Got Refund After Comcast Charged Me $28 To Fix Their Mistake

Roger got Comcast to refund a $28 fee they charged him after they came out and fixed his lines that were not connected to his house properly. Even after they reversed the charge, they wanted to charge him a $1.99 monthly fee for a “protection plan” which would protect him from being charged $28 fees. Here’s how he defeated them:

Dear Consumerist,

Today when I received the Comcast bill, I was shocked to see a 25% bill increase because I called for technical support due to my intermittent internet troubles. I looked closely and found a $28 fee for “Video Trouble Call” which I am definitely sure that my issue was specifically for internet, not television. So here’s the story for how I won a $28 fee with three technician calls to fix Comcast’s problem.

I called Comcast in early July to let them know that the internet was not working correctly and scheduled for a technician visit for July 13th to look at the lines. I specifically said that the lines were the problem and during summer is when the internet problems usually occur. Out where I live, the cable lines are above ground, the climate is a desert, and the weather gets very hot that it could be an outside wiring or equipment failure.

The first technician came out, checked only my cable modem and plugged his machine to test the frequency of the line. He said the line worked fine, however he talked to the technician who normally maintained the lines to give it a week or so to have the internet problems fixed. It didn’t resolve the problem and I complained on Twitter about Comcast.

I called Comcast for the second time on July 22 to see what else they can do. The second customer service representative mistakenly thought I rented a modem that I owned when she pulled up my account. I thought there was a mistake since there was no modem rental charge ever on my bills and I bought the modem at Circuit City seven years ago. She suggested that it could be a modem issue. I asked her, how can a modem not work if it works perfectly fine streaming movies at nighttime but not work during the day? I let her know it that the lines may be a problem. Then she said there was a fee for the a technician to check the problem. She said that for a monthly fee of $1.99, I could have a “service protection plan” to protect myself from failures of my own internet equipment.

Here is what I have trouble understanding: I have to pay a fee to prevent another fee? And I have to pay that fee to “protect” equipment I owned for seven years? That frustrates me because I pay for a service to work properly, I do not pay for a service to not work as advertised by Comcast’s Customer Guarantee. I was pretty angry that I am being pushed a fee to resolve a problem Comcast is responsible for. I asked the CSR to send the technician out, and I waived her “service protection” offer because it is a Comcast line issue, not my equipment that has issues. I also tweeted about my issue about the protection plan to Comcast.

A second technician came out on July 23, checked my cable modem, and tested the connection like the first technician. He checked the cable splitter in the home and determined that the splitter was going bad, and replaced it because he believed that could be the issue. He checked the line before and after the splitter and said that the connection works fine. It still did not fix the intermittent connection.

I called Comcast for the third time on August 4 and talked to the most patient customer service representative ever. I spoke to her for more than thirty minutes and explained my issue, the last two calls and house visits, and asked for a technician again to fix the problem. She said nothing about a charge for a technician home visit. I complimented Comcast for their patient CSR on Twitter after I hung up with her.

The same technician from the second visit comes out to look at my internet problem on August 4. As I directed him to where the cable modem is located, I told him about the problem, and he said he remembered my issue and checked the line on the outside from my house to the utility pole. He went on my roof and figured out that the cable from the utility pole was not connected properly to the house cable and he repaired it. When he finished, he tested the connection and said that it should work fine from now on.

It has been working perfectly fine after the third technician visit. But I’m disappointed that I said it was a line issue from the first call, only to have Comcast charge me $28 to waste my time and Comcast’s time to fix their problem. I don’t think that it is my responsibility to touch Comcast’s lines that lead from the utility pole to the house, and I called Comcast on August 10 to have the $28 fee removed. Even as I asked for that charge to be removed, I was offered the same monthly “service protection plan” for $1.99.

I would appreciate not calling three times to fix one problem and then be charged a ridiculous fee to have a technician visit my house and check the internet connection. I should also not have to pay for a “service protection plan” when it was definitely a Comcast equipment problem. Also about Twitter, after posting my experience with the CSRs, I was contacted by their Twitter team, even DMed the account number and no one from their representatives talked to me about it after that. I understand Twitter is new, so it’s not a big deal that they didn’t get back to me through that line of communication.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. JoeTheDragon says:

    The comcast subcontractors and contractor needs to go and comcasts need to move alot more of it in house and better train their phone people as well.

