"So, I'm Suing Comcast…" Reader Joins Comcastic Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Comcast on behalf of D.C. area customers for “false advertising related to the speed of its Internet service,” says the Washington Business Journal, and one of our own dear readers has written to tell us why he’s joined up. It’s an all-too-familiar-sounding story, but Jonathan’s experience has been so awful that he says he’d rather go without internet and join a lawsuit than deal with Comcast anymore.

My name is Jonathan [redacted], and have had the worst customer experience in my life in dealing with Comcast of DC over the last 5 months. From incompetent technicians, to gross abuses of billing procedures, to a simple lack of basic service, I am appalled at what they claim to be “Comcastic”. In addition, I am a graduate student, and so do not have much time to fight with call center employees (60 hours and counting, no exaggeration) over their horrific overcharging; I also don’t have time to sit at home for yet another technician who doesn’t know anything about the services they are providing. For my work-study, I am an IT technician or an office building in downtown DC. As a result, I oftentimes know much more about networking than the technicians who are supposed to service my line!

So, I’m suing Comcast.

Much like the suit in California brought against them for bittorrent throttling, it is easy to see that Comcast has blatantly falsely advertised and misrepresented their service. As a result of this horrible customer experience, I will be shortly joining a class action suit against Comcast as a named complainant. (See this article). I am a fairly good representative of the class, seeing as I personally have been over-billed hundreds of dollars for services that didn’t work at all or only intermittently. They apparently don’t even maintain copies of the work orders that serve as my contract at their billing office (no actual contract has ever been signed, nor a copy made of the list of services I signed up for). They did not have any accurate record of the level of service I signed up for at the beginning of my service, and I had to fax them the work order.

Since then, I have recently simply shut off my TV cable service with Comcast, and am desperately searching for a replacement internet provider, but it appears that no companies service my building [at least, not: RCN, Verizon FiOS, AT&T, Cox Communication, Clearwire, Speakweasy, Earthlink, or ANY others that I can find]. There is apparently a movement in DC to attempt to bring some semblance of service through telecom diversification, but most of the residents are simply up a proverbial creek. My roommate and I have decided that it is actually better to have no internet service at all than try to deal with the ridiculousness of Comcast.

Thank you for your support and understanding,

Jonathan [redacted]

P.S. Attached is the letter I wrote to Jennifer Khoury, the Senior Director of Corporate and Consumer Communications, which was also sent to the DC Comcast Offices and the DC branch of the Better Business Bureau.

Jennifer Khoury
Senior Director of Corporate and Consumer Communications
Comcast Corporation
1500 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 320-7408

Jonathan [redacted]
February 5, 2008

Dear Madam,
Please let me express my deepest sense of confusion and regret. Confusion, as to how a company can so easily railroad its customers with little to no consequence; and regret, in choosing your company to provide any semblance of service. In my area of Washington DC, Verizon, RCN, and AT&T do not operate in my area. If I want internet service, I must use your services. I have since decided that it would be better and easier to go with nothing rather than having to deal with the atrocious communication, service and general ignorance of your company. In the four-odd months that I have been a customer of yours, Comcast has not done a single thing correctly. From the very beginning, there was nothing but a string of errors relating to my service, billing and communication.

Thinking that online registration would be a fool-proof way of activating service proved to be a laughable expectation. Even though the entire installation fee and first month’s service were paid in full upon the technician’s arrival, you proceeded to bill me $107.53 for the installation and first month. This included fees for several things that I did have installed, and the wrong monthly amount! This is truly perplexing, as I signed up for the service online, verifying – three times – the monthly rate, but never received a verification email. When a company can run roughshod over its customers and even affect their credit scores, this kind of error is quite frightening.

To correct the errors in installation and monthly fees (I do not have three televisions, nor a television service nearly four times as expensive as what I ordered), I have now spent approximately 60 hours on the phone with your inept customer support. The errors and erroneous charges from the very first bill persist to this day. In order to correct this, I was told to fax the original work order to customer support (and given an incorrect fax number, at that). This is very disconcerting; I would assume that your billing department would have a copy of my bills and work orders. At my current wage, I could have made an equivalent $720 with that time wasted. This alone outweighs the entire cost of my total services! To stop hemorrhaging money, it is better to simply end the service.

Now, let us speak about what services were actually rendered during this stint of so-called service. It was not until nearly the third month that the cable television was fully functional, and would not cut out every few minutes. It took me six technicians in order to have all channels functioning correctly, and all we were offered was a scant $4 credit to the account. The credit was not even worth the time that would have been spent on hold and fighting with the billing department. Aside from inadequate television service, the situation of the internet is even worse.

