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Comcast illegally pulls hard, promises free service

This was posted four years ago when I was 27 years old. Hopefully I have matured since then!

Posted at age 27.

I signed up for Comcast’s XFINITY Internet service this week, despite a deep seated aversion to contributing to the reign of a giant monopoly. Time will tell if I can live with the decision, but so far, it’s not looking so good. They have already done a hard pull on my credit report illegally, as I did not consent to it and they explicitly told me no such pull would be done since I was paying a $100 deposit. Additionally, the speeds are not as advertised. My attempts so far to deal with both these issues have wasted a lot of time and have been unsuccessful.

Previous Internet

I’ve been using MonkeyBrains wireless Internet for almost a year, and the service has been pretty good. They charge $35 for the basic residential service after a $200 installation fee. The service speeds fluctuated lately, but likely due to construction on my house. I discovered the workers apparently moved the microwave receiver, so I don’t know if it is even pointing in the right direction anymore. Typically I was getting 35Mbps down and 15Mbps up.

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monkeybrains.png

New Internet promise

I wasn’t quite sure if the speeds would be enough for my whole household, so I hesitated to implement it into our network. I considered whether we could get two residential accounts, but that would cost $70 per month, another $200 installation, and would involve complications to due having two source Internet services. There was apparently a cheaper, faster option, but it was painful to consider. Comcast.

The others in my house use Comcast, and are paying about $110 per month for Internet that is a bit faster than my MonkeyBrains download speed, but slower than the upload speed. As far as I can tell, it was either the “Performance 25” or the “Performance 50” service. Several times when I tested recently, I got less than 10Mbps, so I’m not sure.

But it looked like, as a new user, I could sign up for 12 months of “Blast” Internet, which is supposedly 150Mbps. Additionally, I wanted to get VoIP phone service through Phone Power to replace the phone line we get through Comcast at $20 per month. The Phone Power service would cost about $200 or $250 for two years, versus the $500 through Comcast.

Signing up for Comcast

So I took the plunge and signed up for Comcast the week of March 1, 2016. For my ZIP code, 94117, Comcast listed the following Internet promotions.

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comcastinternetoffers.png

On the URL http://www.xfinity.com/customization/customizeInternet.aspx, I selected the 150Mbps option at $49.99 per month. The small print was as follows.

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Pricing & Other Info.

After I added the service to my cart, I went to check out. The first screen asked if I would like to lease a modem, but I selected “No, I will use my own modem”, and clicked “Next”.

checkout1.png

checkout1.png

On the next screen, I selected “Self-Install / Delivery”, which was $15 the first time I got to this screen, but when I redid the process, it said “Free”. I’m not sure why it changed.

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checkout2.png

The next screen is where problems got worse. Under “Please select your monthly payment preference”, there was only one option, “Pay manually each month”. This is fine, but under that, there were two options: “Perform a credit check” or “Pay a $100.00 deposit”.

You’ll receive a bill from us later. This preference requires a credit check, or a $100.00 deposit.

This deposit will be credited back to your account after 12 months, as long as your account has been in good standing for the previous 6 months. We’ll mail your bill later.

I selected the later, as I knew the former would result in a hard pull on my credit report and subtract from my score, possibly resulting in thousands of dollars lost due to higher interest rates if I end up getting a mortgage or other loan in the next two years. I filled out the credit card information for the deposit.

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checkout3.png

The really sketchy part of that form is the “Social Security Number” section, which says:

We need your social security number to verify your identity – this information is NEVER shared.

“We need your social security number to verify your identity — this information is NEVER shared.” I felt uneasy about providing this, as it would certainly be feasible Comcast could conduct a hard pull of my credit, but the same page made it pretty clear they would not do a credit check if I paid the deposit.

After I clicked “Next”, I was brought back to the same page with a “All fields on this page are required.” message. There were no fields specifically marked as erroneous, but the social security number field was blank. In a highly deceptive interface trick, Comcast surreptitiously changes your “Pay a $100.00 deposit” selection to “Perform a credit check”. It would be completely reasonable for a user to see the “all fields required” message combined with the blank social security number field (which the page jumps to upon page load, calling your attention to it) and think he or she simply entered the wrong number by accident. Users would not expect Comcast changed their selection without asking.

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checkout4.png

I switched it back and completed the signup. I received the following email confirmation.

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confirmation.png

The next day, I received two phone calls from Comcast at 5:30 a.m. and 5:45 a.m. These ridiculously early calls woke several sleeping people in my house, and they were not appreciative of it happening twice!