    • sonneillon says:

      This is using a mallet to kill a fly. There are legitimate ways to get a subcontractor to do exactly what you need them to do without having them move in house. The bar none easiest way is to set up a penalty fee for late service IE for ever hour after the date you get short paid 10 dollars. Combined with requiring a photo (this is actually something my employer requires for what I do which is not installing cable but when I leave notices) of the address with the was not here slip. No photo is a fee. And the contractor gets penalized a fee for ANY complaints. Now on the plus side give the contractor a bonus for going so many without a complaint and being on time over %95 of the time to offset the fees.

      • Bob says:

        True, but I have not seen companies like ComCast, all talk no service, actually do what you suggest. I know other companies do it, like call center contractor companies. If ComCast is not willing to hold their contractors and sub-contractors accountable then it needs to go in house. I know that is overkill but when a company’s management is too stupid to manage contractors it should bring it all in house.

        • sonneillon says:

          True. If contractors are not held accountable by their paycheck they will act like they are not accountable, which is why I never pay a contractor any money up front. If he does not have good enough credit to go a week without my money then I do not want him. Depending on the job (if it is having a plumber snake the drain it’s like hey the water drains here you go) once inspection is done I cut a check.

  2. econobiker says:

    Significant lack of trouble shooting going on there.

    Customer: Doesn’t work this way.
    Service: It works another way now.
    Customer: Doesn’t work this way.
    Service: It works another way now.
    Customer: Doesn’t work this way.
    Service: We fixed it the way you said it doesn’t work.

  3. Mackinstyle1 says:

    Maybe I’m paranoid but I swear they intentionally have crappy CSRs and crappy service to ensure things go wrong, in order to sell people protection plans and other fees. And I’m applying this paranoid conspiracy to all telecoms in both Canada and the U.S.

    • guroth says:

      You’re off, but not by much.

      it is in Comcast’s best monetary interest to make sure everything works 100%, 100% of the time, because it costs them money when they have to devote phone time or truck time to fix a problem.

      That is a perfect situation though, and obviously doesn’t happen, so they need some kind of mechanism or scheme to offset the price of fixing their own mistakes or problems. This is where their socialized “protection plan” insurance comes in, and it works similarly to any other kind of insurance: everyone pays a small amount frequently to ultimately pay for those who do encounter problems.

      The more people who buy into the protection plan, the more their costs are offset, or even a profit can be produced.

      If they were intentionally creating individual problems as an incentive for people to buy into the protection plan then the cost of fixing the problem they caused must be less than the income received from it over the duration of their subscription, including any future unforeseen problems that the protection plan was initially created to offset.

      In short: no, you’re paranoid.

  4. ShruggingGalt says:

    Video trouble call?

    >streaming movies at nighttime

    Oh. I can see why they could have come up with that issue. Shouldn’t have been charged though.

  5. ComcastBonnie says:

    I believe the rule is, if you had a tech out and another had to come out within 30 days, you don’t get charged for the subsequent visits. The 1.99 service protection plan (SPP) is like the wireline protection you would get from phone companies, which basically covers everything in your house. If you don’t have the SPP, and the issue is found to be inside the house, you will be charged for the tech visit. If you don’t have the SPP and the issue is on our end, you don’t get charged.

    If you have the SPP, you’re covered inside and out. This has been in place for a few years, so it’s not a new policy. Hopefully this info helps you guys out though!

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      Bonnie, if you work for Comcast you probably shouldn’t be quoting policies by starting your comment with, “I believe the rule is…”

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      Bonnie,

      When Comcast installed my residential cable modem it took five truck rolls within the first two weeks or so. The modem was faulty and probably a reject from another installation. I took these days off from work to be there. In the end, I was billed for the extra 4 truck rolls because they said I didn’t have protection plan, they also accused me of sabotaging the main locked underground line at the street by putting an attenuator (one of the other techs did that when he said my line was too hot). I was able to get two of the charges knocked of the bill but ended up paying the others.

