"Comcast Flat-Out Calls Me A Liar"

Reader George is unhappy with Comcast and he doesn’t even have it yet.

About a week ago, I called 1-800-Comcast. I’d just across the country, from Michigan to Oregon (go Ducks), and after a couple days of not having decent internet access or TV, it seemed my choices were either 1) blow up my apartment and take everyone with me, or 2) call Comcast. I chose the latter. This was, in hindsight, a mistake. The woman I spoke to on the phone originally was nice, and helpful. A good customer service representative. She set up our installation appointment and the packages I wanted with no trouble. Because this was a new installation, she told me I’d be getting discounts on the services I chose for 6 months ($19.99 cable internet and $14.99 cable TV). They scheduled the installation date for Tuesday, November 20th.

On the 19th (Today), I called them to confirm the installation the next day, like you do in these situations. The man I spoke to informed me of something interesting: 1) That the prices I was given for the cable TV, internet, and installation were going to be much higher than I was told (“that’s what the computer says”). Naturally, I was a bit upset about this. I’m a student, I just moved 2,000 miles away from home, and I don’t even have a job here, yet. Every dollar counts.

So, I took issue with this, as any red-blooded (also, broke) person would, and his rationale was that I must have simply gotten confused, called the wrong number (how wrong can you dial 1-800-COMCAST?) or was just lying to him. So, as of today, Comcast has, in addition to trying to screw me with higher-than-quoted prices, called me a liar when I wouldn’t just go with their “well the computer says” line. I’m very angry, as one might expect.

I’ve reported this incident to their system, but what are the odds they’ll even respond? So, now I’m sending this to you, Consumerist. Help me.

We’re going to toss this one out to the readers but before we do, our advice would be to put on your negotiating pants and ask to speak to a retention specialist. They will have the most leeway when it comes to compensating you for what (we assume) was a mistake by the CSR who quoted you the prices.

Commenters, what should George do?

UPDATE: George writes:

So, thanks to your amazing help my Comcast problem was fixed immediately. Not only did they apologize but I received free instillation as well as money credited to my account. I can not think you enough for your help. You, the consumerist, are my new hero.

Aw, shucks.

(Photo:taberandrew)

Comments

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  1. DrGirlfriend says:

    Did he try to escalate the issue? He could just have gotten a very intellectually-challenged representative. I might have tried calling again to get a different rep, and see what he/she had to say.

    Did he get the name of the original rep he spoke with? Did the 2nd rep not see any of the notes from his original call?

  2. XTC46 says:

    This should even be an issue. If the CSR offered it, they probably have some special going on. Specials like that are typically advertised, just call back and ask what sign up specials are occurring. Sounds like you just got a bad CSR, if they don’t honor the price, cancel and sign up when one of those specials do come up. I assume you haven’t signed anything yet since that would indicate the special pricing.

  3. Hinomura says:

    (following instructions only apply if you can get comparable internet through channels other than Comcast)

    1. Call back Comcast and cancel the installation. Politely tell them they have lost a customer forever and since you are a student, tell them you will badmouth them all over campus where gossip spreads faster than a San Diego wildfire and hippies abound to stand up for the little man.

    2. Tell them you will get internet access from (insert alternate service here) and that you will just download all the shows that you would normally pay them, for free instead.

    3. Tell them that you’re gonna go run 5 miles and that when you get back, they should suck on your sweaty vinegary balls and lick your taint clean.

    (instructions if you can’t get get comparable internet access from someone else)

    1. refer back to #3.

  4. alyssariffic says:

    Personally, I’m a student with no money too, and I found it much better and cheaper to just get internet and not pay for cable. I’ve found almost everything I’ve wanted to watch available online anyway, and you don’t end up feeling stuck with a single provider in a package services deal.

  5. catcherintheeye says:

    @Hinomura: “Tell them that you’re gonna go run 5 miles and that when you get back, they should suck on your sweaty vinegary balls and lick your taint clean.”

