The Checkout

Comcast vs. RCN

In my absence, my editor Stacey Palosky has offered to post an item, giving one more perspective about customer service.

I'm in the midst of a big move and have been dreading dealing with the whole cable, phone, Internet conundrum. Do I continue with separate companies, to whom I paid a combination of $141 last month, or fold them all together? Which to choose: RCN, our current cable company, or Comcast, our current high-speed Internet provider? I knocked Verizon, our phone company, out of the picture a year ago, when I tried to switch to their DSL. They mangled the order so badly that I was left with no Internet connection for two weeks before they admitted that we needed to start the entire process over from the beginning. At the time, Comcast was able to install service within two days.

So, finally, I sit myself down and call Comcast. The sales rep on the phone was the pressuring sort, talking too fast about the features for each. Every time I ask about specific features, such as porting the phone number, extra televisions, wireless networking, there seem to be extra fees tacked on. I dutifully took lots of notes. The monthly fee for all three services, combined, would be $99 per month for a year; could she go ahead and schedule me? But wait, I ask, "What happens at the end of that year?" I'm told that Comcast doesn't know what their promotion will be a year from now or what they'll charge. But how could you not know, I ask. Surely there must be some combination of what each costs individually that she could tell me. Alas, no. I tell her that I need to talk things over with my husband and sort through the fees. If I'm interested, I'll call back.

Fed up, I then look online to compare Comcast and RCN. RCN's latest offer posted online is $99.99 for the deal comparable to Comcast's $99 per month. But what about all the extras? Does that include home networking and multiple televisions? What kind of high-speed Internet connection? Do they charge us to port the phone number? My husband calls to find out. Unfortunately, RCN left him on hold "indefinitely," prompting him to send our cancellation to them via e-mail. Eventually, someone did pick up the phone, just as he was clicking the send button on the e-mail, only to tell him that she had to transfer him to a different department and more holding. "Really, really horrible," he e-mailed me.

Back to Comcast. This time, I speak with a much less pushy representative and talk through each service. The extra fees for multiple televisions no longer exist. I opt not to have them set up my home networking, figuring that I can try myself first. Turns out there's an unavoidable $3 fee for an eMTA, an embedded Multimedia Terminal Adapter, which as best I understand is essentially a modem for digital phone service. And I still have to pay $29.95 to port the phone number.

Again, I ask the crucial question: What happens at the end of the year? I'm told that Comcast is working on figuring out what they will charge a year from now. I push but still can't get a straight answer.

In total, it's still a savings of $39 per month from what we pay now. So it's decided; Comcast is coming on Thursday. Even though I know that a year from now I'll be back on the phone comparing again, fighting to keep the cost from going up.

By  |  June 20, 2006; 7:54 AM ET Customer Service
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Comments

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If their current $99 promotion is anything like the one I used a year ago when I first signed up with them, then the combined cable TV and internet costs will be approximately $120 a month. I don't know what they charge for phone service, but knowing Comcast, you'll probably end up fairly close or higher than your current payments of $141 a month.

Posted by: P. Allchin | June 20, 2006 8:20 AM

I got mad at my telephone company wehn they charged me for services neither I nor my wife had signed up for our had ever used, and Comcast was happy to add me as a telephone customer in Montgomery county. But just at the last moment, they had to say that my apartment was not in the area where they have equipment for telephones. So, I am astil paying the telephone company late fees on a bill that I see as just another form of robery. They say it is an enhanced service. Silly me.

Posted by: Gary Masters | June 20, 2006 8:40 AM

Ditto on the first comment. My cost for monthly cable and internet is at least $120/month. I have internet phone through another provider at $28/month. Comcast has poor customer service over the phone, takes several days to come out if you have problems and the internet drops out occasionally (leaving me without phone service). As soon as someone else comes to PG County, I'm switching.

Posted by: Richard Jones | June 20, 2006 8:47 AM

Comcast is the DEVIL!!!! Your bill will easily be $200/month at the end of the year, when all is said and done. If I were you, I wouldn't pay comcast a single cent more than you have to. What ever happened to competition, by the way? I wish bad things upon that company.

