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Prince George's Chides Comcast

Rosalind Helderman

Prince George's officials have added their voices to the chorus of Maryland leaders warning county residents about an upcoming change to the terms of Comcast subscribers' agreements with the company, a change the officials believe limits customer rights to take legal action against the cable behemoth.

The company sent customers notices in July alerting them to the change, which would limit their rights to take the company to court and instead require disagreements to go to arbitration. Customers can opt out of the change--but only if they formally do so on Comcast's website or by letter within 30 days of receiving the notice.

In a news release, the county said the notice was made as a "stuffer" that arrived with bills and that no one consulted Prince George's government. According to the release, the county will be submitting a stern letter expressing its disappointment. Montgomery officials have also complained of the change.

Read more, including more details about opting out of the change here.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 1, 2007; 11:24 AM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Is this what county residents get in exchange for their votes, a "stern letter of disappointment" to a greedy corporation? That should get Comcast to change their ways for sure. Sounds like a plan out of the O'Malley playbook since he has such a great track record of whipping corporations like Constellation Energy (BGE) into shape.

Posted by: BG from PG | August 1, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

This is pretty funny considering when cable television first came to the counties they pretty much chose to make it a monopoly so that the county could regulate them and therefore collect fees from cable companies. Seems that the counties being happy w/ the money forgot about their "regulatory" nature long ago. They have only themselves to blame.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

The only reason they are writing the letter is they hope Comcast offers them some type of bribe to keep their mouth shut.

Posted by: Bob | August 1, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Things like this are exactly why I left Comcast. Seems like Comcast and some of our elected officials may be just a tiny bit too close, and it's us, the users of the so-called "service" that pay the price. And I do mean PAY.

Posted by: Former Comcast User | August 1, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Fios Fios Fios Fios Fios is put something on COMCAST

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Comcast is without question the worst consumer product/service I use. I had to disconnect the digital box that they insisted I take because it freezes the picture and blocks half of my channels, including CNN. Forget about getting someone on the phone to set up a service call. Comcast is trying to force people into arbitration because it knows it will be sued repeatedly in the near future for breach of contract relating to its poor service and for fraudulent billing practices. Apperently it has been losing a lot of these battles and is trying to cut its losses. How about improving your service? Stop promising high speed internet when it is barely faster than dial up most of the time? P.G. County should do all it can to void this mandatory arbitration provision.

Posted by: C-dog | August 1, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

The solution is simple -- drop comcast. I've never had cable and will never get it unless I can have more choices than comcast or comcast.

Posted by: Elle | August 1, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

They can send me whatever they want, but without my signature on a document waiving my rights, I'll see them in court. You cannot be found in agreement by default.

Though, truth be told, Comcast has been pretty good to me.

My cable internet runs as advertised at blistering speed (I've hit 700kb/s from major corporate websites, typical from other websites is around 150-200kb/s, and I use USB instead of Ethernet), I've only had a small handful of short outages, my longest being about four days because of a wiring headache that took time and a couple visits to track down and isolate.

My phone went out because of a hardware failure from that same failure in the wiring, and they offered me a next day service slot (which I declined since I had a cell phone and they couldn't guarantee a specific time, only that someone would be there sometime during the day) and they kept on it until they fixed it with no charge to me.

Hey, guess what folks, things get old, they get busted, they need replacement, and sometimes, the replacement isn't obvious the first time around. Such is life.

Their technical support people have been genuinely helpful, capable of holding an intelligent conversation when remotely diagnosing a service hiccup. Which is nice, considering that I know my way around a computer, and can tell they're NOT reading off a flashcard, and they're actually responding to feedback, provided you tell them what they need to know from your end. If you're a technical idiot, expect poor service from someone who needs correct information to address your problem. (If you're going to plug a computer in, know how to use the thing beyond turning on the power and clicking the web browser.)

Too many people are idiots about service utilities. Problems happen, and those problems aren't always quick to resolve. Plus with computers, its as often the interface between the chair and the keyboard that fails as much as anything else.

Posted by: James Buchanan | August 1, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

To James,
Once you give them a payment for services after the changes take place and you do not opt out then you are agreeing to their rules. This is how credit card companies work. In your original agreement I bet there is something along the lines that we (Comcast)reserve the right to change policies as long as we notify you within 30 days. Check it out.

Posted by: tad | August 1, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Comcast just sucks - RCN is so much better.

Posted by: Dick Hertz | August 1, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Comcast just sucks - RCN is so much better.

Posted by: Dick Hertz | August 1, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Comcast has to be the worst cable available.

Posted by: Mary | August 1, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

James, the truth is that Comcast's customer service is frustratingly awful.

Lucky for you, you've had good luck with your service which should only be expected but I agree if you aren't able to troubleshoot semi-complex problems on your own, pitty on you...with Comcast anyway.

On one occasion where I had an outage, I was told that they couldn't get to me the next weekday and when I explained that I had no phone due to no internet (Vonage), they told me that if I had their Comcast phone service, they would come out right away. Nice. I guess paying $100 a month for basic cable and internet doesn't warrant next day service.

On another occassion, when my internet was creeping along due to a weak signal, they sent a technician out who scratched his head for a while and said "you must need a new cable ran underground to the house...we'll get back with you." My internet began working again on its own. I never did hear from anyone so I didn't bother cancelling any repair but a few weeks later my neighbor told me that a Comcast technician was in front of the house, visably upset because he had been to the house three to four times only to find a car parked where they needed to run the cable. Now I'm not the smartest person in the world, but, wouldn't it make sense to call me and tell me that A.) you're coming or B.) move the F*&$@^#! car before they send someone over six weeks later? It's uncooridinated, idiotic actions like this that make Comcast inefficeint. Long story short, a contractor for Comcast did finally come over and run the new cable but many, many weeks later. Once Verizon brings FiOS to my neighborhod, it will be see ya later Comcast.