I later returned the call, and Comcast took my cable modem’s MAC address and walked me through plugging in the modem and ensuring the modem activated. It was done, I thought.

Illegal hard credit pull by Comcast

Just days later, I got a notification from Mint.com and Credit Karma of new hard pulls on my reports. To my dismay but not to my surprise, Comcast lied and conducted the hard pull anyway.

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creditkarma_comcast.png

I pulled my Equifax credit report and found it was true.

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equifax_comcast.png

I submitted a dispute with Equifax, so we’ll see what comes of that.

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equifax_dispute.png

In researching this issue, I found many examples of Comcast illegally doing hard pulls. There is apparently a $1000 minimum penalty under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and people are suing Comcast for it.

I called to try to get the hard pull removed, but was unsuccessful. It was difficult to even get a Comcast agent on the line who even knew what a credit report is. I don’t think they should be in the business of destroying people’s credit if their employees don’t even know the simplest terminology.

As could be expected, I got the typical runaround. I called the sales department since they did the hard pull presumably, and they said I needed to talk to collections, for some reason. I said this seemed strange, but the sales rep said collections is the only department dealing with credit reports. Once transferred, collections transferred me back to sales. They transferred me to billing without saying anything. The billing department didn’t grasp what a credit report was or what it meant to pull a credit report. I had to explain how the system works, after which point I think he might have understood I wasn’t complaining about a bill from Comcast, which was enough for him to suddenly determine I had the wrong department. After explaining to him how I had talked to many departments already, he called sales himself and explained the situation, supposedly, after which he came back to me and said sales won’t be able to remove the hard pull from my report. I of course suspected there would be no recourse within Comcast after their dishonesty and ineptitude, but I insisted he needed to make this right. I proposed Comcast give me a higher level of service and make it free for a year to compensate for what would otherwise be a $1000 or more judgment if I take the grievance to court. The billing guy seemed skeptical Comcast would do anything and said he didn’t know anything about the law, but claimed to make notes of my request in my account. He said someone would call or email me regarding the matter within 24 hours.

Two full days passed, and I heard nothing.

Slower than advertised Comcast Internet

In addition to the above issues, the Internet speed was also not near the advertised 150Mbps.

trouble00.png

trouble00.png

I logged into the “My Account” section of Comcast’s website and observed the service level was apparently wrong. It showed “Your XFINITY® Internet / HSD Performance 25” instead of “Blast”. The speeds I was receiving were higher than the Performance 25 should be, so I didn’t know if this was the cause of the problem or not.

trouble01.png

trouble01.png

I clicked the “Upgrade” link to http://www.xfinity.com/upgrade-center/offers, but Comcast’s web administrators haven’t figured out how to let me visit the page, as I got a redirect error.

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upgradeproblemloading.png

So I clicked the “Troubleshoot” link and ended up in a chat in which the first agent transferred me to someone else, and that person ended the chat without saying anything at all. Basically, they hung up on me.

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trouble10.png

The full chat follows:

After that, I followed the link to the satisfaction survey and let them know why I was trying to get support. The “What can we improve?” box didn’t have room for more than a short paragraph, so Comcast is clearly not very interested in hearing about any problems I’ve had with the company.

I was only able to submit the following comment.

I called to have removed a hard pull on my credit report that Comcast illegally performed, without my permission, indeed after explicitly telling me no such pull would be conducted since I was paying a cash deposit of $100. After being forwarded from sales to billing to collections to billing to sales to billing, Comcast proved to be entirely incompetent in every department and was unable to help or even understand my situation in some cases.

I am currently writing and publishing a blog post de

survey1.png

survey1.png

I got another survey link, so I filled that one out as well.

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comcastsurveydissatisfied.png

Please don’t hang up on your customers. It tends to cause them to think you don’t give a damn.

I went back and tried again, hoping to not be hung up on again. This time I took screenshots of the whole process.

URL: https://customer.xfinity.com/MyServices

trouble01.png

trouble01.png

I logged into My Account page, clicked My Services, Overview, and under “Your “, clicked Troubleshoot. Opened new window.

URL: https://customer.xfinity.com/help-and-support/internet-assistant/?INTCMP=ILC:MA:OVR:GEN55c12503a11d5

trouble02.png

trouble02.png

Internet Support Tool

Troubleshoot your XFINITY Internet in just a few steps

Clicked “Get Started”.

trouble03.png

trouble03.png

Please select a device

Selected the only device, my preowned Motorola Surfboard SB6121 and clicked “Continue”.

trouble04.png

trouble04.png

Are you using a Wi-Fi router to connect any computers to the Internet?

