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If I Had A Hammer, I'd Hammer The Cable Company

"Have I got your attention now?" Mona Shaw kept saying as she hammered a computer keyboard and a telephone at the Manassas office of Comcast one day last week.

Mona Shaw is 75 years old. She has no particular history of vandalism or assault. She has a heart condition. She is no revolutionary, no firebrand. She's just a cable customer who lived through one Comcast outrage too many, and then she went off.

As the Potomac News reported, all Shaw had wanted to do was switch her phone service from Verizon to Comcast. Yes, she saw all the ads and wanted to save money. So she called up and set an appointment for installation. On the appointed day in August, Mona and husband Don waited all day and nobody showed. Two days later, a Comcast guy arrived and started the work--but didn't finish.

The Shaws were left incapable of receiving phone calls.

Mona spent the morning calling Comcast. She went to the company's office in Manassas to seek help. When she got home, she had no phone service of any kind.

She called state regulators. She waited. Finally, she had had it. She went to the Comcast office, armed with a hammer. She told the Potomac News: "I smashed a keyboard, knocked over a monitor ... and I went to hit the telephone. I figured, 'Hey my telephone is screwed up, so is yours.'"

Shaw was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. The day after the arrest, Comcast called to tell the Shaws the company could hook up their service in a week. The Shaws rejected the offer and switched back to Verizon.

Complaints about Comcast are a staple of county government life throughout the Washington area. Montgomery County last year fined Comcast for not answering its phones on a timely basis. In Prince William County, as in most places, calls to county regulators usually prompt the cable company to get on the stick. But customers who don't think to call in the county cavalry, or who don't want to spend their lives chasing down the cable guy, can be excused for getting frustrated. Taking a hammer to someone's office is something else entirely, but the Shaw case is giving the consumerist blogs a day of joy and schadenfreude.

You be the judge: When Mona Shaw comes to court for a hearing in December, would you find her guilty, and if so, what punishment would you mete out?

By Marc Fisher |  October 10, 2007; 7:51 AM ET
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Guilty. Suspended sentence.

Posted by: Stick | October 10, 2007 8:07 AM

Absolutely guilty. Also agree with the suspended sentence.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | October 10, 2007 8:28 AM

She is certainly guilty of the crime as charge. But I wouldn't punish her beyond probation, or maybe a day of community service.

Posted by: COD | October 10, 2007 8:50 AM

I can relate to her frustrations and have the urge to hammer many a Comcast office (something about their nonchalant attitude brings it out in people). I haven't had internet access in almost two months. They give me 100 different reasons for the problem. They come to my house and make it look like they're working and then leave without telling me what the resolution is. They lie, overcharge and have completely lost my business at this point. I'm just waiting for Verizon to come over

Posted by: Omar | October 10, 2007 8:51 AM

After being blown off by Comcast 3 times within 2 weeks, offered $25 credits for each 3 hours of my wasted time, and then having the installer lack the proper equipment when he arrived... she's my hero. Of course she's guilty, but her punishment should be that she's required to have Comcast as her service provider for a year. (A truly horrific thought.) Of course, Comcast should be forced by the judge to provide this service at no cost to Ms. Shaw.

Posted by: DC Resident | October 10, 2007 8:54 AM

I think she should be given a medal. Which should be paid for by Comcast.

Posted by: Becky | October 10, 2007 9:20 AM

I've never had any problem with Comcast. They answer their phones, they speak passable English, and actually appear to want to solve your complaint. When their technicians arrive at the scheduled hour, they're friendly and helpful and don't leave until the job is done. My Comcast is one of the few competent utilities in the metro area. I don't recognize the company other people here are describing. Maybe they're sneaky Verizon folks pulling a GWU and pretending to be something they're not.

Posted by: athea | October 10, 2007 9:22 AM

Guilty and have the CEO of Comcast serve 90 days in jail. And no time off for good behavior. General population, no special cell or condtions.

Posted by: FIOS customer | October 10, 2007 9:22 AM

Ms. Shaw should be forced to go into the Comcast office and replace the keyboard and telephone she damaged. Comcast should be told that she will be in sometime within a 3-hour window of her choosing. At which time, she may or may not show up.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | October 10, 2007 9:26 AM

I'm with you Homer--Fight the Power!

Posted by: Andrew | October 10, 2007 9:44 AM

Guilty, suspended sentence.

That said, can we turn this into a Comcast bashing session? I went to their office to get a new analog box because mine quit working. They told me that 'the federal government told them' that they couldn't hand them out anymore. I told them that the conversion wasn't until 2009 and I wanted to continue to watch tv without paying for digital service until I have to.

The only reason why I got another analog box is because the people behind me in line were returning 2 working ones due to a move. And the fellow was nice enough to do the exchange (after I complained about Comcast not supporting their equipment). So it worked out but only by chance and b*tching.

And don't get me started on those commercials about the switchover that say that if you've already got cable, you won't have a problem. That's only if you have DIGITAL cable. Which they mention in passing several sentences later when they say something about digital cable's picture quality.

Posted by: Bethesda | October 10, 2007 9:47 AM

Not Guilty - Self-Defense.

Comcast is the textbook example of what happens when a company has a near monopoly. Customer service is low on their list of profit & loss priorities. Competitors Verizon FIOS and RCN aren't big enough to give them a serious challenge.

We switched from Comcast to FIOS and couldn't be happier. Better quality; better programming; similar cost. When we had a problem, they came the next day - on time.

Posted by: LovingFIOS | October 10, 2007 10:25 AM

And maybe athea is a Comcast wolf in sheeps clothing. Competent is one of the last words I would associate with Comcast.

Posted by: ArlingtonC | October 10, 2007 10:30 AM

I heard this story and it reminded me of the old "Fun with Dick & Jane" (Jane Fonda, George Segal, 1970's movie) when the robbed one of the utilities and everyone applauded. I would have too!

I agree with Arlington, sentence her to replace the damaged equipment, and give her a 3 hour window, have someone from management wait and wait, then she may or may not show up. Put the onus on Comcast to call repetitively reschedule, and offer meaningless apologies.