      I recently switched from “residential” to “business class” and still dealing with being billed for residential _after_ having been converted. It would be really nice to get the original $98 back but even nicer to get all the residential charges refunded after the conversion date.

    • Rachacha says:

      ComcastBonnie said:”…if you had a tech out and another had to come out within 30 days, you don’t get charged for the subsequent visits” and “If you don’t have the SPP, and the issue is found to be inside the house, you will be charged for the tech visit.”

      The OP Said: “I looked closely and found a $28 fee for “Video Trouble Call”” and “[The technician] went on my roof and figured out that the cable from the utility pole was not connected properly to the house cable and he repaired it.”

      While I don’t expect you to answer without knowing the OP’s account number, if what you said is true, and if what the OP said was true, why was he assessed a service fee when the problem was on the outside line between the pole and his house? (Which kind of is the whole point of the OP’s E-mail)

    • calchip says:

      Obviously that isn’t the case because I’ve had about 5 service calls in the past 60 days and was charged for 2 of them (both reversed after I bitched loudly.)

      The Comcast service, which was stellar when I lived in the bay area, has been nothing but awful since I moved to Sacramento. Whomever is in charge of this region simply doesn’t give a crap.

      And the latest “to serve me better” move is to dump the outsourced call centers in Canada, that employed knowledgeable, patient, and helpful people who were actually trained and in most cases were far superior to Comcast’s own people, and replace them with a Godawful call center in Mexico City with overly polite and courteous people who are absolutely useless and have no tools to do anything.

      So much for your CEO’s commitment recently to do whatever it takes to improve service.

    • Twonkey says:

      Bonnie, if I pay you for a service, and through no fault of mine the service doesn’t perform as expected, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that you’ll send someone out to fix it free of charge. You shouldn’t ever charge folks to come out and fix your own shoddy equipment. Ever. That you do is one of the many reasons why you were voted the worst company in America by Consumerist readers this year.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      The problem is that the problem was outside and didn’t need a protection plan. The problem is that a tech misdiagnosed the problem as a splitter. That would be re customers equipment or wiring.

      They were trying to blame the customers modem, not even provided by comcast. That would also play into this.

      I think the core of the problem is that the problem was in the comcast owned wire and they missed the diagnosis. The fees otherwise make sense (I pull my own inside wiring, they shouldn’t have to support that free of charge)

    • Bob says:

      No that is not right. If I call because I have a problem with the service and the problem is your equipment then it shouldn’t matter how many times I call for the same problem. Just because the first two techs couldn’t solve the problem doesn’t mean I should be charged for subsequent visits by your techs for the same problem.

      Don’t make your techs’ incompetence my problem.

  6. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Been there, done that; 5 truck rolls, $198 charge, 5$ rental fee + $1.99 protection. They told me that even though all the equipment was theirs they dinged me an extra $49 for each truck roll after the installation because I wasn’t paying the $1.99 protection, which I didn’t know about or even suspect I’d need since I was leasing their equipment.

  7. brinks says:

    The $1.99 “service protection fee” seems to be lifted directly from the electronics retailer’s own “extended warranty” book.

    I am so thankful that my cable company doesn’t even offer such a plan. If something doesn’t work, they come out and fix it. I have yet to be charged for a service call.

    Keep it sketchy, Comcast.

    • Andy S. says:

      Oh my dear child. How young you must be.

      In the old days we all had The Phone Company. There was only one and all equipment in your home was manufactured in house (Western Labs) and each component was hard wired and each incurred a monthly rental charge.

      At some point The Phone Company was ordered to allow equipment manufactured by other than Western Labs, and purchased by the customer to be able to plug into a jack. And thus was the birth of shitty telephones.

      A few years later, TPC decreed that all equipment and wiring inside a customers house now belonged to the customer and that the TPC would not service it without additional charge. And thus was the birth of monthly service plans.

      This ends today’s history lesson.

      • brinks says:

        I remember rotary phones, too. However, that actually was a good history lesson.

        My cable company had never charged me an extra penny in the 8 (or so) years I’ve been with them, and they don’t even OFFER one of these service plans. Equipment I’ve leased had gone bad and it’s been replaced, and they’ve had to screw around with the cable wiring inside. I guess I have a nice combination of a cable company that’s not trying to screw me for every penny they can and a long streak of good luck.

