Comcast screwups list

Letter
posted by Leonard Woren
Tue, October 5, 2010
9 comments
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Today’s listing of Comcast screwups:

1.  Missing analog channels (non-cable box users only)

2.  Comcast.com doesn’t show changed channel lineup

3.  Comcast.com channel lineup display doesn’t work with Firefox

4.  Comcast didn’t pass the lineup change over to wherever TiVo gets it from, so TiVo didn’t send out an updated channel lineup.

From the time that the switch to digital TV was announced, Comcast has been saying that Comcast customers wouldn’t need to change anything.  We now see that that was mostly a lie—they now are forcing most people to get (and most importantly, pay for) cable boxes.  However, I only have “Limited Basic”, and I’ve been assured by many Comcast reps over the last year that Limited Basic would remain as-is on analog, with no cable box or DTA converter required.  Well, as of today, that’s also a lie.  I’m missing half a dozen of the higher limited basic channels, specifically including MCTV 27.  And of course the rep on the phone tells me that I have to get a cable box, which is not true.

The only reason I have not switched to satellite is the local cable access channel (MCTV).  I’m sure I’m not alone with my attitude that the only reason to have Comcast cable TV is the local access channel.

Requiring people to pay for cable boxes or converters when they previously didn’t have to is an unauthorized rate increase.  Anybody want to bet on whether San Mateo County and the City of Half Moon Bay (the franchising authorities) care?

I’m pretty sure that this is outside the authority of the local governments these days.  You’ll need to take it up with the state. Comcast has been working on that for years.

We’ve been Comcast/satellite/broadcast-free for two years now. Between dvd’s, web streaming, hulu, netflix, itunes, and more we have more than enough video to keep us busy. We’re seeing a lot fewer commercials, we’re watching less junk just because it’s what’s on, and our eight-year-old doesn’t know who Hannah Montana is.

MCTV’s failure to put all of its programming on the Web is yet another indication of why it’s a bad idea to tie the station manager’s compensation to government and cable fees. It’s not merely a lack of vision. There is a direct disincentive to move online.

Leonard,

I was able to re-run the TiVo setup last evening in an attempt to get the correct channel lineup.  While I did not have time to run through all channels this morning, a spot check of things returned accurate results.

During this process I also noticed that the TiVo (Series 2) interface seems improved since the last time I had this problem ~2 months back.  Give it try.  Good luck,

Keith

Waaaa!

Lordy Woren… just switch to satellite, or get a library card.

It definitely doesn’t seem right that the MCTV would not be available as an analog channel.  In Pacifica, the analog channels go up to ~30, so PCTV is included.

We got a cable box and DTA for free, but that’s probably because we have the next tier up from basic cable, and needed it to access all the channels we pay for.  But when Comcast made the switch we found that our old wiring wan’t good enough to get all the digital channels.  (Fortunately we were already planning to upgrade the wiring, and we got an amplifier that solved our problem.)

We also have a TiVo Series 2, and I had to redo the channel setup since we were using the cable box.  After that we haven’t had any trouble receiving the channel lineup.  But accessing the digital channels through a cable box is less than ideal on the TiVo side.

Finally, I found that Comcast seems willing to offer deals to keep customers.  For example, after 3 unsuccessful tries at resolving the digital cable issue they gave us the new subscriber discount for 6 months.

The problem is that the previous channel lineup had nothing on channel 27, so the channel lineup that comcast provides which TiVo picks up and distributes to their DVRs didn’t include it, and TiVo is a closed system like the intro to the Outer Limits—they control your set.  There is no way to convince the TiVo to tune to a channel that’s not in the lineup which it thinks you have.

I forgot something in my original post:  Switching my TV from the TiVo directly to the cable still didn’t show me channel 27.  comcast did the re-arrangement but simply FORGOT to set up MCTV on channel 27.  Some number of hours after my phone call to comcast support where I insisted that they escalate the request, MCTV appeared on 27, leaving me with just the TiVo issue.

So I called TiVo support.  As usual, a friendly guy who could not provide a solution.  Except that he did suggest running setup with a different zip code that would have a similar channel lineup.  So I did that using a Pacifica zip code and it looks usable enough to get me by until comcast gets their act together and sends out the updated channel lineup.  Note that the only reason this is practical is that Comcast is basically standardizing the channel lineup across all areas of their system on the Peninsula.

Barry—no fair asking for recordings of government meetings from others who have cable and then touting that you’re TV-free.  (And I don’t really know who Hannah Montana is, but I don’t have kids.)

Keith—I didn’t rerun setup before changing the zip code because I don’t see how it could have done anything different—channel lineup changes are distributed automatically and I expect that I would have received the same outdated channel lineup. The problem here is that comcast didn’t and still as of now hasn’t updated it.

Kevin—as usual, a cookbook snarky useless reply from you which just belittles the messenger.  Please go back and re-read my comment about switching to satellite.

I was somehow wrong about comcast.com and Firefox—I have gotten it to work now.

Larry,

I offer a word of caution based on my own experience with Comcast and their customer service.  My experience has been that Comcast bundles and re-bundles their service moving channels from one tier of pricing to another.  So if you’ve loaded up on premium channels you would be wise to keep an eye on the charges for those.  My latest encounter had to do with Starz channels being removed from my existing package and having them billed out at an additional $19.99/mo!  It was seamless from the viewer’s perspective because I always had the channels.  The billing increase was flagged only because we were crunching the household budget numbers.  Ahh, those rascals!

So on a final note, Leonard,

Your TiVo guy’s suggestion to run setup with another ZIP worked out great for me.  I’m in EG so I picked 94019 and it worked perfectly.  Thanks for sharing that suggestion.

It never occurred to me that the nitwits would have updated 94019 but not 94018.  But considering that Comcast thought that their El Granada office was in HMB, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised…

OTOH, it seems that 94018 has now been silently updated.

We had a lot of confusion here as well.

We use Limited Basic (we only need the cable modem but if you turn off Limited Basic they actually INCREASE your internet access rates. Keeps their subscriber numbers up) and the comcast rep @ newleaf said “No problem, nothing changes!”

Well after lots of confusion, hours on the phone and many different stories from comcast we finally were told

A) Limited Basic doesn’t get digital. We don’t need these little DTA’s. Of course, they were working BEFORE Sept 30th however when the billing systems kicked in our DTA’s were turned off with an error message and we were rthen relegated to 25 channels of analog, a loss of probably 70+ channels.

B) But comcast says that all of those high number channels, we were never supposed to get those. We only got them because they couldn’t encrypt. In other words, the were doing us a favor.

Then we had numerous outages and problems. The rep that finally fixed things also noted that 3500 of the DTA’s distributed on the coast were defective and they are having to replace every single one of them.

Comcast really blew it with this. We’ll probably go for DirectTV but we have to keep Comcast for internet access unfortunately, its the only game for us.

I really don’t think they realized the impact on Limited Basic, feels like it caught them by surprise.

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