found drama

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not off to a good start

by Rob Friesel

Dear Comcast:

Since it seems we’re going to be starting up that provider/customer relationship again, it’s probably best that I tell you now (before I’ve even signed up) that we’re not off to a good start.  We’ll be moving soon (my family, that is) and the little bit of research I’ve done thus far indicates that you’re the only high-speed ISP in that area.  Despite my previous groanings and grumblings1, I told myself to get over it and at least check out the available options.  That’s when I saw this:

Two Packages, One Price (WTF?)

…and this:

Marketing FAIL

Granted, the latter concerns me merely as a curiosity.  Viz., how did that get past the copy editors?

On the other hand, the former concerns me because it affects me and my future decisions.  If the (marginally?) “better” package is the exact same price, why even bother presenting both options2?  And if they are different, then what is the actual difference in price?  These things matter.

With that question in mind, I fired off an email to Comcast through their website’s Contact Us feature.  I posed two question:

  1. Of the two, which one is priced correctly?
  2. While we’re at it, what other discounts are available for these “bundles”3?

I did not expect an immediate response.  But I did get one back pretty quickly.  My first thought?  This was an automated response. But it appeared to be “from a person” and was an actual response.  Awesome!  Except that when you get through all the verbiage, it boiled down to this:  your questions requires “Live Interaction” to be answered.

What?  Why?

Let’s cut through the B.S., please.  Don’t patronize me.  Perhaps I don’t want to engage in any “Live Interaction” this morning.  Perhaps I just want the answers to my (presumably simple) questions so I can finish my preparations for my move.

I promise that if you just answer my questions (i.e., what are the actual prices for those bundles? and what kind of discounts can one get for subscribing to a bundle4?) then I promise that I won’t complain (much) about the price gouging.

Your pal,

-me

UPDATE:

I replied to the original “contact for Live Interaction” response with the following:

I’m not really sure why my questions require “Live Interaction”. These questions are pretty straightforward. I’ll repeat them here:

The Comcast website lists the “Digital Starter with Performance High-Speed Internet” and “Digital Starter with Performance High-Speed Internet” as having the exact same price even though they”re
listed as having different features.
(1) What are the actual prices of these two bundles?
(2) Also: what discounts are available for bundled service? (after the introductory promotional pricing)

I found the conflicting information here: http://www.comcast.com/shop/buyflow2/products.cspx?SourcePage=Bundled

Please have someone reply to me with the answers to these questions so that I may add them to the notes I’m compiling in preparation for my move.

And received another evasive reply.  The relevant excerpt (every bit sic copy/paste):

We do also have some new in-house bundles you my be intereested in, With our new bundles, you won’t need to worry about ‘What will it cost when the promotion ends,’ because these great new low rates are the standard price, not a promotional discount which will end after six, twelve, or even twenty-four months.  And because these are regular packages instead of introductory promotions, anyone can get these bundles and start saving over full retail rates, new and existing customers alike!  You can also add and remove, upgrade or downgrade these bundles at any time. And what’s more, our new bundles allow you to add a wide variety of auxiliary services at discounted rates, including DVR for our HD Starter and HD Plus bundles, additional cable boxes for your other rooms, premium movie channels, and our Sports & Entertainment channels.  You can save even more!

The email goes on to talk about their “Triple Play” bundles and not the apparent discrepancy in the “Double Play” packages listed on their site.  That being said, I’m not buying the bit about great new low rates are the standard price because, and let me call your attention to:

introductory-rates-1

…and…

introductory-rates-2

…and…

introductory-rates-3

…and…

introductory-rates-4

…now let’s go back to the part about not needing to worry about the cost when the promotion ends.  The easy-out response is that the prices they’re citing as “not promotional” are the fine-print prices.  But again, it seems to me that they’re trying to deflect from the original questions.

  1. I’ll admit to a slight prejudice.  But it’s been based on the less-than-stellar service and pricing options. []
  2. It’s not like you’re advertising a non-existent “Lite” Double Play Internet/Phone combo. []
  3. I posed this question after discovering that the price per month after the introductory rate adds up to be same as retail if I were to subscribe to each service separately. []
  4. Since, let’s face it, I’m calling “bullshit” on a bundle that works out to retail price. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

One Response to not off to a good start

amy says:

They are being patronizing. They tried to deflect your questions with marketing BS. I wish we didn’t have to pay them a single cent. But we needs int3rn3tz.

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