Posted by: BG from PG | August 1, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait until Verizon's FIOS comes to all of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Verizon, if you are reading this, I've contacted your Web site a few times, begging for you guys to bring FIOS to Upper Marlboro (zip code 20774). I have money to pay the bill, and I can't wait to save some money by dropping Comcast for the FIOS 'triple play'....

Posted by: A Comcast Subscriber | August 1, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

You do not need cable to survive.

Posted by: word up | August 1, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Howdy. I'd like to thank Comcast for coming to Brandywine. Verizon DSL was (and still isn't) availble, DirectWay satellite Internet was too slow, and the cell phone PCMCIA cards for internet access didn't seem to have great signal strength around here for Sprint or Verison Wireless. High Speed Internet from Comcast beats dial up any day!

That said, the second Verizon FIOS is installed down here, we are switching. Pricing and speed, baby! It is just business. And, for that matter, once Sprint and Google start testing WiMAX in the DC area, we are hoping the signal will reach Brandywine so that another competitor can come into the market. Monopolies stink.

What's the big deal anyhow about arbitration? Who the heck is gonna sue Comcast? What, your HBO didn't come in for a few days, and you want some sort of pro-rated rebate, and if you don't get it, you'd go to small claims court? Sheesh!

Oh, and by the way, Credit Card companies change your terms all the time with advance notice, just like Comcast is doing. Your rights DO change without your signature. Yup, you can opt out of their changes too (which will close your account). Just Opt out of the Comcast rules if you want to. Yes, no more cable or high speed Internet from them. But, "rabbit ears" sells for $15.00 in WallMart and Radio Shack. You can get at least 3 or 4 stations with them - for free!

Posted by: Bubba Redneck in Brandywine | August 1, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

I just spent three hours (two at work and one at home) six phone call to Comcast, including four hang ups by the Comcast service reps, to opt out the arbitration form. Of the six service rep I talked to only one had heard about the Arbitration Opt Out and he was in the "internet" dept. Of all the things that went on the weirdest was that I have to give my name and account information to get an address to complain.

For the record so Comcast cannot say it does not exist the address for complaints is, assuming it is correct:

Director Customer Satisfaction
4008 Dupont Highway
New Castle, DE 19720

Posted by: MD AideDeCamp | August 1, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

If I were to get caught with my illegal hook-up do I have the option to go to arbitration? Probably not.

That said, the cable amnesty campaigns are nothing but a hoax. Comcast does not have the time, resources or money to go after you. Connect away my friends, it's there for the taking.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Kill the monopoly! Wake up people of America!

Posted by: Fred | August 1, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Connecting via FIOS here in Clinton. Can't tell you how happy I've been since ditching Comcast. Last summer my internet service ran slower than dial up for 2 months, and my digital cable would not work either. The customer disservice department couldn't keep track of what had been done, closed my open problem ticket 3 times, and replaced my cable from my house to the curb twice. My husband, who gets well paid for his computer expertise, tried for 2 months to tell them exactly what was wrong, but they wouldn't listen. I have told all my friends about FIOS, and those who can't get it yet are jealous. Comcast has terrible customer service, high prices, and they made me miss a lot of Nationals games last year! Drop them as soon as you can!

Posted by: sparks | August 1, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

You do not need cable to survive.

says someone who does not work from home transferring large files. You may not starve without watching cable tv, but that doesn't mean people don't need high speed internet to survive.

Frankly, Comcast has gone out of their way to fix a recurring problem I had with digital cable channels and their service contains so many more channels than FIOS I think these pro-FIOS people are just astroturfing.

No company in America can compete with Comcast On-Demand services. none. Certainly not FIOS.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2007 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Ok...seems to be some issues with comcast..I was going to switch back to them...Someone posted that RCN is so much they are not...I have been daling with them since day one of their service.. I got the all included special, Internet, phone, and digital tv for 109.99..ever since they have been charging whatever they want...up to 155.00 this month..they charge me for hbo which ,according to their special(and it's on the flyer the salesman gave me)was included. They also are charging me for some"foreign exchange service" which they say is so I can keep my old number. This I was told initially would be at no extra cost...I have repeatedly called them and told them I want nothing more than what i originally ordered the 109.99 deal..they told me I would have to change my numbet..Fine i said, if thats going to stop charge for the foreign exchange service..DID THEY..NO...I was offered A credit..DID IT SHOW UP ON MY BILL..NO...They still kept billing me for the same thing even after I canceled it. Even after repeatedly calling them in the same day no two reps could give the same answer as to what my bill was..YIKES!...I mwas told just send them 35.00 and it will be fixed...NOPE..just got billed for 155.00 and now they want 2 they want 305.00...Oh and they also charged me for a movie that i supposedly watched... while i was on someone apparently broke into my house ,stole nothing, but sat down and ordered a one had access to my house..I was gone for only 5 days so I didn't think i would need a house sitter. RCN is na very crooked company as well. These companies know you only have limited options and you, the cutomer will most likely not have the money or resources to take them to court, so they drag youthrough the mud..What i find funny is that our tax dollars go to all of these other agencies like the better business bureau, consumer affairs..Where are these people...they may as well just get rid of these free-loading agencies and save us some money, so we can pay these companies the money they ripping off of us to begin with.

Posted by: steve | August 30, 2007 2:18 AM | Report abuse

sorry for my grammatical errors in my post...i'm just infuriated right now. Hope you see my meaning.

Posted by: steve | August 30, 2007 2:27 AM | Report abuse

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