Even today, I cannot load the website of the Better Business Bureau, as my internet service is too slow and intermittent. If I wait long enough, the page eventually times out and I have to begin again. Now, I must admit that I am an IT network admin for an office building in downtown DC. I support computer networks for my job. Over the course of our many visits from technicians, I eventually came to the conclusion (with the last technician) that your actual IP node is malfunctioning, but because of the compartmentalized structure of your company, the problem will never be fully addressed, hence my decision to leave.

I don’t wish to bore you with technical details of 100 ms ping times to google.com, but I will provide you with an understandable anecdote of one of the many technician visits. While the technician was able verify a strong enough signal, he was unable even to load a webpage in a browser, promptly left, and said “your speed isn’t fast enough”. While I realize that “actual speeds may vary” gives you quite a large legal loophole, 0.1 KB/s is not a usable level of service on a 4 Mbps (250 KB/s) line. When you provide 0.4% of the promised service, you are misrepresenting the service, not providing adequate or competent support and even overcharging for the whole process!

While I have accepted that the quality of your service will not change, I still face the prospect of untangling myself from your horrific billing procedures. Time and time again I was told that the erroneous charges would be removed from the account, yet they would appear on the next bill. Often times, I was told to wait to pay until a new, correct bill could be generated. This continued until I received a delinquency notice. When calling to inquire about this notice, I was informed that they are automatically generated, cannot be undone, even if the account is under review. If my service were to be turned off, it would definitively affect my credit score, and cause unknown amounts of future damages in the cost of my credit. Twice, I was told that I would receive a full account review and a call back, but that no ticket or phone number could be provided. The calls never came. Most recently I have been working with “Lucy at extension #7978″ who is the latest to promise me an account review. She was kind enough to provide her extension number, but has not once called or emailed me, despite my frequent attempts to reach her via phone and fax.

All I would now ask is that my account be refunded the extraneous charges, that I am not negatively affected in my credit score, and that you offer your other customers in the area some form of reimbursement for the near-absent level of service you are currently providing.

Thank you for your time,

Jonathan

Good luck.Jonathan.

(Photo:cmorran123)

Comments

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  1. BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

    How soon will it be before Comcast makes you sign a mandatory binding arbitration agreement before you can get service?

  2. punkrawka says:

    In the DC area he shouldn’t have to go without high-speed Internet to ditch Comcast. Pretty much the entire DC Metro area has FiOS available now. I know Consumerist has detailed that FiOS has its own problems, but my wife and I have had it for two years and it destroys Comcast even if it’s not perfect.

  3. punkrawka says:

    @punkrawka: Hey idiot, he explicitly said that FiOS doesn’t service his building. Read the whole post next time. Sorry, everyone :)

  4. smitty1123 says:

    Comcast is the best ISP I’ve ever had. Better than any of the local crap I’ve paid for before. Way better than Qwest DSL. I might be in the minority, but I’m perfectly happy with them.

    Sucks for those who have had shitty service though.

  5. econobiker says:

    EECB time has long since passed, plus posting to comcastmustdie.com wouldn’t hurt either…

  6. Slick36 says:

    I live in the sticks outside of the DC metro area and use Sprint Mobile Broadband.

    Brought the broadband modem into my office in downtown DC, and plugged it in to my desktop (it’s USB). Works great, get 100 – 200 kbs download speeds. Not the fastest, but seems to be reliable. Costs about the same as cable/dsl internet service and offers unlimited data transfer.

  7. coelacanth says:

    @punkrawka: In fact, FIOS is not available to anyone in Washington DC proper, so I guess it really isn’t available to “pretty much the entire DC Metro area.”

  8. m0unds says:

    Using Google-Latency ™ as a net metric is dumb dumb dumb. Google utilizes load balancing so when you request anything from google.com, you might be getting a response from a server on the other side of the country.

    And..IP Nodes? WTF?

  9. MDSasquatch says:

    Quite a few years ago, I swore off AT&T; this past week, Comcast joined the list, They have the worst customer service of any company I know. They are the only game in town and know it, I can hardly wait until competition (verizon) squashes them like the a$$hats they are

  10. Beerad says:

    I really don’t understand why competing companies haven’t sprung up to take advantage of the big guys’ horrific shortcomings. Is it a question of investment and infrastructure — that it costs so much to be able to operate as an ISP (beyond dial-up) that nobody can provide high-speed internet without already having cable or DSL distributed to customers?