Selected “Yes” and clicked “Continue”.

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trouble05.png

Are you able to get online using any of these computers?

Selected “Yes” and clicked “Continue”.

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trouble06.png

We’re sorry

You need an expert to help you with this problem.

Chat with an agent
Schedule a callback

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Clicked “Chat with an agent”.

URL: https://www.comcastsupport.com/ChatEntry/Protected.aspx?auth=1&

trouble07.png

trouble07.png

Welcome to Comcast Chat

A live chat representative is standing by to provide assistance. So that we can better assist you, please provide some information about your reason for chatting with us today.

Please select the topic that you would like to chat about today.

TROUBLE, Login or Password, ACCOUNT & BILL, DISCONNECTING SERVICES, MOVING/TRANSFERRING SERVICES

Selected Trouble > Internet > Slow Speeds

URL: https://www.comcastsupport.com/ChatEntry/Protected.aspx?Trouble.Internet.SlowSpeeds

trouble08.png

trouble08.png

Here are a few quick tips that may help answer your question before chatting with us.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If Your Internet Service Seems Slow
  • Troubleshoot a Slow Computer
  • Is Your Computer or Internet Speed Too Slow?
  • Reset Your Cable Modem or XFINITY Internet & Voice Modem
  • Troubleshoot Your XFINITY Internet Connection

Clicked “CHAT WITH A LIVE AGENT”.

URL: https://www.comcastsupport.com/ChatEntry/Protected.aspx?Trouble.Internet.SlowSpeeds|form

trouble09.png

trouble09.png

I filled out the following description:

Please do not hang up on me this time. I should be getting Extreme 250 250MBps but I am testing less than 90Mbps, and additionally, my account services page says I have “Your XFINITY Internet HSD Performance 25 “.

Finally, I clicked “START CHAT”.

This time, the technician seemed to try addressing the speed issue, after which my speed was reduced from 90Mbps to 8Mbps.

trouble11.png

trouble11.png

He claimed it would take a couple of hours for the speed to return, but that it would hit 150Mbps. When I asked exactly which service I had, since it still showed “Performance 25”, he told me I have “Blast”. I’m not sure why this differed from the “My Account” page. I then explained to him I should have 250Mbps service free for a year due to what was discussed with the billing department Monday, and there should be notes in my account regarding it. After some time and an escalation, I was told my account was already indeed switched to the 250Mbps plan, and someone from billing would get back to me by email and phone within 24 to 48 hours to confirm the price would be dropped from $49.99 per month to $0 per month. I am highly skeptical they will actually make good on their word, considering the number of times Comcast has lied to me in this short week, but we will see, and I’ll report back.

The agent asked if I would complete the survey, and I told him I would, impressed he seemed to actually try to help resolve the situation. Interestingly, he also said he would look forward to seeing the result after I submit it. This strikes me as something the agent shouldn’t be able to do, but it wouldn’t surprise me given what I have seen of Comcast. Unfortunately for the agent, the Comcast web administrators again failed to produce a working website, and the survey link did not work.

Your survey has either expired or is unavailable.

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trouble12.png

The full chat follows.

Strangely, when I returned to the “My Account” section after the chat, my Internet service still shows as “Performance 25”, but now I also have a TV product listed. This company!

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myservices2.png

And several hours later still, my speed has returned to where it was before, but is definitely not near the 150Mbps mark. It’s not due to my SB6121 cable modem, which can handle up to 172Mbps, but I suppose there is a chance it has to do with the input cable wire itself. That seems to at least not be the only problem, though, since Comcast can’t seem to get the right services to show up in my account in the first place.

comcast_blast.png

comcast_blast.png

I should be receiving a Motorola Surfboard SB6183 cable modem tomorrow, and since it’s capable of 686Mbps download and 131Mbps upload, I’ll be able to determine if my current SB6121 is a bottleneck.

Here’s to hoping everything gets resolved, and this post provides some insight to others struggling with similar situations.

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  • Drew M.

    This is wholly consistent with my interactions with Comcast. I did have one extremely positive chat with a tech, who successfully resolved a speed issue I was having.

    Also, try a FCC complaint--that got a response on a billing dispute I have.

    You won't be able to get more than about 135-150mbs down with the SB6121....

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