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Frontier Runs America’s Worst Website: Dead Last in 2015 Web Experience Ratings

frontier frankFrontier Communications scored dead last in a nationwide survey of websites run by 262 companies — ranked for their usability, helpfulness, and competence.

The “2015 Web Experience Ratings,” conducted by the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm, looked at how customers feel about companies based on experiences visiting their websites. The firm wanted to know whether customers would forgive a company if its website proved less than satisfactory. The answer appears to be no, and phone and cable companies were the most likely to experience the wrath of dissatisfied customers.

“It’s ironic that many of the cable companies that provide Internet service earned such poor ratings,” Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group, said.

Most household name cable companies did especially poor in the survey. Time Warner Cable, Comcast and CenturyLink all tied at 252nd place (out of 262 firms). But special hatred was reserved for the website run by Frontier Communications, repeatedly called “incompetent” by consumers, especially after the phone company disabled most of the website’s self-service functions in late April. A well-placed source inside Frontier told Stop the Cap! the company could not manage to get its website ordering functions working properly and simply decided to give up, forcing customers to call instead.

Only 29% of consumers were willing to forgive a telecommunications company for a lousy web experience, according to the findings. Other website disasters were run by: Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Spirit Airlines, Blue Shield of CA, and Haier.

Which websites do consumers love the most? Temkin says USAA (a bank) and Amazon.com have traded the #1 and #2 spots for the last five years.

Tennessee State University Students Pay for Comcast Whether They Want It Or Not

Phillip Dampier June 29, 2015 Comcast/Xfinity, Consumer News, Online Video No Comments

xfinity campus

The average student of Tennessee State University living in on-campus housing will pay between $1,780-2,900 per academic year for housing, a meal plan, and Comcast’s Xfinity on Campus, an 80-channel cable television service that students pay for as part of their room and board.

TSU is the first college in Tennessee to launch the cable television service, which permits students off campus to use their university credentials to authenticate and access online programming from TV Everywhere websites and apps, such as WatchESPN and FXNOW.

Many students do not object to the Comcast service, in fact many appreciate it. Few know exactly how much it actually costs them, however, as its price is not broken out. Students cannot opt out of paying their share of the service either.

Universities respond positively to the program because it is administered and maintained by Comcast, which reduces the workload for campus employees.

 

Xfinity on Campus is also offered at:

  • Bridgewater College
  • CSU, Chico
  • Dartmouth College
  • Drexel University
  • Emerson College
  • Goucher College
  • Lasell College
  • Loyola University, Maryland
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Northwestern University
  • Regis College
  • Rider University
  • University of Delaware
  • University of New Hampshire

Shameless Morning Joe/MSNBC Puff Piece on Comcast Founder Ralph Roberts

Phillip Dampier June 25, 2015 Comcast/Xfinity, Consumer News, HissyFitWatch, Video 3 Comments
Roberts

Roberts

Although perhaps understandable that MSNBC (owned by Comcast) would report on the death Ralph Roberts, the founder of America’s largest cable operator, some thought Joe Scarborough went too far in a nearly seven minute puff piece about Roberts on Morning Joe, recounting the history of Comcast and its founder.

“Tupelo, Mississippi. That was our introduction to the cable business,” Roberts said. “I didn’t pay too much attention to Tupelo because I didn’t know anything about cable — I didn’t even know what it was. And Tupelo, nobody ever heard of that except I later found out it was the birthplace of Elvis Presley.”

Scarborough was very friendly about Comcast, calling it “a family” he was proud to work for.

Roberts went on to say he raised his kids to go forth and do whatever gives them the greatest happiness and don’t worry about what anyone says about it.

“I wanted to throw up,” said Stop the Cap! reader Joe Weigel. “Comcast is a family, but so are the ‎Gambinos, the ‎Bonannos and the ‎Luccheses. Maybe that goes a little far and I feel bad when anyone passes away and hold nothing against the patriarch of the Roberts family on this sad occasion. But what the hell is NBC News thinking running a seven minute puff piece about the founder of the most-hated corporation in America without bothering to mention that fact? I’m more angry about that than anything.”