    Seems like this has already happened with basic phone service (Talk America, Working Assets, etc.) but hasn’t caught up to internect connectivity yet. Anyone with any insights why? I’m genuinely curious.

  11. Frank Grimes says:

    @punkrawka: +1 for calling yourself out. Peaople actually read the posts before commenting, is that allowed?

  12. Starfury says:

    I had Comcast here in the SF Bay Area. We had analog cable and internet through them; the bill was almost $100 per month. My internet speeds were nowhere near what was promised, they were fast but not 6mbit fast. After shopping around; and ATT having a special on DSL we switched. My DSL is faster by 20% than cable, and the satellite gives me a bitter picture with 2.5x the number of channels for less money than Comcast.

    Now I get more channels with better quality, music on Dish, and internet for about $30 less than I was paying before. I’ll never go back to comcast.

  13. scoosdad says:

    Well the White House’s phone lines are eligible for Verizon DSL, so I suppose just about any of the metro DC lines are also eligible as well. He didn’t mention checking for the availability of Verizon DSL, just FIOS.

    I also vote for a post to comcastmustdie.com. Comcast exec customer service reps are all over that blog trying to resolve issues for people.

  14. renegadebarista says:

    This may be a good time to remind people that their is another option besides a EECB for cable companies. Call the franchising authority on your bill (City, County, etc.) Most of them will have a person who deals with cable system complaints. I have used this once with TWC and it worked wonders. I had my issue resolved within one hour. People too often forget this route and it works like a charm and much faster then an EECB.

  15. STrRedWolf says:

    @Slick36: Yeah, but then it’s *Sprint*, which has it’s own feature here on the Consumerist. AT&T’s Dataconnect Broadband is also in the DC area (although I’m up near Baltimore), uses the 3G service, and gets similar if not better speeds. I have their USBconnect (aka Sierra Wireless) 881U USB dongle that works well anywhere (including Linux with kernels past 2.6.23 — 2.6.22 needs patching so the new driver will work, and 2.6.25 will have it natively). It’s $80/mo for unlimited service through AT&T.

  16. Sixxtwo says:

    I have aptly now named them: Cram-Caustic

  17. yesteryear says:

    this must be really frustrating – one more reason that all of this consolidation is never good for consumers. cheers to this guy for giving up the internet completely – i’d maybe make it 24 hours – maybe.

    i’m lucky because where i live the city owns the telephone, electricity, cable TV and cable internet utility and it’s awesome – i get 100 channels of cable TV and cable internet for $80 a month total and the CSRs are in a building 3 blocks from my house.

    i had comcast for 2 years when i lived in SF and our internet seemed to go down at least once a week for hours at a time… then i’d spend 2 hours on hold with someone in canada who would just tell me to hold down the reset button on the modem… wow. genius!

  18. Logan26 says:

    @coelacanth:

    You do realize DC Metro is much larger than just the DC area right? Bethesda is concidered part of the DC Metro area and FIOS is available there. Same for Rockville, Silver Spring and several other areas.

  19. johnva says:

    @Starfury: Only thing that sucks is that you usually have to get a landline telephone line to get DSL. I don’t want a landline telephone line, since I don’t use one and don’t want to pay for one. If you already pay for a landline and want to continue doing so, DSL + satellite may well be quite a bit cheaper than Comcast.

  20. sleze69 says:

    Of all the places that my work travels bring me, DC has, without a doubt, some of the BEST 3G internet speeds in the country.

    Upgrade to a phone that will do tethered internet sharing and forget about Comcast’s wired internet.

  21. IamTCM says:

    No FiOS in Washington, DC.

    Read: [www.speedmatters.org]

  22. IamTCM says:

    @sleze69: I agree. Sprint SERO plan + WMWifiRouter = God Send.

  23. coelacanth says:

    @Logan26: @Logan26: I have lived in Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Spring, and also in the District proper. On maps of FIOS availability, there is a giant hole in the center of the “greater DC area”. You may not be aware of this but it’s a bit of a sore point with District residents, that Verizon has made no tangible progress in bringing FIOS into the city. In that context, I don’t believe you can say “pretty much the whole DC area” unless you’re describing some portion of the actual place Washington DC.

  24. milty45654 says:

    He has no time to fight call center employees but has time to write that long ass letter to consumerist. ROFL…seriously, I hope he gets what he expects….