Posted by: L. Briggs | June 20, 2006 8:47 AM

Comcast isn't too bad, but I would worry about switching to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol, or more simply: Internet telephone). What do you do when the power goes out? Are you still planning on having a land-based telephone line for emergencies. We live in an area that is not immune to winter storms (I've had power out for over a week some winters) or summer storms (usually not so bad where I am). Certainly you cannot rely on a cell phone if the power is out for more than a few days.

Comcast has great Internet and television, though. There are many hidden fees, though, with the initial setup. The $99/month for a year promotion does not mention that you need an Internet phone box or a cable modem (usually free, but not always), or router if you plan on networking, or digital cable box for television. Wireless routers run for about $50 but you can find cheaper ones depending on the weekly sales. Cable modems are usually free (when you sign up for service) or really cheap - DO NOT rent yours from Comcast (it's a ripoff). I'm not sure about Internet phone boxes. There should not be a fee for using your cable Internet signal through a router.

There is no fee for using your cable connection for more than one television, BUT there is a fee to install extra cable outlets. If there is no cable outlet in the room you want your television in, it costs around $25 for them to come knock a hole in your wall and run a cable wire from the incoming line on your house to that room. Depending on your house and the location of different features, this wire can easily be hidden.

I just have basic cable and Internet and we pay around $100/month. Pretty ridiculous, but we are content with the service and the strength of the Internet. (Last time I checked our Internet speed, we were running at 5 Mbps - pretty darn fast for residential service.)

I've also heard that Verizon FIOS is a good service but I've never tested in. They claim it can run up to 15 Mbps but I would hardly see a difference between that and 5 Mbps - the difference is really noticable, though, between 768k DSL and dial-up (obviously). Check those prices but also check to see about bundling services. I wouldn't give up on Verizon just yet but Comcast is definitely the winner in my neighborhood.

Posted by: comcast subscriber | June 20, 2006 8:59 AM

If power goes out? Get a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). I did.

Posted by: Digital Addict | June 20, 2006 9:02 AM

I have a better deal and my pricing is known for one year from now. All my pricing below includes taxes.

TOTAL MONTHLY 91.83 (includes taxes and fees)

Verizon DSL 33.45
Verizon local 20.61
Verizon long distance 1.88 (very little use, have cell phone)
Comcast Cable 35.90 (limited basic, HBo, and HD package)

Posted by: PaulS | June 20, 2006 9:06 AM

Too bad you cannot live with dial-up. If you already have a phone it is free.

Posted by: Steve | June 20, 2006 9:10 AM

When I had verizon local at $20/month, the bill was well over $32.00 after taxes and surcharges.
Dial-UP?! Even mullet haired, nascar viewing rednecks want high speed internet. :) No offense to mullet heads of the world. :)

Posted by: Digital Addict | June 20, 2006 9:25 AM

Apparently, my first post didn't go through. Anyway, I wanted to say that I went from well over $200/month or $2400/yr in cable, internet and phone service to about $75/month saving well over $100/month or $1200/yr by deleting the digital service, staying with enhanced basic TV service, switching from Verizon DSL ($30/month) to Cox Internet ($20/month) and dropping Verizon telephone ($50/month) to VOIP ($8.30/month). I went with VOIP vendor: www.sunrocket.com but there are others like www.viatalk.com or www.vonage.com. If all fails, I have a cell phone for backup.

Posted by: Digital Addict | June 20, 2006 9:26 AM

Having been a former employee with Comcast, I know that their high speed internet and cable service is worthy of what they charge. However, once you sign up for a promotion, you aren't entitled to future promotions on the same service which Comcast routinely offers. If you have lets say basic cable, a Comcast rep will try to upgrade you to Digital service. If the $99 promotion includes digital cable, then you're getting a good bargain for the year. However, if it's merely basic cable service, then you could qualify for a digital cable promotion which Comcast will almost definitely be offering at the end of your current promotion. Also, as another commentor suggested, you could use a router for your networking needs in which Comcast will not charge you extra for the extra IP lines which you would be charged at $9.95 per line if you used a hub. Definitely look into a router, preferably a wireless one which will allow you to hook up a network anywhere within your household. Otherwise, for the current year, you're getting a pretty good deal, but in all fairness, the representatives themselves do not know what the prices for services will be a year from now because, regrettably, they are constantly changing. I would check maybe a month before your promotion ends to see what the new prices will be. They should be informed of the changes by then. Best of luck.