“They have all that airtime and tell a very one-sided tale about a family whose ethics in the cable business is frankly to do whatever gives them the greatest happiness and not worry about what anyone says about it,” Weigel adds. “That isn’t news and it’s shameful for a news channel to discard any standards in journalism and produce a story that doesn’t even try to tell the whole story. Viewers deserved better.”

Roberts died June 18th. He was 95.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/MSNBC Comcast Lovefest 6-25-15.mp4

Morning Joe aired a very gracious piece about the founder of the most-hated corporation in America. Ralph Roberts founded Comcast in 1963. He died last week at the age of 95. MSNBC is wholly owned by Comcast. (6:49)

The ISP Defense Squad Attacks Guardian Story on Internet Slowdowns

Phillip "Speaking as a Customer" Dampier

Phillip “Speaking as a Customer” Dampier

Two defenders of large Internet Service Providers are coming to the defense of the broadband industry by questioning a Guardian article that reported major Internet Service Providers were intentionally allowing a degradation in performance of Content Delivery Networks and other high volume Internet traffic in a dispute over money.

Richard Bennett and Dan Rayburn today both published articles attempting to discredit Battle for the Net’s effort highlighting the impact interconnection disputes can have on consumers.

Rayburn:

On Monday The Guardian ran a story with a headline stating that major Internet providers are slowing traffic speeds for thousands of consumers in North America. While that’s a title that’s going to get a lot of people’s attention, it’s not accurate. Even worse, other news outlets like Network World picked up on the story, re-hashed everything The Guardian said, but then mentioned they could not find the “study” that The Guardian is talking about. The reason they can’t find the report is because it does not exist.

[…] Even if The Guardian article was trying to use data collected via the BattlefortheNet website, they don’t understand what data is actually being collected. That data is specific to problems at interconnection points, not inside the last mile networks. So if there isn’t enough capacity at an interconnection point, saying ISPs are “slowing traffic speeds” is not accurate. No ISP is slowing down the speed of the consumers’ connection to the Internet as that all takes place inside the last mile, which is outside of the interconnection points. Even the Free Press isn’t quoted as saying ISPs are “slowing” down access speed, but rather access to enough capacity at connection points.

Bennett:

In summary, it appears that Battle for the Net may have cooked up some dubious tests to support their predetermined conclusion that ISPs are engaging in evil, extortionate behavior.

It may well be the case that they want to, but AT&T, Verizon, Charter Cable, Time Warner Cable, Brighthouse, and several others have merger business and spectrum auction business pending before the FCC. If they were manipulating customer experience in such a malicious way during the pendency of the their critical business, that would constitute executive ineptitude on an enormous scale. The alleged behavior doesn’t make customers stick around either.

I doubt the ISPs are stupid enough to do what the Guardian says they’re doing, and a careful examination of the available test data says that Battle for the Net is actually cooking the books. There is no way a long haul bandwidth and latency test says a thing about CDN performance. Now it could be that Battle for the Net has as a secret test that actually measures CDNs, but if so it’s certainly a well-kept one. Stay tuned.

The higher line measures speeds received by Comcast customers. The lower line represents speeds endured by AT&T customers, as measured by MLab.

The higher line measures speeds received by Comcast customers connecting to websites handled by GTT in Atlanta. The lower line represents speeds endured by AT&T customers, as measured by MLab.

Stop the Cap! was peripherally mentioned in Rayburn’s piece because we originally referenced one of the affected providers as a Content Delivery Network (CDN). In fact, GTT is a Tier 1 IP Network, providing service to CDNs, among others — a point we made in a correction prompted by one of our readers yesterday.

Both Rayburn and Bennett scoff at Battle for the Net’s methodology, results, and conclusion your Internet Service Provider might care more about money than keeping customers satisfied with decent Internet speeds. Bennett alludes to the five groups backing the Battle for the Net campaign as “comrades” and Rayburn comes close to suggesting the Guardian piece represented journalistic malpractice.

Much was made of the missing “study” that the Guardian referenced in its original piece. Stop the Cap! told readers in our original story we did not have a copy to share either, but would update the story once it became available.