    So I’ve been paying for that all this time? Shit – I’ll just get Comcast to screw me somehow and get it for free.

  6. Beerad says:

    My advice? Sign up for Netflix, whistle cheerily as you stroll away from Comcast rapidly yet confidently, and figure out who provides DSL in your area.

  7. vcstanchion says:

    FWIW, Comcast did raise their prices this month, so that might account for the price discrepancy between the two reps. However, apparently nobody told Comcast that they raised their prices, since they autobilled me for the wrong amount. That’s right – they autodebit my credit card every month, and this month they failed to debit enough money to cover my bill – so now I’m fighting a late fee. Not the first time either. Cancel while you can and run.

  8. BrianH says:

    I don’t think they’re going to care a lot about the bottom-tier “starving student” case. They probably give most of their resources to the toolboxes with the $160/month premium/silver/gold/whatever-they-call-it packages.

  9. DrGirlfriend says:

    Also, if he is in Portland, he may be able to access free WiFi.

    [www.wifipdx.com]

  10. Pylon83 says:

    It seems to me like there are a number of facts missing from the OP’s complaint. Whether these have been purposely left out, or inadvertanly, it’s impossible to make an informed decision unless we know what really happened. What reason did they give for the change? Did you freak out and start screaming? Did you ask for an explanation? Come on, fill in some of the gaps here for us.

  11. lotides says:

    Those prices are correct for a starter special if you have the basic cable package and Internet for 6 months and then the price jumps to over double that amount. I think after 6 months the price jumps from $19 for internet to $42 for internet. At least in my area that’s the deal (Atlanta). The CSR probably quoted you for the wrong area or that guys an asshole thats going to pocket the rest of the money. I say this because one of our Comcast guys quoted a very high price and said we’d have to pay in cash. I knew it was a scam. Then he offered to give me the locked channels if I paid him a one time price of $50 or something.

  12. Pylon83 says:

    @BrianH
    I think you have a good point. No one in business cares about the sob stories of the starving student/single mother/old person on fixed income. Further, they should not care. You’re a customer to them, and that’s how it should be. They should not make exceptions for those who can’t afford to pay for service they want. If you can’t afford it, you don’t need it. If you’re a starving student and cable is a strain on the budget, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the priorities.

  13. nickripley says:

    Comcast is the BestBuy of the cable industry. Even tho BestBuy owns SpeakEasy, which has been the most reliable DSL we’ve ever had, but still…

  14. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @catcherintheeye: If you hang out in public restrooms, you can usually hook a politician who’s willing to pay you for the privilege… now that’s being a smart consumer.

  15. dirtymoney says:

    Hah! Same thing happened to me when I moved into my new place years ago. I originally had directv & was paying abut $60 for a full package (minus all the sports crap). And I called up comcast let them TRY to give me a better deal. They offered a comparably priced package with the channels I wanted & when I called back later the price went up & all the channels I was promised decreased significantly. And the guy on the phone I was talking to was a complete prick about it. I told them to F off & havnt had cable since. Rabbit ears & the neighbor’s unsecured wifi is all I have had for years now. I dont have access to the southern sky so I cant get directv without a twenty foot pole, or my landlord’s and neighbor’s permission to mount one on my neighbors deck.

    F*ck it! Cable (with all the movie channels) is just too expensive anyway… I have saved a small fortune not even having it the past 2-3 years.

    P.s. I watch basic cable at my workplace when I want to.

  16. warf0x0r says:

    @nickripley: I was thinking the exact same thing. You’re never going to hear the exact same thing from one person to the other because of the dissonance the companies put in place.

    Think about this too george… it may be only 33.98 + a crap load of taxes and rental fees for 6 months but if you were unable to land a decent paying job after 6 months you could be stuck with a much more expensive bill, unless you have some roommates or what not.

