Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cable sucks

Okay, I am going to make this quick, but I'm looking for a little professional advice. Nothing to do with fertility.

I just got off the phone with Comcast, my lovely (note the sarcasm) cable provider. Back in October, my husband called up to order the NHL hockey package, a premium service that allows you to see all the NHL games that are being played across the country during the whole season. By calling during the preseason, Comcast offered him a $20 discount on the package (from $149 to $129) and told us we would be billed in four installments. This is the third year in a row we've signed up for this service (not counting the year of the hockey strike), with the discount every year because my husband is just that eager.

The first bill came with a $64.50 charge for the package. A little handiwork with a calculator suggests that this is actually a billing for 2 installments of the package ($129 divided by 4 = $32.25 X 2 = $64.50). No big deal. There was also a miscellaneous charge for $1.99 that I honestly didn't have the energy to inquire about.

The next month's bill comes and suddenly we are being charged $37.25 for the installment of the package, plus there's a "PPV ADJ" charge of $5.00. This I called to complain about. The cust. serv. rep told me that the PPV ADJ charge was for a Pay Per View on the Friday right before Thanksgiving. I assured him that I had ordered no Pay Per View on that day and together we decided that our account was being charged $5.00 retroactively for the discount we had received for the hockey package. Plus, the $37.25 was also back to the original price for the package ($149 divided by 4 = $37.25). He agreed to credit us. (Oh, and by the way...the $1.99 fee is a fee tacked on to upgrade your account to receive the hockey package. Never disclosed to my husband when he ordered. You have to pay $1.99 to pay $129.)

Now the next bill comes, no credit and still being charged $37.25 for the package. I get a supervisor on the phone who not only doesn't know what the price of the hockey package is (he asked me), but he also disputes that there are any discounts given to early orders of said package or any sports package for that matter. When I informed him that we have been ordering this package for years, with a discount, he said that someties prices change. Well, sure pal, but not after you've contracted to provide a service at a discount. Change the price next year if you like, but you can't go adding back charges for something mid-season.

Long story short, I chewed his ass and barely contained my four-letter vocabulary, whereupon he agreed to credit us the $20. Then, a regular customer service rep came on the line and explained in broken English, that she was following the supervisor's orders and putting in a request for a credit adjustment, but it still could be denied. Further, she rejected the supervisor's assurances (to me) that I would be given a tracking number for this call so that I would not have to make another call (and another, and another, and so on). At this point I asked for her home number and she told me Comcast does not allow employees to give out their home numbers.

No shit.

I feel that Comcast's billing procedures are at best unethical and at worst illegal . If they have a million customers in my area alone and slip a $5.00 miscellaneous charge in on every bill, that's an extra $60 million a year in their pockets. Do I have any further recourse? Can I legally challenge their charges? Should I send a letter to my State's Attorney General?

Does anyone out there know if it's worth calling attention to this practice? (It's not the first, nor the last time we'll be overcharged, mark my words. I'm sure many of you have similar stories.)

And lastly, does anyone have a good word about DirectTV?


At 12:34 PM, Blogger Erin said...

We have Comcast also, and I can't stand them. But I have friends who got DirecTV and had gotten rid of it by the following week. They just weren't happy with the quality of the reception, and there were several problems with service in that week alone. Could have just been in this area, but that's all I know about it.


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