Posted by: S. Jones | June 20, 2006 9:27 AM

Hey, not to get too rah-rah about this, but the phone-and-cable-mafia are truly ripping us all off here. Comcast, Cox and the rest will charge you as much as they can for as little as they can sell you.

We probably have ALL heard the stories about how you call the cable companies and just ask for the minimum service (The networks! Basic cable!) and they initially deny such a package exists unless you push and push, then you find out that you can have basic low-def for $7.99 per month. If you try to buy just internet connectivity they charge you MORE than if you also include cable service -- which should tell you that their margins are so high that they can play games with pricing.

I would much rather give my TV and Internet connectivity dollars to DirecTV (and I can get the football packages). The notion that the signal goes out during storms is far over-blown. I did not lose signal during yesterday's thunderstorms, for example.

Yes for land-line phone I am still tethered to AT&T, but I get it with no bells and whistles (have you EVER used the three-way calling?) and pay the minimum.

And, by the way, I don't want to sound like a nut here, but everyone please shoot a quick email to your Senator about the Net Neutrality thing. The telcos are spending tons marketing to our elected officials (who usually know nothing about technology) telling them that if the FCC's current Net Neutrality rules are allowed to expire, that these oligopolies will act in the best interests of the consumer. That's such a lie. They'll re-charge web content providers (whom they already charge for connectivity) to get 'fast-lane' connections and re-charge you and me to access things are aren't in the fast lane. THE EXPIRATION OF NET NEUTRALITY RULES WILL BE LEAD TO A REPEAT OF THE OIL OLIGOPOLIES GOUGING CONSUMERS.

I'm choosing to believe that the House Reps are ignorant of how technology works and are not shamelessly in the pockets of the Telcos. Please don't let the Senate go down the same road of making the the telcos richer and shafting the rest of us.

http://www.savetheinternet.com/

BTW, the "hands off the internet" site is a misnomer, and is the Telco's way of trying to fool you and I into thinking they will regulate themselves to operate in our best interests. When has that ever happened?

Posted by: Oligopolies are rip-offs | June 20, 2006 9:46 AM

Last year I switched from Comcast to RCN for one simple and basic reason. Comcast wasn't provideing me, a long time Comcast customer, with the service I requested, namely the MASN channel, so I could watch Nationals baseball games on television. I simply refused to be used as a pawn in Comcast's fight with Peter Angelos.

RCN offers many more channels, including MASN, on their cable package than Comcast for less money. I'll never do business with Comcast again.

Posted by: KP | June 20, 2006 9:49 AM

RCN has been more reliable for me for HD and high speed internet service. We had comcast and they were horrid. Why have a HD TV when your service goes out all the time?

Posted by: PJC | June 20, 2006 9:55 AM

I have Comcast for my Internet access and Vonage for my VOIP. If you move to an area that doesn't have Comcast you will have to go through the process again with Vonage (or Sun Rocket and others) your telephony isn't based on your cable carrier.

Posted by: AHP | June 20, 2006 10:04 AM

I'm happy enough with RCN TV-cable. My issue is that I need to connect to work via VPN.

It works with Verizon, but no amount of jiggering would get it to work with RCN. Customer support for VPN connections from RCN were non-existant.

Posted by: RoseG | June 20, 2006 10:10 AM

I think Comcast's customer service is great, love the results, but the cost ($130) for networked internet and digital cable is way too much.

I am looking for something that wraps up all the services together at $99. comcast doesn't offer me that.

Don

Posted by: Don | June 20, 2006 10:11 AM

I've had excellent service from RCN for years, and my son who lives in PG has had horrible service from Comcast. I just switched phones to RCN from Verizon, at what looks to be about $40 per month savings. We'll see whether that materializes. If it doesn't, we'll probably drop the land line altogether & go with cell only. Truth is, we don't use the phone enough any more to justify having one, and I bet that's true of many of us.

One further comment: "excellent" doesn't mean "perfect." It means folks answer the phone promptly, show up when they say they will, & work hard to fix problems. Sometimes fixes take months, because sometimes the problems are hard to diagnose.

Posted by: DQP | June 20, 2006 10:15 AM

I hate Comcast. Isn't it a violation of anti-trust laws that some areas can only get 1 provider? I mean, I know that it's not technically illegal, but it should be.

Anyway, I've been told that if you call at the end of your promotion and say you need to cancel service because you don't want the higher rate, they will probably negotiate so you payments remain relatively the same.

