Thursday, July 01, 2010

This time, I am annoyed with Comcast

The other day, I jokingly said "fighting with Comcast" in an email a blog post. I was being funny, but with their rapid response, they were immediately on the case and contacted me to ask if they could help. So now they're going to think I'm crying wolf, but tonight, I am annoyed with Comcast.

So, when we got set-up four years ago, they installed the wrong DVR. I'm not sure why. I don't know if the installer got a bonus, or didn't have any standard ones in his truck, or what. But we got an HD DVR instead of a regular DVR.

We don't own an HD TV. So every month for the past four years, we've been getting overcharged for a service we can't use. (I don't think we have any special

Well why not just take the box to your local Comcast office and swap it out, James? Seems simple enough. Yeah, if we want to give up all the programming we've recorded but not yet watched.

So I read today on Engadget about the new services coming out. They are really pretty awesome. myDVR ( ) will let you schedule, review and change your scheduled recordings from anywhere you have internet access. For now, it seems to be limited to regular internet. I figure that soon enough it will also be added to the iPhone/iPod app we have installed.

As I continued to read Comcast's website, I came across their page explaining their DVRs -

First, it gives conflicting information. At the top of the page, it says "Store up to 90 hours of your favorite shows." And then when you scroll down, it says there are two DVRs - an HD one that stores 300 hours of standard or 60 hours of HD - and a standard one that stores 45 hours.

So... conflicting information and not even on different pages.

But, I saw that this afternoon and thought "Ok, so I'm at least getting a larger hard drive out of the deal. I would consider that enough to not worry about the extra $2-3 a month we're paying."

So I loaded up the DVR this evening and looked at what we had saved. 2,292 minutes, or 38.2 hours. And it says it's 76% full. So that puts its total capacity at 50.26 hours.

So... I thought "Ok, maybe I don't even have an HD DVR installed."

So I called Comcast (it tried to get me off the phone, told me they were experiencing longer than normal wait times. I will give them credit here, I can't remember a time when I've had to wait very long and tonight was no exception.) I got this nice guy who's name I didn't catch. I asked him if there was a way, by looking at the status screen of the DVR, if I had an HD or standard DVR.

He said he could check from there without me doing anything and confirmed that I did in fact have an HD DVR and then had me tune to the local CBS affiliate's HD channel to test. Big whoop, I don't own an HD TV. So it's letterboxed - but it's also got one or more data lines flickering at the top (they'd be outside the overscan on an HD TV - but on a non-HD, you can see them making it not worth watching, even if it's letterboxed.)

I asked him about capacity and he said that the box holds 60 hours standard or a meager 15 hours HD. I said that I read on the website that the HD box held 60 hours HD and 300 hours standard and he laughed (not in an insulting way) and said he *wished* they had boxes that big and started talking MB numbers.

So the CSR isn't versed on the offerings listed on the website. Does this mean that people getting DVRs today are getting much nicer than the 4-year-old box we have?

And then to make matters worse, I'm looking at my bill. Right at the top it says "Starting June 11, 2010, ESPN 3D will be available on channel 898 on the Digital Starter level of service. Call 1-800-COMCAST for details." According to my bill, we have Digital Starter, but if we tune to the channel, it says a subscription is required. I actually don't want any sort of ESPN, HD, 3D or otherwise.

And elsewhere on my bill: "HD Starter Triple Play Includes: Digital Starter with Video On Demand, Included Video Equipment, High Speed Internet, Digital Voice Unlimited" and yet right below that, separate charges for "SD Set Top Box" and "HD DVR Service (includes HD Technology Fee)"

So, Comcast, if you would be so kind as to address...

#1: Why did we receive an HD box if we didn't have an HD TV?

#2: We've now been charged more than necessary for four years. But can't really return the box because we've got a bunch of stuff on it we want to watch. Any recourse?

#3: What *should* the capacity of our box be?

#4: Are people today paying the same price and getting a much better box?

#5: Why does your website conflict itself?

#6: Are we getting a bunch (and also being charged for) of channels we can't even watch in HD? Are there also channels we're supposed to be getting that we can't get?

#7: What "equipment" is included in the "included video equipment" that comes with "HD Starter Triple Play"?

#8: What is the "HD Technology Fee"?
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