Free Calls From Telemarketers With Digital Voice Service Activation!

Subscribers to Comcast Digital Voice service get more than just digital phone service installed when they sign up. They also get the pleasure of Comcast selling their phone number to telemarketers, fresh out of the box!

Numerous consumers have begun to complain online (read the comments, too) about receiving telemarketing pitches on their phone number within days of installation, referring to them by name, before they even had time to give the number to anyone. In some cases, the telemarketers asked for the person by a misspelled variant of the their name, the same wrong name that appears on their Comcast bill.

Consumerist reader Kevin writes, “I was receiving calls from telemarketers within 3 days of installing my digital voice line in my house. It got so bad that I just unplugged the phone.”

Undoubtedly, new subscribers will open their first bills to find a “marketing fee” surcharge for the pleasure.

Comcast sells your new phone number [Messaging..... Technology...... Life.....]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. juri squared says:

    Crap. We switched over a couple weeks ago and haven’t noticed, but then we transferred an existing number that’s firmly on the do-not-call list.

  2. nursetim says:

    I currently have Vonage, and since I already have Comcast for cable and internet, I figured if the day ever comes that I need to find a plan B for phone, I would go with Comcast, but now I guess I will just have to hope Vonage stays in business.

  3. ryan_h says:

    yep, this same thing happened to us. calls from newspaper/other sales crap kept flooding in. comcastic!

  4. indiegeek says:

    We’ve had Comcast digital voice for about a year now – I haven’t had any problems with the service (aside from talking to 17 different service reps to get some kind of discount after the 1st year promo period ended) – I will say with absolute certainty that they sell your phone number/personal information to pretty much anyone who wants it. We started getting 10+ telemarketing calls daily by the second day we had the phone, even after registering the number on the Do Not Call list as soon as Comcast had assigned it to us. (Which was weeks before the actual install date.)

  5. humphrmi says:

    It’s not limited to Comcast.

    I have a brand-spanking new RCN cable-modem-phone-thingy. I didn’t actually want the phone; it came with a package that reduced my previous RCN internet-only bill amount while doubling the speed of my internet connection. So I get faster internet, for less money, hoo-ray! Except when I still had the phone (which, again, I didn’t wnat in the first place) plugged in from the tech installing it, I started getting calls from telemarketers. I didn’t even know what my own phone number was, and they already knew!

    2 seconds later, problem solved, telemarketers can now leave me voice mail (which I also won’t ever check.)

    Yay RCN! I hope they made a lot of money off the telemarketers who will never get anything but static from my phone number!

  6. iMike says:

    Do not call list doesn’t take care of the problem?

  7. alice_bunnie says:

    It’s probably just cold dialing random old numbers. A couple of years ago we changed our number to unlisted. The very next day I started getting a lot of telemarketers. We had previously been on the no call list. Once that was was reinstated for the new number, the calls stopped.

  8. indiegeek says:

    @iMike: DNC list sort of takes care of the problem – most of the telemarketers just apologize once they’re told we’re on the list. I’d be interested in doing some stat geek work, though, and seeing how many of the calls on whocalled.us for the sketchy scam places are comcast-assigned numbers…

  9. yg17 says:

    @iMike: IIRC, the Do Not Call list doesn’t take effect for a few weeks after you add your number to it. So in the meantime, it could indeed be a problem

  10. iMike says:

    I just ported my number to Crapcast. Since I’m already on the DNC, my expectation is that I’ll enjoy uninterrupted peace from telemarketers. Others are having a different experience?

  11. twid says:

    We’ve had Comcast for our phone service for about six months, and we were on the do-not-call list before that. We didn’t get any kind of upswing in calls after transferring our number. We still get about two calls a month from telemarketers who don’t obey the do-not-call list rules, and we’re getting more and more “survey” calls and calls from charity.

    Overall, I’m not sure what the original post is complaining about. If you don’t want telemarketing calls you should be on the do-not-call list.

  12. mtaylor924 says:

    Same this happened to us too – we signed up for CDV when we moved into a Comcast area, as the bundle was cheaper than just tv/internet. Hours after the tech arrived to install, we got our first telemarketer call!

