or wash his hands.

  5. Amy Alkon says:

    Thanks, Holden…that was hilarious. (And, unfortunately, probably all too true, at least some of the time.)

    And it’s far too hellish to get on the phone with the cable co. unless your cable is out for quite some time. I now only have cable Internet. The prices in the USA are a real raping.

    For TV, I have Dish, which is fantastic. DVR capability (like Tivo, but for people who don’t watch tons of TV), and I can get French TV (TV5) for $5 extra a month so I can practice my horrendous French. And an extra TV is free. You do have to hook the thing to your phone line or it costs you $5 extra. I think it gets some kind of info it needs that way…through the phone line. Sketchy on the details, and not all that interested, either.

  6. @Amy Alkon

    I now only have cable Internet. The prices in the USA are a real raping.

    >sarc
    I’m sorry Amy, but I find that very offensive that you use the word rape when referring to Comcast because I heard about some poor girls who were raped and killed by a person posing as a comcast agent. After reading about the story I feel that I can empathize with the victims of this atrocious crime and I feel it is my duty to quell any negative words and images that refer to this horrendous event. I find that your use of the word rape in the same context as comcast was in poor taste and shame on you.
    >/sarc

    Man, I kill me. That was freaking hillarious.

    I hope nobody identifies with my statement personally and feels like I am singling them out. I am just exemplifying a common thread of ideas I have seen portrayed not only here at the consumerist but in my community as a whole.


    On-Topic.
    I’ve noticed that some companies show up week after week. Do we have like a profile box for companies commonly featured on the consumerist where we can keep a tally of each new story that arises?

    With comcast I see that:
    Current Article
    Senior Citizen Gets Comcasticed! i.e. Ripped Off
    Comcast Does Away With “All Day” Waiting
    Fake Comcast Worker Flees When Asked For ID
    Comcast To Suck Less

    All in the last 10 or so days. Then we could put Green checks to the good stories and red check x’s next to the bad ones. Am I just being silly? I’ll go back to bed now.

  7. matrixhax0r says:

    That picture is some bad-ass HDR photography.

  8. crayonshinobi says:

    It is interesting how often Comcast shows up isn’t it?

    I used to do this same process to get credits for service interruptions. As far as being worth it monetarily, it probably isn’t worth your time. However, I figured it cost them money to take my call, to change my billing, plus the minor revenue loss, and I got the satisfaction of sharing my displeasure with their service.

  9. olegna says:

    Hmmm, each time my cable goes out spend 20 minutes calling, being put on hold, and talking to some CSR whose job it is to obfuscate and do everything he or she can to save the company money and offer me services I don’t ask for . . . in order to get $3 worth of cable time refunded to me?

    So this means I would get “paid” $9 worth of free cable an hour for this type of job.

    My salary is higher and my free time is worth more than that. I hate calling CSRs for anything and they would have to (and should, come to think of it) pay me for my time.

    Come to think of it: That would be a nice consumer friendly piece of legislation: if CSR takes more than 20 minutes, the company has to reimburse the customer for their time with discounts on their bill or something. If CSR connects you back to the person you spoke to in the first place, they should have to reimburse me for wasting my time with their bullshit.

  10. WindowSeat says:

    I do the same thing with my Adelphia-now-Time Warner Broadband. Every time it goes down I call, report it and ask for a credit. Its usually about $4 a day and I had a CSR give me a month’s credit after an series of outages over several days.

  11. Papa K says:

    This applied to anything with a monthly fee. Except when I was with Cingular, the reps would always argue about why they should credit me for a day “It’s only a few bucks, why does it matter?”

    It *matters* because that’s money you OWE me.

    Of course, then you always have to check your bill to make sure they credit you as well… (I’ve gotten a month free because they didn’t credit me before, for cable/internet with Time Warner)

  12. Scott says:

    I had a reoccurring signal strength problem with my RCN service in Maryland after upgrading to digital cable w/ DVR. Two things came from my continued bitching. 1) they gave me a full month free and 2) the problem was actually fixed. My wife used to work for a cable company and she said that the companies are actually required by law to compensate you for down time.

  13. Antediluvian says:

    I’ve done this in the past, and you can even do it for a single channel. That’s even more pro-rated than a full outage, but you can do it if you’re willing to spend the time on the phone.

    I’m no longer willing to spend the time on hold or in a menu tree for that small amt of money. Alas, Comcast wins again. :-(

  14. Amy Alkon says:

    I’m sorry Amy, but I find that very offensive that you use the word rape when referring to Comcast because I heard about some poor girls who were raped and killed by a person posing as a comcast agent.

    I hope nobody identifies with my statement personally and feels like I am singling them out. I am just exemplifying a common thread of ideas I have seen portrayed not only here at the consumerist but in my community as a whole.

    I get sick of this, too…which is why I left it as is. My syndicated column is banned from the Los Angeles Times (I was told) because of a joke I made about my breasts in a story about recovering my stolen pink Rambler that ran in the LAT Mag. My editor told me the ladies at the paper said, “It’s a long time before her breasts are in the paper again.” Not long afterward, I got a letter from a features sub-editor that started “Never send us anything again…”

    Dan Neil, the auto columnist from the paper, had his work censored for using the words “Do me!” in some exuberant auto review. And these dailies wonder why they can’t get the coveted “younger readers” they’re all chasing.

  15. droppedD says:

    As a former tech support rep I probably cannot tell you that tech support reps are authorized at Cablevision to do the same thing, because i’d probably be violating some old agreement i signed or something. So I never said that.