It's a pain in the neck all around

Posted by: MD | June 20, 2006 10:31 AM

It's a shame that you didn't give RCN a chance to redeem themselves. I've had them for years and will never go back to Comcast. In my experienec, bad service for RCN is the exception, not the norm. Once, when I had a service disruption, they sent a tech out to fix it at 10pm on a Friday night. The provide significantly more channels that Comcast. If you get their digital package, the only premium channels they charge extra for are the HBO channels. When I had an Internet problem with Comcast, they sent a tech who could only check the signal, and knew nothing about the cable modem and getting the Internet working. They had to send out a second tech to take care of those items. RCN techs can do both.

Posted by: LP IN Gaithersburg | June 20, 2006 10:50 AM

To MD,

Actually it's not a violation. It's called a natural monopoly. Comcast did have to pay to put the lines in the ground. Once the infrastructure is in place, the cost of adding a customer is so small that adding another provider is not economically sound.

Now, this was the thinking for water, gas, other utilities, but some laws may have changed for telcos. I think (THINK) they are reselling their lines because they want to or they're forced to (via laws). From what I understand, the main utils still own the lines.

Posted by: VA | June 20, 2006 11:30 AM

As far as TV goes, I switched to DirecTV last fall after having Comcast for 6 years (digital cable/internet when I cancelled). I was happy with Comcast overall, and mainly switched for the football package, but I can honestly say that I've never been happier and couldn't imagine going back to cable anytime soon.

We got a free DVR with our promotion and TiVo has changed my TV viewing life. At the time I switched from Comcast, "On Demand" and DVR service was becoming available, but TiVo is so well thought-out, programmed, easy to use, and intuitive, that anything Comcast had at the time doesn't even come close. Honestly, it was the TV equivalent of [crack?] going from dial-up to high speed, and our bill was still a bit cheaper even after the promotion ended (free Sunday Ticket the 1st year and $45/month for 4 months - $95 after for full package, $45 for basic). I also noticed right away that our reception was way better with DirecTV -with Comcast it seemed there were certain channels that would always be a bit "off", or the volume would be louder on certain channels than others.

Perhaps we're lucky, but we have a very strong satellite signal where we are (Arlington, VA) and have never had dish problems or lost our signal during bad weather - with the exception of one very heavy snow back in February where it went out for a few hours. That was no big deal though b/c we had plenty of stuff recorded with TiVo to watch, and my Comcast service on average would have problems or go out altogether at a higher rate than once in 9 months.

I've never had to complain, but the few times I've called their customer service to inquire about something, they've been very helpful and I've never had to wait on the phone - I can remember times on the phone with Comcast where I'd be ready to spit nails either from waiting or incompetence. I've also never had to miss a Nationals game I wanted to watch b/c MASN comes with the package - none of that Comcast/Orioles baloney.

Another thing I've noticed I like is that with Comcast, it seemed like every month or two our bill would continue creeping up by a couple of dollars (new charge for this, new charge for that), but with DirecTV, our bill has been the same every single month since our promotion ended in January. They just seem a lot more straightforward and honest about what you're paying for.

I did have to give up cable internet in switching and went to DSL, of which I was a bit leery, but that's another decision I have no regrets about. I mainly use the internet for browsing, checking e-mail, or shopping - I don't spend hours downloading music or movies - and the difference in speed from cable for those purposes is negligible. If that's all you need it for then you won't be missing anything going with DSL which is definitely cheaper around here. We got a package with MCI that is $20 a month - since they got bought out we just got a notice that service is ending in August, but Verizon, who now owns them, is even cheaper - $17.95.

No service is perfect, and I'm sure there are people that have been unhappy with DirecTV that will blast this message just as there are people unhappy with Comcast - this is just my personal experience. Bottom line for me is that our combined DirecTV/DSL bill is a hair less than our Comcast cable/internet bill, but I feel the bang I get for my buck with DirecTV blows Comcast out of the water.

And keep in mind that while you may not have a choice in your cable provider, you can get Comcast/DirecTV to play off each other and bend over backward to get/keep your service since they're mortal enemies, so you can always play that card if you have to.

Posted by: Someone up there loves you...DirecTV! | June 20, 2006 11:35 AM

I think you made a mistake by not going with RCN.

