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,
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.
Senior Director of Corporate and Consumer Communications
1500 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19102
February 5, 2008
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,