Wolverton: Another woeful tale of horrible service from Comcast

I know, I know: There have been so many stories about the rotten state of Comcast’s customer service that the theme has become something of a tired trope — no matter how true.

But my latest experience with the giant telecom’s representatives was just so mind-bogglingly bad that I have to share it. After five calls to customer support, including two that involved talking to supervisors, and a $195 credit card charge that Comcast knew it should never assess, it’s either do that or pull out what little hair I have left.

But let me back up and set the scene.

As some of my readers may remember, I signed up for Comcast’s broadband service a little more than a year ago, as part of cobbling together an a la carte telecommunications triple play. Although I had some initial problems and complaints, the service has worked out well overall. It’s been reliable, and Comcast even bumped up my speed without charging me anything extra.

But the $40 a month discount rate I was paying was set to go $67 a month in November, and I didn’t want to pay more than I had to. So I decided to shop around.

Unfortunately, AT&T and Sonic, the two alternatives to Comcast available in my neighborhood, both wanted to charge more than Comcast’s regular rate for slower speeds. Frustrated, I called up Comcast to see what kind of deals it was offering.

Initially, the customer service person quoted me a rate of $45 a month to continue my 75 megabits per second (Mbps) service for the next year. But when I pressed him about whether that was the best deal he could offer, he said he could actually offer me the same speed on a special deal of just $30 a month for the next year.

Sold. I immediately agreed to continue my service. As you might expect from what I’ve written above, that was the high point in my latest dealings with Comcast. Things quickly went south and I had to make repeated calls to Comcast to try to sort things out.

In early December, I checked my Comcast bill to make sure my rate hadn’t been raised to $67. I was able to confirm that my bill was now $30 a month. But the statement also said I was now getting 25 Mbps service, something I confirmed by going to Speedtest.net.

When I called Comcast’s customer service line, the representative I spoke with initially told me everything was as it should be — Comcast charges $30 a month for 25 Mbps service. When I explained that’s not what I had agreed to, the representative looked back at the notes on my account. He agreed that I ought to be getting 75 Mbps service for that same price. So he ratcheted my speed back up. Although Comcast would bill me $45 a month — its regular promotional rate for that level of service — I would also see a $15 credit each month on my bill to get me down to the $30 rate.

I was soon able to confirm that my Internet speed was back up to 75 Mbps. But when I checked my bill days later, I noticed I was being charged the full $67 a month — not $30. So I called Comcast again. The representative I spoke with this time again said he couldn’t offer the $30-a-month rate, that the lowest he could offer was $45 a month. When I told him that wasn’t what I agreed to, he checked through the notes on my account and agreed that I should be getting the $30 rate.

But he said he couldn’t give me an ongoing $15-a-month credit to get me down to the rate. So instead, he said he would give me a $180 up-front credit, which would be the equivalent of getting a $15 a month discount for a year. I agreed and hung up thinking the issue was solved. It wasn’t. When I received my Comcast bill right before Christmas, I noticed that instead of receiving a $180 credit from the company, Comcast had applied a $180 charge to my account. Instead of not owing the company anything for the month, Comcast said my bill was $195, including the credit and some pro-rated charges for my broadband service.

I called Comcast’s customer service again. I again had to explain the situation. The representative was understanding, but initially said only that he would take off the $180 charge. When I pressed, noting that I should have had a net $180 credit, he at first resisted. Then, after reading the notes on my account, he agreed, saying he would fix the account. Again, I thought the problem was fixed.

Wrong again. When Comcast alerted me that my credit card would soon be charged for my service, I checked my bill again. The $180 charge was still there and the bill indicated that I would be charged the full $195.

So I called again, right before my card was due to be charged. This time I insisted on speaking with a supervisor. That supervisor, Alex, reviewed my account and agreed that I should have a $180 credit on it, not a $180 charge. He said he would fix the problem, and that my account would reflect the change within a day. If I had any more trouble, he said to ask for him directly.

That was last Saturday. Today when I checked my Comcast account, it indicated that the company had charged my credit card the full $195, something I confirmed when I checked my credit card account.