Posted by: Applause Applause | October 10, 2007 10:36 AM

Comcast. In the pantheon of plagues (locusts, snakes, etc.) they rank right up there. I pray for the day that Verizon is available in my neighborhood in Alexandria. Missed appointments, promised credits, rescinded credits, threatening phone calls. When I told the Customer Service Rep at Comcast the other day that I was tired of the runarounds and would switch to DirectTV she told me that it was ok, because for every customer that leaves, they get a new one. Is it any wonder that it's such a mess?

Smashing a $10 keyboard? Wrong, but certainly not unwarranted. Speak sternly to her and give her a BBB medal!

Posted by: Richard Slater | October 10, 2007 10:36 AM

The rest of the jury could find her guilty. I'd hold out for not guilty and make the judge declare a mistrial. It would be a cold day in hell before I'd side with Comcrap against a frustrated customer.

Posted by: Mister Methane | October 10, 2007 10:39 AM

Mona Shaw is my new hero. I'd love to smash a few keyboards at Cox cable.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | October 10, 2007 10:41 AM

Not guilty by reason of self defense. She was in danger of being driven insane by incompetent service. Last year, Comcast left me without internet service for 2 months. My husband, a techie type, told them what the problem was, and how it needed to be fixed. They closed our repair ticket 3 times without fixing the problem, and each time we reopened it, they started from the beginning with replacing the cable from our house to the cable box. I am so glad we live in Prince Georges county where we can get FIOS. We switched as soon as it was available and love it. Better service, more channels than our previous basic cable, and lower price.

Posted by: Sparks | October 10, 2007 10:42 AM

I never understand the problems with Comcast. I live in the District and Verizon screwed us over pretty badly for years. Our phone number was totally screwed up and we'd receive dozens of calls placed to a different number that was traced to faulty wiring. Or when our wiring was installed in our house we requested three phone numbers (one phone, one modem, one apartment phone) and we were charged for three numbers, but it turned out that we were only connected to two numbers and the third number just sat out at the substation, unconnected to anything. Or the time I was working in my kitchen when the Verizon guy was installing a line and he just snuck out of my house and disappeared. I panicked and thought he was hiding in my house or something and when I called Verizon they said he said I signed off on the work, something they could never prove. Comcast has been an absolute joy to work with in comparison. Friends of mine have FIOS and complain about the poor quality cable image and lack of channels. I have friends who canceled their land line phones altogether to go cell-only. Verizon is far worse than Comcast by my experience and my friends' experiences.

Posted by: DCer | October 10, 2007 10:43 AM

She should be given a commendation. I'm amazed that I've managed to resist that sort of thing through all the waiting, broken equipment, maintenance calls where nobody ever showed up, and not getting a working cable box until my SEVENTH attempt.

Posted by: Adam | October 10, 2007 10:44 AM

I couldn't convict someone of this. Yes she distructed property, but I can view this as temporary insanity whether she is claiming this or not. Anyone who has ever dealt with that joke of a company would understand.

Posted by: Jon | October 10, 2007 10:47 AM

Guilty. Her sentence: she should be assigne d for one day to the Comcast office she attacked with hammer and whip their customer service into shape. Comcast, like most cable companies in the location they serve, is a monopolistic behemoth that needs to be broken up or at least highly regulated. Each year Comcast reduces the number of channels offered on its basic cable to force subscribers to its much more expensive digital cable, and then it raises the rates for the basic cable. What are county regulators doing while this is going on? Either sleeping or they are in cahoots with the cable companies!!!

Posted by: pr41 | October 10, 2007 10:56 AM

Comcast messed up three appointments to install cable. I scoured their website for an email of an acutual person in charge and used the same email format to try and cc the president of the company and the vp for the mid atlantic region.

Within in three hours of that email I had them calling me and by the end of the week I had everything installed and some free services for a year. I sympathize with her anger, but not with her action.

In a civil suite I would fine her $100, but I would fine Comcast $400

Posted by: Art | October 10, 2007 11:01 AM

Guilty, fine $10.00, 6 months probation.

Posted by: ajsmitva | October 10, 2007 11:02 AM

She's lucky a cop wasn't around, or she'd have been shot dead when she pulled out her hammer.

Posted by: Richard | October 10, 2007 11:04 AM

Not guilty by reason that Comcast drives everyone insane! Appropriate punishment?Have the CEO of Comcast hooked up to his own cable company, pay the outrageous prices, endure the constant outages, deal with the profound idiots they call technicians, wait until the cows come home to have the tech show up, then endure the many call backs and re-scheduling for even more techs to fix the same problem that the previous tech didn't solve! Just as soon as FIOS comes to our area, its so long and good riddins to this horibble excuse for customer service oriented big boy. Six awful years with them later, you couldn't begin to believe our experiences. We finally had to have the MD States Attorney's Generals Office of Consumer Affairs get involved.

Posted by: silver spring | October 10, 2007 11:04 AM

So far, couple of years, I have had no real great problems with Comcast. Some outages but by and large nothing major.

Posted by: Stick | October 10, 2007 11:07 AM

I guess the facts would dictate I find her guilty. The punishment? She must replace the equipment she destroyed - with a ten year old keyboard where half the keys don't work. I think we can get her a 13" monitor too so she pass that on to them.

She doesn't need to replace the phone. Comcrap can transfer a phone from the Customer Service department 'cause they don't really need them anyway.

She also gets her hammer back.

Posted by: SoMD | October 10, 2007 11:10 AM

She needs to check out the blog

Posted by: Arlington, VA | October 10, 2007 11:18 AM

So beacuse this lady didnt get the service she wanted it gives her the right to go in an office and basically terrorize the employees in there? The people in there arent the ones missing her appointments or taking her calls, they must have been scared out of their mind. i dont care that she was 75 or that she is frustrated...I am frustrated by the amount of time i have to soend at the bank...does that mean I can go in with a hammer and smash their equipment, and then use the excuse "What the he** I am 75!"

If I was her judge I would make sure she gets the book thrown at her!