We published our own story because we were able to find, without much difficulty, plenty of raw data collected by MLab from consumers conducting voluntary Internet Health Tests, on which Battle for the Net drew its conclusions about network performance. A review of that data independently confirmed all the performance assertions made in the Guardian story, with or without a report. There are obvious and undeniable significant differences in performance between certain Internet Service Providers and traffic distribution networks like GTT.

So let’s take a closer look at the issues Rayburn and Bennett either dispute or attempt to explain away:

  1. MLab today confirmed there is a measurable and clear problem with ISPs serving around 75% of Americans that apparently involves under-provisioned interconnection capacity. That means the connection your ISP has with some content distributors is inadequate to handle the amount of traffic requested by customers. Some very large content distributors like Netflix increasingly use their own Content Delivery Networks, while others rely on third-party distributors to move that content for them. But the problem affects more than just high traffic video websites. If Stop the Cap! happens to reach you through one of these congested traffic networks and your ISP won’t upgrade that connection without compensation, not only will video traffic suffer slowdowns and buffering, but so will traffic from every other website, including ours, that happens to be sent through that same connection.

MLab: "Customers of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon all saw degraded performance [in NYC] during peak use hours when connecting across transit ISPs GTT and Tata. These patterns were most dramatic for customers of Comcast and Verizon when connecting to GTT, with a low speed of near 1 Mbps during peak hours in May. None of the three experienced similar problems when connecting with other transit providers, such as Internap and Zayo, and Cablevision did not experience the same extent of problems."

MLab: “Customers of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon all saw degraded performance [in NYC] during peak use hours when connecting across transit ISPs GTT and Tata. These patterns were most dramatic for customers of Comcast and Verizon when connecting to GTT, with a low-speed of near 1 Mbps during peak hours in May. None of the three experienced similar problems when connecting with other transit providers, such as Internap and Zayo, and Cablevision did not experience the same extent of problems.”

MLab:

Our initial findings show persistent performance degradation experienced by customers of a number of major access ISPs across the United States during the first half of 2015. While the ISPs involved differ, the symptoms and patterns of degradation are similar to those detailed in last year’s Interconnections study: decreased download throughput, increased latency and increased packet loss compared to the performance through different access ISPs in the same region. In nearly all cases degradation was worse during peak use hours. In last year’s technical report, we found that peak-hour degradation was an indicator of under-provisioned interconnection capacity whose shortcomings are only felt when traffic grows beyond a certain threshold.

Patterns of degraded performance occurred across the United States, impacting customers of various access ISPs when connecting to measurement points hosted within a number of transit ISPs in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Many of these access-transit ISP pairs have not previously been available for study using M-Lab data. In September, 2014, several measurement points were added in transit networks across the United States, making it possible to measure more access-transit ISP interconnection points. It is important to note that while we are able to observe and record these episodes of performance degradation, nothing in the data allows us to draw conclusions about who is responsible for the performance degradation. We leave determining the underlying cause of the degradation to others, and focus solely on the data, which tells us about consumer conditions irrespective of cause.

Rayburn attempts to go to town highlighting MLab’s statement that the data does not allow it to draw conclusions about who is responsible for the traffic jam. But any effort to extend that to a broader conclusion the Guardian article is “bogus” is folly. MLab’s findings clearly state there is a problem affecting the consumer’s Internet experience. To be fair, Rayburn’s view generally accepts there are disputes involving interconnection agreements, but he defends the current system that requires IP networks sending more traffic than they return to pay the ISP for a better connection.

Rayburn's website refers to him as "the voice of industry."

Rayburn’s website refers to him as “the voice of industry.”

  1. Rayburn comes to the debate with a different perspective than ours. Rayburn’s website highlights the fact he is the “voice of the industry.” He also helped launch the industry trade group Streaming Video Alliance, which counts Comcast as one of its members. Anyone able to afford the dues for sponsor/founding member ($25,000 annually); full member ($12,500); or supporting member ($5,500) can join.

Stop the Cap! unreservedly speaks only for consumers. In these disputes, paying customers are the undeniable collateral damage when Internet slowdowns occur and more than a few are frequently inconvenienced by congestion-related slowdowns.