I immediately called my credit card company to dispute the charge, then called Comcast one more time. I explained the situation and asked for Alex, the supervisor. After being put on hold for 10 minutes, the representative I spoke with initially said he’d discussed it with a supervisor. Comcast was aware of the issue and had advanced it to its “escalation” department, he said. My complaint was in process.

Not satisfied, I asked to speak to a supervisor and was eventually transferred to one named Eddy. When Eddy reviewed the notes, he could find no notes from Alex, the last supervisor I spoke with. So I explained the situation yet again.

Eddy was sympathetic and agreed that I deserved a $360 credit to wipe out the erroneous $180 charge and to grant the previously agreed on $180 credit. He said he would put in for the credit and that it should be approved and reflected on my account within five days.

I was about to hang up, when I realized I should confirm the rate at which Comcast would bill me in the months to come. Eddy said that rate would be $50 a month.

When I explained that that was not the base rate I agreed to — my $30 rate was based on a $15 discount on the $45 going rate at the time I re-upped with Comcast — Eddy explained that Comcast was no longer offering the $45 rate; $50 is its new price for 75 Mbps service. There was no way he could bill me at a $45 rate going forward, he said.

Instead, he offered me a deal. He would give me a $60 up-front credit to compensate me for the difference between the two rates for the next year. That $60 credit would be tacked on to the so-far ephemeral $180 credit. With no other choice, I agreed.

So, five phone calls, two supervisor interactions and a $180 Comcast error later, that’s where I stand. Maybe Comcast has finally gotten it right.

But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Photo courtesy of Comcast.


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  • reademitchell

    Just pay your bill & quit complaining. Buy stock in the company. All that calling & threatening to take your business somewhere else is what drives up the cost of service providing companies that are not regulated utilities.

    • srcarruth

      you think prices are based on complaint levels?

    • Washington Park

      Here’s the problem with what you say. Comcast raised my bill 33% this year so I shopped around and found a better deal and called Comcast to have them disconnect service. They immediately transferred me to a customer retention specialist who cut my bill down to within $7.00 of what I was previously paying so I agreed. I only asked to cut service which is anybody’s right. They’re the ones that ran around cutting me deals so I wouldn’t leave. If that is driving the cost of service up then Comcast needs to let people stop service if they want to and not transfer them over to people who are going to rework your cable bill that obviously didn’t need to be so high to post a profit to begin with.

      • Jacob McElyea

        The main reason behind transferring to customer retention is the cost of getting new customers. Businesses would rather retain a customer rather than lose because it costs twice if not triple the amount to gain a new customer. If you look at installation cost: Upkeep on the work vehicles, $150-300 a month times a couple thousand if not more work vehicles. Upkeep/replacement of tools to do said install. Many factors go into a business. That is why the rates are what they are. If you don’t like it, go buy an antenna for your tv or what have you.

        • Washington Park

          Which is exactly what I would have done if they hadn’t shifted me to a
          customer retention specialist who reset my bill back to where it was.

        • Washington Park

          Which is exactly what I would have done if they hadn’t shifted me to a
          customer retention specialist who reset my bill back to where it was. I can’t understand you guys that claim the customer that receives a stiff increase is in the wrong when they look for a better deal and decide to take it. Comcast decided they’ll cut their price to retain me. I didn’t demand it. reademitchell owns a record shop. If I go in there looking for a record and he says that will be 50 bucks and I feel it’s too high I’ll say “no thanks” and leave. If he runs after me and says he’ll sell it for 30 and I agree how does that make me the problem? I don’t want to hear about all the expenses he has. All I want is a product and if the price is too high I’ll pass. If he wants to offer me a new lower price I’m not sabotaging his business. This is a choice he’s made on his own.

  • Minnesotaman68 .

    The problem started with your perception of “not paying more then you had to”. A discount is a discount and not the regular price. I’d never go into Macy’s and say I don’t like the price and want a discount. The second problem was the Comcast saying you could get a price for a speed that didn’t exist. Being up front to start with prices and what speeds cost is the best customer service.