Internet - I live in Bethesda and get 10mbps, super super fast compared to Comcast.

Phone - Home phone is just for show, we don't even answer it anymore cause it is ALWAYS telemarketers.

Cable - RCN has a pretty good package that includes HBO and STARZ, including all their on demand stuff. We only have 1 tv so I don't know about additional TV fees. I would stay away from getting their DVR though. Get a TIVO and be happy, their DVR has some annoying issues that I won't get into here, suffice it to say, I wish I had a TIVO.

Service - I always had Comcast and I HATED their service. They were rude on the phone and didn't really care what you had to say. RCN actually has nice service reps and seem to be a little more customer oriented. Calling and being put on hold for a long time is not the normal way they do business (from my experience).

Posted by: RCN Customer | June 20, 2006 11:41 AM

We had too many problems with Comcast, and finally go so fed up we cancelled our cable and internet. We switched to DirecTV (our only other option in Arlington at the time) and love it! We have only lost service one time in 3 years for about 4 minutes. We lost either cable or Internet at least 2x per month with Comcast! We then got a Verizon package with DSL and very basic phone (land line, no long distance or any other options) for about $45/month.

We have never had any trouble with the satelite or Verizon. Plus, DirecTV's customer service is excellent. I have never had a complaint. Also, Verizon tech support went the extra mile helping me connect a new computer over the phone.

Posted by: C | June 20, 2006 11:46 AM

two comments:
1st:
Verizon Fios: Phone/HS Internet (15 Mgs/sec)/TV currently at $105, and thats not a "promotion."

2nd:
Here is the bottom line with Net nuetrality: The biggest websites on the internet create the vast majority of the traffic (google, amazon, yahoo etc). Eventhough they generate the majority of the traffic, they pay a relatively small fee compared to the rest of the companies paying for access to the networks. The telcos (including the cable companies) want the internet companies to pay their "fair share." The internet companies dont want to pay it and current rules allow them to get away with it. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there probably will not be any affect on the consumer. Its really just a matter of which group of multi-billion dollar corporations pick up the tab to manage the networks.

Posted by: wash, dc | June 20, 2006 11:58 AM

DO NOT GO WITH COMCAST!!!

My experience with Comcast was HORRIBLE. I bought my own cable modem. Every month Comcast charged me for a modem rental even though I told them from the beginning that I have my own modem. They would credit me and then the next month charge me again! When I closed my service, they continued to bill me for 2 more months. When I told them that I stopped service, they sent me a bill for non-returned equipment - for my modem! I faxed them all kinds of proof (receipts, copies of bills, etc) and even went there in person. They agreed that I was clear of any charges owed. Three months later I get a COLLECTION notice! After faxing (again!) proof of everything, I plead with them to make sure this does not show up on my credit report. They assure me that it will not. Less than a year later IT SHOWS UP ON MY CREDIT REPORT!

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
DO NOT GO WITH COMCAST!
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
DO NOT GO WITH COMCAST!

CANCEL YOUR ORDER NOW!

Posted by: Anything but comcast | June 20, 2006 11:59 AM

I also give one vote away from Comcast and for RCN. I've used both and the internet on comcast is both much much slower and less reliable. RCN has been pretty good. And I actually find their support helpful and their prices much more reasonable.

Posted by: Tman | June 20, 2006 12:21 PM

To VA

yeah, but water and gas are affordable (and reliable).

Comcast has ridiculous prices, lousy service and dismal customer service. If utilities were run the same way, those of us who didn't freeze to death in the winter would die of thirst in the summer.

Posted by: VA too | June 20, 2006 12:33 PM

There's nothing to watch on cable TV - get rid of it and read a good book. You'll improve your mind and save big bucks.

Posted by: luddite | June 20, 2006 12:38 PM

To Anything But Comcast:

I had a similar experience with Comcast, had no idea I was in collections until I went to trade in my car and my credit was not as good because of some stupid Comcast mistake of $82! (Thier mistake of double billing me for 2 months when thier first installation didn't work - they re-installed as a new account and never cancelled first installation!)

I went to the credit agencies websites and requested they get a confirmation from Comcast that the charges are valid. If the creditor does not respond, or can't prove it, the issue is deleted from your credit report. That is exactly what happened. They didn't even try to prove it, they just ignored the request from teh credit agencies completely, and my credit was cleared!