  17. hoo_foot says:

    “I’d just across the country”

    This made my head hurt. Folks, if you’re going to write complaint letters, at least TRY to proofread them if you want to be taken seriously.

  18. realjen01 says:

    I’ve signed up as a new Comcast customer and the original pricing quoted (19.99 and 14.99 for the first 6 months) is right in line. After the first 6 months they do jack up the prices.

  19. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Expecting good service from Comcast is really not reasonable, so I would suggest you either:
    1). Bend over & live with being called a liar so that you can have cable and internet.
    or
    2). Avoid Comcast like the boil on the butt of humanity it is & find other options. Satellite dish, internet through the phone company, Netflix, the library, etc.

    Comcast will not do right by you until you publicize this to the heavens, and then they’ll only do right because they have to at that point. If you have another problem down the road, they’ll end up doing it all over again, so your problems can be never-ending.

    Hardly the kind of company an idealistic college student such as yourself would want to do business with.

  20. l0stn0tfound says:

    I had a similar thing happen to me. I signed up for Comcast cable and internet for $33/mo each, and was using my own cable modem. When I got my bill they were charging me for a cable modem and charging me $43 for internet instead of the $33 I was promised. The good news is that I called them on the errors on the bill and they fixed it for me, no problem.

  21. vr4z06gt says:

    im in the exact same EXACT SAME boat. I was quoted 19.94 for tv and 19.99 for internet, surely we got our first bill $79.XX after taxes. I call to complain, they tell me the sales rep would call me back. Two weeks go by no call. I went to a billing center and the lady there politely told me I am not capable of either explaining what i want or understand what was said. and tough shit, so i wrote a letter to corporate consumerist keep me updated with this information as will I as I am extremely furious with them right now.

  22. Leiterfluid says:

    Given that he’s a student without a job, maybe cable TV shouldn’t be on his list of priorities.

  23. RottNDude says:

    You can’t afford cable, so why are you even signing up for it?

  24. Pylon83 says:

    @Leiterfluid:
    Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner. FInally, someone else who has a rational bone in their body!

  25. Buran says:

    @Pylon83: And a loser who thinks they know better for other people than those people do.

  26. iEddie says:

    TV is a rip-off. Internet is better (and I believe it’s cheaper). Why? You can find 99% of the TV shows on the Internet. Just search for “show name torrent” and you’ll probably find something.

    So, not only can you get TV off the Internet, you can get much more!

  27. Blueoysterjoe says:

    The dude should:

    1. Contact his local government, and
    2. Support local, state, and federal legislation that creates these local monopolies.

    Everyone hates the cable company, and yet nothing ever changes. But I am enough of an optimistic tool to believe that if you let a politician know that he may lose his seat unless he acts, democracy sometimes works.

  28. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    I didn’t find anything I want to watch searching for “show name torrent”

  29. Pylon83 says:

    @Buran:
    I’m not sure name callign is really justified here, it it? Can’t you come up with something a little more constructive to contribute than simply calling me a “loser”?
    The guy is pulling the “I’m a poor student” card to get some sympathy beause he cannot afford cable. Leiterfluid, and myself, simply seem to think that one who is a “poor student” should evaluate their priorities before getting cable TV.
    Aside from that, I always seem to catch flack from you, and others, for asking for more information and not taking what the OP says at face value. Perhaps you could grow up a bit, quit with the name calling and realze that other people whose opinions are not in line with your’s are not “idiots”, “losers” or whatever other derogatory term you’d like to throw out.

  30. Paul D says:

    I’m a student, I just moved 2,000 miles away from home, and I don’t even have a job here, yet. Every dollar counts.

    Then why are you getting cable?!

  31. frankadelic says:

    I’m not going to tell you not to get cable (to each his gnome) but as someone who’s been a student for too many years I’d suggest against it. Your grades will thank you and it sounds like you wallet will too.

    I’m working on my girlfriend to dump our cable. TRL just hasn’t been interesting since Carson Daily left.