  25. pigeonpenelope says:

    i’m so befuddled. i have had great experiences with comcast. i experienced some technical difficulty starting up and they had technicians out and fixing the problem right away. i called customer service to ask for a prorated credit since they started charging before the service worked and they did so without hassle. they’ve never mischarged me. and the speed of internet surpasses my boyfriend’s wireless. i’ve had to call with questions a couple times and they were always courteous and friendly on the phone. my only complaint is their online billing service as it doesn’t tell me what i owe in real time and i often end up paying my monthly service twice.

    i have digital cable which i like way over satellite. it never goes down. my internet has not had a service interruption since i started. my old isp, qwest, had frequent outages and super slow periods. and qwest was a smidge more expensive. it was dsl. i’ve recommended comcast to my family who have all been satisfied.

    i trust this gentleman’s experience is frustrating and valid. i wonder if it isn’t the region. i’m in washington state. i am curious to know if any washingtonians have experienced the same frustration over comcast as this guy has.

  26. Pylon83 says:

    I’m sure this guy is a real gem to deal with. First off, IT Admin’s are usually by far the worst kind of technology customers. They are absoultely certain they know exactly what the problem is, yet don’t know how to fix it. Further, an IP Node? I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of such a thing. Probably because it’s not real. The tech probably said that to shut him up. These are the kind of customers who absolutely refuse to believe that the problems could be caused by their own setup. Be it a router, in-home wiring, etc., since they work in IT, their stuff if never wrong. His “I know better than everyone” attitude is reflected in his letter, which is full of typos (“In my area of Washington DC, Verizon, RCN, and AT&T do not operate in my area.”) Are you kidding me? And this guy is a “Grad. Student”? And 60hrs on the phone is simply insane. There is no reasonable explanation why he would have let it get that far. I have never, ever been on the phone more than 1hr to correct any sort of billing issue. My guess is he is either making the situation worse, or he just won’t accept that it’s fixed. That or this whole story is fake, submitted with the hope it would get posted. It’s a little to “Sensational” to seem real.

  27. aka Cat says:

    @m0unds: Using Google-Latency ™ as a net metric is dumb dumb dumb. Google utilizes load balancing so when you request anything from google.com, you might be getting a response from a server on the other side of the country.

    But, doesn’t that mean that you’ve removed/reduced a slow-down on google’s end from the equation? Which, if you’re trying to get an idea of the speed through your provider, would be a good thing?

    (Seriously, I’m asking.)

  28. pigeonpenelope says:

    @Pylon83: i quite agree with you. he sounds like a tool. i especially think so because the letters posted mostly contain emotion and little fact.

  29. Pylon83 says:

    @pigeonpenelope:
    Precisely. The person at Comcast reading this is just going to think it’s some jerk going off on a rant. There is no log of times he called, no substantiation for his 60hrs on the phone, no names of tech’s that visited, no real description of the problem. Typical low-level, unintelligent “IT” guy. He probably got his “computer experience” selling PC’s at CompUSA. (OK, that was a little mean, I admit).

  30. warf0x0r says:

    “For my work-study, I am an IT technician or an office building in downtown DC.”

    I wish I could have been an office building for my work-study.

  31. Pylon83 says:

    @warf0x0r:
    Indeed. This dudes writing is terrible. I wonder what Grad school he got into, Bob’s IT Learning Joint?

  32. Coelacanth says:

    Since when did 4Mbps equal 250KB/s? Apparently the OP’s math leaves much to be desired, or he doesn’t know much about IT at all.

    Furthermore, the guy has no idea how to be a respectful consumer and let the facts speak for themselves. There’s no need for the extra commentary that puts down their employees – he hardly needs to argue his case.

    I doubt anyone would want to work with whatever personality disorder he has.

  33. pigeonpenelope says:

    @Pylon83: agreed. he’s likely had very little experience in IT and thinks he’s pro. i work for a certain large corp, no its not comcast, and on occasions, i help out customer relations. emails like the kind this guy sent are not productive. they’re just loaded with emotion and we can’t really do anything with emotion. i bet when he was on the phone with tech and customer service, he was probably a jerk and probably argued. that may count for the amount of time he claims he was on the phone dealing with his problems. likely he gave the folks such a hard time, they were not able to fix the situation as fast as he would have liked.

  34. pigeonpenelope says:

    @Pylon83:”@warf0x0r:
    Indeed. This dudes writing is terrible. I wonder what Grad school he got into, Bob’s IT Learning Joint?”

    a detail i missed. i don’t know anyone who can get into grad school with poor grammar.