    I added our new # to the Do Not Call Registry, and since then we haven’t had any, so it wasn’t the end of the world.

    Of course, we are still getting shady calls from the 415 area code that we never answer, but that’s a different story…

  13. courtarro says:

    Is it possible that everyone is simply getting calls that were intended for the previous owner of the phone number? Do the telemarketers refer to the new Comcast customers by their correct names?

  14. bohemian says:

    We recently switched providers. The new one is a smaller regional that was recently bought by Knology. We were getting telemarketing calls within hours of being hooked up. It was also an unlisted phone number and a new phone number (to us).

  15. Buran says:

    @courtarro: Yes. Read the comments on the original post.

  16. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Yup! Just got my comcast service last week and within about 48 hours I had the washington post calling me to hock their newspaper. I average about 3 phone calls a night – pretty good for a girl who doesn’t even KNOW her own phone number!! I registered it on DNC list immediately.

  17. Chris H says:

    Under the federal Do-Not-Call telemarketing rules, telemarketers have to update their lists every 30 days. So those first 30 days after installation is when you get calls. Also, the DNC registration lasts for 5 years, so pretty soon, people who enrolled at the beginning of the list will have to reenroll. Expect a big burst of telemarketing in Summer 2008, because the list was opened in June 2003!

    There are list brokers that sell “new connect” lists, see for instance:
    [listfinder.directmag.com]

    However, Comcast may not be selling it. For competitive reasons, carriers reveal phone numbers of subscribers, and that might be where the jackals are acquiring and selling the numbers.

  18. Chris H says:

    @pinkbunnyslippers: Newspapers were one of the strongest opponents of the do-not-call list. The Newspaper Association of America lobbied to require you to have to reenroll every year!

  19. sup191 says:

    The problem with the DNC list is that it only prevents telemarketers from within the US from calling your number. Many telemarketing companies now either call from Canada or Mexico directly, or have switches in another country in order to get around the DNC rules.

  20. balthisar says:

    I’m not trying to be snarky, but even with the do-not-call list, I’ve never been as free from telemarketers as I am now by dropping the terrestrial line completely.

    The only spam I ever got was when I listed a car in AutoTrader… some sh*tbag harvester, working-from-his-bedroom punk called me twice with his recorded voice automated dialer (illegal) to my cell (illegal). I know he was some working-from-his-bedroom idiot because when I called (wanted to stop this!), it was not a telemarketing professional and he got nervous and asked if I was a lawyer as I explained the law to his scumbag butt.

    (In case it’s not clear, I don’t blame AutoTrader for this.)

  21. JohnMc says:

    jurijuri brings up a point that would prove really interesting. Would not Comcast be listed as a co conspirator if they gave your phone number to telemarketers but the number was on the no call list? Next question of course is, does Comcast even check??

    I smell a lawyer getting a Bentley out of this….

  22. badlydrawnjeff says:

    I was getting collection calls from the previous holders, I just signed up 2 weeksago, no telemarketers here.

    Boo to the DNC list anyway.

  23. tigerjade says:

    It’s not just Comcast; TWC did that to me with my VOIP line, which I was using as a business line. I was getting telemarketing calls before work had the line programmed into their speed dial.

  24. timmus says:

    Wow, with all the crap coming out about Comcast, they’re quickly going to need their own subdomain here.

  25. TNT says:

    As the Iraqi information minister once said, “I regret to inform you that you are too far from reality.”

    Websites like this are killing the whole idea of blogs as a reliable source of information. They put 2 + 2 together and come with 2 + 2 = 100.

    What’s happening is this: sleazy telemarketers find out the range of numbers Comcast has available. Then, they start dialing up those numbers with distressing regularity… it doesn’t even matter that no one yet has that number. Trust me when I tell you that Comcast doesn’t sell your number to anyone. I should know.

    For God’s sake’s people, get a grip on reality or you’re destined to internet irrelevance.

    Oops… I forgot. You’re already there. What’s worse… you like it. You enjoy it. And that’s sad.

    Just once, ask somebody in the loop for the real story before you post another stupid breathless article about the evil cable company.