  32. Charles Duffy says:

    @Pylon83: It makes good business sense to market to students — today’s students are tomorrow’s toolboxes.

  33. vastrightwing says:

    If you haven’t paid Comcast anything yet or given them your bank account information, consider yourself lucky. You could end up like countless of other Comcast customers who regret their decision. Sure dial up is slow, but at least you can use a company who will give you better service. Instead of cable for TV, use Miro or some other IPTV solution. You don’t need Comcast. Use a cell phone rather than Comcast “digital” phone.

    However, if you like the idea of service people falling asleep on your couch (if they show up at all) or having your TV go out for days at a time, or enjoy having your p2p software stop working, slow Internet and rude customer service, then keep trying to get Comcast as your service. It may take a while and it will cost you more. But consider the fun you’re already having.

  34. gingerCE says:

    Here is a link via Amazon. It is only the for the cable internet and it’s 19.99 a month for 6 months (this price is not good for wireless) and if you order via amaon you get a $100 amazon gift certificate. I don’t know about the cable tv deal but maybe you can sign up for the offers separately.

    [www.amazon.com]

  35. chrispiss says:

    My comcast experience has been problem free. After reading all the stuff on consumerist, looks like I’m in the minority.

  36. GatorDrew says:

    I personally am not a fan of Comcast… at all. Yet, I use them as I got what I wanted in the end, after much arguing.

    When I first moved to Atlanta, Ga I was offered a “special deal” on HD Cable and Internet. It was $34.99 for cable for the first six months and $19.99 for internet, again for the first six months.

    I got my first bil… it was roughly $180. They had “installation fees” and “setup fees” and all this fun stuff. What was even more hilarious was the fact that they had to do NOTHING to set things up (besides “flicking a switch”) I had my own cable modem, I picked everything up (the cable box), and installed it all (it’s not hard… and definitely not with $50 or whatever). I spoke to them about it… and got the majority of those fees waived. I logged the call, etc.

    What was even better was on my second month. That month the total bill was around $120. This time, it was because the plan for my cable wasn’t “six months” from when I began service, but it was “six months” from when Comcast BEGAN the promotion. It was the most BS I have ever heard. Needless to say, I worked things out so I was happy in the end.

    … Now, when my six months is over. I’ll probably switch over to DirecTV as that’s really the only alternative in this area (besides AT&T’s “cable”). I’ll probably use Comcast for internet though, as I prefer cable over DSL…

  37. GatorDrew says:

    I can’t help but also suggest… whenever you speak to these people log everything. Who you spoke with, your problem, and their solution. I do this for any “big” company. Also, I’ve found that it’s much easier to be nice than argue. Finally, don’t “point the finger” at the account rep at first. Try saying “Comcast did this” rather than “You did this” as most of the time the rep you are speaking to didn’t have any impact on previous discussions, etc.

  38. eury says:

    First off, Go Ducks indeed.

    Secondly, when I first attempted to get my bundled cable and internet installed by Comcast I had something similar happen. Being that I am not as old fashioned I didn’t call to confirm anything but after the installation I was presented with a bill approximately $100 more than I was told it would be. Here is where my story differs, I told the technician that the amount was incorrect from what I was quoted and that I simply couldn’t afford it. He made a call back to homebase and quickly enough, I was charged the original correct amount.

    I offer no explanation for why the prices were different or why the technician seemed to have no problem changing the price.

  39. Crim Law Geek says:

    @frankadelic:
    Dude!?! TRL? Are you serious? If you girlfriend is old enough to remember Carson Daly hosting it, she’s too old to still be watching it. Unless she was 9 when she watched him on it, in which case you should go have a seat over there and wait for the camera crew to come out.

