Comcast is giving me headaches!

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makryger

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Comcast is giving me headaches!

#1

Post by makryger » Sat May 12, 2012 2:34 am

Comcast is giving me headaches, and i haven't even gotten through the order process yet. I thought I had Verizon fios in my area, but apparently I was told incorrect information.

So I'm going through the comcast ordering process. First of all, (unlike my current company, RCN) getting a certain package does not automatically entitle you to the HD counterparts. For example, even though CNN is available in the "digital starter", CNN HD.Well, there's $10 month down the toilet. So I have to upgrade to the Digital Preferred.

Then I come to the next page, and it gives me a few choices- Digital service (included), HD Service Fee( $10/mo), HD-DVR Service Fee ($17/mo). So I ask customer service about the hd service fee- apparently it is required to view any non-local HD channels. Well, there's another $10/mo lost! As a WMC user, I only need one cable connection, but they charge an extra $10 for each TV. Amazing how quickly that base price changes.

After a checkbox on the bottom of the page that gets me out of asks for another $7 a month for a cable modem (fortunately, I have one already), I am taken to a page to input my information, and ask for an installation.

Nowhere does it ask about a cablecard, or any set top box whatsoever. While I've heard of the "HD Technology Fee" in the past, that was usually separate from the stb fee. Now, if I am to believe the CS rep, they have been combined into one- the HD Service Fee.

So my question: what does this mean if I want a cablecard? Cablecards are supposed to be free. HD Set top boxes are supposed to be $10ish per month or more. If I ask for a cablecard instead of the presumed STB, do I get a discount on the HD Service Fee?

I am very confused. Can any comcast subscribers offer some advice?
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rbmorse

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#2

Post by rbmorse » Sat May 12, 2012 2:45 am

If you can break the code on Comcast pricing I'll nominate you for a medal or something. In my case, Comcast charges me the same for a cablecard for the Ceton as they would for a second HD settop cable tuner box (which also uses a cable card). As I understand it, and I may be incorrect, the charge is for the additional HD/premium service outlet rather than the cable card per-se.

Frankily I gave up trying to track their charges some time ago. Every time I called and asked for an explanation the packages had changed or terms of service were altered and it cost me more to get the same equivalent service (although the details would change). So, now as long as the bill doesn't go up, I've learned to leave them alone.

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#3

Post by GregV » Sat May 12, 2012 2:54 am

I only have the one cable card for my Infinitv and it is included with my digital starter package. Any additional STBs would be an extra charge. Usually when they ask how many TVs you have they assume you are going to use a STB with them. Hope this helps. Don't let them charge you for something you don't need though, they are good at causing confusion.

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makryger

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#4

Post by makryger » Sat May 12, 2012 2:57 am

Thanks greg- but do you get all the hd channels with your digital starter package? Even though my digital starter says it comes with CNN and TBS, it says I need the digital preferred to get the HD versions... do you get CNN HD and TBS HD with the digital starter package + cablecard?
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makryger

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#5

Post by makryger » Sat May 12, 2012 2:57 am

rbmorse wrote:If you can break the code on Comcast pricing I'll nominate you for a medal or something. In my case, Comcast charges me the same for a cablecard for the Ceton as they would for a second HD settop cable tuner box (which also uses a cable card). As I understand it, and I may be incorrect, the charge is for the additional HD/premium service outlet rather than the cable card per-se.

Frankily I gave up trying to track their charges some time ago. Every time I called and asked for an explanation the packages had changed or terms of service were altered and it cost me more to get the same equivalent service (although the details would change). So, now as long as the bill doesn't go up, I've learned to leave them alone.
Ugh... well thats not very assuring- but for me, I won't have a second cablecard- the cablecard will be my only rented equipment, and i seem to remember that comcast doesn't charge for those. It's just really annoying that what I'm getting at my current address for a grand total of $70 will be jumping up to $90 just so i can access HD- and more after the first year of a two year contract. It doesn't make sense to me.
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#6

Post by GregV » Sat May 12, 2012 3:07 am

Gotta love deregulation, it has really increased competition. :/

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#7

Post by richard1980 » Sat May 12, 2012 1:03 pm

makryger, Comcast is going to rip you off. They'll charge you a fee for a cable box, but then give you a partial refund because you don't have it. Unfortunately there's nothing you can do about it because the FCC allows this. (The part of the law that determines cable box rental fee says to divide the cost of the box and associated expenses by 12 to get the monthly fee, but the part of the law that covers refunds for CableCARD customers says the cable company can divide the cost of only the box (they don't have to include the other expenses) by any number up to 60 to get the monthly refund amount. The result is the discount can be significantly lower than the monthly rental fee...the refund can be as low as 20% of the monthly rental fee if associated expenses = $0. If the associated expenses are more than $0, that percentage can be even lower.)

