Let me preface this by saying that i’m not a habitual bitcher. For the most part I keep a stiff upper lip and just deal with what life dishes out. Unfortunately, that’s bitten me in the ass here. Ironically, if I’d been more of a complainer all along, things might be going better than they are.
I posted the following on the Comcast Xfinity facebook page:
Comcast wants to charge me an $1100 disconnect fee to REMAIN A CUSTOMER and PAY THEM MORE PER MONTH! I’m currently a Comcast Business customer, but I don’t need the business features. What I really need is the bandwidth that Xfinity is offering for residential customers. They won’t let me out of my business contract so that I can upgrade my bandwith. Currently paying $70/mo for spotty 15Mbps service. Want to upgrade to Xfinity 50Mbps for $75/mo. Nope. Retention says I’m stuck with crappy speeds until 2015 unless I pay $1100 to buy out my business contract. They offered to bump my business account to the next speed which is 25Mbps @ over a $100/mo (introductory for 1 yr). Half the speed I want? Huge price increase? Yeah, sign me up!
Long story short, I signed a contract for Comcast Business service. The service hasn’t been very reliable as far as delivering promised speeds, but as I mentioned above I mostly just deal with the frustrating slowdowns and assume that they’re doing something to the lines and that it’ll be back up the next day…and it usually is. It happens a lot, but I don’t complain. Well…it’s starting to affect my ability to get things done. So I went looking for higher speeds, figuring that if I bump up to a higher speed, and still only get half of what I’m paying for, at least it’ll be a faster not-quite-as-promised speed.
I found an Xfinity offering that sounded attractive at around the same price point, actually a little more than I’m paying now. Xfinity=Comcast, so I didn’t think it would be a big deal to stay a customer, drop the “business class” and move to residential at a higher price point. Win/win. Right? WRONG. So very wrong. In order to switch from business to residential, you have to buy out the remaining term of your contract, then sign up again. The buyout price is not applied toward your new service. I can’t afford to just “eat” $1100.
You see, Comcast offers those same high speeds as a business class option at an exorbitant rate, far beyond what I can afford. And once they’ve got you locked into a business contract, there ain’t no way you’re ever going back to residential pricing.
Chad, please email email@example.com so that we can look into this for you. Thank you [name redacted]
So I replied to the address above, and copied in what I had posted on the Facebook wall so that they knew what I was writing about. Monday morning I received a call from Comcast corporate. The fellow I talked to offered nothing new. The only concession they would make is a temporary discount (Comcast LOVES these, introductory price, followed by a jaw-dropping increase) on upgrading to the next tier of business class service, which is still only half the bandwidth of the residential service I wanted. That was the same discount that the first person I spoke to had offered. Frankly, I have no idea why they bothered to call me and offer me the same thing that pissed me off in the first place. I guess they just wanted to opportunity to insult me, which they did. “Sounds like you have buyer’s remorse” was a good one.
Following this conversation, I replied again on the Facebook page:
Just spoke with someone from Comcast corporate. No change at all. Everything I said above stands, and they’re practically gleeful that I’m stuck. Just posting here so that everyone will know that their public attempts to appear concerned are just for show.
To which they replied:
Hi Chad. I reviewed the notes here. We will not be dissolving the contract. I’m sorry the pricing offered by the rep was not acceptable to you. I would like to check into your service concerns. Are those speeds while connected directly to the modem? Can you email me a speedtest? [name redacted]@comcast.com.
Well at least their inflexibility is now public. That’s something accomplished. Let it be clear, I am absolutely trying to break a signed contract. Do they HAVE TO release me from the contract? No, they don’t. Would it be good customer service? I think so. I bend the rules all the time for customers because that’s more important than just upholding policy because I can. It’s also worth noting that Comcast has not kept up their end of the contract either, ie providing the promised speeds. Though because I didn’t call and complain and have them send out a van every single time, they won’t acknowledge this, nor will they grant me any sort of exception. My bad. I should have made more of a fuss all along.
Replying again in public, I wrote:
Downstream is spotty, inconsistent, rarely above 10Mbps. Up has the same issues, between .1 and 3Mbps, or sometimes doesn’t complete the test.
Funny anecdote in speaking with the rep from corporate. He used an analogy on me that fell flat. He said “It’s like you bought a car last year and now you want us to just give you the newer model for free.” Actually, I never asked for anything for free. But to use his analogy, it’s more like I bought a car that doesn’t run that great and wasn’t really the right car for me. So I’m trying to trade in this 4DR SUV with crap mileage for a 2DR coupe that costs more but is a better fit, and Comcast is saying, “nope, you have to pay for the entire loan on the 4DR before you can do anything else”. I understand disconnect fees when you switch cell carriers because they’re losing a customer, but I’m trying to STAY a customer, and pay more. It’s mind boggling.
I would like to ensure we get the service concerns address, but as far as the contract terms go, my hands are tied. I can’t speak to that, but I can see we get your service concerns resolved. Please email me at the address above when you have a moment. I’d really like to help with this. –[name redacted]
So at least they’re appearing to care about the fact that the service I’ve been paying for isn’t up to snuff, but there’s still no concession on getting me into the product that I’d like. While I was thinking about this, and wondering whether I was being unreasonable in wanting to break my contract, I realized why I had this nagging feeling that precedent was in my favor.
Here’s my last reply before I came over here to get this all recorded in my blog (just in case Comcast drops the ban hammer):
I just remembered another analogy, just sharing because these both demonstrate my point. He also brought up that cellular carriers have disconnect fees that involve buying out the term of your contract. This is true, but ONLY if you’re leaving the carrier and moving your business elsewhere. If I call up my cell carrier and want to change my plan, upgrade, downgrade or otherwise, I don’t have to buy out my entire contract period and then start over. I am free to choose the service that fits my needs, and the only penalty is that I might have to renew/extend my contract. Win/win. They keep a customer, customer gets the product that fits, contract is renewed. Wow, I never thought I’d be pointing to Verizon’s policies as an example of how to treat customers, but here we are.
So let this be a lesson to any potential Comcast Business customers. Comcast will not negotiate with you. There is no side-grade between business and residential service. They would rather keep you locked into an ill-fitting contract, even if it means missing an opportunity to make more money, just because they can.