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Catching Up with PL — Summer Daze and the Evil Comcast

July 23, 2008

Summer Daze

Blink — there went another month.

So far, my summer has mostly gone as I think summers should — one part work, three parts hanging out with the kids, catching up on some household projects and other lackadaisical pursuits. I know I will pay for this leisure in a few weeks when I am scrambling to prepare for classes, write that paper I have to give in Germany at the end of September, etc.  But I can’t change the rhythm of summer.

Dumping the Evil Comcast

But all that isn’t why I’ve neglected this humble blog so long. For the past month I’ve been in telecom hell, cut off from the internet by some technical problems (cable modem fried in an electrical storm that took a week replace), and a major disruption when we switched our ISP from the evil Comcast to a slightly less evil telecom giant (which shall go nameless until proven guilty) — all that’s available in our neck fo the woods.

But why do I say that Comcast is evil? Well, no doubt many thousands of good reasons can be found among the 1,230,000 hits a google search of “evil Comcast” brings up.  But what I can add to the list is their  bullying people into taking their cable TV package.

Some background. Four years ago, we ordered high-speed internet from them because they appeared to be the only broadband provider in our neighborhood, but we specifically did NOT want the cable TV package as we do not want the steady stream of crap coming into the house. We’re not puritanical about TV mind you — we watch a lot orf DVDs through Netflix and our own growing collection. But cut off from the constant flow of pap coming from the glass teat, we find we do watch less,  and what we do watch is more intentional, more of what we actually want. Plus not having the steady stream of commercials is a real help keeping the kids sane in this hyper-consumer paradise-in-flames we call the modern world.

Anyway, we were reasonably happy with the high-speed internet for four years (despite the frequent outages, violation of net neutrality etc — but hey, you get crappy service and treatment with any giant corporation that enjoys a monopoly, right?) But in May, our bill jumped by $17 a month with no explanation, and we were back-charged this for several months into the past. After some hours spent fighting through the electronic maze and interrogating several “customer service” representatives, the explanation we got was that it cost more for broadband without taking the basic cable package.

“You mean you’re raising my rates because I’m not taking your cable TV package. Why would it cost more to not have a service added? Do you have to send a technician to my house to not give me this service?”

The answer was that this was not a bill increase. No, our bill had always been $17 more per month. They had just mistakenly not charged us this amount, and out of some deep wellspring of kindness were only backcharging us a few months rather than the entire four years.

“So, in other words, there’s no increased cost to you of doing business, you’re just doing this because you can?” I asked this question in various forms — politely avoiding the anatomical metaphors that seem a more apt description of what Comcast is doing — to the four different reps and supervisors I talked to and none of them could plausibly say otherwise.

Anyway, we’ve happily discovered another ISP option and I am finally back online — though getting the wireless network back together has been a challenge with hours spent on the phone with tech support from three different companies. Were Dante writing today, he would surely imagine a ring of hell whose torments consist of dealing with the telecom giants. The mystery is that so many people continue to swallow the idea that private corporations will always provide us the services we need as efficiently as possible so long as we keep the goverment from regulating them. If you believe that, then I have an 800-number I’d like you to call:  press one if you’d like it crammed down your throat, press two if…..

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2008 1:58 pm

    “Were Dante writing today, he would surely imagine a ring of hell whose torments consist of dealing with the telecom giants. ” This is brilliant writing! I am certain you have been complimented multiple time before, but this tale was engaging, curious, informative, and clever! Thank you for sharing this and even though I feel bad that this happened to you, I am so excited for you that you handled it quite well 🙂

  2. August 16, 2008 12:14 am

    Well thanks — nice of you to say so! But alas that one of my few moments of brilliance should be wasted railing about Comcast!

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