Comcast nightmare: Six months with out Web regardless of $5,000 fee

Illustration of a house, with frayed fiber wires that don't extend far enough to connect the home to Internet service.

Aurich Lawson | Getty Photographs

When Edward Koll and his girlfriend, Jo Narkon, purchased and moved into a brand new home in Draper, Virginia, in late September 2020, they’d each purpose to assume that Comcast Web can be available.

That they had completed their due diligence earlier than shopping for the home, plugging the handle into the Comcast web site to ensure it had cable Web and contacting Comcast on to make further certain. Each the Comcast web site’s availability checker and a Comcast gross sales rep confirmed to them that the home had service.

However Comcast had given the couple false info due to an error in its protection map, and it did not inform the couple about this error till after they purchased the home. That was over six months in the past, and Koll and Narkon nonetheless haven’t got house Web service.

“It wasn’t till after we closed on the home that Comcast lastly notified us that we had been in a ‘useless zone,'” Koll instructed Ars when he first contacted us on February 12, 2021. “The ends of our road are attached, however the center the place we stay doesn’t have the service pedestal.”

This wasn’t the primary time that Comcast, the nation’s largest cable firm, has falsely told customers that service would be available.

Though it was Comcast’s fault, the corporate demanded $5,000 up entrance to increase its community to Koll and Narkon’s home. The couple finally paid up in late November after figuring out it was the one viable possibility. However whereas Comcast initially promised service inside 90 days of receiving the $5,000 fee, it failed to finish the challenge in that time-frame.

Comcast now says the challenge will lastly be accomplished by April 15, over six weeks after the unique 90-day estimate handed on March 2. The couple has been utilizing cell hotspots for Web entry your complete time they’ve lived in the home due to Comcast offering false availability info after which failing to finish the set up on time.

Comcast: “[We] didn’t stay as much as our requirements”

Comcast appeared to take the issue extra significantly after Ars contacted the corporate’s public relations division, finally promising a $5,000 credit score.

“Mr. Koll’s expertise didn’t stay as much as our requirements and we’re very sorry for the inconvenience this has brought about, subsequently, we will probably be making use of a credit score to his account equal to $5,000,” Comcast instructed Ars on March 29, after just a few weeks of back-and-forth communication.

“The stunning a part of it was Comcast’s refusal to even personal this,” Koll instructed Ars in a cellphone interview final week, after Comcast agreed to the $5,000 credit score. “They only sort of brushed it off and we actually didn’t get any traction on this till we reached out to you [at Ars].”

A Comcast rep referred to as the couple yesterday to verify that service will probably be put in on Thursday, April 15, someday between 8 am and 10 am, Koll instructed us. Even after that decision, Koll stated he’s “not satisfied” the challenge is way sufficient alongside to be completed by then. However they’ve ordered Web, TV, and cellphone service, and the couple is switching their cell telephones over to Comcast’s cell service. The overall worth is estimated at $249 a month, Koll stated. At that worth, the $5,000 credit score will final about 20 months. Virginia is without doubt one of the states the place Comcast reluctantly agreed to delay data-cap enforcement until 2022.

No possibility however to pay $5,000

Between emails, cellphone calls, and in-person visits, Koll stated he had dozens of contacts with Comcast over the previous six months to attempt to kind the mess out. “Comcast stated, ‘yeah, our brokers instructed you that service was accessible they usually promised you that it was proper there at the doorstep, however they had been improper,'” Koll stated.

One installer arrived on the home and, Koll instructed Ars, “stated, ‘I must go discover out the place your service line is,’ after which he disappeared. He by no means got here again. After which we had two different installers and there was lastly the third man who stated, ‘You do not have a service pedestal shut sufficient and also you’re a hefty invoice simply to have it put in.'”

After listening to Comcast’s demand for $5,000, Koll complained to the FCC, however the company “adopted up with Comcast and accepted their rationalization with out remark,” Koll instructed Ars. Koll stated he additionally contacted the places of work of US Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) with none outcomes.

