Man Gets $35 Service Credit From Comcast By Doing Math In His Head

Shaw writes:

I am one of the early adopters of Comcast’s new TiVo service that is being rolled (see: rushed before ready) out in Massachusetts.

So far, not once but TWICE, the box in my room has crashed on me with the TiVo OS installed. The first time, they couldn’t send out a tech until nearly 2 weeks later. Got it fixed…and two weeks later, just like last time, the box crashed (stops showing any programming…and selecting “Restart The DVR” restarts it, over and over and over again. A death-spin of sorts).

So we get the bill today. A nice chunky $195 (3 boxes, two of which are TiVo DVRs, one that crashes, one thats a lil buggy). Enough is enough. Time to get credited for these boxes…

Call Comcast. Explain the situation. My box is dead and I can’t watch programming…my dad’s box is buggy and OnDemand doesnt work often. I asked for the price of the DVR boxes and TiVo service to be waived for a month and a half ($15.90 x 2 x 1.5 months…said a fair amount to me would be $35). He said the most he could do was credit me for one DVR for one month because signal was still being sent to my home and I could have plugged in the cable directly into my television.

He was being stern, but generally not awful. And I love a good debate.

Insert monologue: “Well if we want to split hairs here…then lets split hairs. I want my DVR service refunded for a month and a half. I want my TiVo service refunded for a month and a half. THEN, I want every channel above 96 refunded…”

CSR: “Why would we do that?”

Me: “Well…plug in your cable directly to your television. You’ll get channels 2-96. I don’t get the digital package that I pay $12.95 for. I don’t get the extended sports programming that I pay for. I don’t get my HD programming. All I get are basic and extended basic. So lets split hairs. I think $35 is fair”.

He puts me on hold.

10 minutes later, CSR comes back, sounding slightly defeated

CSR: “Hello…?” (in that “I’m trying to see if my angry girlfriend is on the other line voice”)

Me: “Hi.”

CSR: “OK, all of this aside…did you use a calculator to come up with $35?”

Me: “I failed nearly every year of math in high school. Just did some quick figuring.”

CSR: “Well, my supervisor and I just used a calculator and we came up with exactly $35.”

Me: “Well then I’m more brilliant than I thought I was! This means I’m getting the credit?”

CSR: “You’ve got it.”

Once again proof that 80% of America only needs 6th-7th grade math skills to survive. I wasn’t asking for anything out of line…just asking for a credit for services I was unable to make use of, and I got it. I was a bill collector for a year when I was 18…and although it was by far the worst job I’ve ever had (and I was the least successful at it…far too nice)…it, along with the Consumerist, makes it pretty easy to talk to CSR’s and get some action.

I don’t hate Comcast like some people do (in fact, I freelance for one of their television channels)…but having a good argument + Verizon FiOS in the neighborhood makes them a lil’ more of a pushover now.

Viva la Consumerist!!

It’s very simple. It’s just like algebra class.


If you’re getting 10.5 Y, then you should only pay 10.5 X. You’re just balancing the equation.

This is the second time we have posted a story from Shawn. The first time, he got his Seagate harddrive complaint resolved by posting it along with a slew of executive email addressees right in the official Seagate online forums. If he gets a third one, he will qualify for an official consumer vigilante mask.

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Scuba Steve says:

    Math, is there any problem it can’t fix?

  2. smitty1123 says:

    How many CSRs does it take to operate a calculator?

  3. projoe1979 says:

    @Scuba Steve: Love

  4. Framling says:

    I’m sorry, where are we getting $35 from? If this is the $15.90 x 2 x 1.5, my head gets me closer to $48, and my calculator tells me $47.70. Is he getting the $35 number from the digital and the sports package and the HD hair-splitting?

    • YardanCabaret says:

      @Framling: that’s what I want to know. It sounds more like they did the math found out it was nearly $50. Asked if he had done the math, found out in the negative so they reply that his math was spot on for a refund of $35. Thus saving themselves $12.70. ta-da!

  5. stre says:

    wow, nice job talking your way into a refund! but bad on math skills:
    $15.90*2*1.5 = $47.70

    still, that’s $35 you didn’t have in your pocket before! (or $35 you have in your pocket but would have had to give to comcast……or whatever)

  6. MDSasquatch says:

    But in the end you still lose because you still have COMCAST

  7. Eric1285 says:

    I don’t like how you used your success story to justify that people don’t “need” to learn math beyond basic algebra. It’s people like you that are contributing to the decline of this country’s education system.

  8. Buran says:

    Nice to know the TiVo rollout is actually happening, but let’s hope it gets cleaned up before it goes out to everyone.

  9. Rando says:

    I’ve come to find that when cable boxes crash, then the service programming isn’t right on the provider’s end.

  10. cmdr.sass says:

  11. LoLoAGoGo says:

    Or just be like me and insist on no fees for your DVR.

  12. Rectilinear Propagation says:
  13. SomeoneGNU says:

    As othere’s have said, the math doens’t seem to match up. Perhaps that’s why they were asking you if you used your calculator because if you did I’m sure they’d love to have the model that calculates refunds low.

    But, there is the chance I just failed to comprehend the word problem(not unlikely, my degree is in theoretical math) so it could be right.

  14. ottergal says:

    They probably did 2 boxes for 1 month and then assumed some tax – at least I hope so. I don’t know how you get $35 on a calculator without leaving off the 1.5 months multiplier.

