Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Comcast's FCC Smokescreen

Today I received a call from the regional sales manager (at least I think that was who it was) at the request of Bill and/or Frank so that he could better explain to me what was going on and how they were not misleading their customers. He did accomplish that and he set it straight that they are not removing the stations that I lost from analog at this time but that they are in an analog package that costs around $50 per month. Sounds pointless? Well, it's not if your Comcast.

If you think that the concept of a set top box is solely to give you a better quality and user experience, you're wrong. While those things are very true there is another aspect of this that people don't realize. If you subscribe to a service that is one way then your experience can not be interactive and, of course, interactive experiences are generally better. Another thing is true if a service is one way communication: there is no way to raise an income above the base subscription level. Now think about your set top box. How many Pay Per View movies and events are on there? How many additional services can you sign up for or order at the press of a button. The difference between a customer with a set top box and a customer without a set top box is very different to Comcast. It makes it a little clearer on why for me to continue the service that I had (or at least thought I had) without a set top box Comcast would want to charge me a much higher fee than if I get a set top box. Additionally they also are collecting a monthly fee for each TV connected instead of just a signal that can be sent to any TV in my house without extra equipment.

So what's the answer? Is Comcast falsely advertisting? Well... the answer is no. Because of the fact that I *CAN* still subscribe to the channels I had been getting via an Analog signal then I am "not affected by the digital conversion because I am a Comcast customer" .... The uneasy feeling comes in finding out that the pricing goes up for people in my scenario.... Oh... and I was specifically told that they may still remove the channels above 25 from analog signal later anyway....

Are you ready for this one?

Here is what completely pissed me off to no extent. The words that I had been waiting to hear to confirm that Comcast IS using the digital TV conversion as a way to fool people came not once, not twice, but AT LEAST 3 times in this conversation. What were those words..... "Due to the FCC mandate"..... Oh yes.... Comcast is telling their customers that all of this is because the FCC is mandating them to switch to digital signal. The first time I heard these words I stopped him and said "Sir, I know exactly what the FCC is mandating and the mandates are in the 700mhz over the air frequencies and DO NOT pertain to your signals broadcast on your own network" .... Apparently I caught him by surprise and he said "well, yes, your correct" .... Now he continues on to tell me how Comcast is doing me a favor because they are going to receive the channels digitally and then convert them to an analog signal for their analog customers. Does this sound like they are doing you a favor? Well, to someone that doesn't understand the technology, I'm sure it does. But if this is a true statement than that means that Comcast has been using an analog antenna to receive the signal from the TV stations and then they push the signal through a cable and just charge us extra for the same thing we could get with a antenna on our roof. Bull. Not to mention that there is no market that has 25 over the air stations that someone can receive. Regardless, I am being told to buy a story about how we live in an age of sattelites and growing technology and Comcast still receives the signal to their network using tin can and string technology. While it's true that the picture quality can certainly make you think that its primitive I think the reality is that the entire story was bull. The beauty of this story is that no matter which way you look at it Comcast is horrible. Either they are using technology that is older than dirt and they haven't been upgrading their system like they have continually been telling us OR they are outright lying to their customers in telling them that they are doing us a favor by converting signals for us.

But you think it's not bad enough? Well, try this on for size. After I explained to this guy that I knew what the FCC mandates where and that I knew they did not affect Comcast's signal on their network he continued to tell me the same exact story twice more. Either this guy has an EXTREME short term memory loss or he has been programmed to hide behind a false FCC mandate so deeply that he can't even break out of it when someone calls his bluff.

To be quite honest with you if this guy would have explained that all of the channels I had could be subscribed to via an analog signal for a higher price I probably would have been upset that it was going to cost me more money but I wouldn't have been pissed or really even thought much about the shadyness of the situation. It was the moment that he pulled that FCC mandate out of his hat that really, truly, reminded me of what the true motive of the company that is Comcast is: Fool your customers into staying with you instead of actually being a decent company and making them want to stay.

I want to again stress to everyone that @comcastcares (Frank), Bill, and their entire team is REALLY working wonders for Comcast customers. These people TRULY do care about their name and about their customers and I can only hope that corporate would start to learn from these guys who are trying to be as open and honest as they can be and are going WAY out of their way to help people. I just really hope that someday we might see some evidence that Comcast as a corporation wants to adopt the same policies.

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