Posted by: amw | October 10, 2007 11:20 AM

I agree with all the comments about guilty with suspended sentence. "Comcrap" has the worst customer service (and actual service) of any company I have ever encountered. I live in Montgomery County where I had no other option. They would raise the price every 6 months. I finally had enough of being lied to about price changes and losing service so I switched to satellite. I love it! My price hasn't changed in 4 years and I rarely have a disruption in service - usually only if a storm is directly overhead. One of my goals in life is to never put another penny in the arms of "Comcrap". One of the most joyful days was the day I returned my receivers, in the bitter cold, standing outside because there were so many other people. Still a great day.

Posted by: Silver Spring | October 10, 2007 11:22 AM

I wish I could complain about Comcast, and actually started out with just TV service with them, but later switched all of my services - TV, phone, and internet from Verizon. And why would I do that? Well, the Verizon phone service only worked certain hours of the day and never on the weekends and I never once had working internet service in the 3 weeks I had it supposedly hooked up.

Comcast is a horrible pain in the rear when it comes to their contractors who hook up new service, but at least it works for me all of the time.

I've since switched my TV service to DirecTv, who were WONDERFUL! Prompt service, polite technician and picture quality that far exceeds cable.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2007 11:26 AM

The solution to this mess isn't hammers or complaints to customer service. It is pushing our elected representatives to get as much competition for the voice, tv and internet companies in this area as possible, even if that means tax breaks for new entrants. Competition will mean better service.

Posted by: Joe | October 10, 2007 11:34 AM

Jeez, Comcast must be horrible if Verizon is a better alternative.

Many, many, many times I've dreamed about doing that sort of thing to Verizon. Nice job, Mona - you go, girl!

Posted by: Scooter964 | October 10, 2007 11:38 AM

I hate Comcast. I live in a duplex. Six times in the past three years, changes to the other unit's cable has resulted in my cable being turned off. Each time, I call, get it restored, and try to get them to put some kind of note in the files so the line staff understands there are TWO cable accounts at that building, and they should be sure to check before working. And then it happens again.

FIOS is coming next year, and I will be switching.

Posted by: MD resident | October 10, 2007 11:40 AM

Way to go Mona Shaw!.
I have for 5yrs tried to get comcast to fix my cable service.I have received so many cable techs in my home that I can now work along side of them and speak cable gibberish. They have blown out one of my tv's sending "signals". I have "conversed" with their CEO via email. I am a very persistent person (I got thru to the CEO at Cingular now the "new" At&T and actually got all of my $$$ refunded))but these folks at comcast can not be moved. They are outlaws. At the end of one of my many,many service phone calls the rep actually asked me if I was interested in "bundling" my services. If I had been in the comcast office face to face with that rep I am certain that I would be in jail with Ms. Shaw.

Posted by: Linda | October 10, 2007 11:53 AM

Monica Shaw should be found guilty of vandalizing private property but the penalty imposed should be minimal. Shaw had good reason to be upset at the widely known unresponsiveness of Comcast. Acquitting Shaw, however, could possibly lead to further civil unrest by other irate Comcast subscribers.

Hopefully the Shaw debacle will cause Comcast to finally follow the corporate motto of placing its "valuable customers" first.

Posted by: Liability | October 10, 2007 12:01 PM

Fight fire with fire, what she did is just, "Comcastic"!

Posted by: Who knows | October 10, 2007 12:11 PM

A few light swats with a ruler across the knuckles ought to do it.

Posted by: al | October 10, 2007 12:13 PM

I switched from Comcast after 4 missed appointments with the usual run-around. I just told them to cancel all service that minute (even thought I'd be out of service until verizon could show up - I was that mad). A few hours later, an installer showed up and I told him what I'd one and she said "Good for you, lady. This is the worst company I've ever worked for. They truly do not care at all about you. If I can get another job, I'm getting out."

Posted by: CapHill | October 10, 2007 12:23 PM

Case dismissed!

In short, I think Mrs. Shaw did the wrong thing. But since Comcast screws up so many times and gets away with it, I see this as a case of "Two wrongs don't make a right -- but it damn sure makes it even!"

Posted by: dirrtysw | October 10, 2007 12:27 PM

If a bunch of office people are seriously scared by a 75 year old lady with a heart condition and a hammer, then they deserve a life of working for Comcast.

Guilty. Sentence to one hour, suspended.

Posted by: Jayne | October 10, 2007 12:42 PM

I am surprised that no one here has said anything about Comcast's (relatively new) $20 service charge. I have had their TV and internet for about 3 years with some previous need for service calls. Yes, every time took multiple calls and visits. This past summer I needed service and they evetually came out twice to fix it. When I got my bill they had two charges of $20 each for service! I couldn't believe it. I pay a monthly fee for their product, and monthly rental for THEIR modem and THEIR cable boxes and when they break they want me to pay for them to fix their equipment. When I complained they said that they would remove the charges if I signed up for another $3 fee for "insurance". I refused that and still got my refund. At least I can't find the new $3 fee on my bill anywhere for what that's worth. I'd switch to Verizon in a minute if I had any better luck with their customer service for my phone.

Posted by: davidlav | October 10, 2007 12:54 PM

Comcast has been consistently rated the worst company in the world, yes you heard me right, in the world for customer service. I don't even know where to begin but lets just say, the SECOND Fios is offered in my building is the second I change (and everybody else in my building) changes. 2 words "F*ck Comcast"

Posted by: Jeff | October 10, 2007 12:56 PM

I have never used Comcast, but my horrible experience with Verizon leaves me wondering how bad Comcast must be if Verizon is somehow a better alternative. I spent days getting my Verizon DSL hooked up properly, and during this they left me without any phone service at all. They would just keep shuttling me between their "analog" and their "digital" people, each claiming the problem was the other's fault.

As for Comcast, if they spent even a small fraction of their direct mail budget on customer service they could solve these problems. Barely a day goes by when I don't receive at least one piece of junk mail from Comcast. The paper recycling gets filled up fast.

