Repeated Comcast Outages Nearly Cost Reader His Job

One reader’s Comcast outages have gotten so bad that they could get him fired from his job at Adobe. Here’s his letter of complaint:

Mr. Brian Roberts
Chief Executive Officer
Comcast Corporation
1500 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Mr. Roberts,

I have never taken my valuable time to write a letter like this before and to further use snail mail to send a letter of complaint. I have been through hell and back with Comcast trying to set up my internet for the last 3 months from the time I moved into my new house at [redacted], Princeton, NJ 08540. I have had at least 8 technicians come out for a total of 10 to 12 visits to my house over the last 3 months attempting to fix my internet issues. I have taken time off of work in order to meet these technicians at my home each time, as has my wife….

I have received conflicting attempted resolutions each time someone has come out, saying the problem was the Ped, the modem or the Amplifier in the area which is known to have issues and various other attempted resolutions according to the last technician. I estimate that my wife and I have spent over 30 hours on the phone and with technicians at our home trying to resolve the various internet issues since we moved in. I am an Executive with Adobe and work out of home, so the damage these issues have had to my productivity are enormous and my Manager, VP of Sales for Adobe, recently threatened my job if he hears one more time about the internet issues I am having delaying my ability to respond to him.

Here is what I request.

1. I would like someone from your office to call me at [redacted]
2. I would like the ability to leave my existing contract at any time so I can move to Verizon FIOS. This contract assumed that Comcast had some idea of how to provide internet service and not waste my valuable time and cause major money losing work issues for me that have tainted my reputation within Adobe.
3. I would like to have my installation fees waived.

Please have someone call me immediately and have someone in a position of authority to take this issue over and fix it.

Regards,
[redacted]

cc: Board of Public Utilities
Attn: Cable TV Complaint
2 Gateway Center
Newark, NJ 07102

cc: New Jersey Consumer Affairs
124 Halsey Street
Newark, New Jersey 07102

cc: James Paul
Lead Comcast Technician
Comcast Corporation
1500 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Here’s what happened after our reader sent this letter:

1. Got a call from “LaToya” of Comcast telling me she was on it and would reimburse me once Comcast fixed it.
2. Once they finally fixed the internet (still has issues, but much improved), I called LaToya a month ago and asked for my refund.
3. Never heard back from her and so I called again today.
4. LaToya called me back and apologized and is giving for 4 months refund, $263 for the first four months that the internet hardly worked.

Despite the refund, Comcast is the worst company I have ever dealt with.

Let’s hope the check makes it through the mail this time.

(Photo: cmorran123)

Comments

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  1. banks says:

    Since when does Comcast require contracts for service?

  2. MPHinPgh says:

    I’m guessing FIOS isn’t an option…

  3. kmn842 says:

    @MPHinPgh: Did you even read the article? he wants out of his contract to switch to FIOS

  4. cde says:

    An executive, under the VP of sales, for Adobe living in Princeton? Thats more then enough information to find out that redacted address :/

  5. JTRockville says:

    I was in a similar situation once. My employer didn’t threaten my job, but it’d gotten so bad that they bought T1 service for my home. Fortunately FiOS is available here now, so I switched as soon as I could.

    The T1 was great, but FiOS is even better.

    Comcast? no so much

  6. homerjay says:

    After all this, I’m surprised he’s not demanding more. I know I would be.

  7. Randy says:

    This eerily mirrors the problems I was having 2 years ago with Comcast. After I complained numerous times over the phone and showing up at my local office on a near-daily basis, they finally located the problem (the local amplifier and Comcast-related wiring issues on their lines). I haven’t had much problem with them in the last year or so.

    I hope this dude gets the problem fixed. It can be extremely frustrating to have problems, especially when you work from home (like I do). Once in a while they get it right.

    He seems to be taking the right course by filing complaints with everyone he can. I really do think we need an index of email addresses for companies for an effective EECB.

  8. Hmmm.. time for DSL or… gasp laggy satellite if FIOS isn’t around. As an exec I’m sure he’d be able to write it off someway!

  9. smitty1123 says:

    10 to 12 visits in three months? Dude, if they have to come out more than 3 times in a year you need to start looking elsewhere.

  10. renegadebarista says:

    @smitty1123:

    I’m with you. I would like to know if any other service was available in the reader’s area. If it where me and they didn’t get it right on the first visit and my job depended on it, I’d be looking elsewhere.

  11. RvLeshrac says:

    @banks:

    Since the first day they offered Cable internet access.

  12. MercuryPDX says:

    @banks: I thought when you bundle you’re locked in for a year?