  • John Does

    Comcast’s rates are hard-coded into their computer system. If an agent misquotes you speed at a set price you get the price and slower speed or vice versa. You can learn insider tips for getting a deal at Comcast here: http://comcastxfinitysecrets.blogspot.com/2016/01/secrets-to-getting-best-comcast-xfinity.html

  • Arrowhead

    Cheapskate. Only with cable companies do people think they can constantly whittle down their bill by complaining and threatening to quit.

  • Jared

    The first few comments appear to miss the point entirely. The author is writing about Comcast’s unwillingness/inability to honor an agreement. While my situation is different as far as what my agreement is with Comcast, my experience parallels the author’s completely. Comcast appears to engage in the unethical practice of agreeing to terms and then not honoring the terms in the billing process. Only the truly diligent will contact Comcast repeatedly to challenge the incorrect billing. As a result, Comcast gets what they want because customers give up in frustration.
    Comcast is, by far, the most unethical company I have ever dealt with. My hope is that there is a special place in hell for the inventors of their business model.

  • Reed More

    Relatives in the UK pay $35 a month ($$ not pounds) for 1 gigabit service. I live in Silicon Valley and pay 3 times that for 50Mbps.

    So much for market pricing and US competition.

  • Tony Wasserman

    In today’s winner-take-all world, Comcast is one of the winners. They spend a fair amount of your fees buying legislators and government executives at the national, state, and local levels, just to make sure that they remain the exclusive provider of cable and internet services in every area where they operate. If you check Comcast on opensecrets.org, you will see that they spent an average of $16M annually on lobbying Congress, covering 44 separate bills in 2014, and gave $3.2M to Congressional candidates in 2014.

    With that, they can do pretty much anything they want to do to you, and you have little recourse. Here in SF, for example, I pay Comcast for high-speed Internet (Blast), and the only other option available at my address is Earthlink or AT&T’s DSL service at 1.5Mb, a speed that has not changed since 1998. Your experience is not unique — it’s just another example of monopoly behavior. Unless you are willing to devote *lots* of time to the fight, and have sufficient financial resources to be a major contributor or a bundler for a winning Presidential candidate, Brian Roberts and Comcast are going to come out ahead.

    You should count yourself lucky if they continue to take your money and provide you with service, rather than cutting you off, which they are entitled to do under the terms and conditions of your agreement with them.

    • Minnesotaman68 .

      So basically if I understand you the competition in your area does not offer the quality of speed Comcast offers? You do have s choice you know? I’d never go into a Mercedes dealership and complain they are more expensive then the ford down the road. Comcast invests millions to improve reliability and speeds while the low cost 1.5 competitors do not. I know it’s human nature to want things cheap but to have the best one should expect to pay for it.

      • Tony Wasserman

        @Minnesotaman68 In fact, you *didn’t* understand me. My whole point is that you don’t have much of a choice for high speed Internet service, at least where I live. (One would think that the City of San Francisco would have more options.) I also noted that Comcast has been very effective in lobbying for legislation that would help them to preserve their profits and their hegemony — nothing illegal about that, since money speaks loudly. I didn’t advocate at all for a lower price — monopoly providers get to set the price. That’s why people in the US pay much more for Internet service than do people in other countries. Perhaps you should reread my original message.

        • Minnesotaman68 .

          I’m sorry you are wrong. You have a choice in Internet provides. We certainly do here in Minnesota. If you want the best, the type that fiber optic technology provides, then you pay for it. It’s the exact same analogy as if you want to drive a corvette over a Subaru.

          • Tony Wasserman

            I’m glad that you have a choice of ISPs in Minnesota. I’m surprised that you know that I am wrong about my choices in San Francisco. How do you know that? Have you lived here and tried to find alternatives at faster than 1.5Mb? By the way, we don’t have any fiber optic options yet.

      • Change Me

        Minnesotaman68 , Just because Comcast Cable Communications is loaded with CASH does not mean at all that they are spending to improve their old hybrid/Fiber Coaxial plant. You would be amazed how old some of their Hardware is, Which still processes the Docsis 2.0 and 3.0 Internet services for their customers !
        Some of their equipment that they still use today is 20 to 30 years old ! FACT !!