Posted by: Al | October 10, 2007 1:00 PM

Guilty. Suspended sentence.

Posted by: flewder | October 10, 2007 1:11 PM

I don't condone what Ms. Shaw did -- aren't we as adults supposed to behave better than the cable company, just as we're supposed to behave better than a two year-old?

Still, every time I hear a Comcast commercial with the phrase "It's Comcastic!," it makes me think of Inigo Montoya in the Princess Bride -- "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

If "Comcastic" was defined in the dictionary, it might go something like "an adjective suggesting abysmal customer service, general indifference and shoddy products delivered for continually rising prices."

I have never dealt with any company as useless as Comcast. One of my goals in life is never, ever to use any Comcast product again under any circumstances. One of the best days of my life was when they wired my neighborhood for Fios and I was finally able to tell Comcast to shut off my service. Between DirecTV and Verizon, I haven't had a problem since.

Posted by: Chris T, Potomac | October 10, 2007 1:13 PM

Guilty. Suspended sentence.

I went through the same no-show routine when I switched my phone service to Comcast.

Then I tried to switch to Verizon FiOS (also looking forward to firing Comcast) and it was even worse. Bait and switch on pricing. No call to tell me when they were supposed to do the install. No show on install day. Run around on why they didn't show.

Telecom/Cable... They have forgotten customer service and responsibility and, frankly, don't seem to give a hoot. They're getting money hand over fist from us. What do they care?

Bash away, kids! Bash away.

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | October 10, 2007 1:25 PM

We switched to DirecTV 2.5 years ago, mainly for Sunday Ticket, but my experience with them overall has far exceeded any expectations and I've never looked back. The handful of times I've called due to an issue or to change programming their customer service has been polite, and takes care of things right away without any run-arounds. The one issue we had - a technicians van broke down they day they were supposed to upgrade us for an HD receiver and they couldn't make it - they were more than generous and gave us 4 months of free HD programming and 6 months of $20 off the bill, no questions asked. You can go on their website and change your programming package anytime you want - adding things or removing things - pay your bill, and set your DVR to record programs. In all this time, we've lost our satellite signal one time for a total of about 2 hours - with Comcast it seemed like our cable would go out at least once every couple of months. Anyone that's had more than one aggravating experience with Comcast shouldn't keep giving them chances - there are better options out there.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | October 10, 2007 1:25 PM


Let's have a 75 year old hit you a few times with a hammer. Does that sound like fun?

Posted by: BDTLR, VA | October 10, 2007 1:32 PM


That sounds like my grandma! ...and she's a H--l of a lot of fun!!!

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | October 10, 2007 1:34 PM

Well at least she had a legitimate complaint. Being without telephone service is kind of a big deal.

I have never had any problem with Comcast. Then again, I do my own home wiring. It's really not that hard. All the cable and phone companies have to do is make sure the line running to my house is working. Which they do.

Posted by: bkp | October 10, 2007 1:36 PM

Cavalier Telephone ( for your dialtone, and then RUN don't walk to order up your FIOS for TV & internet. We could not be happier with each of these.

Posted by: if you don't have Verizon.. | October 10, 2007 1:38 PM

Not Guilty, even if she had decided to burn the place down. I would have happily gone without cable for weeks/months just for the pure joy of seeing my local COMCAST center lying in ruins.

Of course she is technically guilty, but Jury Nullification is alive and well as one of the few opportunities for, we the people, to have a real say.

How I long for a return to publicly regulated utilities. Since cable deregulation, the bill has gone up far ahead of inflation while service has gone down to practically nonexistent. I suspect cable, like the Washington Metro system, to be a form of workfare with a bloated bureaucracy of supervisors of adminstrators of managers of supervisors of adminstrators, where relatively few people actually do anything useful and then only in small spurts.

I would happily trade channels I never wanted and never use for better service.

Posted by: mi-ti-bear | October 10, 2007 1:44 PM

Not Guilty, even if she had decided to burn the place down. I would have happily gone without cable for weeks/months just for the pure joy of seeing my local COMCAST center lying in ruins.

Of course she is technically guilty, but Jury Nullification is alive and well as one of the few opportunities for, we the people, to have a real say.

How I long for a return to publicly regulated utilities. Since cable deregulation, the bill has gone up far ahead of inflation while service has gone down to practically nonexistent. I suspect cable, like the Washington Metro system, to be a form of workfare with a bloated bureaucracy of supervisors of adminstrators of managers of supervisors of adminstrators, where relatively few people actually do anything useful and then only in small spurts.

I would happily trade channels I never wanted and never use for better service.

Posted by: mi-ti-bear | October 10, 2007 1:45 PM

Not guilty by reason of (temporary) insanity; Comcast to pay any court costs AND her legal defense, AND commit $X,000 to retraining their personnel.

Posted by: Ned Ludd | October 10, 2007 1:46 PM

Comcast and Verizon DO NOT HAVE MONOPOLIES on sorting out your internal wiring. Their official responsibility as a utility ends at the end of the wire that comes out of the ground or off the pole and terminates at your house. If you don't like their services, don't use them. Low voltage wiring tasks are so easy that they qualify as unskilled labor.

The reason these companies are swamped with customer service calls, too many to respond too, is the people mistakenly believe that they are responsible for your home's internal circuitry. The most furstrating time I ever with Verizon was trying to convince them that I was not just another idiot customer and that the problem with my telephone was at the pole. Once that was established, they lept into action with amazing speed and skill.

Posted by: bkp | October 10, 2007 1:46 PM

Speaking of massive theifs, I wonder why the DC Taxi driver stopped answering questions in his chat. I bet its because all the questions were highly critical.

Posted by: Jon | October 10, 2007 1:54 PM

If the heads of customer service for Verizon and Comcast jump off a building at the same time, who hits the ground first? More important, who throws the party to celebrate?

Posted by: Mister Methane | October 10, 2007 2:17 PM

Not guilty. Someone has to send the cable companies a message. And, since our elected officials are incapable of actually REPRESENTING our interests, we have to represent ourselves in the only way possible. Juries need to stick up for themselves.