  13. MercuryPDX says:

    @homerjay: I think it’s all about being reasonable. All I would add is a “lack of service” refund on the internet for the duration.

  14. Buran says:

    Is he using a business line? If he isn’t, I bet they’ll tell him “tough shit, you didn’t sign a business agreement with us”. There’s a reason business service costs more.

  15. lunchbox says:

    I live near him, in the next town over. As of now, options are limited. I am not scheduled to have Verizon even dig in my area to begin installing Fios until the end of the summer. Comcast is the only option servicing this area right now. I am sure he would, if he could, find another means of service. I don’t even have internet directly into my home and I can not tolerate Comcast cable and their exorbitant prices! There simply is no competition in this area.

  16. cde says:

    @Buran: While a business line is guaranteed uptime, providing 0 access on a consumer line is still breach of contract, regardless of any clause in the contract.

  17. NightSteel says:

    @Buran: And in addition to CDE’s comment, I’ve found that in at least some places and with some installers, you can’t *get* business service at a residence. They just won’t install the service that way.

  18. persch5 says:

    How much time off from work does he need to meet the techs if he works from home?

    Just a question!!!!

  19. NightSteel says:

    @persch5: I think the guy is complaining more about the loss of productivity than taking time off of work. Regardless of which is worse, though, Comcast is definitely not providing the service they agreed to provide.

  20. Crymson_77 says:

    @persch5: Simple…if he is working with the techs, then he isn’t working for Adobe.

  21. Imaginary_Friend says:

    That was an excellent letter; I hope he gets some satisfaction.

    Whether he chooses to stay with Comcast or not, he should definitely use at least two different internet service providers if his job depends on him working from home.

  22. jonworld says:

    My internet was down for a month and Comcast could not fix it. We even had a technician come in and tell us that he “didn’t have time” for fixing our internet. Finally, after weeks of repairs, they finally got it fixed. I don’t understand what the problem was! We had a new house and most of the cable wiring could be easily accessed by removing the ceiling tiles in the basement, so any problems would be able to diagnose and fix.

  23. swalve says:

    Tell him to buy a T1 if he’s using it for business.

    I can just see the CEO of Comcast making the stroking gesture while terminating this guy’s service.

    Perhaps this guy’s boss is saying “hey clown, quit micro-focusing on your home entertainment problems and show the fuck up in the office.”

    Heck, I’ll bet you $4 that somewhere in the vastness of Adobe they have a dial-in Citrix server.

  24. bradite says:

    I’m going to write this guy a letter complaining about all the time I have wasted waiting for his companies ridiculously bloated products to start up.

  25. kkaabboomm says:

    This is similar to my situation. I cc’d Consumerist on the letter I sent brian and co. (11 execs emails worked in total) After 22 outages in a 5 month period (I live in the middle of atlanta, right near GaTech), I sent my EECB. Anyways, after being contacted again by exec support (i’d contacted them in oct/nov to no avail) and 3 more outages, I just went and filed complaints with the Fulton County Franchise Authority, the BBB, the FTC, the Georgia Public Service Commission, and the Gov’s Office for Consumer Affairs. Who knows if my internet won’t stop going out all the time (not just me, my apt complex as a whole loses it) but at least I know Comcast has to respond to the complaints I’ve filed in writing.

    the Comcast execs who’s emails worked (figured out email format and etc):

    ralph_roberts@cable.comcast.com
    robert_pick@cable.comcast.com
    david_watson@cable.comcast.com
    david_juliano@cable.comcast.com
    john_schanz@cable.comcast.com
    tony_werner@cable.comcast.com
    suzanne_keenan@cable.comcast.com
    john_ridall@cable.comcast.com
    michael_hewitt@cable.comcast.com
    verba_brown@cable.comcast.com
    maura_walker@cable.comcast.com

  26. kkaabboomm says:
  27. sonic0boom says:

    @SWALVE: I use Citrix to access remote clients over a cable modem (Comcast, incidentally). If i had to do it over a dial-up connection, I might as well resign myself to not getting any work done.

  28. NightSteel says:

    @bradite: It’s not a solution to all of Adobe’s software problems, but try Foxit Reader for PDFs sometime.

  29. RottNDude says:

    Get a goddamn EVDO card from Sprint or Verizon and tell these losers to take a hike. Problem solved.

