Curses, Comcast! Cursed Comcast!

Size matters.

No worries, you’re still at a PG blog.

Size matters as far as Internet speed and megabytes and manageable file size.

Comcast.

If you’re a Comcast customer, you’ll already know that you’re guaranteed at least one major battle with them in your lifetime. Could be over billing, service, breakdowns. It’s written in the contract in fine print and invisible ink.

There’s one thing that Comcast does with finesse, exceptional skill and cleverness, indeed masterfully:

nickel and diming ya to death.

First, they lure in new customers with ridiculously low promo prices. Understandable. A good business tactic. Find no fault there.

Then in six or 12 months, that promo price expires and reverts to some outlandish default price.

Without your knowledge, courtesy announcement or warning. Unless you’ve noted the promo’s expiration date on your calendar and call Comcast before that date, your plan reverts to that shockingly high default price. It’s magic!

Sidenote: And that there’s one reason why I don’t and won’t do automatic bill paying. I insist on mailed paper bills (that I examine and track over the months, you betcha!). I don’t want or need Comcast or anyone else withdrawing abruptly increased sums without my knowledge or agreement.

So assuming you’ve noticed the price jump, you call Comcast for a better promo.

They’ll offer something and never as tasty as the original bait. It’ll be the identical service for $5 or $10 more — the art of nickel-and-diming in dollar terms. To keep you, especially if you show signs of bailing or knowledge of competitors’ lower rates, they may sweeten the offer with, say, six months of Starz movies for free.

The cycle begins anew. They’ve not only kept you with a nickel-or-dime increase, with no upgrade in the package, but sprinkled some sugar to make remaining with them more palatable.

Sugar with an end date. Again, unless you’ve noted that date and call them before expiration, you’ll find that sweetener’s cost tacked onto your bill. No announcement. No warning. More magic!

So it continues.

And know this about Comcast: Loyalty is not rewarded. Each passing year returns no special discounts or incentives. The lowest price goes to the newbie. After that, you’re bait in the lake and subject to the same set of fish jaws as the next guy.

I write of this as Comcast and I just had our semiannual “engagement.”

My TV/Internet package is as bare bones as it comes.

So I thought.

After hashing out this and that and pleading for financial relief, I asked: “Is there anywhere I can cut?”

Surprisingly, there was.

“You can downgrade your Internet.”

Huh?

“You’re on the standard plan.”

I thought the standard plan was, uh, standard. The bottom of the pile. Silly me.

“There’s one lower. The Economy Plan.”

Yes, it saves a few dollars and my impoverished budget dictated the switch.

Mind you, the Internet downgrade does not REDUCE my bill. It merely MAINTAINS it by putting the one-time brakes on the price hikes.

So I’m not only paying double the cost from some two years ago, I’m paying for no improvement in content and in fact a DOWNGRADE.

There’s but one lower step remaining: severance.

Back to Size Matters.

Their Standard Internet Plan runs at 12 Mb/s (megabytes per second).

Adequate at best, certainly not blazing fast.

The Economy plan: 1.5 Mb/s.

One point fucking five megabytes per second.

A 32x difference, for the math types.

A little cheaper. And at what cost?

A significant one, I’ve discovered.

Granted, my laptop, a 2004 with 256 MB memory, is an Edsel. Due to its limited capacity, it limped along at the faster speed.

Then I met 1.5.

My laptop’s turned comatose!

Audio files that used to stream with some struggle now don’t stream at all. Life’s all about browser freezes and Force Quits. Why, last night, I did six within two hours.

What effect those constant Force Quits, never mind the hair-pulling and INCREDIBLE frustration. I finally quit the audio site, cursing both Comcast and my pathetic poverty finances that make the Economy Plan necessary. And when, up until only last week, I was paying the same amount for a faster speed that enabled reasonably peaceful surfing with hiccups.

Now surfing isn’t far off from trudging through the swamp with iron plates as soles on the shoes.

Is the Economy Plan worth it?

To the wallet only. Otherwise, fucking no! Unfortunately it’s all I can afford and but barely. I’m a casualty of Comcast’s artful nickel and diming.

Not for very much longer.

There’s a long-distance move coming. I’ve checked the competitors (you bet I have!!) and queried others for ISP input. It remains cheaper to stick it out with Comcast than pay the start-up costs with another

But ooooooooooooh when I do go, Comcast goes! Out the window.

And not at 1-point-fucking-5 Mb/s.

Neither at 12.

At a blazing fast 50!

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Invictus
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 16:45:42

    Maybe I missed a lap in your conversion, but 12 Mbps actually refers to megabits per second; general convention in the tech world is to use MB for megabytes and Mb for megabit. Since there are eight bits in a byte, 12 Mbps is actually equal to…1.5 MB per second. If you were getting 12 Mbps, that’s pretty good, because I just put in to have mine upgraded to 7.1 Mbps, and it’s going to run me an extra $15 per month (since I work from home, it’s worth it, and I ought to be able to write off some part of that, I think). If you were getting 12 MB/s, that’s even better, and I can see where dropping to 1.5 would cheese you off. Actually, considering Comcast’s general reputation, between their constant customer service issues and their stance on Net neutrality, I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with them.

    Reply

  2. allycatadventures
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 17:37:08

    @B – Your jogging’s fine. My shorthand bad – and hopefully correctly edited. Whether my Edsel, with its capacity limits, was actually clocking in at 12 Mb/s is unknown (if not unlikely); for sure there’s been a pronounced performance change at 1.5. And it really ticks me off that I’m now paying the identical amount for a sluggish snail where before there was a languid hare. You miss nothing outside of Comcast save grief and artful greed.

    Reply

  3. longeyesamurai
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 20:37:13

    At least, there’s no limits on download and upload like up here, which constitutes the sore point. Of course, the upside is that we seem to offer a better bang-for-buck offer with regards with speed.

    Of course, we could be in Seoul enjoying 100 Mb… 🙂

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Feb 24, 2011 @ 20:49:24

      @capra – “Of course, we could be in Seoul enjoying 100 Mb…”
      I’m buying the ticket. I’m packing. I’m on the bus. I’m disembarking. I’m passing through airport security. 서울, 여기에 나는 온다! (Seoul, here I come!)

      Reply

  4. inaformerlifeanexpat
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 06:10:46

    What I’ve found odd is that at least here, one cable provider has a lock on service to a particular county. Comcast is only what you get in Arlington, and Cox is your only choice in Fairfax.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Feb 25, 2011 @ 11:22:10

      @Expat – Those locks (aka monopolies) aren’t uncommon. And it’s not uncommon for those large cookie-cutter modern apartment complexes to come “prewired” for Comcast, with no option to have another carrier. Matter of fact, one such place became my first residence (of five – in four years!) in Tacoma and the Internet ran really really really well!!! 🙂

      Reply

  5. ComcastMark
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 13:27:33

    We apologize for the experience. We’d like to discuss this further with you to assist. Please feel free to contact us, provide your account and a link to this page.

    Thanks,
    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations
    We_can_help@cable.comcast.com

    Reply

  6. Bryon
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 11:20:29

    Oh wow, that sucks. I would hate for my bill to suddenly go up tens of dollars suddenly one month, especially if I didn’t budget for it. I’m glad I have a DISH Network employee account because DISH puts month 1 of 12, 2 of 12 and so on each month I get my discount on my bill. That helps me plan, but the increase is only $15 so it’s not so bad since the price is already so low, a larger discount isn’t needed.

    Reply

  7. Trackback: Comcast comes through « Barefoot Blogger
  8. Trackback: Comcast Rate Creep Continues « The Proteus Experiment

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