Comcast, AT&T and triple plays: Readers respond

If you start talking about your Internet or cable TV service, you’re bound to stir up a lot of passions.

That’s what I found — again — after my column about my recent switch from Comcast to AT&T ran in today’s newspaper. Many readers wrote or called to share their own experiences — or to offer advice.

Some said they had recently made the same or similar moves after encountering a similar lack of appreciation by Comcast.  Wrote one reader from Pacifica:

I did it with apprehension, but AT&T made me an offer (like yours) I couldn’t refuse as my Comcast rates also went up significantly after contract expiration.

Some wrote to say they’d experience similarly poor customer service from AT&T. One reader said he left AT&T after using the company’s services for 30 years:

We were offered no incentive to stay on nor have we heard a peep from them regarding leaving. We were able to upgrade our service while saving money.

Still others wrote to warn me about AT&T and share their awful experiences. Arlene said that after switching from Comcast to AT&T a couple years ago, she’s had frequent problems. As she noted, the U-verse service is all digital, so if her data connection goes down, she loses all three services in her triple play.

Unfortunately, not only has she had repeated problems, but she keeps running into the same trouble when contacting technical support. As she explains it:

They have a protocol of ALWAYS having to send out an inside tech first — even though I tell them it is not an inside problem!  I’ve gotten numerous new routers (“Gateways”), battery-back-up units, and my inside wiring has been (examined) with a fine-tooth comb.  The last time was Nov. 18th, when (of course) no inside problem was found.  But they’re like little robots; they have to send an inside tech out first, which further delays the resolution of the problem.

Still others wrote that they’d opted out of the triple play. Some used three different providers for the three services. One reader in Saratoga, for example, has TV service from Dish Network, phone service from Verizon and Internet service from Comcast. Others have opted for VOIP phone service from Ooma or other providers.

And some have cut as many cords as they can. One  reader in Cupertino went from having a Comcast triple play to only getting Internet access from the company. In place of phone service, he signed up for Ooma. To replace his Comcast DVR, he bought a TiVo box. In place of his pay TV service, he installed an outdoor TV antenna to get over-the-air broadcast signals, bought a PlayStation 3 to watch Blu-ray and DVD discs and uses the TiVo box to watch Netflix and videos from Amazon. What made his choices particular interesting is that he spent a lot of money up front to buy equipment  the antenna, the TiVo, the PlayStation 3 and the Ooma box — but in the process has drastically reduced his monthly subscription fees. Instead of paying $140 a month for Comcast’s triple play, he’s now just paying $50 a month for Internet access. (He’s also paying for Netflix, but he paid that before he switched.)

I am nearly 2 years from my original purchase saving over $1000/yr and happy as a clam.

But even he reported some downsides, beyond the more than $1,000 of up-front costs. Live sports can be hard to get without cable.

I am not a sports nut so this works for me. If you were an addict, you will not survive.

 

 

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (255 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.