Comcast’s new service agreement (PDF) has some curious details buried in the fine print. Here’s the short version: “customer equipment” includes your computer and TV set, and if Comcast somehow damages or breaks any customer equipment through “gross negligence or willful misconduct,” they will pay you up to $500, no more. “This shall be your sole and exclusive remedy relating to such activity.”
We spoke with Frank Eliason to find out what would really happen if, say, a Comcast technician knocked your high definition TV to the floor and shattered the screen. His response: “Yes there are situations where we would review what happened and repair or replace equipment. That is why we avoid moving Customer equipment.” We actually think Frank is the best thing to have happened to Comcast in a long time, but this still leaves us feeling like Comcast is basically saying, “Officially we only have to pay you $500, but trust us! We’ll never be in that sort of situation.” Umm, no.
Christina Tynan-Wood at InfoWorld asked Frank the same questions back in late February. He explained then that Comcast never opens equipment, but we still say that this amounts to a “trust us” explanation when compared to what’s actually written in the agreement.
Despite this legal bulletproof vest, Eliason says there little reason to fear that the cable guy will break your stuff. “We do not open customer-owned equipment — with the exception of installing a cable card in a slot available on the TV,” he explains. “Even then, the amount of contact with the equipment is minor. We do not open TVs or computers. If there is an issue with a Computer or TV, we verify the service is working properly and guide the customer to the appropriate repair company. In most cases we avoid contact with Customer equipment with the exception of connecting a cable (or other connection such as HDMI cable, Ethernet cable, composite cables), inserting a cable card, and using the equipment (such as watching the TV or opening up the internet on the computer) to verify service is working.”
So what we’re wondering is, is it possible to send Comcast your own modified agreement? Say, a certified letter to Comcast HQ, explaining that if they continue to provide service to you within 30 days of receiving the letter, then they agree that they have to pay the full dollar amount of any customer equipment they damage, not just through negligence but through any actions taken by them in the course of updating or installing their services? Or, an even shorter version could be: “If you break my things, I get your truck.” What if you post that by your front door, and state that continuing to come inside and perform services means the technician agrees to your terms and conditions?
“Will the cable guy break my computer?” [InfoWorld]