  35. pigeonpenelope says:

    @COELACANTH: i work in a call center and have, at one time, worked for customer care (yes i was a csr…ok i am still but at a higher level) anyway, he would be a nightmare to deal with. he’s all emotion and little logic. i bet he went round and round with those csr’s. i feel more sorry for the csr’s who had to help him than i do for him for having a bad experience.

    i think he may have had a frustrating experience. i bet it wouldn’t have been quite so bad had he been positive and used his listening skills.

  36. scoosdad says:

    @coelacanth: Verizon has already gone on record in my mid-sized Massachusetts city (story and quotes in our local paper) as saying that they’re not interested in wiring dense urban areas for FIOS. Too many issues dealing with multidwelling structures, underground utilities, hi rise buildings, etc. they say.

    To Verizon, FIOS installation heaven apparently is a country road with about a hundred single family homes per mile passed, and utilities above ground on telephone poles already in place.

  37. scoosdad says:

    @scoosdad: Here’s the quote from Verizon:

    [www.worcestermagazine.com]

  38. Coelacanth says:

    Two Coelacanth posters.. interesting.

  39. coelacanth says:

    @scoosdad: I was not aware that they did not intend to offer FIOS in urban areas. That makes what they’re telling the District of Columbia government sound less coy and more deceptive. It also raises the ugly spectre of digital redlining.

  40. Optimus says:

    @Beerad: Since nobody else has picked it up:
    Up until recently, communication companies had to get permission from local governments in order to start service in an area. This permission was usually tied to a build out date, which was the date at which the communications company was required to offer service to a certain percentage of the governed area. This made it so that it was a very expensive proposition to provide service to an area. New startups in an area that already had a build out from another company could almost be assured of failure unless they were a very noticeable improvement over the current provider. Often the current provide would increase pricing and allow features to stagnate until a new competitor gained a build out agreement, at which time, they would tout huge discounts and add tons of features which would magically disappear once the new competitor either stabilized or went under.

    This may change now that the FCC has basically castrated build out requirements. However, don’t expect service in any area deemed unprofitable by the new guys (such as neighborhoods that are conscientious with their money or neighborhoods that just don’t have much money). Basically, if you’re in a basic-cable, who-needs-video-on-demand-when-I-have-a-BD-player, 3Mbps-download-is-fine-with-me neighborhood, you won’t be getting competitive pricing for a very long time, and possibly forever.

  41. pigeonpenelope says:

    @COELACANTH: it is interesting that there are two of you. is it Gaelic?

  42. @punkrawka: No need to say sorry. Some people just either don’t read or can’t understand the simple concept that Comcast is the only internet service provider in the neighborhood. If you don’t wish to do business with Comcast, then pray you have a neighbor with an open wireless access point (as I thankfully do).

  43. Pylon83 says:

    @Papa Midnight:
    Ah, so the solution is to steal internet from someone else? That’s awfully consumer-friendly of you. Next you’ll decide that stealing from banks is easier than working, and a lot less hassle since you don’t have that pesky boss to deal with. People like you make me sick.

  44. t0fu says:
  45. t0fu says:
  46. RumorsDaily says:

    This was my experience with Comcast in DC:


    + Watch video

  47. RumorsDaily says:

    @Pylon83: It’s not stealing if the person left it open for people to use.

  48. Pylon83 says:

    @RumorsDaily:
    Ah yes, the standard argument. “Well, he left his garage open, so I just assumed that the stuff in it was for me to use.”

  49. Beerad says:

    @Optimus: Very interesting, thanks for the information!

  50. misterdisco says:

    I live in the D.C. metro area (and just submitted my own Comcast experience to The Consumerist today, which I hopes gets posted) and in my building, Comcast is the *only* option.

    Ugh. They truly are the worst.

  51. bufftbone says:

    “For my work-study, I am an IT technician or an office building in downtown DC”

    Wow, one day he’s an IT technician then the next day he’s an office building. Talk about being multi talented.

  52. Curiosity says:

    @Pylon83:

    So exactly how do you tell if someone has left a wireless network open intentionally or not? Practice speaks to the fact that networks without restrictions or passwords are just that – unrestricted.

    If the network is not restricted to a person’s property and is encroaching upon your space.

    The situation is similar to Wrigley Field not wanting others to view the game [www.oreillynet.com] , finding someone else’s bike in your garage without permission, or pirate radio.

    I would agree with you, if the person with the network was not encroaching upon others by the use of their network. [antionline.com]

    Just a thought that it is not nearly as clear as you seem to make it out to be.

  53. MarkinNJ says:

    Hello. I used to work for Comcast for 5 years. If you need someone with inside information in court, let me know. Of course donations are accepted for information.