  8. DanKelley98 says:

    Comcast should not own NBC.

  9. trillium says:

    Good to know that that level of ineptitude is not limited to the mighty fine Comcast folks of Cecil County, MD. I had almost the exact same experience 5 yrs ago when I moved into my humble abode, which happened to coincide the the summer that Hell re-located to the eastern shore. I would lose internet service every time the temperature exceeded 80 degrees.

    First Comcast tech came out, insisted there was not a problem since he was able to get signal all the way into my basement. Note : it was cooler that day thanks to an early day thunderstorm

    Second Comcast tech came out, and in a stroke of genius decided that my splitter, upstairs, under my desk, that I used to split the signal prior to the model was the problem. He removed the splitter, and said I was fine. I insisted on keeping the splitter. 20 min later I was back on the phone since my internet dropped and they took my satellite signal out upstairs in my office (with the removal of the splitter).

    I keep insisting it is temperature related. No one from Comcast can see how this is possible. I call Corporate – they send yet a third tech out who kindly explains that yes, it is probably temp related because the filters he has looked at were installed incorrectly.

    He replaced the filters and I have not had a temp related issue since.

  10. dg says:

    Back before I dropped ComCrap like a hot potato, I had an intermittent line issue. I tested my internal lines – no problems. Went outside and happened to see a squirrel gnawing on the cable. Shooed him off, and climbed up on a ladder – yep, chunks out of the insulation all up and down the cable – so everytime it rained or the squirrel ran over the uninsulated areas, it would drop the connection.

    Called ComCrap – explained it. They roll a truck. I tell the tech what I saw. Tech doesn’t believe me. I held the ladder for the tech – he said “Shit, you’re right…But I can’t pull a cable alone – I’ll have to get someone and come back.”

    I told him I’d do it – and we took care of it right then.

    Shortly thereafter, I vowed to drop that company ASAP – and I did.

    Moral: ComCrap has nitwits for techs. They’re trained to look for the most common issues, and rarely, very very very rarely, will you find one who has enough electronics background to understand what the true issue really could be. But in the meantime, they keep getting your money, and there’s little if any competition, so what do they care?

  11. ludwigk says:

    I’m so happy to be canceling Comcast this week and moving to another provider. I’m actually really excited about it!

  12. Shadozbane says:

    I can say one thing, The random charge happened to me. All I wanted was a new line ran thats it and they sent 3 techs out here all scheduled wrong that didn’t do new lines. I was charged a 50 dollar “no fault” type fee where it basically means it was my fault etc like you had. Anyway I called into them and the CSR said they can’t refund that because she could lose her job and said if I bought the service contract for 2.99 a month she could refund me 50. Needless to say I was pretty upset, she asked her supervisor who said the same thing. They then said I should go into a local office and they could refund me, which I know they won’t either. I finally went on the twitter comcastcares and instantly got a response, I sent a detailed e-mail with all my issues and concerns, got a call NEXT DAY from their call center up the road. The lady said she had no clue why a 50 dollar was on there and refunded it instantly, she scheduled the proper tech for next day, he came out ran my line, I paid the line ran fee, ALL DONE. Its amazing what you have to do sometimes.

    The people on their twitter are great people for service and support, I highly recommend it!

  13. Dyscord says:

    Most places have a “protection plan” of some sort. Verizon had it when I had phone service through them. If they had to come into my house to fix it, it would be $90 or so without it. Dish Network has it too. Anytime they have to come out to my house, it’s 20 bucks. It’s nowhere near the price you’d end up paying if you don’t have it, so eh. I don’t see a problem.

    • Rachacha says:

      The protection plan typically applies to wiring inside of your home. If the problem is between the street and the interface box on the side of your home, that is usually the responsibility of the utility company and they are supposed to repair it at their expense.

      In this case, the problem was on Comcast’s side of things, so the OP never should have been charged, much less having to meet the comcast technician 3 times.

