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Welcome to the Year 2002

26 Dec

Buying a computer isn’t supposed to be a life-changing experience — unless you’ve never had one before, I suppose — but after this past weekend I can say with all certainty that I am a changed man.

You see, until now I had been using an HP desktop computer at home (wait for it) that was running Windows Me and I was accessing the internets using a (gulp) dial-up connection (the phone cord was strung up along the ceiling from one end of the apartment to the other).

But on Saturday, as a Hanukkah present, I bought myself an iMac and hooked up a cable internets connection with an AirPort Express so it would be wireless and much much faster. (And no, I didn’t pay for it all myself; I used gift checks and other stuff, plus money I’d been saving.) Continue reading

An Open Letter to Comcast

29 Sep

Dear Comcast,

According to a recent story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Fox News Channel is seeking an increase in fees from cable operators, from 27 cents per subscriber to $1 per subscriber. Apparently, the network is prepared to mobilize its viewers; as the story says, Fox News is thinking about “unleashing the wrath of the channel’s base of vociferous viewers” to get this increase to pass, because Fox knows those people don’t want to lose the station.

I know how these things work, and how the cost increase will trickle down to the subscribers, so I’m just waiting for the memo telling me my monthly charge for cable is going up. Considering I already pay more than $80 a month for my service (including HBO and my DVR), I refuse to pay any more just so I can get Fox News on my TV. I’ve had enough of Bill O’Reilly’s closed minded diatribes, and I’ve had enough of people saying Chris Wallace was in the right (no pun intended) for his treatment of Bill Clinton last weekend. And worse, I’m disgusted that Fox News chief Roger Ailes called Clinton’s response to Wallace “an assault on all journalists.” I think it’s an insult that Ailes, O’Reilly and the rest think they can mobilize their viewers and force the rest of us to pay for their bullying, partisan news station.

I don’t watch Fox News ever, and I don’t want to have to help absorb the cost of this nearly four-times increase if it comes to pass. I’d rather not get the channel at all. Or better, I’d rather have the ability to pick and choose which channels I do get. In recent years there have been many pushes for a la carte pricing for cable. It’s like a buffet: you pick which channels you want and only pay for those. I’ll start with the basic networks (ABC, NBC, etc.), then I’ll add some MTV and VH1, MSNBC for my news, HBO, and a few other ones that I actually watch. The plan has its supporters, and I am one of them.

Sure, I am against a potential price increase because I’m against Fox News. And sure, I’d probably be against any increase in the price of cable service, even if it was for channels I like. And yes, it needs to be said that you have not yet announced any price increase to help pay for Fox News. This is all just conjecture on my part. But I wanted to say now, before this got too far, that I speak for many Comcast subscribers when I say please don’t make me pay for the channels I don’t want. Let those who actually want Fox News pay for it.

Thank you.


4 May

alternate headline: Dad Was Right!

My sister and I often make fun of the fact that my dad, whenever he calls the cable company or a credit card company or any other customer service person, starts the conversation by saying, “First of all, thank you for your help.” His even-keeled nature is something I’ve inherited, but I’ve never quite developed an appreciation for the whole “kill ’em with kindness” thing he is such a fan of.

Well, last night I had to call Comcast (my chronic problem of turning on the cable box and getting a black screen needed to be dealt with asap) and for some reason, my natural instinct was to start the conversation with my dad’s “Thank you for your help” greeting, which I never do. About three minutes later, after I explained my problem, the guy paused me and said, “By the way, thank you for saying thank you. No one ever does that, or at least I’ve never heard it.” And he proceeded not only to help me with my problem, but also to give me all kinds of inside info about how I can get high definition reception on my less-than-HD television. He also told me that the fact that I’d had “only” five or six different boxes in a year and a half was actually good, comparatively, and that this summer Comcast expects to do away with these troublesome Motorola boxes altogether and introduce ones from new vendors (including TiVo). Further, he gave me the scoop that when Comcast initially introduced these DVR boxes, there was a supply and demand problem, so I should pay attention so I don’t get left out of the new devices. In total, I think I was on the phone with the guy for about 15 or 20 minutes just chatting away (sorry if anyone was trying to get through), and I walked away with a much better impression of Comcast than I had before. Now that’s customer service.

When I hung up, I realized that my dad was right, and being nice to the guy upfront paid off. That’s what I call an example of good karma, I guess, and proof that as always, though sometimes I don’t want to admit it, Father Knows Best.

Feeling Blue

19 Mar

Damned Comcast gave me another faulty cable box.

When I turn on my television, all I get is a blue screen.

Because I’ve had some kind of a problem for about a week now, I’ve unplugged and replugged-in my box a couple of times, as I’d been directed to do before. And usually it worked this week, even if sometimes it was only briefly.

But today, the box seems to have completely died. I can’t seem to fix it, and I’m going to have to go to the billing/service center in Allston to switch boxes — that, or wait around my apartment for someone to stop by (no thanks). Continue reading

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