Posted by: agree with ABC | June 20, 2006 12:38 PM

I agree with others who thought you should have tried RCN again. I've had RCN basic cable and high-speed internet for six years this summer, and I was just thinking this morning how little my monthly bills had gone up since 2000. The first time I called RCN (then StarPower), I was on hold for 45 minutes. I thought, OMG, what have we done?!? Then I got connected to someone who really knew her stuff. She was able to correct my problem over the phone, and she was a kick to talk to. The wasted 45 minutes suddenly didn't seem so horrible; Comcast (then DC Cablevision) would probably still be working on the problem. I've called RCN a handful of times since then, and I've consistently gotten really competent, pleasant people. I've never had to wait 45 minutes again either.

Posted by: Sue | June 20, 2006 12:44 PM

RCN is the pits. I have never been able to get them to answer the phone for anything. I did switch my long distance to them once, or at least tried to. I ended up with no LD carrier however they were happy to bill me for phone calls made from someone elses phone number. Since they could not bother to help, I called the guy whose phone number it was and we both dropped the service by email. The bills stopped then too!

Posted by: RCN actually answers? | June 20, 2006 12:54 PM

To "luddite" - that is a matter of opinion, and doesn't it stand to reason that in a blog talking about television providers, most people are in here b/c they choose to watch TV and perhaps even enjoy it (gasp!)?

I enjoy reading all the time, but I'm also a rabid Steelers fan and on game-days in the fall that is going to trump a good book every time. I also don't like when I don't get what I pay for, just as you wouldn't like if the library came over and grabbed the book out of your hand while you were reading it, so I take my TV providers seriously!

Posted by: Somebody up there loves you...DirecTV | June 20, 2006 1:05 PM

Oligopolies are Ripoffs: Our DirecTV signal did go out during yesterday's storms...repeatedly. Just FYI.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | June 20, 2006 1:08 PM

"Here is the bottom line with Net nuetrality: The biggest websites on the internet create the vast majority of the traffic (google, amazon, yahoo etc). Eventhough they generate the majority of the traffic, they pay a relatively small fee compared to the rest of the companies paying for access to the networks. The telcos (including the cable companies) want the internet companies to pay their "fair share." The internet companies dont want to pay it and current rules allow them to get away with it. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there probably will not be any affect on the consumer. Its really just a matter of which group of multi-billion dollar corporations pick up the tab to manage the networks."

This is NOT the "bottom line" on net neutrality. Companies like Google, Amazon, etc. pay for bandwidth usage already - companies/websites which use more bandwidth pay for it, and companies that use less pay less for it, which means they are already paying their fair share. As to whether it will affect consumers: yes, yes it will. If the telcos can charge gate fees, they can allow certain sites to be seen by greater audiences than others. For example, if RCN tried to charge a small business' website for access beyond what that business already pays (in domain fees, bandwidth fees, etc.), and that business can't or won't pay up, then RCN could, under the legislation the telcos want, make it very difficult for RCN users to access that site.

As for the actual topic of this post: I've used both Comcast and RCN in recent years, and I'd cast my vote with RCN any day. I haven't seen if FIOS is available near me, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 20, 2006 1:19 PM

Consider this another "no" vote for Comcast. I had them when I moved here because of great service in my home state of MI ... but there's actually competition there (scary, I know). Initially, everything was fine - but when I moved again, I had to make 3 appts. before someone showed up - that's a day and a half of missed work for me. The first time, the operator didn't even see my appointment (I had asked when the appointment was made for a confirmation number, only to find out Comcast doesn't give them out for appointments. convenient). The second time, the tech was running late, and just decided that he was done for the day. The third time, the tech finally came, of course that was only with about 5 minutes left in the four hour window they gave me.

Posted by: MC | June 20, 2006 1:22 PM

I had exactly the opposite experience a year ago when I was getting cable and internet installed in a new apartment. I first went to Comcast, but they missed an appointment that I had to stay home from work for. Then we couldn't reschedule for 2 weeks. Finally, I gave up and called RCN. I was hooked up the next day, the servicer came when I got off work and even waited when he arrived earlier than me.

I had cancelled the Comcast deal, but they still tried to charge me for a month of services I didn't recieve. It took 3 long calls to customer service to get it straightened out.