Posted by: Ryan | October 10, 2007 2:27 PM

Not guilty by reason of insanity, which was induced by Comcast.

Posted by: FIOS Man | October 10, 2007 2:29 PM

For those marveling at how Comco$t can be worse that Verizon, Verizon's DSL and FIOS units are completely separate, unable to check each other's systems or support each other. Sounds stupid, but from the nightmares I heard about Verizon DSL I might not have moved to Verizon FIOS if not for that fact. And that's likely why I have had nothing but good customer experiences with Verizon FIOS CSRs.

And it's almost not worth mentioning after all the other stories, but I also had Comco$t come out almost a dozen times for the SAME ISSUE until one guy actually DID something and hooked up a frequency analyzer and figured out that the two channels that kept dropping out were on the same frequency (I had already figured that out without any equipment). One "tech" actually tried to convince me that a component signal gives BETTER picture quality than HDMI or DVI!!! (OK, you have to be an AV/home theater geek to get that one, but it's blindingly obvious that it's false, trust me.)

Posted by: The Cosmic Avenger | October 10, 2007 2:31 PM

Verizon sucks also. I was stood up for three appointments in a row, and without phone service for the better part of two weeks as they couldn't seem to install basic phone service.

The answer: pressure politicians to include simple remedies, like requiring that the cable or phone company pay customers $250 every time they don't show up during their 'window' time period, and pay them another $100 or so for every day the customer is without service because of the cable / phone companie's bad service.

I guarantee you that would force these folks to actually dedicate resources to customer service.

As it is now, from a pure business standpoing they have no incentive to dedicate anything but the crappiest of resources to customer service.

Posted by: Hillman | October 10, 2007 2:35 PM

Neither actually. This scenario happened with Comcast!!! Ready???

Cable box I have blows up due to a short known by the manufacturer. Go to the manufacturer's web site and it was right there. It wasn't a big kaboom but a nice little smoldering electrical fire.

I bring the box in and am told, "You obviously did something to this unit and therefore you'll have to pay for a new one." To which I showed them the recall by the manufacturer and my cable bill that showed the recall notice that gave the dates of manufacture on the recall (made between certain dates).

Comcast hands me another box that apparently was fixed but you could still see the fire stain. When I said I wanted one after the specific date, they told me they can't do that. The bill said they would.

Comcast then proceeds to argue with me for 45 minutes that it was my fault and not the manufacturer so I called the manufacturer who told me (on speakerphone with the rep and manager right there), that the cable company MUST exchange the box for one not in the recall or be liable for any and all damages that may arise from the use of this box. So I told them that I'll be glad to go burn down my house with their box so I can get a new house! They quickly changed the box.

When I get home, I then find out that someone ran the wrong cable to my house (the neighbor was getting charged). Instead of simply opening the router and changing the two cables there, they attempted to rip up our lawns. Both of us had the same service except I had a PPV special that I had ordered when is where we found the problem. They bring out all kinds of heavy equipment then explain to me what they are going to do. Before they get to work, I walk over to the router, unscrew the cables and place them in the right spots.

The foreman told me that it's not possible for that to work, then had him attempt to diagram to me how two similar cables (laid originally at the same time) could have adverse effects on the cable system as a whole (yep, he told me it could crash the entire system). I then asked him again to explain what they were going to to. His answer was, "We gunna take the wire that runs into your house and run it to his house. Den we gunna take his and put it in yours. But we got to get in an splice the cables." So, in effect, they were going to do what I had just done, but do it the hard way and waste a lot of time, money and resources.

Two months later, I get a charge of $500 on my cable bill for the service call. I sent Comcast an invoice for $500, plus the $1,800 of my time for fixing their problem. I got the $500 waived, never expected to see the $1,800 and didn't.

Cox though, all they like to do is put you on one promotion after another then BAM, charge you 10 times what you had been paying to make it all back. Then make you wait 45 minutes for one person to get to you with nobody else waiting.

Posted by: Cox or Comcast | October 10, 2007 2:45 PM

Comcast is horrible and I hail Mrs. Shaw. Good for you! I had trouble with Comcast w/both internet and digital cable. With the digital cable - after 6 months of in & out service, & after Comcast's multiple attempts to fix the problem -they sent out a contractor that hooked me into my neighbor's cable box, left exposed wires, resulting in a near blow out of both my neighbor's service & mine. When we called to complain, Comcast sent out the same contractor - who didn't fix the problem, but just wanted to stuff the wires back into the box. We got his license plate number as he tried to speed away and reported him. Finally, after writing letters to the state and the City, Comcast sent out a supervisor to install the cable correctly. Come on - this is not rocket science. Cable has been around for over 30 yrs!

Posted by: Abused by Comcast Monopoly | October 10, 2007 2:48 PM

I switched to Starpower (now RCN) years ago. After having Verizon here seven times dealing with cross-talk, and trying to get a line clean enough to get on the internet, Starpower offered to bypass them alltogether and come directly to the house. We've stuck with them ever since. When I get better offers in the mail, I call and they usually can match it. They always help us out without a fight, and I've never been stood up. Don't want a monopoly? Then use the competitor, or at least give them a try!

Posted by: Laura | October 10, 2007 2:49 PM

I am just coming off a grand hassle with Verizon. Their phone numbers are all answered by robots, who politely advise you to "please hang up."

Posted by: FrayFelipe | October 10, 2007 2:56 PM

This woman is officially my hero. I went through three months of purgatory dealing with Comcast. They slipped up when they gave me the direct line of the billing supervisor in DC. I called 8-10 times a day for three weeks before she finally called me back and gave me the credits on my bill I was promised. I tried to get any other service on Capitol Hill, but to have TV, I have to have Comcast. Mrs. Shaw deserves a holiday in her honor!

Posted by: Allison | October 10, 2007 3:02 PM

Wow "this woman is a hero". I think anyone saying that needs to go get anger management help just like this hammer attacker. She is despicable.

$2k fine
2 years probation
anger management

the real questions are why do people behave like this and why is it acceptable to so many?

