Comcast Leaves Customer Without Forty-Eight Channels

Comcast has left reader Laura without forty-eight channels since early February. Laura has replaced four cable boxes, and spoken with several technicians. Each one suggests the same diagnosis.

Shockingly, it is not a problem with the line or the box. It is a problem with the coding coming in through the line. The technician tells us that our line is showing both Adelphia codes and Comcast codes coming through it. When both sets of codes hit the box, the box shuts down.

Diagnosing the problem is not the same as fixing the problem. Though aware of the issue, Comcast has not offered a solution. Laura is still without forty-eight channels. Comcast is still billing her for full service.

Laura’s email, inside…

To whom it may concern –

I have had completely unreliable service from your company for over two weeks now. I have given up on calling any of you numerous 800 numbers and have decided to send you a timeline of the incredibly poor service that I have received.

Timeline: 2/10/07 – channels 23 – 70 were not coming through. I called to resolve the issue and after being instructed to re-boot my cable box 5 times, I was told there was a widespread outage throughout all of Massachusetts. I called four more times that night and had varying successes in getting my service somewhat back to normal. In the end, the last person to ‘help’ me ended up crashing my cable box and it was unusable.

2/11/07 – I called again and was told that a service technician would have to come out.

2/13/07 – we had a service call scheduled for the 5PM – 7PM slot. I left work 1.5 hours early to meet this appointment. While I was driving home, the technician called to tell me he was not coming. As I arrived home, I was shocked to find a Comcast van in the driveway of my neighbor’s house. That evening I drove down to my local Comcast office and delivered the broken cable box to them. They gave me a new one. I went home and plugged it in and discovered that I was not receiving over half of the channels that I pay for. I called your 800 number and the ‘helpful’ technician once again sent a signal to my box — it crashed. I was then told that they would set up a service appointment for me on the 16th. I opted to drive back to the local office. I received another new cable box and was told that the problem was the result of Comcast’s botched take-over of Adelphia. The coding that was put in place was incorrect, but no one had bothered to fix it.

02/15/07 – I excitedly sat down to watch my DVR’s recording of Lost only to discover that once again my cable box was dead.

02/17/07 – another service appt. This time, the technician showed up and gave us another new box (keep in mind; this is the 3rd box in less than a week). He told us the same thing we had heard on the 13th about the coding being incorrect.

2/19/07 – Another dead box. My husband took the trip to our local office this time and received our 4th bright, shiny and new cable box.

2/23/07 – Shockingly, another dead cable box. We called to complain and were told that the problem was not the box, but the line coming in. A service appointment was scheduled for 02/26.

02/26/07 – technician arrives. Shockingly, it is not a problem with the line or the box. It is a problem with the coding coming in through the line. The technician tells us that our line is showing both Adelphia codes and Comcast codes coming through it. When both sets of codes hit the box, the box shuts down.

So, here it is 17 full days from the start of our problems with you. I have had 3 service appointments (1 of which was cancelled), 4 new boxes, and I can’t remember how many calls (upwards of 20). At this point, we have a box and we can use the DVR. However we are still not receiving channels 23 – 70 (have not seen those channels since 02/10). I don’t dare call your ‘help’ line for fear that a signal will be sent to my box that will crash it again. I’m hoping that someone on your end will get your act together and finally fix this coding issue. You must have some programmers on staff who can fix this.

I refuse to pay for service for the month of February, and at this point it is looking like March as well.

Please, I just want my normal service that I pay for back. I want to watch channels 23-70 again. I miss the Daily Show and The Colbert Report.


Sincerely, Your disgruntled former Happy Adelphia customers

Too many codes in the tubes? Sounds like a job for Senator Stevens. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER


Edit Your Comment

  1. Scuba Steve says:

    I’m still of the opinion that comcast would rather lose these customers than fix their problems.

    It’s a bit like air travel, yeah it sucks, and they don’t care, but the alternatives are worse.

  2. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m out of my element since I don’t think cable’s worth the $$. So don’t have it, any flavor.

    But I always assumed that if you’re not getting service, they don’t charge you. Prorated if under 30 days. You mean to say that they CHARGE you when it’s not working? Isn’t that illegal?

  3. bottombear says:

    Unfortunately, there was little anyone in the call ctrs could have done. Only certain people (read no one in the call ctrs) has the power to fix her rates without switching her over the Comcast rates only. She needs to talk to a supervisor and ask that either the rates get fixed back to Adelphia rates(not a great chance of) or switch all to Comcast and ask for a special (more likely)

  4. mconfoy says:

    She won’t have to pay for any of this time. First, don’t let the tech leave without it being fixed. If that does not work, call up the local government agency in her town that regulates cable. In Massachusetts they will beat them to death if it does not get fixed. I had bad problems with NYNEX, now Verizon, in Boston, and they made them accelerate their schedule by 6 months to immediately start laying fiber under my street to fix my phone problem. Every morning on the way to work I would see that NYNEX truck at the end of the street, the workers in the steam tunnels. It was beautiful.

  5. rlee says:

    Using the esoteric skills gained with my math degree, I am able to determine that missing “channels 23 – 70” means she’s out 48 channels, not 47.

  6. faust1200 says:

    From my point of view you are on a one way trip to f*ckville. You would be wise to realize that Comcast can’t/won’t fix your problem. If I were you I’d cancel ASAP and get every bit of evidence humanly possible that you did so. You may think you don’t owe them until they send your account to the collection agency. Of course at that point it’s out of Comcasts hands and you will be screwed. I’m not being sarcastic.

  7. faust1200 says:

    @mconfoy: That’s a great story but this is COMCAST we are talking about. This is negligent incompetence rivaled only by that of the Exxon Valdez.

  8. dancing_bear says:

    If I have any problem with Comcast cable at all, I call and they give me a credit for the day. While it would be a pain to call in every day, it could help send a message. These are usually short painless calls.

  9. rlee says:

    The title and text said forty-seven when I posted that, honest! Now they’ve quietly fixed it.

  10. puka_pai says:

    23-70, inclusive, equals 48. It’s not that tricky, really. I didn’t even have to take off my shoes this time.

  11. erockO says:

    Just wait till adelphia goes under again

  12. ElizabethD says:

    I read Consumerist mostly for the pictures. :-)

  13. Darren W. says:

    Last week we experienced a “local outage” that killed my internet connection. On Monday, the CSR assured us that it would be taken care of as soon as possible. When we called again on Friday, the CSR knew of no local outage. My roommate decided to (legally?) peek under the cover of my street’s cable box, and saw that our cable had been disconnected. We screwed it back in, and here I am now. Three Cheers for Adel… I mean Comcast.

  14. QuirkyRachel says:

    Comcast stinks. I gave up on digital cable from them because the boxes rarely worked for more than 2 weeks. The thing that really got me was that no one I spoke with, or the numerous technicians I saw, seemed to think that it was odd that after half a year I had gone through 6 cable boxes. Now my internet from them is on the fritz, too. :(

  15. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    My sister-in-law in Cape Coral FLorida has been without internet service AND cable for going on three weeks now, with the switch from Time-Warner/Roadrunner to Comcast. SHe’s not alone–almost everyone she knows has the same problems. Comcast has repeatedly told her to reboot the box and reinstall their software, but nothing works.

    Here in Vermont, the switch from Adelphia to Comcast went almost without a problem. I don’t understand how Comcast can screw up so spectacularly.