  26. lestat730 says:

    Comcast really is stupid. If they are going to pull this kind of garbage it would probably be a good idea to not sell the phone number quite so soon after activation, that way it wouldn’t be so obvious that they are evil bastards with no conscience.

  27. TNT says:

    Let me amend previous comment to say that “sometimes, sleazy telemarketers find out the range of numbers Comcast has available…”

    It point of fact, it doesn’t happen all that often, at least in my experience. But I’ve heard a few reports that it does sometimes happen. Still, it has nothing to do with Comcast and everything to do with the true evil, which is telemarketing.

  28. rubyist says:

    I had similar telemarketer experience with my Time Warner line – who also apparently publishes to the phone book. I get squat on my Vonage lines.

  29. reykjavik says:

    OMG! This is amazing, because I just had this problem. I had signed up with Lingo and had been getting so many telemarketing calls, that I changed my number and gave it out to no one. THAT VERY NEXT DAY, a telemarketer from the area called. At first I just assumed it was some guy signing up for auto loans using a false name and my number (what benefeit he would get form that I don’t know) but now that I changed the number and the call still came through (and I deleted the old number) it must be Lingo. Anyone else use Lingo and get telemarketing calls?

  30. reykjavik says:

    @TNT:

    Even if you’re right I still disagree with you. If Comcast’s customers are being annoyed, and there is almost nothing they can do about it, and Comcast has billions of dollars of profit/cash lying around for their CEO’s to snort cocaine with, then Comcast should realize that this hurting their business and fight for it’s customers. Clearly the law had no impact on telemarketing, so its left up to the markets to figure it out. If I were a company getting blamed for the actions of another company, I would fight hard to stop those actions or let it be known clearly that they aren’t mine. Comcast has done neither and has the money and power to do both.

    Admit it, you’re wrong and you’re a bitch to the man and desperately need to get laid.

  31. skl says:

    I got several telemarketing calls after I switched to Comcast phone.

    They all were from AT&T.

    Cool feature I have is to block certain numbers . .

  32. Boston Kevin says:

    TNT – How do you reconcile your comments with the fact that the telemarketers leave voicemail messages asking for me by name? See also the comments on the post linked by Ben – people whose name was misspelled on their Comcast bills are getting telemarketers asking for them by their misspelled name. It’s not random. Comcast is selling our names and phone numbers.

  33. john_nyc says:

    Same thing happened to me. I only got the Comcast phone service because it was cheaper than just getting the cable/internet ala carte. After 2-3 days I started getting flooded with telemarketing calls. About half of them asked for me BY NAME (well, a mangled version of it). I haven’t had a phone plugged into the modem since then.

    So, it’s not that my number was being subjected only to random calling. They somehow associated my name with this number within 2 days.

    Oh, and Comcast’s installers suck, their CSR’s suck, their STB’s suck, their surprise contract sucks, and the cable modem is the size of my big head (“we have smaller ones, but that’s the one you’re getting”).

    I noticed this weekend that there are these funny black cables that say “Corning Fiber Optic Cable” on them being installed on the telephone poles on my street. Wonder what that’s for….

    John

  34. outsiderlookingn says:

    Within a day of getting comcast digital voice installed I was getting calls from telemarketers. I signed up for the DNC list as soon as I was assigned a ph#, two weeks before the install. When I listed my name with comcast for the phone it was first initial, last name. When I started getting calls from telemarketers they knew my full name, first and last. I finally got to a real supervisor with one of the telemarketers and insisted he inform me where he got my phone # from and he said “well you just signed up with Comcast, right?” So I have no doubt in my mind that they sold my #, I know they did. I canceled my phone service before I ever made a single outgoing call after receiving over 20 telemarketing calls in a week.

  35. nan says:

    @TNT: I’m a little puzzled by your comments. How do you know? And how do you reconcile the fact that a lot of the telemarketers asking for folks by their name??

  36. D-Bo says:

    I added this service last month after not having a landline for years. I figured it might be useful if my cell phone dies or something. I still haven;t give my number out (I don’t even have it committed to memory) and I get a couple calls a week. I turned the ringer off and eventually my voice mail box will fill. Meh… I can’t say I’m surprised.

