Saturday, December 3, 2016

How to survive having Comcast as your Internet service provider

In many areas of the United States, Comcast (two-time Worst Company in America) is your only option for Internet service if you want speeds above DSL. This monopoly is extremely unfortunate, as Comcast (aka Xfinity) has historically bad customer service and no reason to change their policies. To avoid going crazy or committing a series of felonies as a result of dealing with Comcast, here are some tips for surviving having Comcast as your Internet service provider (ISP).

#1: Stock up on food and drinks

Preparation is required if you ever need to have a Comcast technician come to your house.  When you make the appointment, Comcast may give you a two-hour (or four-hour) window -- though whether they actually show up during this time frame (or even show up at all) varies.  Personal experience as well as testimony from other Comcast customers paint a very bleak picture of Comcast customer service responsiveness.  I still have not-so-fond memories of a wasted Saturday spent waiting for a Comcast tech who failed to show during the four-hour window, then said he came by but no one was there, then said he would come back later, and still never showed up.

To prepare yourself for the dreaded "Comcast wait," be sure your fridge and pantry are full.  You'll want plenty of snack foods to eat while you're sitting around waiting, and lots of juices and clear liquids to stay hydrated.  Hydration is important, as you'll likely spend a great deal of time on the phone trying to find out why your technician hasn't shown up yet, and when (if ever) he will.

#2: Buy your own modem

If you're going to be sticking with Comcast for any length of time (*gulp*) you should look into the costs for buying your own cable modem vs. renting one from Comcast.  Instead of paying the $10 or so per month to use Comcast's modem, you could purchase your own modem which may save you money in the long run.  Rick's Daily Tips has a good breakdown of the pros and cons of buying a modem vs. renting one from Comcast.  If you do consider buying a modem, check to be sure it is compatible with both your Comcast plan and the devices you'll be connecting to it.

#3: Don't bundle up

Whatever you do, don't get sucked into bundling your TV and phone service with Comcast too.  They'll make it sound like you're saving money, but really they're just pulling you in a little farther.

Unless you absolutely need a cable TV channel that only Comcast provides, you can probably save a good deal of money by using a combination of alternative TV technologies, such as an HD antenna, devices like Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick, and apps or services like NetflixCBS All Access, and Sling TV.  By combining a smart TV device and a couple different services, you can get a good range of channels and shows, probably for a lot less than you would pay Comcast for a month of TV service.  With Comcast, you're also likely paying for a lot of channels that you'll never watch.

With the prevalence of smart phones, many households can get by without a landline phone.  If you get stuck in an Internet/TV/phone package with Comcast now, your rates will go up if you ever try to drop the phone portion and switch to just Internet and TV.

If you only use Comcast for Internet service, you can look forward to that bright day in the future when a competitor comes along and offers comparable high-speed service and you can -- finally! -- get out from under Comcast's gangrenous thumb.

#4: Document EVERYTHING

Every time you talk to a Comcast rep on the phone, or every time a Comcast technician comes to your house to do work, keep a record of everything that transpired.  Take it from someone who has had their bill go up month after month, even after "locking in" to a 12-month price.

Any time your Comcast service is out, document the start date and time and end date and time.  Then call Comcast to request a credit.  They will be a lot more likely to credit your account for the outage if you can tell them approximately when it started and stopped.  It also helps if you call them to report the outage as soon as you realize that your service is out.

#5: Cushion your walls

When dealing with Comcast, you will inevitably come to the point where you want to slam your head against a wall, either because that is the only thing left that makes sense, or because you just want to end the misery that is a phone call to Comcast customer service.  Before you get to this point, tack some foam or other cushioning to your wall to protect your future self.  Once it happens, you'll appreciate it.

(picture courtesy of Pixabay)

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