    On the other hand, nice job getting a refund of any sort from them!

  15. scoosdad says:

    I’ll join in the celebration when this guy writes back in to confirm that the $35 credit actually showed up on his next bill.

  16. lotsotech says:

    Lots of (modern) TVs can handle digital stations so I’m not sure how good of an argument that is. Having said that just ask for the retention department next time and they usually will throw a free month or 2 at you.

  17. DJC says:

    I remember one time I was on the phone with SBC Retention and the guy couldn’t subtract $26.95 from $39.95. Its such simple math, both end in .95, so they cancel when subtracted and 39-26=13.

  18. moore850 says:

    not to split hairs, but that should probably be x dollars = x service based on your example of 10.5 dollars = 10.5 service.

  19. smythe says:


    See were your 6-7 grade math got you. Why would you even post that before double checking on a calculator.

    Do us a favor and go get your GED

  20. Cialis Cooper says:

    @DJC: Thanks for the math lesson. Do you have any more “shortcuts” for us?

  21. DeltaPurser says:

    Thanks for the light post… Enjoyed reading it :-)

  22. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    “Hey boss, a customer is looking for a $35.00 refund, but my calculator says we should offer him $47.70. What do I do?”

    “What do you think you do?”

  23. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    “Hey boss, this customer wants a $35 refund, but my calculator says I should give him $47.70. What do I do?”

    “What do you think I’m going to say?”

  24. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Oh well, that’s what I get for thinking my post wasn’t posted! I look like a tool.

  25. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Actually, you should usually pay less for the stuff you buy than what you value them at. That way you actually get a net gain out of the product. So for 10.5 service, you should pay at most (and hopefully less than) 10.5. Otherwise, you’d be just as well off not buying the service. Yay consumer surplus!

  26. That-Dude says:

    Does not compute. I think he basically bargained for the 1.5 month discount on one box + the 12.95 credit. So, consumerist, lets not start sucking each other’s lollipops just yet.

  27. guroth says:

    I concur, the employee calculated it out, realized the person on the phone was mathematically incompetent, gave him the line about the manager and the calculator to make the customer feel like he accomplished two things (math and a refund) when in reality if the customer just never spat out any bad math to begin with he probably would have been much farther ahead.

    So yes, lets see where your 6th grade math skills got you… Well they got you less money than if you just kept your mouth shut about how much money you wanted.

  28. yesteryear says:

    ha! i doubt very much that the rep on the phone was playing psychological games with him just to save comcast $12. who cares anyway – he got what he asked for… happy ending, hooray! can we all agree there?

  29. jbohanon says:

    If only Verizon would hire CSRs who could do elementary school math (recalling the story about 2 cents vs .02 cents)

  30. gamehendge2000 says:

    In what simply must be unprecedented…

    Verizon Fios introduced cable into my neighborhood. One call to Comcast customer service, asking what they could offer to keep my business, resulted in $25 discount per month for the next 12 months.

    Took all of 5 minutes, and it actually showed up on the next bill.

    I’m just as amazed as everyone else.

  31. shawntempesta says:

    hahaha…oof some cruel ones!

    i said $35 was fair…didn’t say it was the answer to the equation. figured ah, the other box is working “most of the time”, but i still want some credit for it.

    $35 = the one box for a month, as well as the channels above 96…

    oh and for “smythe” who posted: “Why would you even post that before double checking on a calculator. Do us a favor and go get your GED”

    Cute, Smythe. Very cute. However the college degree (that I’m still paying for) and the 2-page resume would like to kindly ask you to jump off a cliff. ;)

  32. Bruce Bayliss says:

    “If you’re getting 10.5 Y, then you should only pay 10.5 X. You’re just balancing the equation.”

    Reminds me of some cutting edge print advertising in New Zealand for (I think) building products.

    Picture of a woman, arms folded, giving the camera the evil eye and saying

    “Of COURSE I expect it to be perfect – I’m paying perfectly good money for it”

  33. bonzombiekitty says:

    Wait, he can still plug his Comcast cable directly into his TV and get all his channels?

    In january, Comcast scrambled up most of our channels so they can’t be used without using the cable box. According to the 2nd tech that came by last night (we knew what Comcast was doing, but they insisted on sending a tech out… twice, Comcast in our area plans on scrambling three channels every couple months until all the channels are scrambled and you have to use the box to get any channel.

    We’re really pissed off about that. We were content with the way it was working, we got all but one or two channels that we liked to watch plus the local network TV stations in HD by just plugging the cable into the TV. Now we have to use box, which doesn’t have HD capability. In order to watch the HD channels, we have to unplug the cable box and plug the cable into the TV.

    We’d go with satellite, but we need broadband internet and there’s not DSL available here for some stupid reason. So cable internet is our only option for high speed, and to get the internet without TV service is really expensive. So we’re stuck with Comcast. They know it and they’re screwing over my neighborhood.

  34. logicology says:

    Sucker. He was entitled to more money and Comcast knew it. They felt him out to see how much they could low ball him for.

  35. Elle Rayne says:

    And WHY is this newsworthy…?

  36. xDimMaK says:

    Ya I’m going to have to go with the crowd here. You could have gotten more than $35 for sure, but they obviously aren’t going to give you more than they have to. So your math skills pretty much screwed you over on that one. But at least you got something, even if he probably fell out of his chair laughing after you hung up the phone.