  37. john_nyc says:

    It seems fairly obvious from his previous posts that TNT works at a Comcast call center.

  38. forever_knight says:

    nice. so instead of AT&T selling your name and number, Comcast is doing it. big surprise. still sucks.

  39. Sean O says:

    Had the same number for 2 years – about 2-3 junk calls a week. Switched to CDV in January and now getting ~1-2 a day. But it’s not the worst thing in the world… the “Out of Area” announcement on my talking Caller ID alerts me to crap within a few seconds. I’ll still take a $35 phone bill over $55. If you’re really perturbed by it, you can always Cancel The Account (if you signed up month-to-month, that is).

  40. akloze says:

    Comcast is also guilty of selling your information to traditional junk mailers. I get numerous junk mail with the same misspelling of my last name that only appeared on the install paper work. If Comcast didn’t have a cable monopoly in my area this would have been the 5th straw that would have made me switch.

  41. theblackdog says:

    @john_nyc: Perhaps it’s Verizon FiOS?

  42. gorckat says:

    Yep- they got me, too. Fuckers.

    Sales calls ~3 days into service with them.

  43. Sidecutter says:

    @alice_bunnie: So, they call old random numbers, and somehow, despite the number having belonged to someone else previously, they magically know the new owner’s name, and even use the same mis-spellings of the name that Comcast has on that person’s bill? I think not.

    @TNT: Reading is FUNdamental. Try it once in a while before you post. If this was a case of cold-calling the range of numbers they got their hands on, they would not know the new line-holder’s NAME, much less the same exact incorrect spellings thereof used by Comcast on the customer’s bill.

  44. MameDennis says:

    I just had Comcast digital voice installed last month… when flipping through the welcome booklet, I stumbled across the unwelcome surprise that you may need to re-register on the DNC list if you change service providers–even if you’re porting your old number.

    There’s a PDF of this buried on the website:
    [www.comcast.com]

  45. DXDawg says:

    I signed up for Comcast cable and internet only (no digital voice or whatever) and immediately began receiving calls ON MY CELL PHONE that would just be hang ups. When I called back I would get voice mail. It took about 3 calls and increasingly pissed off voice mails (using words like “do not call list” and “litigation”) to get them to stop. Added bonus? Apparently the number I was dialing was in Canada. Helllloooo international cell phone rates. Was well worth the $5 or whatever I paid in cell phone bills. I also added my number to the Canadian DNC list ([cornerstonewebmedia.com]) as well as re-registered on the American list. Such fun.

  46. superbmtsub says:

    The Do No Call list is going to get bigger!!!

  47. annz0r says:

    We’ve had comcast digital voice in Chicago for almost a year now. At first we were flooded by, ironically, Dish Network telemarketers. I added our number to the DNC list and the telemarketers stopped… for the most part. The number is in my fiance’s name, which is of hispanic origin. We still get Spanish-speaking telemarketers asking for him! Even saying “I DON’T SPEAK SPANISH” in a loud voice doesn’t stop them; I have to hang up on them.

    I also noticed that we get people calling from the Cook County prison. Comcast is probably reusing numbers pretty soon after the old owners cancel them. At least, I hope that’s why we’re getting random prison calls….

  48. reykjavik says:

    @annz0r: Unfortunately thats not the case. Now that prisons are being privatised the cheap labor they produce is being sold to private companies so companies like American Airlines is getting labor for 25 cents an hour. I guess the telemarketers have also realized that this is the route to take now.

  49. Phone call to the FCC anyone?

  50. Update, then – I just got a digital phone from Wide Open West, which is otherwise a great company…but they misspelled my name, changing my common first name into a different, also common name. Starting not 48 hours later, I was getting phone calls from telemarketers. All of them–every single one–have asked for me (and only me, no-one else in my household) by the wrong first name. I’ve continued to get calls at the rate of 2-4 per day, and the DNC list obviously hasn’t kicked in yet.

    This is DEFINITELY not an accident, or random, or anything else. We’re being sold out, period.