  40. emt888 says:

    As a graduate student, I feel your pain. I know a lot of people here are attacking your student status and are questioning why you are even getting cable in the first place. I am not sure where you are at in your academic career, but let me address some of the issues raised:

    1. People have been saying you should take advantage of others unprotected Wi-Fi. That’s a mistake. You need to make sure you have reliable internet access for research and for communication with other students and your professors. I did some of my undergrad work in the early 1990’s before the internet, and I have no idea how I got anything done! I’ll say it again, you NEED reliable internet.

    2. I saw some suggestions about using dial up. Wow, don’t do it. I know that a lot of professors send articles via email, or direct you to a site online. Those PDF files can be pretty big and even with cable internet, it can take a while to download them. I can’t even imagine trying to do it with dial up.

    3. Many people have questioned why you are getting cable since you are having trouble affording it. I say, get the cable. If you are like me, you are probably living in a cheap apartment and are living on ramen noodles, store brand food and mac and cheese. You need one luxury in life…make cable your luxury. I know there are times when I am stressed or pulling an all nighter and I just need some mindless entertainment. Cable works well for that.

    All in all, I am not sure who pissed in a lot of people’s cornflakes (what was up with the posting about proof reading? Sorry, but people make mistakes.) but I feel your pain. Hang in there, there is a ligth at the end of the tunnel and graduation day will be here soon.

  41. aikoto says:

    Here’s a neat trick from someone who used to live in Oregon. You are allowed to record phone calls as long as you are a participant in the conversation. Call them, turn on the recorder (some answering machines have this capability built it, otherwise, make the call through your computer), find someone who gives you the same information as the first person.

    Once you have it, use it as a bargaining chip at the first sign of trouble. “Oh sorry Mr. Manager, but I recorded your CSR by the name of Joe Totallyscrewed who’s badge number is #12233 having offered me these prices. You’re going to fix this now. Have a nice day”.

  42. Megan Trigg says:

    I had a similar issue when signing up for Comcast last January. We were quoted a rather nice deal for internet & cable. I called through 1-800-Comcast and they just couldn’t manage to get the rate for me again. So I looked up on the website the local office and I called the local number. And you know what? I found considerate reps who actually wanted to help me find the best deal. No shit! The lady I was talking to found me three different promotions and gave me my option of any of them. The installation people were on time, and the only thing that ended up being different was that when they got there, the initial “deposit” check was less than I was quoted over the phone. So ignore that national number and call your local office. They’re local, so they have a definite interest in your happiness, since they’re the ones that’ll be threatened by hammers if you end up displeased.

    A side note on the cable: I don’t watch or pay for it, but one of my housemates insisted cable was a necessity. I’d just like to mention, though, that I was a complete tv addict when I was in college, but after almost a year without, the only thing I find I’m lost on with conversations is how many people talk about the commercials!!

  43. Shinobuu says:

    I don’t use comcast but I do have a cable provider. I need TV because it’s the main method of watching a show captioned. The internet doesn’t currently provide any captioning for any of the shows they provide. Only foreign shows have subbed/dubbed which is a form of captioning. Either way, TV is my method of entertainment.

  44. Buran says:

    @Shinobuu: Yeah, I don’t get why more people don’t understand that. I even got called rude things and a “snob” once for saying I don’t like dubbed anime. Uh, exactly why am I a snob and other unmentionable things for having a handicap?

    The itunes store is supposed to be able to handle closed captioning now but I have a TiVo Series 3 so I have no need to buy shows from itunes, but it might be something you could look into.

  45. kylere says:

    Thanks to a monopoly they gained by purchasing my local politicians in Flint, MI, having JUST cable internet costs me 70 a month.

    And Verizon FIOS does not even list an address in the city when you go to see if it is available, they only allow you to check addresses where the white people all live.

  46. Twitch says:

    perhaps you should wait until you actually get your first bill?

    If one rep put it in the system the correct way, and another rep is misreading the computer, they may not know what’s going on. Wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened.

    Those prices have often been reported on their website as introductory offers etc. So the first rep may have been correct.