On the other hand, the RCN service was cheaper than Comcast's promotional offer for the first six months, after that, it was exactly the same. Since then, I haven't had any problems cancelling extras I didn't need when the promotional offer expired, and they once showed up to repair a problem before I realized I had it.

Posted by: PP | June 20, 2006 1:31 PM

I've had Comcast and RCN and now I have neither and no cable television service. I use Verizon for Internet (DSL) and phone (I got the cheap $12/mth charge-per-call plan just so I could get DSL. I use my cell phone at all times). My mthly bill for DSL/phone is approx. $36.

Posted by: TNBall | June 20, 2006 2:18 PM

I just cancelled my Comcast service because the internet and most of my digital channels were broken for six months and Comcast was unable/unwilling to fix the problem. When I stopped paying because I was not receiving the service I was being charged for, Comcast shut of the service I did have and started bombarding me with collection calls. If you can, I would avoid giving a cent to Comcast.

Posted by: Alexandria VA | June 20, 2006 2:48 PM

I just went sans cable. I miss Comcast cable the digital service has on-demand featured shows that I could have watched all day without actually using the program line-up, why am I cable free. Customer service. They do a great deal to get your business but little to keep. Billing errors are always your responsibility to clarify. If you get a representative that finally fixes the issue. Make certain you call back the next day to ensure they have done what they told you they will do. It is a fifty-fifty that they will.

And the most annoying statement they will make is that there is no notes indicating anyone has every said "x" knowing full well that customer service agents do not always document the call.

My recommendation for everyone who read this wether cable, phone or credit card always keep a handy little notebook, and anytime you have to call any customer service line you should ask the customer services' agent name, identification number from the beginning of the call. B e friendly to disarm their nerves but once you do that the tone changes on the phone. If transferred keep all the information to whom you speak. It will lend credibility to your statement when you have kept better records than they. Their is a little customer service phone book in my house with calls, confirmation numbers, times, and it has saved me more than once to be that detailed in notes. I try to get my fiance in the practice of doing so as well. It is not RCN, or Comcast this is a customer service issue. RCN too had billing mistakes, and Time Warner when I lived in NYC had on my credit for seven years a cable box that they are saying I did not return. That someone made its way to a their office a month later when I no longer lived in the state (or they finally checked it in.)

Comcast billing mistakes where no little billed error. But my finally straw with Comcast was fraud. Recently I spoke with a customer service agent, when I called in regards to my cable internet service. Another agent allowed me to keep the cable dvr without having to subscribe to digital. He waited until I got off the phone to add digital service back on my bill and retro-activate the payments back to the date I downgrade. This somehow offended him I was cheating the system. I came home to find additional channels I did not know I had. That goodness for my honest I called and learned I had an additional 120 dollars on my bill that was reading past due.
Customer service agents are people, and more importantly people who are not paid a lot to do their job, so good service is not easy to achieve anyway, so be careful and keep good notes. Fraud is something I wont stand for I do not care how many programs are on on-demand.

Posted by: Cable Free and missing it but.. | June 20, 2006 3:50 PM

I'm with RCN for almost a year after Comcast couldn't seem to wire my apartment. However, RCN cancelled my initial appointment without notifying me, which I didn't discover until after I had waited all afternoon. I went a week without TV or the internet (this is right when Katrina hit) because of them.

However, since then, things have been ok with RCN. I had a fantastic initial package of $75/mo that include high speed internet and digital cable. However, once that promotion ended six months later, the bill skyrocketed to $140/mo. I cancelled some services and now pay $100/mo for basic cable and internet.

Why does anyone still pay for a landline phone any more? I just use my cell phone. Paying for a landline seems like just a waste of money.

Posted by: Josh | June 20, 2006 3:54 PM

A perfect company.

I like Directtv customer service. Never an issue but no on-demand. Tivo is the best dvr system hands down.

I had to swtich my job requires me to view local channels, DC Council hearing, school board meetings etc.

RCN--I had it the billing was screwed up. Long hold time. But that was years ago. I Check the on-demand not much in theirs but they have one. Cheaper than Comcast.


Comcast--They have a good line-up of on-demand featured. But I will not tolerate fraud. Watch your bill closely.