  30. pylon83 says:

    @Buran:
    Exactly. You aren’t guaranteed any sort of uptime with residential service. It’s expected that there will be problems. They charge more for a business line because they will (typically) come out ASAP if it goes down, even at 2am. You’ll pay ~$100/month or more for it, but you’re paying for the quick service. My guess is the wiring in this guys house sucks. That’s part of the reason some companies won’t even provide business service to a residence. The quality of the wiring is so varied it can make for MANY service calls.
    Further, this guy can’t put the blame for his job being in jeopardy on Comcast. He could have gotten internet another way. You should not RELY on a residential internet connection for work.

  31. zifnab says:

    @mercurypdx: No, the bundle price is good for a year, but there’s no contract requiring you to stay with the service for a year. At least, not in the Northeast that I know of. I know they’re offering 2-year contract bundles, but the 1-year ones aren’t contracted.

  32. swalve says:

    @sonic0boom: Have you actually used it over dialup? Because I do, and it’s not particularly slower. Citrix is a very lightweight protocol.

    But that’s not the point. The point is, there are options. But no, it’s all Comcast’s fault. Consumers have no responsibility to pay for the reliability they need. Of course a $50 wireless router should work as good as a $2000 Cisco one.

  33. m0unds says:

    he wouldn’t even need a T1, necessarily. he could probably get DSL service with an SLA for a decent price. then the ISP would be forced to fix stuff within the time period stated in the agreement.

    if it were me, though i would probably put fios right around residential cable in terms of business suitability..

  34. ianmac47 says:

    New Jersey Comcast customers can file complaints with the local board of public utilities online, assuming they have an internet connection of course:

    [www.bpu.state.nj.us]

  35. MercuryPDX says:

    @zifnab: k… just went and looked it up:

    [www.comcast.com]

    “If any service is cancelled or downgraded during the promotional period, Comcast’s regular charges apply for any remaining services.”

    No word in there about being locked in, no penalty for cancelling ALL services.

  36. pigeonpenelope says:

    funny.. i realize others hate comcast but i’ve had great service with them.. from what i gathered, comcast is very inconsistent

  37. swalve says:

    @pigeonpenelope: I agree. Well, the customer service stinks, but the actual internet and TV service is second to none.

  38. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    If he’s an executive with adobe, he probably makes over 100k a year. And since he relies on the internet to make his 100k, he should have subscribed to Comcast HSI AND FiOS and ran them through a dual-WAN router. Together, cheaper than a T-1 and probably cheaper than DSL with an SLA, and if one goes down, you still have the other. Shame on Comcast for sucking, but shame on Mr. Adobe for putting up with it for so long that it pissed off his boss.

  39. mikeluisortega says:

    playing Devils advocate, It’s the guys own fault. He should have subscribed to a business class type subscription that guaranteed up time. I says this because if his job relies on a always up Internet connection you can’t rely on a $30-$40 Internet connection that some joe schmo uses to read email.

  40. chrisdag says:

    There is no excuse for not having a business grade line at his home office if connectivity is so important to him.

    I pay extra $$ to speakeasy each month for a naked (no phone service) “business” circuit that is slower and more expensive than consumer internet plans. The upside is that I have a real service level agreement in place that they must honor.

    When my internet goes down, I make one phone call and the problem is fixed.

    It does not matter if my DSL problem is due to a Verizon local copper loop issue, a Covad DSLAM or ATM circuit problem or an actual Speakeasy problem. I only make one call and speak to one person. After that, Speakeasy manages the entire process including scheduling Verizon and Covad site visits. I am extremely happy with this.

    I’m not a freakin’ executive but I do work from home as a consultant and my business depends on internet connectivity.

    Because of that I actually plan accordingly instead of blaming a consumer oriented ISP who explicitly DOES NOT offer any sort of service promises.

    In addition to the business DSL line I also pay for a Verizon high speed data card for my laptop AND I also have an emergency Tmobile/Starbucks account that I can use if I’m really desperate.

    This does not excuse Comcast for horrible service but it’s not Comcast’s fault that this guy does not have the tools he needs to be successfull in working at home.

    An “executive” at Adobe should be able to swing the $79/month that Verizon charges for a EVDO Rev.A data card.

    The internet problems are Comcast’s fault. The fact that this guys job is in jeopary? Entirely his own fault. Use the right tools for the job …

  41. Buran says:

    @cde: Really? Show me where in the contract uptime/availability is guaranteed.

    You won’t see it on a consumer contract. Only business.

  42. GearheadGeek says:

    @pylon83: (and others excusing Comcast’s lousy service because this guy bought only residential service) I shouldn’t rely on a normal internet connection from my house for work? Oh, I guess I’ll call my manager in the morning and quit then, I obviously can’t get any work done.