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#8

Post by makryger » Sat May 12, 2012 2:41 pm

Well, I spoke to someone over the phone. On the plus side, he gave me more preferable answers than the chat support person. On the minus side, they completely contradicted eachother. But I think I'm starting to understand how CableCard fits into the HD Service Fee better.

So the new guy said that whatever channels I get in the digital starter package, I am entitled to in HD if I pay for the HD Service Fee. I asked him several times, and he assured me I would be able to get CNN HD, even though it was NOT listed in the Digital Starter Package. Although, now that I look more closely at the channel lineup, even though CNN HD doesn't get a checkmark in the Digital Starter column, there is a little asterisk that in tiny font says "Requires Subscription to Digital Starter"... so maybe the new guy is right?... I don't know.

Then the guy told me the HD Service Fee comes with an HD box, which I said I didn't want. This is where the CableCard FAQ clarifies some things. So the first CableCard is free. Then, if you have your own equipment, you are entitled to a "Customer Owned Equipment" credit. I type in my zip code, and it says I can get a $3 credit on my bill. (Although, this is something I have to get from Customer Service after I make the order). So basically, if I were to clump the extra fees/credits together, it's $7 for HD channels and a Cablecard. With RCN, I am paying $2 for the cablecard, so if I take that out of the HD Service Fee, it's really $5 I'm paying for HD. That price I can live with. Not quite the deal compared to my $67 total RCN plan, but that was due to jump in price in June anyways, so I suppose I've earned another year of "new customer" pricing.

I'm still amazed that Comcast website does not mention any TV hardware during the order process whatsoever. They just assume what you will require based on what type of TVs you have. The other benefit of speaking to someone over the phone was that he said I could just pick up the cablecard myself for free. Comcast only offered two choices- technician to come out, or a $10 self-install kit.

Hopefully, by the end of the year, Fios will be in my building... apparently they're working on it.
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#9

Post by richard1980 » Sat May 12, 2012 3:53 pm

You are making the mistake of subtracting the $2 RCN CableCARD fee and the refund from the cost of HD. Your Comcast subscription already comes with the cable box rental fee built in, and the cable box rental fee includes the cost of the CableCARD built in. It's one big bundled package. The $3 credit is supposed to be because you don't have a box, but they are charging more than $3 for the box. So you end up paying a fee for a box you don't have (rental fee=$x, so you pay $x-$3), and then you have to pay $10 for HD on top of that.

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#10

Post by makryger » Sat May 12, 2012 4:17 pm

Well, I wouldn't call it "making a mistake"... I'm just trying to make a meaningful comparison to my current service. While I agree, these things should be built into the price, unfortunately, these extra fees are the new norm. So I'm doing this from a perspective of what I've paid in the past, and what I think a "fair price" would be. $2 is a fair price to pay for a cablecard, I think. $5 dollars is a fair price to get access to the HD equivalents of channels, in my opinion. $70-80 seems to be the norm for new cable plans, before equipment fees. So instead of an extra $20 a month that I was expecting, it'll be $7. It's all relative.

Looking at the closest fios bundle, their new customer price is $80. CableCard is $4. Sure, HD is 'included', but the final price is $7 more per month compared to comcast. The positive with Verizon is that their service is more reliable, their customer service is allegedly better, they have actual physical stores you can go to to ask questions, and once you pass one year, the cost jumps $10 rather than up to $20 with comcast. After two years, fios jumps $5, comcast jumps anywhere from $15 to $47.

(Of course, none of this includes the threat to leave their service unless they keep the price the same)
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#11

Post by mcewinter » Sat May 12, 2012 5:00 pm

I'm in Chicago and I subscribe to digital starter which does in fact include CNN HD and TBS HD. I don't pay an additional HD fee.

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#12

Post by tombardo » Mon May 21, 2012 1:30 pm

I'm in northern VA and have Comcast with Digital Starter using only a cable card in a Ceton tuner. There are only 2 charges on my bill, one for Xfinity Double Play ($33) and one for Xfinity TV - Digital Starter w/ON DEMAND ($29.99). There are two more items on the bill for $0: one is called digital adapter service and says included with XFINITY TV Package; the other is Customer owned modem. These prices are part of the first year introductory rate and will go up in the future (I think the total bill will increase by $30 per month). As far as channels, I get CNN and TBS HD. There are only a very small number of channels that I get in SD and not in HD (BBC America is the only one I can think of, but there are a couple others that I removed from my guide because I don't have any interest in their content.