  47. arizred says:

    Another tactic is to tell Comcast that youare going to call the City’s Cable Franchise Office and lodge a complaint. That usually agets their attnetion, especially now that Qwest wants to sell cable in the city.

    By the way – We just signed up for satellite TV and will be getting over twice the channels for $10- $15 less a month than Comcast and the rate is guaranteed for 18 months.

    Comcast reminds us of why we need to limit monopolies.

    Arizona Red

  48. SpdRacer says:

    Hey come on now, you can’t badmouth cable, don’t you know that just by existing they make everyone else that much better (if you believe the ads the cable industry spends millions on). Seriously though, i read two good suggestions in the previous posts:
    1) Ditch Comcast or any cable company for that matter, they all are ripoff artists posing as reputable companies
    2)DSL is all you need, everything is available for download, oh and it won’t cost you your first born, unless of course you don’t like the little bastard, then by all means get cable.

  49. frankadelic says:

    @thirdgen:

    It’s a joke, asshat.

  50. Robowan says:

    Insider info. Comcast call centres are located in Canada, and the average turnover rate for the location I worked at (a placed called Convergy’s in Lethbridge, Alberta) was 100%. They also employed, in their 2 or 3 years in the town, I believe 90% of the population of the town at one time or another. We always wondered what would happen.. but yeah. At 3 months without quitting you were considered a “lifer”. I am not surprised that his service was terrible. The first girl was probably a new hire, fresh out of training and it may have even been her first call! If he’d called and gotten the same girl a few hours later, she would have probably told him to restart his computer and if that didn’t work, she’d roll a truck. That’s their troubleshooting steps, basically. Anything aside from a reboot is pretty much out of demarkation and can get you fired. I don’t think anyone ever did get fired.. everyone quit. Sorry that we took it out on you guys, but when you work in an ex-grocery store turned call centre with NO WINDOWS. .. . they have this thing called the “power hour” where they blast rap music and yell at you over a megaphone, trying to motivate you to upsell anything at all on every call. Connection intermittent? Upgrading to our digital phone package might help!!

  51. Robowan says:

    Forgot to mention, I lasted 2 days.

  52. jeffj-nj says:

    Based entirely on the repeated stories on Consumerist about Comcast, I will never become a Comcast customer. I’m currently living in NJ, and decently pleased with my CableVision service. I’ve never had any serious issues in the ten years or three apartments I’ve been with them for. Oh wait, I was “borrowing” the neighbor’s cable in one of those. Well, still, point is, no Comcast for me when I move to Colorado next month, and I have this website to thank for that. So, thank you.

    George, if you frequent this website at all, you should’ve known to never call Comcast in the first place. Maybe you’re new here? In any case, walk away from Comcast now. Don’t call them. Don’t write them. Don’t let them know they lost a customer. They clearly don’t care. You don’t get to where they are today – hated, scorned, ridiculed – by caring what customers do or say. So, just walk away. Now.

    That said, if anyone is still listening, I’d like to swing the subject back towards something which would benefit me as well as George – namely, alternatives. For TV, I think I’ll be going with DishNet. They’re giving away free HD PVRs to new customers, so that certainly seems like a deal I can’t pass up. DirectTV wants hundreds of dollars up front for similar equipment. F’ that. And, for internet, I’m thinking Qwest’s “silver” DSL. It promises 1.5Mbps download speed, which is slower than what cable access promises, but also faster than I’ve ever actually seen occur with my current cable access anyway, so I suppose it’ll be good enough.

    Thoughts? DishNet TV and Qwest DSL? Good choices for me in Colorado?

    What choices are available elsewhere? Where does George live? etc…

  53. ThomasD3 says:

    Same for me. After seeing the picture painted over and over, I decided to ban them from my potential options (there are already a few places not getting a $ from me, like best buy and circuit city).

  54. Crim Law Geek says:

    @frankadelic:
    No shit, Sherlock!