Posted by: Roger | October 10, 2007 3:17 PM

Comcast, Cox, no difference. One of the happier days of my consumer life was dropping my cable box off at Cox and switching to satellite. My only regret is that I was not smart enough to do it sooner. Cable level of service is arrogant and terrible. Might it be because of no direct competition?

Posted by: Ace | October 10, 2007 3:19 PM

I sympathise with all of the complaints but it is merely reflective of a more basic underlying problem. The present Administration has no interest in defending consumers only in supporting monopolies that contribute to their election coffers. If you look at what the EC and the UK do they try to redress the balance between consumer and monopoly, whether it is cable or Microsoft. In the UK there is ample competition between internet service providers because they are forced to allow equal access to the pipe into the home.

Posted by: Ian | October 10, 2007 3:23 PM

When I signed up for broadband it was a bit of a Hobson's choice - which do I hate less, Verizon or Comcast. Easy choice: I went with Verizon DSL. Cable operators always revert to type. My mom, who is a Comcast subscriber in N.J., was told that her TV set would be useless come the DTV switchover in 2009. I explained that nothing will change for her. I don't know if the Comcast broadband installer who told her this was stupid, misinformed, or deliberately trying to get her to switch to the more expensive digital package, which she does not need.

Posted by: AC in AC | October 10, 2007 3:24 PM

I guess it depends on where you live. Some folks on the board have had no issues with Comcast. Me on the other hand.... I have the daily occurrence of one of the following: a movie that I am watching freezes, the picture becomes distorted, my internet connection drops, my internet connection is slower than molasses in winter, etc. Never mind to talking to a rep after hours - most of the ones I've talked to recently I could not understand.

Bottom line is that unless there is more quality assurance you will continue to have poor customer service.

Posted by: kadoherty | October 10, 2007 3:47 PM

Ah, you people make me feel so smug about my over-the-air free TV.

Posted by: h3 | October 10, 2007 3:48 PM


That sounds like my service w/ Comcast. I don't even bother calling any more. The only answers I get are "Unplug the box, count to 20, plug the box back in." or "We can send technicians out for a service call to diagnose the problem. They might be able to fix it. It'll be about $200 for the service call, though."

Posted by: Pompous Magnus | October 10, 2007 4:15 PM

I'd find her not guilty and I'd give her a jackhammer for next time.

Posted by: Verizon | October 10, 2007 4:15 PM

Hmmmm . . . I wonder if she opted out of the arbitration clause that Comcast sent a few months back . . .

Posted by: Haggis | October 10, 2007 4:20 PM

Disorderly conduct? Give her a meritorious service medal for service to the community!

Posted by: Joe | October 10, 2007 4:20 PM

Not guilty. If Comcast physically renedered her phones unusable, as she claims, then she is simply returning the favor.


Posted by: Meridian | October 10, 2007 4:36 PM

Continue the case without entering a finding and dismiss it in 6 mos., it's done all the time.

Posted by: fendertweed | October 10, 2007 4:54 PM

Guilty; small fine; suspended sentence. However, I don't think there would be this much support of these actions if they had been carried out by a 25-year old male.

Posted by: ebc | October 10, 2007 5:14 PM

Guilty for both parties.
Guilty and probation for Mrs. Shaw. Her record expunged after 6 months.
Guilty and repayment of money to Mrs. Shaw from Comcast for the time and trouble it caused Mrs. Shaw.

Posted by: ter | October 10, 2007 5:17 PM

Roger writes:


Wow "this woman is a hero". I think anyone saying that needs to go get anger management help just like this hammer attacker. She is despicable.

$2k fine
2 years probation
anger management

the real questions are why do people behave like this and why is it acceptable to so many?"

Roger, I hereby award you a virtual Hyundai DUH sticker for the most naive comment of this thread. You wonder why people get so angry? I take it you have never had to deal with an organization that takes your money and through a combination of greed and incompetence and diffusion of resopnsibility, cannot or will not provide the service for which you've contracted and paid. I take it you've never felt ignored, or swindled, only to find out that you can't make headway with any representative of the organization, and that meanwhile, you don't have a necessary service.

Anger management, classes, eh? Perhaps so, but at the same time, YOU need to get yourself into therapy to understand why you have no empathy for the utter frustration that other people feel when dealing with intransigent organizations. Perhaps a few years of therapy might enable you to answer the inane question you pose above.

I have little doubt that you would say former residents of New Orleans, who still have no interim housing, attend anger management classes in lieu of staging a scene at FEMA HQ.

I hope that you have to deal with an intransigent organization on a vital matter, such as health care coverage, fire or flood insurance, or zoning. Then you'll know what it feels like to be ignored...IF you ahve any feelings. I suppose you could always sue the 'tards. Have fun paying the 33% contingency fee to any lawyer who'll take your case. Or you could file pro se, and have a fool for a client.

In summary, Roger:


Posted by: Mister Methane | October 10, 2007 5:51 PM

Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Restitution less $30 per hour that the family waited for repairmen who didn't show. If the $30/hour totals more than the cost of restitution, then she's free and clear.

But she's still guilty.

Posted by: JH | October 10, 2007 6:41 PM

Of course she is guilty and she should have to pay a large fine but at her age a jail sentence would not be appropriate.

What is appropriate is to talk about the Comcast. To qualify for employment in the call center or customer relations department you need to pass a test which measure your low intelligence, your inability to speak passable English, and a trait to be obnoxious. Anyone failing that part of the test is automatically disqualified.

Posted by: John | October 10, 2007 6:56 PM

Walking into an office with a hammer intending to cause damage? GUILTY!! The days of threatening with a hammer is over, Mona. This is 2007, not 1967.

Posted by: Pay fine and take anger management | October 10, 2007 8:46 PM

A 75-year-old woman with heart problems having her ability to call for help cut off by negligence, isn't that endangerment? What if she has a heart attack and because Comcast has left her without phone service she can't get the emergency medical treatment she needs and dies? That would have been a whole different story.

Perhaps a self-defense plea isn't so far fetch.