Posted by: Cable Free and missing it but | June 20, 2006 3:59 PM

I've found RCN usually quite good, although some of its customer service lately has not been up to its usual standards. Technically, the Internet and voice service was quite reliable, and the Internet tech support was very good--although adding and dropping special Internet services led to billing errors. I've never subscribed to cable TV, so I can't comment on that.

One warning, though: When I tried to transfer my phone service AWAY from RCN, AT&T told me it was not possible to keep my phone number (which had originally been transferred FROM AT&T) because RCN was on a different system. Your cable company may have the same problem.

Posted by: Alexander | June 20, 2006 4:54 PM

wash, dc | June 20, 2006 11:58 AM is TOTALLY wrong on Net Neutrality. This is the same argument that the telcos have been spinning, and it's just wrong.

If you are Google or Ebay, you require a great many Telco lines, say 25 T3 lines, to keep your business up and able to survive small DoS attacks and loading on people's computers at a reasonable speed. If you are hosting a little website you can get away with buying the same small amount of bandwidth that you and I have at home.

Big internet companies ALREADY pay the telcos proportionate to what they use.

Posted by: Net Neut | June 20, 2006 5:00 PM


DirecTv rocks pure and simple. That signal problem is overrated. The last time I lost signal the power went out 2 minutes later. Don't let cable or anyone else fool you. If you have good Line of Sight (LoS) then you will be okay.

We use Verizon DSL and it works okay.

Net neutrality... Net Neut says it best. I pay to get on the net. Google pays to be on the net. The big network companies get paid by you, me, and Google et al to maintain the backbone. Though this is clearly another thread.

Sean

Posted by: Sean | June 20, 2006 5:26 PM

I've had both Comcast and RCN, and RCN has been a MUCH better experience. Their internet is faster than Comcast and has far less outages (in the past 2 years it has never once gone down when I've been using it, and my computers on 15 hrs/day). They also price their services pretty much the same if not cheapr than Comcast.

Posted by: Kyle | June 21, 2006 10:41 AM

Hahaha -- you're right about Verizon - they totally screwed up my DSL order too! It took a month of being jerked around, spending my entire lunch hour on hold with customer support, and cryptic 'order status' changes before I gave up and called Comcast - who installed hi-speed internet the next day. The only thing is that they installed some premium package that I didn't ask for, but I called them on it right away, and the next day gave me basic service. All these big telecom companies take advantage of the consumer though - I remember being in college and was billed for 6 months after canceling my DSL service, even though I called EVERY month to straighten things out. And Comcast has repeatedly charged late fees for checks the bank has records of clearing before the payment due date!!!

Posted by: T | June 26, 2006 10:24 AM

Comcast and Verizon DSL are both aggrivating options. Verizon will only offer internet if I have landline phone through them. But like almost every unmarried 20-something I know, I only use a cell and have no need for a landline b/c the only people that would call it are telemarketers. Even the cheapest landline is 20 bucks/mo. after nonsense fees and there are tons of other "installation fees" to get started so why get one?

I finally got the comcast internet which has been a huge pain. Cable is included in the rent at my building (very nice) so getting them to set up a separate account for my internet has been a huge pain. My building and I are constantly getting each others bills from comcast. The self install kit for comcast internet is so simple an infant could install it. But the comcast servers weren't able to communicate w/ the modem and tech support was entirely unhelpful. After 30 minutes of talking with a rather rude person there, he finally said he had to send somebody out to do an installation and would charge me only $20 instead of $50 as a "favor." After yelling at him for that and vowing to call back later to get it removed, the tech support gave me the earliest window--6 days later. Turned out the problem was on comcast's end, the install guy had to do nothing and now I'm being asked to pay for their mistake and a week of missed service? bah. hate this company.

Posted by: yarr | June 27, 2006 11:28 AM

Actually, Verizon now offers 3Mb Dry Loop DSL for $35/month for which you don't need phone service. The deal is you don't get billed, but rather have a credit card charged each month. I've had a good experience so far and it's been about 4 months.

Posted by: Dry loop DSL | June 27, 2006 1:42 PM

Beware of the Verizon DSL dry loop. I spent an entire month dealing with incompetent tech support people, and in the end I still wasn't able to get service. They offered to send a tech out, but by then I was fed up. I'm going to Comcast who charges $60 per month for internet by itself. I guess it's the lesser of two evils.

Posted by: JMill | July 6, 2006 10:47 AM

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