I’m not a big fan of the politics of the telecommunications companies (particularly with regard to the issue of net neutrality) but I’ve got to have connectivity. Since the days of slow dial-up, I’ve tried them all. I was hopeful about Comcast, but it was nothing but trouble from the start. The experience at the Comcast store yesterday (see the bottom of the post) only cemented my judgment.
- In my area, Comcast pretty much had a monopoly for broadband services. That made me uncomfortable right away.
- The service was rather expensive – even bundled – for the value of the features received.
- The shared neighborhood connection was insufficient.
- There were often so many errors on the line that service was significantly degraded.
- My house was wired a long time ago, and there were problems with the setup that Comcast refused to address. I paid several times for their service people to come out and address these problems, but they wouldn’t deal with the root issues.
- They sent some subcontractor in an unmarked vehicle out in the middle of the night to “upgrade” the street-level connection. Whatever it was, it made things worse. Yet another service call.
- Suggestions made for improvement were ignored (as far as I can tell).
U-Verse just recently became available in my neighborhood. I must have grilled the salesperson for two hours or more on all the packages, features, possibilities. We are at the very end of the coverage area, so I had concerns about connection speed and reliability. The salesperson was a former real estate developer who had lost the business in the housing crash and was more intelligent and relaxed than is the norm for folks that end up going door to door. I enjoyed the conversation. He did say that I probably wouldn’t be able to get the highest speed, but I was happy with the next level down (12 MB), especially since it wouldn’t be a shared connection as with Comcast.
The technician that came to my house was very professional, and also flexible with regard to what needed to be done. Within a few minutes, he had established that there were several wiring problems, including the fact that there was a splitter on top of another splitter. We came to an agreement about what he would do to address that. He rewired part of the house (and he had the drill as well as all the other equipment on hand). He also set up the upstairs office with two boxes that would talk through the electrical wiring, allowing an ethernet cord to be used. This is great because it would have been difficult to pull another wire up there, and the wireless seems to have trouble reaching up reliably and at top speed. He could tell that I was savvy enough not to need the full technican setup on everything, so we took that charge off to help pay for the other things he was doing. He also made sure that we were actually *receiving* HD.
At the end of his time here, I had three tvs hooked up with their own individual boxes, two desktop computers hooked up, and a notebook computer set up on wireless. The phone was working fine, and I had set up my online options for everything.
Some things I particularly like:
- The connection is faster, and I don’t have to reload pages in my browser anymore.
- Each television has its own options settings, including dvr with lots of space to record, and personal channel favorites.
- When the phone rings, it shows caller ids on the screen. No more getting up to answer robocalls or alumni donation requests.
- I can set the phone up to ring on my cellphone at the same time (not just call forwarding).
- I’ve got some 400 channels. I don’t have to pay extra for MSNBC or the Tennis Channel. And sooo many great movie channels! I never had Biography or History or National Geographic before. Yay!
- I like the feature where it grabs your favorite channels and scrolls little screens on the right. It’s a lot easier than trying to find something through all those channels.
- Lots of foreign stations to explore.
- My voicemails can be emailed to me – a service that would only work once in a while with Comcast.
I’m very very happy with the services so far. We’ll see how it goes. There is no contract, and AT&T has good customer service, so it’s not a difficult decision.
The nail on the coffin? I drove to the nearest Comcast location after work yesterday to drop off my modem and box. I arrived at the door, carrying this equipment, at three minutes until six. A man came to the door and told me they were closed. I pointed out that it wasn’t yet six o’clock, and he repeated that they were closed. How rude! Of course, it might not have helped that it was Halloween Friday, and I was dressed as an old, tired poet (complete with deep blue velvet hat), but I drove all the way over there, lugged this equipment to the door before their closing time, and was met with a response that made me verrrrrry angry!!! Whatever you want to say about AT&T, they do have a better sense of customer service than that.
So, bye bye Comcast! I’ll be watching your migrating client base with a big smile on my face. You don’t care – and it shows!