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#13

Post by makryger » Mon May 21, 2012 1:42 pm

Ok, so I've got two people confirming now that the HD is included in the digital starter package. That's good to hear. The website is just very misleading, and makes you think you need a higher package to get HD channels. The website also doesn't really give you any way to choose your TV hardware anymore, it just attaches on the HD Service Fee, and assumes you'll want an HD box. I suppose that's fine for 99% of their customers. For me, it sounds like I'll have to speak over the phone regardless to get the package I need.
My Channel Logos XL: Get your Guide looking good! ~~~~ TunerSalad: Increase the 4-tuner limit in 7MC

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#14

Post by Kustom Kid » Mon May 21, 2012 8:41 pm

I am also not paying the HD fee using a cablecard, but I'm still receiving HD. I'm not sure how it worked out, but I'm only paying $10 more for digital preferred and Blast internet verses just internet which is what I had before. I called to clarify my bill and they said it was correct. It will go up $30 after the first year, but it's still considerably less than if we were using Comcast's equipment.

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#15

Post by Wolfshadw » Tue May 22, 2012 6:10 pm

@ Makryger -

Just to give you an idea of what to look forward to, I looked at my recent Comcast bill and here's what it states:

XFinity Bundled Services
Preferred Bundle (Includes: Digital Preferred with On Demand, Receiver and Remote and Performance High Speed Internet). $Too Much
Service Discount - $10 (turned in the non-DVR digital set top box and remote control).

Additional XFinity TV Services
Cable Card Additional Ou - $0 (I only have the one cable card for my Ceton card. I believe I saw that additional cable cards were $2.00 extra.).

Additional XFinity Internet Services
Performance 12mbps - $0 (Included in my preferred bundle).

Other Charges and Credits
Customer Owned Eqiupment -$2.50 (I own my cable modem).

Add in the usual rubbish about tax and fees.

Hope this helps.

-Wolf sends

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#16

Post by richard1980 » Tue May 22, 2012 6:21 pm

That's the first time I've seen anyone get a full discount from Comcast for turning in their STB and remote.

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#17

Post by makryger » Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:44 pm

Ok, I just wanted to update you guys on the results of my cable provider switch. Verizon just doesn't seem to be in my building, which is too bad. Instead, I went with comcast. I gave the guy a call, told him that I really only needed Locals, CNN, and Comedy Central, in HD. He told me that they have a promotion for a Digital Economy package with all those channels, plus Blast Internet (30Down/5Up) for $50 for six months, then $65 for six months, then $80 from that point forward. I was very skeptical that such a price existed- i even told him he should be charging me more- but he assured me that that was the price. I became even more skeptical when he said it was off contract. But hey, I won't complain. I presumed I'd have to do Digital Starter/Performance Internet for $70 for 12 months, $90 for 12 months, and $100 that point forward.Instead, I'm getting faster internet than I expected, only the tv channels I watch regularly, and I'm off contract so I can switch if Verizon makes it to my building.

I will say that their 30/5 internet speed is really around 20/3. But that's still plenty fast for me. And the digital economy really does skimp on some channels I thought would always be included- like TBS and TNT and Spike and ESPN. But I don't *really* need those channels. If I did need to watch sports, I can still watch ESPN live through the xfinity website.

So right now my total bill for the next 6 months is $52. I'll be asking for the $3 user owned equipment discount on Monday. The cablecard was free. I get all the HD channels without any lame "hd technology fee".

So we'll see how everything goes from this point forward. I do have to say, there were a lot more people at the comcast service center that were cancelling their subscription than there were starting...
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#18

Post by newfiend » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:41 pm

I think the main reason I stay with Comcast isn't actually the TV service but rather the Internet Service. It's the fastest available for my area and I'm just addicted to the speed. I wish I had more options for TV in my area but having two Cetons kinda limits me to Fios or a Cable Company. Still... I'm actually pretty happy with Comcast's service here. It's much better than In New Hampshire where we used to live and I can watch all my required TV in HD so I guess I'm a pretty satisfied customer with Comcast.

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#19

Post by phenixdragon » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:01 pm

I just dumped them for DirecTV. I use to have the triple play package, but only cared about TV and Internet. Well I dropped the Internet part to get business class and my bill went up like $30 a month. Called in to complain/cancel and the best deal was to get the triple play again for like $98 (after taxes I think). Called up DirecTV and the highest I would pay after the 2 years of promos is under $100, after fees and taxes. Comcast's pricing is so jacked up, it is ridiculous. I am now debating on sticking with the DirecTV home media server box or keeping Media Center. Most likely Media Center as the interface is still 100 times better and I don't care about VOD, which is terrible with DirecTV (interface wise). Actually their box makes me want to watch less TV.

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