        • Minnesotaman68 .

          You are incorrect. If you look at the innovation and investment Comcast has made in its products and infrastructure Comcast is providing the best products that rise above anything the competition had to offer. I can tell you since I’ve had the product in my home the lat ten years my internet speed has increased to speeds I never dreamed of 10 years ago and the X1 provides me with entertainment with programming I want anyplace in the world I travel too when I want it and need it.

  • ELBOWS999

    The beat goes on. I have had Directv for well over 15 years. They were a good provider of TV, but now things are much different. They are acting like a cable company more and more each day. This started before AT&T took over, but it is much worse now. I pleaded with my politician Congressman several times to stop the HORRIBLE decision by the Obama Administration to allow this merger to happen, but they didn’t. Television is in a sorry state and getting worse. The problem for me is that I can’t get certain sports broadcasts any way other than Satellite or Cable operator at this point. I would be happy to go to an antenna for local channels and Netflix, but it won’t work for me. Why do you think the word “despicable” ends in “cable”??

  • Change Me

    Comcast Cable Communications Company + 23,000,000 Million Subscribers = What ??

    ANSWER = The Internet Infrastructure………within the United States !

    Where the General Public is Manipulated and Controlled by one Humongous Private Company only !

    Comcast Cable Communications !!

    Wise up FCC And Government Officials ! It is for the Publics sake !!

    23,000,000 Subscribers and Counting ????….Not good business practices to other Technology Companies out there FCC !!

  • Change Me

    The Government of United States took care of illegal monopoly practices towards the Company Microsoft at one time , WHY can’t they do the same towards Comcast Cable Communications illegal Cable Monopoly practices that have been going on for years now and still going strong ??

  • Mech OneThousand

    Being a supervisor at another major ISP, I can tell you with certainty, stories like these are all too common.

    Author had most likely spoke with some outsourced agents in a different country. How those agents are being trained or by who, eludes me….They will say anything and whatever, just to get you off their phone. At least they did not change anything on your account, which also happens often.

    I am very familiar with Comcast operations, and no agent should have ever offered an upfront credit for future dates. First of all, amount of credit exceeds Comcast’s agent’s credit limit, secondly it would get denied by the Quality Assurance (QA) an internal department that reviews all of the credits that are being applied.

    Possibly, the credits had been applied, but rejected by the QA. Even thou the author should not have been charged $180 over nothing, I truly dont see him receiving the credit for that amount. Best option – they would reverse the erroneous charge, but I am almost certain an additional credit for the same amount will never go though as Comcast, just like the company that I work for never credits upfront. We can only credit for the services we already charged for.

    As far as the rates, in Comcast’s customer agreement, that all customers are subjected to, it does clearly states that all prices are subject to change with or without notice. That disclaimer is very standard in the industry.

    Your best bet is to forget the $360 credit and request a $180 credit, at least for now. Depending on the coding used on that charge, it may have to be escalated to the banking services to be removed. Never believe an agent when they promise a credit above $50 (at least this used to be the limit for a regular agent) as it will either never be applied or denied by the QA dept. as a credit exceeding agent’s limit.

    I would suggest to call them again, first ensure you are talking to an american agent, then request a supervisor. Always call during business hours as your chances are higher of getting someone in the USA at 12pm then at 12am. You may have to call several times before reaching someone in America.
    Explain to the supervisor your issue, request that $180 erroneous charge is reversed, request email confirmation. If you request $360, it will almost certainly not go thru again.

    Once the charge is taken care of, contact Retention department, again request to talk to the supervisor and under threat of canceling right there and then, ask for whatever best rate they can offer. Retention agents/supervisors have access to the best discounts, better ones then the rest of the representatives. Make sure you dont say things like “or else I will cancel next week” as they will not care about next week, all retention agents/supervisors are being rated by amount of ppl that do not cancel with them on the line.

    However, if a certain rate is not available and is not offered, no matter who you will talk to short of the board of directors, you will not be able to obtain that rate as everyone in the company can only work with the codes they have at their disposal.

    That’s my best suggestion how to go about current situation with facts available in this article.