Comcast Admits Its Pricing Is Confusing, Doesn’t Seem To Care

When Comcast launched its HBO-included discount package called Internet Plus last month, there was an awful lot of confusion about the price. Some media outlets reported it was $40/month, others said $50, still others said $70. The fact is, not even Comcast knows which one it’s supposed to charge you and it doesn’t seem to really care about its own ignorance.

Author and contributor Adam Tanner found this out for himself recently when Comcast called him to sell him on Internet Plus for $50/month, claiming it could add HBO and that handful of basic channels for the same price he was paying for Internet-only service. Problem is, Tanner is only paying Comcast $40.

He declined the offer, even after the Comcast sales rep tried to convince him that $40 and $50 were virtually the same price, but he decided to investigate the offer to see what it actually does cost.

The online chat sales rep he contacted quoted a price of $70/month, then after some checking lowered that to $60.

“Online offers and phone offers vary and it also varies per market,” wrote the chat rep. “I would advise that you call the Sales hotline.”

And so Tanner picked up the phone and called the number given by chat support. These people told him to call another number. He finally got through to someone who told him the price was $50/month.

But when you go online and look up prices for various markets, you can find the service for as low as $40/month. Of course, much like all of the prices listed above (aside from the $70/month number), these are introductory offers that will eventually increase in cost.

So why can’t anyone at Comcast just give you a straight answer regarding price?

“What you probably ran into was that the fact this is a new offer that we are putting through all of our channels and there is a certain element of training and roll out that you may have seen some inconsistency around,” a company rep tried to explain to Tanner.

I’m calling shenanigans on this right now. Yes, this product is new, but Comcast isn’t some fancy restaurant where the chef changes the menu at will. Nor was there an urgent need to get Internet Plus on the market. Comcast should have taken the time to train all of its employees — from chat to phone to cold-call sales — on the exact pricing of this plan before it launched.

But wait, there’s more.

“Sometimes there are differences in pricing because of the underlying programming associated with packages. So, for example, in the New York City area there is a lot more regional sports networks than there are, for example, in Boston or Atlanta, and the underlying cost of delivering the services are different,” added the rep.

That’s all well and good, but when I looked up the cost of Internet Plus for a home in Boston, I got $50/month on the Comcast website. When I looked up the same price for a home in the NYC area (which is not easy, given Comcast’s relatively small footprint in the city), I got… $50/month. So the Comcast rep is explaining away a price difference that doesn’t exist. Not a good sign.

Our favorite excuse is this one:

“I would say that there are a lot of competitors that we have in the market trying to benefit from obfuscating pricing, that a lot of times kind of offer things that have a lot of other things associated with them and from that perspective, you know, that’s part of what creates confusion… It is not always us, it is sometimes the people that are marketing against us.”

Yes, Comcast, all those customers of yours that write to us because they were quoted one price only to have another show up on their bills, or who can’t get straight answers when they try to get someone to tell them exactly what their bill will be each month, those people should be blaming the other cable companies, not Comcast!

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.