I’d heard nothing but complaints about Comcast/Xfinity, but their $19.99/month rate is so far and away cheaper than any other local ISP. I just had to try. After all, I’ve heard nothing but complaints about Spirit Airlines, and I fly Spirit all the time. I play by their rules, and I get to LAX or LaGuardia for $34 from O’Hare.

The bad things I've heard about Comcast usually involve phone calls to customer service, and the difficulty of cancelling service. I will not presume that those comments were written by rational/sane people. I understand that some people can't read fine print, or even very large print.

Comcast's "Performance Starter" service offers two rates and two methods for installation. The $19.99/month rate is for people who already have a DOCSIS 3 modem. I do already have a DOCSIS 3 modem. In fact, I have a few of them.

The method for choosing to bring your own modem could not be more clear.

The alternative is to pay $29.99/month and get a rental modem from Comcast. You can buy them on Craigslist or Amazon for $20 to $90, so renting should never be an option. I even gave one away on Freecycle earlier this year. (You're welcome, Terrance!)

Comcast’s installation options are:

  • The guy with the truck: $50
  • The "Self-installation Kit": $9.95

Before I signed up, I opened an online chat with Xfinity support at xfinity.com. I asked the rep (Jason) if I could not pay the $9.95 and not receive the “Self-installation kit.”

“I don’t need a self-installation kit!” I told Jason.

“Yes you do!” Jason averred. He told me it would have account information necessary for activation. Indeed, there was a blank space on the booklet that eventually arrived. It might have had my account number affixed. If it had, I wouldn’t have been forced to call customer service, and have a live Latina tell me my account number. (She was far better than that guy in Mumbai. I can never understand what he’s saying.)

The “Self-Installation Kit” is thoroughly useless. It contains two short coaxial cables, a three-way coaxial splitter, some U-Style wall mounts (nails with plastic cable holders).

Why do you need a splitter and two extra cables? Because Comcast assumes you already have a set-top cable box for TV. Thus, they think I need to split the signal, sending one line to my TV box, and the other to the modem.

You’d think they would ask if I had a cable TV box. Or better yet, you’d think they would know that I don’t.

So far, I’ve found that Comcast steadfastly refuses to bill at the agreed rate. In less than a month, they’ve charged $140.00 to my credit card. Nowhere does their billing even acknowledge the $19.99 rate.

They sent me a little movie to explain how they were going to renege on our agreement. The “Hello Bob” part is my favorite.

I’m hugely thankful that C-U has a number of competitors in the broadband market. Otherwise, we’d be thoroughly fucked by our MassCom overlords.

Comcast/Xfinity’s offering so far has proved both disingenuous and actively seeking to defraud me. In theory, it would cost me 40% of competing rates. But they’re already charging me 50% more PER MONTH than the rate I agreed to.

The mysterious $110.00 charge is presumably a deposit on a modem they did not send me, and should have known I do not need. But the word “deposit” appears on only one of the bills they’ve sent so far, and none of those bills features the same total. Amusingly, they print a charge of $109.95 on some of their materials, but then just go ahead and round it up the extra nickel.

Last week at this time, they did indeed charge $110.00 to my credit card.

My experience with AT&T/U-verse is that they’re mostly transparent, with the exception of the modem rental fee. But their lower tier service now costs the same as Volo’s highest tier for 1/25th the download speed and 1/238th the upload speed.

So far, Comcast is unsettling, scary. Will I really have to take them to court to get the deal they offered? Lucky for me, I live in walking distance of the Champaign County Courthouse. Small Claims filings are cheap.