    But purely theoretically, if there were such a thing (wink wink), at Cablevision, at least, there needs to be evidence you had an outage for as long as you claim. So either it needs to have been an area-wide outage recorded in the CV systems, or else you need to call in at the beginning of the outage to complain about it.

    I would suggest that if you have cable internet in addition to TV service, call the online/internet technical support and not the television service or billing service support. They’re smarter and get paid more and are generally more useful. Be insistent but nice – whining loudly doesn’t make a tech more likely to help you.

    On the other hand, realize how little a prorated credit is actually worth for anything but a major long-term outage. Suppose your cable bill is $90 a month and your service is out for 6 hours. Do the math: a half hour of phone time for $.75 of credit is fairly silly, even if you are trying to ‘stick it to the corporation.’ Wires go down, headends and routers burst into flames – that’s life. Unless it was a 24+ hour outage, in which case you can conceivably blame them for taking too long, and the amount you get out of it just isn’t worth the time.

  16. Amy Alkon says:

    call the online/internet technical support and not the television service or billing service support. They’re smarter and get paid more and are generally more useful. Be insistent but nice – whining loudly doesn’t make a tech more likely to help you.

    Thanks — that’s good advice. I’ve found when I’m really tweaked, like after a long wait and being transferred then hung up on a couple times…in addition to having problems with my service…it helps to tell the tech something like “I’m really angry, but I realize it isn’t your doing, so I’m going to do my best to not take it out on you.” And then I really don’t, and I think they appreciate that. Either that, or they think I’m a real asswad, but help me anyway.

  17. any such name says:

    I did this with Comcast when my internet went out because I hadn’t paid the bill on time (blah blah whatever – I immediatley paid it over the phone when I realized this). They told me they should be able to turn it on since it was showing up that I’d just paid my bill, but they couldn’t. They said it should reset after midnight. It didn’t.
    So I called after I got back from Christmas in Ohio and bitched someone out and got a credit on my bill.

    As is the rule with any customer service where you want a refund, be polite but firm. “I realize this isn’t your fault, CSR, however, it is your problem. Now fix it. Thanks.”

  18. HawkWolf says:

    Am I the only person who thinks that picture is some easter egg from gears of war where you have to repair some cable or something? Oh wait, that was Call of Duty 2 with the cable repairing.

    Surprisingly, I’ve had very little trouble from comcast in ann arbor in the last year or so. Before then, when I last paid for cable, it was endless trouble and made up excuses from them.

  19. “My salary is higher and my free time is worth more than that. I hate calling CSRs for anything and they would have to (and should, come to think of it) pay me for my time.”

    My time is worth $150/hour, but my time is worth NOTHING when my internet is out because I work from home. So they BETTER friggin’ be paying me for it.

  20. Metschick says:

    Except when I was with Cingular, the reps would always argue about why they should credit me for a day “It’s only a few bucks, why does it matter?”

    Okay, next time I pay my cell phone bill, I’m going to send in $5 less, and say “It’s only a few bucks, why does it matter?”

  21. tadowguy says:

    Matt here: Well it is only a few bucks, but the theory is that you are calling anyway to report the outage. At that point, you may as well ask for your 3 bucks. I agree that I wouldn’t call just to ask for the credit. (And since I have VOIP, calling is a pretty big pain anyway).

  22. tadowguy says:

    @Faust: I did switch to Dish Network, but for the intarwebs I still prefer the 6MBps of Comcast.

  23. Really? Every time I have called Comcast to see if my stuff is down due to an outage, they always offer me the credit. But then again, I have never had any problems with my Comcast people here.

    Maybe because they used to be TCI, and then AT+T?

  24. SmoovyG says:

    I’ve never thought to ask for a single day credit for a temporary outtage, but I managed to get Charter to credit me over a hundred bucks a few years back due to a spotty HD signal. Actually, I didn’t even have to ask for it – the rep offered it to me after seeing I’d called in several times before with the same problem.

  25. RevRagnarok says:

    http://freshmeat.net/projects/net-check/ is a script I have been using for years that monitors your net connection every 15 minutes and gives you an end-of-month report. I have gotten credit from both Verizon (when it was DSL) and Comcast. Get credit even when it is out at 4AM and you don’t notice!

  26. tdspringer says:

    Oh my, after reading these comments I am glad I decided to cancel Comcast and go back to the Dishnetwork. All I have to do is run over to my ex’s and get the boxes since the account is still in my name.

    I have been without my NHL Center Ice for 10 days now. I have lost count of the time spent on the phone, on hold, on and on and on. It just isn’t worth it to me. Supposedly they were “working on it” (whatever *it* is) to get the package working again here. So far all they have succeeded in doing is screwing up my guide which has displayed “to be announced” for 99% of the channels now for over 24 hours.

    I did file a complaint with our state’s AG. You might think that a waste of time but they have done right by me in the past….

    teri

  27. velocipenguin says:

    @faust1200:

    And if your cable goes out enough to make this cost-effective for you then why do you tolerate such bad service?

    American cable companies operate as local monopolies; that is, they are granted the exclusive right to provide cable service to certain municipalities. The cable companies have no incentive to improve their service because they cannot be ousted until their municipal contract expires (which can take years.) Voting with one’s wallet is an excellent idea, but it doesn’t work when there’s only one game in town.

    Incidentally, Comcast was the best ISP I ever had. Time Warner Cable (my current ISP) is by far the worst. FIOS, here I come.