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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dear Comcast

They say that Comcast is reading blogs these days, and so here's my little question for the big, bad boys of the emerging bandwidth cartel: Before you start maintenance work on your system, which is going to screw up all your customers' internet access in a given area for several hours, would it kill you to send them an e-mail a few hours ahead of time so that they could plan accordingly?

In exchange for the customers', say, $160 a month, is that asking too much?

Routinely pulling the plug on people without warning is, as the kids say, craptastic -- or in your case, Comcraptic. [Posted via a wireless signal stolen from a neighbor who is smart enough to get internet service from someone else.]

Comments (12)

Amen. If I could afford my own T-1 line I would do it in a heart beat. Comcast drives me nuts with their BS.

And this whole notion of tiered access to the internet, if you pay more you get preferred treatment, is complete BS. Its no wonder the nation that created the internet is falling behind in providing access to its citizens.

This is one place where the government should step in and establish in law equal access for all.

I'm about ready to launch into a tirade about the US mobile phone services compared to the rest of the world, but will stop because I will get violent.

This is one place where the government should step in and establish in law equal access for all.

They already did, except that the telcos used it to steal $200B.

Yep, that "federal excise tax" line item on your phone bill? That was supposed to pay for 45Mbps service to millions of homes. You have yours? I don't either.

The strange thing is, no one is asking about any of this, when these regulations and subsidies are still on the books.

They are monitoring not only blogs but also scanning everyone's comments in chat rooms, etc. I had made a comment the other day on Twitter mocking the idea of Comcast as a "good steward of the Internet", as they like to present themselves, and said I'd be waiting for one of those "creepy" messages from them. Lo, hours later I get a Comcastic "How may I help you?" asking why I thought a major corporation monitoring everyone all the time was a bit "creepy" since they were "public" comments. Duh!

Jack, did ya start your timer to see how long before the Comcast PR "Truth Squad" gets back to ya?

Richard, funny thing, the other day I had a similar encounter with "ComcastCares" on Twitter.

I wrote my own blog post about it. In my case, I found it a good way to give them feedback about their draconian policy about sharing your connection; ComcastCares didn't get it, but the argumentative nature of their reply, I think, reflected poorly on their position, and in a public sphere to boot.

So, yeah, it seemed a little creepy at first, but in the end the contact was genuine enough to allow for interesting and productive discussion.

I think it's probably a good thing that Comcast is trying stuff like this, though they definitely do run the risk of creeping their customers out.

I think it's probably a good thing that Comcast is trying stuff like this..

You've apparently never been SLAPP'ed.

This is nothing more than Comcast trying to intimidate critics under the guise of appearing to be polite. It's that simple.

Comcast doesn't need this medium to learn what their customers' problems are, and to improve their service. They already know, and service improvements haven't materialized.

Comcast Unleashes the Lapdogs, by Craig Aaron, The Huffington Post, July 31, 2008.

It’s the 11th hour for Comcast at the Federal Communications Commission. They were caught secretly blocking legal Internet traffic. They lied about it. On Friday, a bipartisan majority at the FCC is expected to finally hold them accountable. Let’s review Comcast’s strategy so far:


Unfortunately, the phone and cable companies dominate nearly 99 percent of the market for Internet access. ... That’s why Congress and the FCC must step in.

Nationalize the internet - Public ownership and oversight of the infrastructure - Just like the telephone system ... WAS! -- now take it back, buy off the 'privatizing' pirates. (... with I.O.U.'s collateralized by taxes on individual incomes over $10 million/year....)


SLAPP = huh? Please provide a link, definition, explanation...something!

As for intimidation, nothing remotely intimidating was said. You can look up the discussion in my twitter history if you're really interested. But, you're way off base.

And as I said, I'm pretty sure this all played much more to my advantage, than to Comcast's. Not to get cocky, but I've been on the Internet a hell of a lot longer then them...I've got home court advantage ;)

So where else does one go for broadband access AND TV? Qwest wants to sell me a land line, which I don't need. I called a DirectTV number from an ad that said they bundled satellite TV and DSL. The sales guy on the other end of the line kept asking me for more and more personal information before I could get any answers out of him, so I just hung up on him.

With Comcast, I took advantage of a $33 a month promotion for whatever is the first step up from basic cable. Now, the promotion period has ended and I'm paying over $100 for internet service and what amounts to ESPN and the Mariners games.

This kind of monopoly--or oligopoly--is making the City's fiber optic scheme seem a lot more reasonable.

SLAPP is defined here.

And I stand by my statements.

We notify our customers for scheduled maintenance. I apologize if this was not done in your area. Do you mind providing me with the location of where maintenance was done so that we can investigate why you were not notified?

In an effort to improve customer service nation-wide, Comcast has begun reaching out to customers through social media. Providing your information is strictly optional. We are here to help if you need us.

Best Regards,

Mark C.
Comcast Corp.

John, looking at this a little more broadly: should corporations have less of a right to participate in public discourse, than individuals? Historically, I think the deck has been stacked in favor of the corporation, with bad consequences. But with blogs and social media, that part of the playing field is pretty much leveled out.

When I publish a public blog or "tweet," I invite anyone to reply. That's why I publish it in a public sphere. I'll admit to being a little surprised that Comcast replied, and initially a little creeped out -- but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it.

I wonder whether your position might be an overreaction to the historical imbalance. If we are going to get this "public discourse" thing right, we can't afford to overcompensate for past inequities; we need to find a balance.

Comcast essentially has a monopoly in its service area. Portland was scorned -- on this blog and elsewhere -- in its (ineffective and unsuccessful but sensiblly motivated) efforts to attenuate that. You folks who sign up with them get pretty much what you deserve.

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