Technology

Comcast Nightmare: Six Months Without Internet Despite Paying $ 5,000

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Aurich Lawson | Getty Images

When Edward Koll and his girlfriend Jo Narkon bought and moved into a new home in Draper, Virginia in late September 2020, they had every reason to believe that Comcast Internet would be available immediately.

They had done their due diligence prior to purchasing the home, entered the address on the Comcast website to ensure there was cable internet, and contacted Comcast directly for additional security. Both the Comcast website availability checker and a Comcast sales rep confirmed to them that the house had service.

But Comcast had given the couple incorrect information due to a bug in their coverage map and only told the couple about the bug after they bought the house. That was over six months ago, and Koll and Narkon still don’t have internet service at home.

“It wasn’t until after we closed the house that Comcast finally told us that we were in a ‘dead zone’,” Koll told Ars when he first contacted us on February 12, 2021, but the middle, we live in doesn’t have the service pedestal. “

This wasn’t the first time Comcast, the country’s largest cable company, falsely notified customers that a service would be available.

Though it was Comcast’s fault, the company charged $ 5,000 upfront to expand its network to the Koll and Narkon house. The couple finally paid in late November after realizing that it was the only viable option. While Comcast initially promised service within 90 days of receiving the $ 5,000 payment, the project was unable to complete during that period.

Comcast now says the project will complete by April 15th, more than six weeks after the original 90-day estimate was passed on March 2nd. The couple have been using mobile hotspots for Internet access the entire time they have lived in the house. Comcast is providing incorrect availability information and is unable to complete the installation on time.

Comcast: “[We] did not meet our standards “

Comcast appeared to be taking the problem seriously after Ars contacted the company’s PR department and eventually promised a $ 5,000 loan.

“Mr. Koll’s experience was not up to our standards and we are very sorry for the inconvenience this caused. We will therefore give his account a credit of $ 5,000,” Comcast told Ars Weeks on March 29, after a few years and forth communication.

“The shocking part of it was Comcast’s refusal to own this at all,” said Koll Ars in a telephone interview last week after Comcast approved the $ 5,000 balance. “They just wiped it out and we really didn’t get any traction until we reached out to you [at Ars]. “

A Comcast representative called the couple yesterday to confirm the service will be installed sometime between 8am and 10am on Thursday, April 15, Koll said. Even after that call, Koll said he was “not convinced” that the project is far enough to be completed by then. But they’ve ordered internet, TV, and phone services, and the couple are switching their phones to Comcast’s mobile service. The total price is estimated at $ 249 per month, Koll said. At that price, the $ 5,000 balance has a term of about 20 months. Virginia is one of the states where Comcast has reluctantly agreed to postpone data restriction enforcement until 2022.

No choice but to pay $ 5,000

Between emails, phone calls, and personal visits, Koll said he had dozens of contacts with Comcast over the past six months trying to clean up the mess. “Comcast said, ‘Yes, our agents told you the service was available and they promised you it was right on your doorstep, but they were wrong,” said Koll.

A plumber arrived at the house and, Koll said to Ars, “said,” I need to find out where your service line is, “and then he disappeared. He never came back. And then we had two other plumbers and finally there was him third man who said, “They don’t have a service pedestal nearby and are looking at a large bill just to have it installed.”

After hearing Comcast’s call for $ 5,000, Koll complained to the FCC, but the agency “contacted Comcast and accepted their statement without comment,” Koll told Ars. Koll said he also did Offices of US Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) And Mark Warner (D-Va.) Contacted with no results.

Edward Koll at home.

Edward Koll at home.

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Gigabit Internet “is available for your address”

Koll provided Ars with a copy of the $ 5,000 bill dated November 30, along with chat and email transcripts of conversations with Comcast.

In an online chat before they bought the house, Koll asked a Comcast representative to check if gigabit internet service and cable television were available. The tour guide told him that “the gigabit speed internet plan is available at your address” and that a two-year contract would cost “$ 169.99 / month plus equipment, taxes and fees”.

The rep asked Koll to order the service five to eight business days in advance in case the cable needed to be run to the house so it sounds like it was a simple process rather than a six month ordeal. However, the Comcast representative was wrong because the Comcast system was providing incorrect information. Koll phone placed an order for the Comcast service on August 25, and the couple closed and moved on September 24th. Even when the order was accepted, Comcast failed to notice that the network had not expanded close enough to the house to provide service.

Comcast reports on its gigabit network in a slide from a press kit.

Comcast reports on its gigabit network in a slide from a press kit.

Comcast

On November 1, 2020, Koll replied to an email from a Comcast representative in the customer relations department, indicating that the Comcast service card indicated his address as being service-oriented. Koll’s email also indicated that he had placed an order for the service on Aug. 25 “while making a deposit into the account so the service could be installed on or before this house closed.”

“Given the multiple pledges of service from Comcast and the lengthy delays we have already experienced, I expect a swift resolution to this matter,” Koll wrote in that email.

But there was no quick or cheap solution. “We reluctantly agreed to pay $ 5,000 to install the service socket in November, despite Comcast’s earlier promises to keep the services available,” Koll told Ars months later.

“We really need help”

Koll first contacted us after reading one of our articles about a 90 year old AT&T customer, Aaron Epstein, who bought an ad in the Wall Street Journal to find out about AT & T’s slow internet service complain. At this point, Koll wasn’t sure Comcast would even install the service.

“We really need help, much like Mr. Epstein,” said Koll Ars in his first email to us. “We need to have the promised service installed. We’d like the $ 5,000 back, but at this point we’re ready to accept it as credit for future bills. Comcast offered two months of free, which is nowhere near.” the amount we paid. “

Although Comcast later agreed to credit the total amount they paid, the company didn’t tell us why the $ 5,000 would not be refunded instead of being provided as a billing credit. Essentially, that means they had to pay $ 5,000 upfront for about 20 months of service, an initial expense that new Comcast customers normally wouldn’t have to pay.

Comcast corrects map, months late

Finally, in late March, Comcast updated its coverage map and online availability checker to correctly display Koll’s address as not earned. Why did the Comcast website and a Comcast sales representative mistakenly tell Koll that the home service was already available?

“This is not an everyday occurrence and we need to investigate these cases on a case-by-case basis,” said Comcast. “For this specific address, it was placed in a database owned by a company that we acquired many years ago. Our local teams are planning a further review of this regional database.”

Cable companies have failed to develop more accurate service cards for years. The cable industry’s largest lobby group battled requirements to submit address-level data to the Federal Communications Commission, telling the FCC in 2017 that it was too difficult and expensive to figure out exactly where they can and cannot provide services.

The FCC eventually ordered ISPs to submit geo-maps of where they are offering their services in 2019. However, then-FCC chairman Ajit Pai did not finish setting up the new system before stepping down in January 2021. Following his acquisition of Pai, FCC chairman Jessica Rosenworcel learned “we were very busy and had not yet begun many of the steps that were required to actually set up a collection system,” she wrote.

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Steven Gregory