Posted by: Alexandria, VA | October 10, 2007 9:15 PM

I wasted a whole vacation day waiting for a comcast clown to come hook my phone up. He never showed. We he came the next week, something that was supposed to have happened with the home office had not happened so they were going to have to scheduole him for the next week. Comcast can go straight to hell. So much for this fraudulent free-market Republican BS. America has the slowest most expensive broadband and cable in the world. We have been taken.

Posted by: Dessalines | October 10, 2007 9:18 PM

Comcast is the guilty party here.

Posted by: phil | October 10, 2007 10:10 PM

Guilty, sentenced to five days as a shadow of the Comcast CEO to gain insight why the company is has such a poor customer record. Than, with the assistance of Marc Fisher, report the results in his column.

Posted by: Ed Gabris | October 10, 2007 10:19 PM

Pay for the damage but not much beyond that. Chalk it up to an addled old woman. Frustrated? Too bad. Stick with Verizon. Or, go cellular and cut the cord.

Posted by: Karl | October 10, 2007 10:35 PM

Not guily be reason of incompetence on behalf of Comcast. They are the worst and most expensive cable company around. We had a major problem with our digital cable for a while. One morning the digital was out - again, and the scheduled a service tech to come out the following day to replace the box. So, we waited all morning and I finally called around 2PM. The reason they did not come and canceled my serivce call, without calling me to know, was that since there was a widespread outage that day they canceled my appointment. Then, to further infuritae me, they called later that night to see how my service call was. All I am waiting for is for Verizon FIOS to be available in my neighborhood - any its bye bye forever Comcast. I will gladly drive the Comcast equipment in my house to their office just to be rid of them.

Mona - you are my hero!!!

Posted by: jersey guy | October 10, 2007 10:48 PM

It's time that we start showing our disopleasure with companies by using assassination as a method of complaint. The corporate world would suddenly take notice. It's time for accountibility through death. Kill them all! Incinerate them!

Posted by: Henry | October 10, 2007 10:49 PM

Easy solution:

Retrieve all the old copper out of Comcast boxes, and sell it to recyclers. Get some money out of it. Comc0$st customers won't notice, because they're used to having no service. And you can use the money you make from ecycling the cable to take Anger Management Classes. Woo! Hoo!

Now here's a question: if you're not angry when you're retrieving Comc0$t cable to recycle, do you have to take Anger Management Classes?

Posted by: Copper Canyon | October 10, 2007 10:57 PM

I would find her guilty. Yes, Comcast sucks royally, but at that point, it was time to get a lawyer involved.

Suspended sentence?? That's a load of crap. That's just being floated because she's a 75 year old white woman. I'm a 40 year old black man, and if I'd done what she did, my black a$$ would still be sitting in jail right now.

She's a menace, and needs to be locked up. There's no way that's acceptable behavior

Posted by: J.D. Walker | October 11, 2007 9:26 AM

Verizon is not much better. When we switched to Cox (cheaper, better service, not perfect though), our phone was dead for almost a week. When the Cox guy came out to inspect it, he said that the line had been CUT! Just like in a scary movie where the killer cuts the phone line before he goes in....Verizon (allegedly) cut ours because we cut off service. That's what I believe, anyway.

Posted by: awb | October 11, 2007 1:04 PM

I've actually had better luck with Comcast than with Verizon in The District. Working with Verizon drove me batty, and three days of my vacation leave time was sucked down the toilet waiting for technicians who never arrived, even though it was merely a switch in the main office in the end.

Destruction of property isn't cool, but I can see where Mona Shaw is coming from.

Posted by: jimbo | October 11, 2007 3:00 PM

Dang! She beat me to it!! Rock on Mona - you've done what everyone else wishes they could have.
I like the idea of "Guilty. Make the CEO of Comcast serve time"!!

Posted by: Been there, wanted to do that | October 11, 2007 4:22 PM

Death Penalty. Done and done.

Posted by: Corey Comcastic | October 11, 2007 4:25 PM

For those of you who can't see why she's a hero, you probably consider me a terrorist, too. After all, me and my buddies threw $1.8 million (2006 dollars) worth of tea into Boston harbor to protest another monopolistic company. This round's on me, Mona!

Posted by: Sam Adams | October 11, 2007 8:12 PM

This whole rigamaroll is making me more computer literate; never knew about all these sites.
As to my punishment for hammering Comcast, I paid $345.00 damages, have to behave until 17 Dec. & then pay court costs, & am forbidden to enter the Comcast building for a year. My lawyer's fee probably was meant to reimburse some of his pro bono work. As to community service, for years we have spent most days every week as volunteers for various causes & groups, as well as buying our house to care for discarded old dogs which we care for until they die. Try walking in our shoes.
Actually I feel for the Comcast employees; it must be very difficult working for such a disliked company. It appears Comcast is completely lacking in quality control.
As to being 75, it gets tiresome being treated like an addled old biddie; you should meet my 95yo M-I-L - sharper & more intelligent than 40 yo's. Just because we are on soc sec does not mean we've lost our marbles or backbone.

Posted by: Mona Shaw | October 12, 2007 3:11 PM

Dear Ms. Shaw:
I'm sorry you had to pay anything. A company that takes your money and takes your time under false pretenses should be the one getting fines. How are the ceaseless billing "mistakes," deliberate misstatements, and unqualified employees not fraud?

Posted by: Walter Nissen | October 12, 2007 4:03 PM

Mona Shaw is my goddess.
If she elects for a jury trial, which she should, she'll walk out of that courtroom a free woman.

Then they should have a parade for her.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 14, 2007 12:16 PM

Its about time ! I get sick of calling for tech support ! I call for tech support and they tranfer me to tech support/customer service (which means they are reading from a book). I learned fast to tell them "Transfer me to tech support 2" and you have to insist on it because tech support 1 can't do anything so eventually they transfer you anyway. These companies also need to TRAIN these people a hell of a lot better. And one more thing there is NEVER a Supervisor available AT ANY TIME,I found out from a friend of mine that is a customer service supervisor that the customer service people are told to tell us that and if we insist to just transfer us to just any customer service person and they will tell you their a supervisor when their not. If there wasn't such a monoply we'd probably get better service because these companies will want to keep us as customers. Way to go Mona !!