    I have a cable modem. It’s dead reliable. I have an EVDO mobile phone that’s tetherable, and so far (touch wood) in the 7 months I’ve been working from home I haven’t needed to do so. I can also go to Borders or a coffee shop if I have a surprise outage, though that wouldn’t help me for a long-haul problem like this guy’s having.

    Just because my service is “residential” doesn’t mean it shouldn’t work most of the time, it means I don’t have an SLA. I’m prepared to weather a short-term problem with my cable internet service, and would give up and call the Deathstar if Charter couldn’t fix it, but again so far it’s working. If they have some drastic change in the level of their service I’ll go commercial, and depend on EVDO in the meantime but if they maintain the very reasonable level of service (to a 55-year old house in an old neighborhood with above-ground service, so I’m sure the physical plant isn’t the newest) then I’ll save lots of money. My employer doesn’t pay for my internet service (I wasn’t hired here, we moved for my partner to go to med school.)

  43. digitalgimpus says:

    There’s no guaranteed uptime. It’s not for business purposes. If the individual really needs that type of service, there are business services just for that (even Comcast offers them).

  44. digitalgimpus says:

    Just because my service is “residential” doesn’t mean it shouldn’t work most of the time, it means I don’t have an SLA.

    Actually it means you can’t use it for business purposes. According to the subscriber agreement:

    . The Comcast Home Networking Service is not a commercial service and may not be used for commercial purposes. Please contact your local Comcast office to inquire about commercial service options.

    And no, you don’t have an SLA. Nor should you rely on it or complain if you can’t get work done.

    Can you use it to VPN to work on occasion? I highly doubt they care. Should you use it so much that it’s failure results in nearly losing your job? No, of course not. The ability to VPN to work on occasion makes their service very valuable to home users.

    they have some drastic change in the level of their service I’ll go commercial

    So your too cheap to buy commercial grade, but you expect it anyway?

    You get what you pay for. If you get extra, great. But don’t complain for getting your money’s worth.

  45. pylon83 says:

    @digitalgimpus:
    Your interpretation of the term “commercial” is incorrect. I believe the term “commercial” as used in the TOS refers to running a web server, etc. from it. Basically, you can’t make money directly from the internet connection, be it from hosting, re-selling access, etc. No reasonable person would interpret that to mean you can’t work from home. However, when you skimp and try to work from home (permanently) on a residential connection, don’t expect any sympathy from ANY ISP customer service when you call screaming when it goes down temporarily. Regardless of who pays for the connection, if you are dependent on it for work, you need to either pay for business service or have a backup plan in place.

  46. techguy1138 says:

    I can’t see this guy lasting long. The kind of person who would pass on months of internet problems to his boss in an IT sector company can’t solve problems.

    Comcast couldn’t get it working, get a competitor.
    No competition get dial up. It will always work even of slow.

    Get Verizon data services. It would be prohibitively expensive but it’s not Adobe’s problem he moved to a place where he can’t do his job.

    Move to a starbucks.
    Work from a public library.
    Get an ISDN line installed and get internet service through there.

    Get a satellite connection.

    Rent office space in a local business building that includes internet.

    I understand that you shouldn’t HAVE to do any of that but you need to be able to solve basic logistic problems to work from home.

    If this guy is an executive at Adobe spending the extra 100$ a month is worth while to not have dings on your hr record.

  47. swalve says:

    @GearheadGeek: He probably should expect decent uptime, probably better than he was getting. But he can’t complain about lost business or lost productivity on a consumer line.

  48. psm321 says:

    I have had Comcast service in multiple states and never seen them require a lock-in contract (or even offer one!). In fact that’s one of the things that keeps me with them… I’m very reluctant to agree to a year or more contract for practically every satellite provider and most DSL providers

  49. ogman says:

    Just more proof that Comcast sucks like no other company.

  50. rjhiggins says:

    Guys, he didn’t say he needed 100 percent uptime. He just wanted reasonable service. He wasn’t getting anything close to that.

    And he doesn’t need a business line to be able to work from home. Business accounts are for running businesses, with multiple users, or heavy traffic to a web server, etc.

    Digitalimpus, in particular, either didn’t read or didn’t comprehend the posting.

  51. RottNDude says:

  52. viqas says:

    or even a treo on a hsdpa or evdo connection would work for email. Honestly this guy has a lot of patience to go through the BS. I get frustrated when i call Time Warner Cable in charlotte, I place the call at 9 pm, and then get put on hold, and then get transfered to the raleigh office who can not help me because the Charlotte office closed at 10pm. Thats how much they suck. oh why do I keep hoping that they will pick up within an hour

  53. forgottenpassword says:

    THere needs to be a lemon law when it comes to services such as cable. If the cable company consistantly provides shitty service (cant find out what the problem is…. then they deserve to be punished).