Edward Koll at his home.

Edward Koll at his house.

Gigabit Web “is obtainable on your handle”

Koll offered Ars a duplicate of the $5,000 bill dated November 30 together with chat and e-mail transcripts from conversations he had with Comcast.

In an internet chat earlier than they purchased the home, Koll requested a Comcast rep to confirm that gigabit Web service and cable TV can be accessible. The rep instructed him that “the Gigabit Speeds Web plan is obtainable on your handle” and {that a} 2-year contract would price “$169.99/mo plus gear, taxes, and charges.”

The rep instructed Koll to order service 5 to eight enterprise days prematurely in case cable wanted to be run to the home, making it sound like it could be a simple course of and never a six-month ordeal. However the Comcast rep was improper as a result of Comcast’s system was offering false info. Koll positioned an order for Comcast service over the cellphone on August 25, and the couple closed on the home on September 24, transferring in the identical day. Even when accepting the order, Comcast did not notice that it hadn’t prolonged its community shut sufficient to the home to offer service.

Comcast boasts about its gigabit network in a slide from a press kit.

Comcast boasts about its gigabit community in a slide from a press package.

Comcast

On November 1, 2020, Koll replied to an e-mail from a Comcast rep within the government buyer relations division and identified that Comcast’s service map confirmed his handle as having service. Koll’s e-mail additionally identified that he had positioned an order for service on August 25 “and on the similar time put a deposit into the account in order that service can be put in on or earlier than closing on this home.”

“Given the a number of assurances from Comcast for service and the prolonged delays we have now already endured, I anticipate a fast decision to this matter,” Koll wrote in that e-mail.

However there was no fast or low cost decision. “We reluctantly agreed to pay $5,000 in November to have the service pedestal put in regardless of Comcast’s earlier guarantees concerning present service availability,” Koll instructed Ars, months later.

“We actually need assistance”

Koll first contacted us after studying one in all our articles a couple of 90-year-old AT&T customer, Aaron Epstein, who purchased an advert in The Wall Avenue Journal to complain about AT&T’s gradual Web service. On the time, Koll wasn’t certain that Comcast would set up service in any respect.

“We actually need assistance, just like Mr. Epstein,” Koll instructed Ars in his first e-mail to us. “We have to get the service we had been promised put in. We wish to have the $5,000 again, however at this level are keen to simply accept that as a credit score in direction of future payments. Comcast has supplied two free months, which doesn’t come near the quantity we have now paid.”

Though Comcast later agreed to a credit score equal to the total quantity they paid, the corporate didn’t inform us why it will not refund the $5,000 as a substitute of offering it as a invoice credit score. That basically means they needed to pay $5,000 prematurely for about 20 months of service, an preliminary expense that new Comcast prospects usually wouldn’t need to pay.

Comcast fixes map, months too late

In late March, Comcast lastly up to date its protection map and on-line availability checker to accurately present Koll’s handle as unserved. So why did Comcast’s web site and a Comcast gross sales rep falsely inform Koll that service was already accessible on the house?

“This isn’t a standard incidence and we have now to look into these situations on a case-by-case foundation,” Comcast stated. “For this particular handle, it was included in a database from an organization we acquired a few years in the past. Our native groups are planning an extra assessment of that regional database.”

Cable corporations have failed for years to develop extra correct service maps. The cable trade’s largest foyer group fought in opposition to necessities to submit address-level information to the Federal Communications Fee, telling the FCC in 2017 that it is too tough and costly to determine precisely the place they will and may’t provide service.

The FCC lastly ordered ISPs to submit geospatial maps of the place they supply service in 2019, however then-FCC Chairman Ajit Pai did not finish establishing the brand new system earlier than leaving workplace in January 2021. Upon taking on from Pai, performing FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel realized “that we had numerous work to do and hadn’t but begun lots of the steps required to truly construct a group system,” she wrote.

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