      I had a similar problem with my Verizon FiOS Service. The tech checked all of the connection points in my home, and was not able to recreate the intermittent problem. He did replace a couple of questionable connections, and he did a thorough troubleshooting job starting at the box at the street, the box on my house, the splitters in my basement and then each TV jack. He told me he was not able to recreate the problem, but he gave me his business card with his cell phone on it. About 1 hour after he left, the problem occurred again. I called the tech on his cell phone, and he said he was going to wrap up the job that he was on and would be over in an hour. The tech came back, diagnosed the problem, and determined the Network interface box was failing. He replaced the box and the service worked fine. Had it been comcast, It probably would have required 5 truck rolls.

  14. al says:

    intermittent problems are tough to solve on the first visit if there isnt something blatantly wrong like a chewed wire or a rusted /bad splitter. Still there shouldn’t have been a charge for anything since it was a line issue in the end. Also i think you should have got a service guarantee of 20 bucks.

  15. Resurgent says:

    Another case of omcast being caught red handed yet it wasn’t until you embarrassed them
    enough online that they dropped that greedy video trouble call fee. But come on don’t you feel bad for Comcast? I mean they had to buy NBC. Your $28 would have helped.

  16. therealchriss says:

    I don’t get how this is Comcast’s mistake.

    #1 – whether you like it or not, their policy is that anything within 12 inches of the house = house wiring. Since, from the customer’s letter, it sounds like a problem with where the drop attaches to the house – that would = house wiring. House wiring trouble call without the Service Protection Plan incurs a charge.

    #2 – How do you know it was Comcast’s fault that the drop connection to the house wasn’t connected securely? Screw in connections can loosen over time. An animal could’ve chewed it. A strong wind could’ve yanked it.

    #3 – If they coded it as an internet trouble call instead of a video trouble call, the charge probably would’ve been higher. That tech did you a favor.

  17. vastrightwing says:

    Let me repeat what I just heard, “You pay Comcast a fee to receive a service each month. Then you have to pay another fee on top of that fee to actually ensure the fee you paid already gives you the actual service.” Is that what I heard?

  18. coren says:

    The way I understand that fee:

    If Comcast gets a call from me and I report a problem, and they come out and their equipment is malfunctioning, no charge to me because it’s their equipment.

    But if I call and I’ve done something wrong or my equipment is faulty and they come out and that’s the fix, then they charge me for it.

    Basically it’s only worth doing if your house has really poor wiring, you’re crappy with tech and don’t want to learn/have a friend help, or you have old equipment that’s prone to failure and you don’t want to replace it.

    In all those cases you’re better off fixing the root of the problem.

  19. bobosgirl says:

    Thank you, thank you Consumerist! I just checked our bill online, because w had a tech out last Saturday to fix something at the street level. The tech kindly put in writing for my husband that we had a very weak signal, thanks to a problem at the box, and it needed to be replaced at the street. I found that our already high bill was $27 higher than usual, called in, and sure enough, repair charge. I read the rep what their tech said, and he removed the charge! Yahoo! it sure pays to be a Consumerist reader :)

  20. bluewyvern says:

    “Protection” plan, eh?

    Say, nice modem you have here. Shame if something were to happen to it…

  21. HPCommando says:

    I gave up. Like Roger, I live in a desert region (real, not “high desert”, with 100+ temps in summer and 20s or lower in winter), and Comcast refuses to acknowledge that the weather bakes and freezes their $2 Chinese-made line splitters. These are the same ones at Dollar Tree for a buck.

    Went and got a set of gold-plated two-way multi-splitters from the local electronics shop for $11 (same as at Radio Shack for $17) and put the silicone weather tape on the connectors.
    With no drywall filler to melt in these, no problems with heat any more.

  22. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    I had this exact same experience a few months ago. My HD local channels were slowly getting more pixelated as time went on and ABC stopped coming in altogether the day of the Lost finale. I held off as long as I could fearing making a service call but I gave in that day.

    I called and had a tech come out to the house on Saturday, he assessed that the wires needed to be re-run from the pole to my house because they were hanging down. He said he’d have to come back Tuesday or Wednesday with another guy and run the wires, and told me I didn’t need to be home for it which was great because I didn’t want to take a day off for it.

