Let's hypothesize and say the impossible is true: you're somehow not experiencing myriad technical issues, service dropouts of unholy frequency, or trying your hand at wading through the legendarily awful customer service. Even in that (impossible) case, how happy are you when your bill goes up twenty percent with no forewarning- not once, not twice, not intermittently, but at the unpredictable whims of the Xfinity gods and goddesses?
The issue isn't whether or not you can afford such shameless hikes. Most people can't, but never mind. Let's expand our thought experiment. You're a financially comfortable baby boomer (don't be fooled by the polemical and didactic nature of contemporary discourse, or even the celebratory nature of much of my writing on the poor; there are plenty of wonderful human beings who also happen to be wealthy. People will surprise you). The $25,000 condo you bought in 1991 has exploded more than tenfold in value. You very wisely invested $1,000 in Netflix in 2002, which translates into $300,000 now. You got your electrical engineering degree back when a quarter at UCLA cost $433. Yes, your kitchen has an island. You can afford the Comcast bill hikes.
But it's the principle of the matter. You weren't always rich, and the spendthrift in you won't die. Standing at your kitchen island you read the latest bill, thinking, why am I paying twice what I did two years ago for the same service?
Maybe you aren't rich. You're an international student paying $12,500 a quarter in loans to attend what is basically a glorified community college here in the States. You already have a degree from your home country, but no one cares and you have to start all over. You'll be saddled with debt on top of the debt you already owe for the rest of your life, and your two part-time night jobs have got nothing on the state's lack of rent control. We won't talk about the lack of study time and the hour and a half bus commute with some crazy young driver who keeps announcing the stops and talking to everybody. You're realizing that for the foreseeable future, you won't be able to afford the basic need of internet at home, because Comcast only offers income-based discounts to those who qualify for affordable housing, and you make slightly too much... but not enough to survive. The story for so much of Seattle.
When I signed up for Xfinity cable internet, it was $20 a month. By now you've heard the narrative: the introductory rate eventually expires and each year they raise it, and each time you call them saying you want to cancel. Instead of cancelling your service, they extend your current rate or a slightly higher one for the next year.
But that game eventually gets eclipsed by another, where they do raise the rates. You get bills of uncertain denomination, and spend time on the phone learning that your needlessly fast, super expensive internet is actually the cheapest plan, and you try to rationalize the fact that internet, the 21st century version of water, is costing you double what you were once paying for, and by October you'll be paying triple.
Let's call it the "Comcast Tipping Point."
Everybody has one. My cable internet was dropping out approximately 90-100% of every 24-hour time span, and thus proving completely untenable. I won't clutter the web further with stories of my negative experiences with customer service, but suffice it to say the issue wasn't getting resolved.
But did I really want it to get resolved?
Or was this the sublime justification I'd been looking for all along? No bird wishes to be cooped up in a Comcast cage forever. Thank goodness for malfunctioning internet.
Legally, corporations have the same rights as people. If Comcast were a person... actually, hang on a minute. There is no equivalent. Only a many-headed beast from Dante's underworld would do all* of the following:
- Comcast artificially throttles download times, and is the primary reason why the US lags behind South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong in internet speed;
- Specifically throttled Netflix Streaming so it could charge (effectively) a massive bribe to not do so;
- Offers the same service to different people for different prices;
- Adds services to customer's bills that they did not order;
- Sends unrequested equipment to homes and then charges for them;
- Was fined $2.3 million by the FCC for illegal customer charges;
- Tried to prove (successfully) that it was too much of a monopoly as its reason for why it should buy out Time Warner Cable;
- Billed one Ricardo Brown as "Asshole Brown"on his statement after he tried to cancel service (not an isolated incident- Mary Bauer received a bill reading "Super Bitch Bauer," and Julia Swano "Whore Julia");
- Refused to refund $1320 in wrongly attributed fees to a customer, despite 25 documented attempts by the customer to reverse the charges;
- In numerous instances provided solutions only after a customer went to the press with documentation of abuse;
- Was the primary reason cable rates rose 68 percent from 2009 to 2013; and
- Has lower approval ratings than the famously hated LA Department of Water and Power, all US airlines, the president, and all other telecommunications companies.
I'm scratching the surface here. Refer to the links below for concrete data backing up every claim made in this article, and more evidence as to why Comcast is entirely deserving of being named Consumerist's Worst Company in America in 2014.
Most notoriously, even beyond all this, is the fact of how remarkably difficult it is to cancel your Comcast service. How do you get a virus out of your bloodstream?
When you call asking to cancel (the option isn't available online), you're directed to a person whose job it is to prevent you from cancelling. It's called the Retention Department. The Retention Department doesn't have the ability to cancel your service. That's someone else. They pull out every trick they have, and they are the major element in Comcast's dismal customer service ratings, beyond all of the above. They:
- Famously charged a $1,775 cancellation fee and told the customer to complain to his bank;
- Have used documented tactics of humiliation and interrogation to retain customers;
- Refused to cancel a terminally ill woman's service after she had a stroke leaving her unable to speak;
- Acknowledge a practice of putting customers on hold indefinitely to reduce the number of cancelling customers; and
- Refused to cancel a dead man's service, telling his wife she couldn't cancel and only he could, despite his no longer being alive.
That's how hard it is to cancel. You can't, in so many words. They've got you. The actual Cancellation Department is much smaller. As you can guess, not a lot of people make it there. You have to get past the Retention people first, and you'd better be prepared to take those guys on. And in the words of one employee (again, all sources are linked below), "even the cancellation department is a sales department."
How do you beat the Comcast virus? Is it even possible?
I've done the research, and it's my duty as a fellow living, breathing human being to share it with you. There is a single sentence you can say that unlocks the gates and sweeps aside all barriers. They won't try to question you. They won't put you on hold, charge you anything, call you names, or tell you you have to keep paying them after you die.
I called them. I said the twelve magic words. They said, okay. We'll cancel everything immediately. No problem. They even sent me a refund.
Don't ask me to explain it. Just know that it works. One elusive sentence. Put it in your pocket and save it for that special time, when you've paid one bill too many.
"I'm moving to a new place, and I don't know where it is."
That's your ticket out, friend. Freedom awaits. Thank me later.
No picture for this post because I don't currently have internet. Casting about for an ethical telecommunications company....
- 7 reasons Comcast is the most hated company in America
- Comcast: We'll Work on Not Calling Customers Whores and Assholes
- Netflix Agrees To Pay Comcast To End Slowdown
- All the Ways Comcast Ripped Off People Over the Years
- Comcast’s infamously bad customer service isn’t incompetence – it’s a choice
- Comcast Is America's Most Hated Company
- Comcast Fined $2.3M for Overcharging Customers
- 5 Nightmares You Live Working for America's Worst Company
- 21 Times Comcast Was the Worst Company in America