Posted by: Gina | October 15, 2007 12:53 PM

I work for a competing cable company. I can see both view points. Mona had a port # meaning she was keeping her # but switching providers (a delicate process).

Based on the techs statement, Mona failed to do the Third Party Verification which is a call made to verify she wanted the service to a third party. Failing to do so would have compromised the port. Comcast made the mistake of not verifying the port was ready before installing. Since the port was compromised, when they switched her over to their service it turned that telephone number off, usually for 7 days.

Also, Comcast probably did not stress to her the importance of Third Party Verification.

I think Mona over-reacted but I don't blame her for being upset.

Posted by: Anonymous Insider | October 17, 2007 1:21 PM

Well, at least she didn't sue them for $54 million.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | October 18, 2007 10:05 AM

Not guilty. Time served by having Comcast.

The customer service, the technicians and the office to pay your bill at the Michigan Avenue office in DC show no professionalism. If, possible could everyone be fired and just maybe, they could get it right the second time.

Posted by: Shirlene | October 18, 2007 12:14 PM

That coward of a Comcast office manager who left by the back door while customers cooled their heels, in the heat, by the front door should be put in the Gulag for re-education. Twenty years hard labor removing tree stumps in Siberia, little heat, little food, lots of violence. The lady was completely justified in her reaction. Not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.

Posted by: Bentley Frieze | October 18, 2007 3:40 PM

Where do I send a donation to help pay her fine? Cingular and Comcast both stink!! They seem to think they have a monopoly on this type of service without giving a consumer anything but trouble for their money.

Posted by: Susan | October 18, 2007 4:01 PM

How come Neely Tucker's article already describes a guilty verdict complete with a sentence of fine and probation?

Posted by: David Melton | October 18, 2007 9:22 PM

I'm glad I didn't have a hammer and their offices were closed last night when the TV stopped working during Countdown with Keith Olbermann and then again during the Sopranos. Wonder what Mona thinks of the telecoms getting retroactive immunity for who knows what, courtesy of our Crazy president and the scaredy cat Congress?

Posted by: Sheeshak | October 18, 2007 10:32 PM

Living in rural Texas has it's pros & cons. Whereas I am not having trouble with our local cable, we did try a switch a couple of years ago to Dish TV and after the year contract decided for financial reasons to switch back to Sudden Link. However, it took me several weeks, multiple calls, research on the computer, and time spent in written correspondence to stop them from billing my credit card for a service contract. I am sympathic to Mrs. Shaw due to my dealings with the majority of utility companies, public and private. I had a similar experience dealing with SBC (now AT&T). The only thing that saved me, I would have had to drive 4 or 5 hours to get to their office. I am not yet 75, but closer than I would like. As a senior citizen, what these utility companies need to realize is that we do look at our bills and see increased costs, additional charges, less service and unethical practices. I wish to convey the same message to our elected officials. Mrs. Shaw if I were on a jury, I would find you not quilty by reason of temporary insanity beyond your control.

Posted by: Vicki Jackson | October 19, 2007 10:01 AM

There have been many posts about the incident with Mona Shaw. We are sincerely sorry for the customer service issues that she experienced. Comcast has more than 225 million customer interactions a year and we are striving to deliver a positive experience to every customer, every time. However, it is also our responsibility as an employer to ensure the safety of our employees. Ms. Shaw's actions were certainly not appropriate under any circumstances and we hope that contributors to these online forums would discourage others from taking physical action against customer service employees.

We'd like customers reading this post to know that we are undergoing a company-wide effort to improve customer service. More information about this effort and how to contact Comcast online can be found at

Jennifer Khoury, Comcast Corporation

Posted by: Jennifer Khoury | October 19, 2007 11:07 AM

What Ms. Shaw did was fantastic! I am giving her a standing ovation. I have not been a cable TV subscriber since 1996, when TCI messed with my services. I wished she had 2 hammers when she went in. The case should be thrown out. She didn't go in to hurt anyone, just destroy their equipment. Good for her. Thanks.

Posted by: Ron Gorga | October 19, 2007 11:14 AM

Mona is my hero! I'll lead the parade they have for her!

Posted by: nocable4me! | October 19, 2007 12:51 PM

Not guilty and she should be appointed as the Director of the Federal Trade Commission.

Posted by: George | October 19, 2007 11:47 PM

Jennifer Khoury of Comcast Corporation, was is fun posting all those messages under other names that support Comcast before you posted the one with your real name?

Posted by: Joe | October 19, 2007 11:49 PM

Jennifer, is this one of those positive customer experiences that Comcast is so proud of?

Posted by: Ralph N. | October 19, 2007 11:53 PM

Not guilty! Comcast vandalized her phone. Offsetting penalties.

Posted by: Rick Evans | October 20, 2007 12:52 PM

This woman is my hero and she deserves a medal!!! Here's a fun story, as a Comcast abusee in Frederick, all network channels went out during the 8th inning of the World Series! I called to find out when it would be fixed (hopefully quickly), waited on hold for 45 minutes then finally hung up because it was late. That is just one in a LONG line of Comcast problems I've had since they purchased Adelphia last Spring. They are incompetent, rude (when they answer the phone at all) and their service is terrible. I wish we could take action in Frederick County, but the County Council here will not monitor them in any way.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 29, 2007 12:38 AM

Hey Jennifer at Comcast - READ THE POSTS! I've been hearing for a long time that Comcast is cleaning up their act. NOT WORKING!!!!!!!! Why did you even bother to post here? There are very few who even take Comcast's feeble attempts to "fix things" seriously.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 29, 2007 12:48 AM

"Not Guilty" for reason of indifference, poor service, ineptitude and Comcast's behaving like crooks. She should be handed a cash reward. Comcast is guilty, should pay a hefty fine, and do community service.

Posted by: Brenda Whitney | October 30, 2007 3:46 PM

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