    Sadly the cable lobby is too powerfull.

  54. FLConsumer says:

    @RottNDude: EVDO is laggy. While I’m not the original poster, I have a job where reliable ‘net access is mandatory. VoIP won’t work over EVDO (if anyone’s figured out how to do VoIP via EVDO, please share your tips!) and EVDO’s latency really screws with some of the timing-sensitive commands & work I do. Windows Terminal Services /VNC / PCanywhere can be very challenging to use via EVDO as well due to the latency.

    Ultimately, Comcast should be able do make their product work and it shouldn’t be a huge hassle to do so.

  55. kc2idf says:

    If my ability to do my job relied on a reliable Internet connection, I would have a redundant path of some sort. That translates, in this case, to Comcast and FiOS.

    Incidentally, my job does not so heavily rely on it, but it is very helpful. As such, I have Road Runner and Verizon EVDO, because it can save me a 45-minute trip to and another back from the data centre.

    From there, you can start the bitchfest that Comcast so clearly deserved, without finding yourself in a zero-connectivity situation while you wait at home for the technicians to show.

  56. lusnia says:

    I had a similar problem in OKC with Cox. Mine affected both my digital cable and internet service. The problem started in last week of october, we didn’t give it much attention since we were going on vacation and figured its a glitch and will probably be fixed when we got back. It wasn’t. We were missing about 60% of our digital channels and conveniently all the ones I normally watch and the modem would not connect. 1 month later, after having spent 3 hours on the phone, missing 30 hours of work to meet the 8 different technicians, and having 4 line technicians including one of the most experienced ones, the problem was resolved. What really irked me is line is only a two block long spur, pretty easy for them to trace the line and find the break. If the DSL around here wasn’t limited to a 6mpbs connection I would have left already. In the end they discounted my service for a year, so that made me slightly less angry.

  57. GearheadGeek says:

    @lusnia: You really NEED more than 6 megabits down? If I could get that on DSL it would be a viable option, but the MAX they’ll offer in my area is 3 meg and who knows what it would actually be by the time it crawls down ancient copper to my house?

  58. disavow says:

    @FLConsumer: True about EVDO. I’ve found similar problems using Sprint & Verizon cards, where they’ll connect to VPN (which VOIP uses) but then block certain traffic or simply not do anything. Definitely not a sure bet like some people are saying.

  59. rhombopteryx says:

    “Executive at Adobe,” reports to “VP of Sales” = commission-earning work-from-home regional salesperson. His base salary probably does have a 2nd digit, but it’s not the kind of money that can easily spring for a second service, or even the additional expense of a ‘business class’ service.

    Yes, the whole “business class is for business, residential is for non-commercial only” line of crap exists, but come on people, a byte is a byte, and a connection is a connection. People who trot out the whole “shoulda paid more” line are apologists for crappy service. It’s in the cable companies’ interest to provide crappy service to force that kind of upgrading… Why sell residential service when you can charge more for the business service?

    The solution here is not charging for what’s not provided, and offering a useable service in the first place – including not saying cable is available if the local repeaters/amplifiers/cabes/ are so screwed up as to be unusable.

  60. polyeaster says:

    Comcast doesn’t require contracts for service, but they will try to get you to “lock in” a certain rate for 2 years…they’re doing that with the Triple Play.

  61. Benstein says:

    Thank God for FIOS, I remember these problems interfering in my Warcraft raids. Definitely get FIOS if it is available.

    I don’t understand how he had a contract? I have never heard of a Contract for Comcast.

  62. kellyd says:

    @rhombopteryx: Yeah, either this guy’s a crappy “executive” with executive-level expectations and poor problem-solving skills, or he’s a sales guy. Last I knew, you could make tax deductions for a home office, so the extra money would come back to the “executive” at tax time.

    Plusly, though, Comcast shouldn’t charge him for service that doesn’t work. I’m just playing the world’s tiniest violin for anyone living in Princeton (and owning a home there) who doesn’t even have to go to work every day.

  63. vealcalf2000 says:

    I wouldn’t even consider switching to FIOS until they’ve worked out their bugs/issues. I work indirectly with Verizon FIOS and it’s a pain in the @ss dealing with them.

  64. foxmajik says:

    Um, you chose to take time off work.

    Taking time off work to get your interwebz isn’t covered by FMLA.

  65. crypticgeek says:

    Ouch, that sucks. But there’s a reason home internet doesn’t have an SLA…