    Sure enough I get home Wednesday night and I have zero service, no internet or cable. I call them up and they say they earliest they can come by and fix it is Friday and I’d have to be there. So I ended up having to burn a vacation day (couldn’t work from home with no internet). Another tech came out and concluded they previous guy hooked up the wrong wire.

    He fixed it and offered me a 3 free months of a Premium Channel for my service being down at no fault of my own. I asked in stead for some sort of credit as I already have HBO and I barley watch it, could I instead just get that free for 3 months. He said they’d only give me $20 which I accepted as it was better than 3 months of cinemax that I wouldn’t watch. I even received a letter a few days late apologizing and confirming the $20 discount.

    Fast forward a month later I get my bill expected it to be $20 less than normal only to find it’s actually $10 more. I check through and sure enough my $20 credit is there, but just above it is a $30 service charge. When I called to have it removed they said it was already removed by giving me the $20 credit to offset it. I explained some basic addition and subtraction rules and how I failed to see how $20 offsets $30. Also I explained that the $20 was supposed to be credit for not having service for 2 days, not to offset the service charge. I also explained that never once was I informed that there would be a $30 service charge for having someone come out and fix the problem. I pointed out how it wasn’t my fault and I even had a letter from them proving it.

    They basically told me suck it up it’s only $10 at which point I got really mad and started asking what I’m paying over $150 a month for. Is that not a month to month contract basically saying I’ll give you $150 and you give me uninterrupted service for 28-31 days? I said “I pay nearly $200 a month for service it’s absolutely ridiculous that you’d charge me $30 to fix an issue that cost me 2 days of service and a vacation day from work”

    At this point the rep very rudely said and I quote “well a lot of people pay a lot more than you do per month” I was enraged at that point and I said “I don’t give a crap what other people pay per month and how is that relevant to my issue?” I asked to speak to a supervisor which of course she said none were available.

    The best I could get her to do was make a note that I was disputing this charge and to have a supervisor call me back. Of course nobody ever called me back. A week later I check my account and the charge is still there. A few things came up and I didn’t get a chance to call, then suddenly a week later the charge was reversed.

    I was happy to see that the things ultimately things were put right, but the service experience was a dreadful as is typical described with Comcast. Nobody would escalate my problem so I had to go 2 days with no service, had to waste a Saturday on the initial problem and a vacation day from work on the following Friday to fix their mistake. I had to fight with the rep who was insulting and basically implied that I was cheap for not just being happy the $20 discount I got while still being charged $10 extra for them to fix a problem with their line.

    Honestly if I had any other cable option in my area I would have canceled that day, but they’re pretty much the only game in town for internet aside from DSL and I don’t exactly consider that competition as DSL and cable internet aren’t really in the same category performance wise.

  23. JE0034 says:

    I have had almost the exact same problem. I just had to call today to get two service charges removed for intermittent internet connections. They were trying to charge me and they still haven’t bothered to fix the problem. I cannot wait for AT&T U-verse to come to my area. I will be switching ASAP. I have had this problem with the internet going out when it gets hot for 2 years. The amount of people on here having the exact same problem is amazing. It is easy to see why Comcast is always in the running for worst company.

  24. clubmarx says:

    Something very similar happened to me. Intermittent internet for days. The CSR said it was a problem with my modem. I verified twice that the service call would be free and got his employee ID. I get charged 27.99 even though the issue was fixed on the top of my apartment building. I called to get it reversed. I also got the employee ID of the person who reversed it. That ID was a totally different format of the first person, leading me to believe that first person just gave me some random letters.

    This is the third time I was promised a free service call and had it charged. I hate Comcast.

  25. specialkd24 says:

    I know I’m way late on this thread, but I had a positive experience with a similar issue. I had some internet issues every once and awhile (6 weeks or so) over a period of time. It would go out, but eventually come back. The last time, however, it went out and stayed out. The Tech came out and found it was a bad splitter outside the house (it was a 6-way splitter when it should have been a 2-way splitter anyways and that caused my modem some problems).

    Before he left he specifically told me to not let Comcast charge me for the call since it was there problem. So I check my bank account a week later and see they charged me $45 extra that month (for the service call). I called customer support and told her it was an issue outside of the house and she looked up the notes and credited me the $45 without much hassle at all. So sometimes you get a good CSR.