It is our view that allowing paying customers to be caught in the middle of these disputes is a symptom of the monopoly/duopoly marketplace broadband providers enjoy. In any industry where competition demands a provider deliver an excellent customer experience, few would ever allow these kinds of disputes to alienate customers. In Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago, for example, AT&T has evidently made a business decision to allow its connections with GTT to degrade to just a fraction of the performance achieved by other providers. Nothing else explains consistent slowdowns that have affected AT&T U-verse and DSL customers for months on end that involve GTT while Comcast customers experience none of those problems.

We also know why this is happening because AT&T and GTT have both confirmed it to Ars Technica, which covered this specific slowdown back in March. As is always the case about these disputes, it’s all about the money:

AT&T is seeking money from network operators and won’t upgrade capacity until it gets paid. Under its peering policy, AT&T demands payment when a network sends more than twice as much traffic as it receives.

“Some providers are sending significantly more than twice as much traffic as they are receiving at specific interconnection points, which violates our peering policy that has been in place for years,” AT&T told Ars. “We are engaged in commercial-agreement discussions, as is typical in such situations, with several ISPs and Internet providers regarding this imbalanced traffic and possible solutions for augmenting capacity.”

competitionMissing from this discussion are AT&T customers directly affected by slowdowns. AT&T’s attitude seems uninterested in the customer experience and the company feels safe stonewalling GTT until it gets a check in the mail. It matters less that AT&T customers have paid $40, 50, even 70 a month for high quality Internet service they are not getting.

In a more competitive marketplace, we believe no ISP would ever allow these disputes to impact paying subscribers, because a dissatisfied customer can cancel service and switch providers. That is much less likely if you are an AT&T DSL customer with no cable competition or if your only other choice cannot offer the Internet speed you need.

  1. Consolidating the telecommunications industry will only guarantee these problems will get worse. If AT&T is allowed to merge with DirecTV and expand Internet service to more customers in rural areas where cable broadband does not reach, does that not strengthen AT&T’s ability to further stonewall content providers? Of course it does. In fact, even a company the size of Netflix eventually relented and wrote a check to Comcast to clear up major congestion problems experienced by Comcast customers in 2014. Comcast could have solved the problem itself for the benefit of its paying customers, but refused. The day Netflix’s check arrived, problems with Netflix magically disappeared.

More mergers and more consolidation does not enhance competition. It entrenches big ISPs to play more aggressive hardball with content providers at the expense of consumers.

Even Rayburn concedes these disputes are “not about ‘fairness,’ it’s business,” he writes. “Some pay based on various business terms, others might not. There is no law against it, no rule that prohibits it.”

Battle for the Net’s point may be that there should be.

Illinois Supreme Court Orders Comcast to Reveal Identity of Anonymous Comment Troll

troll sprayComcast must reveal the identity of its broadband subscriber who left an anonymous comment on the Freeport Journal Standard’s website that suggested a political candidate was a child molester.

The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed a local court ruling that compels Comcast to name the writer known as “Fuboy” and share that information with Bill Hadley, who ran for a seat on the Stephenson County board in 2011.

In response to a story about Hadley, “Fuboy” anonymously attacked the candidate in a comment attached to the story:

“Hadley is a Sandusky waiting to be exposed,” the commenter wrote. “Check out the view he has of Empire (Elementary School) from his front door.”

Sandusky is an apparent reference to former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, convicted of child sexual abuse in 2012.

Hadley spent three and a half years and more than $30,000 pursuing the identity of the commenter. Hadley is a retired Illinois corrections officer and chairman of the county board.

“It’ll be a huge victory for me, but it has practically broke me financially,” Hadley told the Associated Press.

At the heart of the case is whether a person is allowed to make potentially libelous comments anonymously on an online forum. Multiple court rulings in Illinois suggest there is no guarantee of privacy if those comments defame another.

“There are folks who go through life thinking that the Internet provides permanent anonymous protection. This case makes clear that that’s not true,” said Don Craven, an attorney for the Illinois Press Association.

Got a Call from 866-694-8573? Don’t Fall for the “Comcast Loyalty Rewards” Scam

scamA group misrepresenting itself as part of Comcast is offering customers substantial discounts on cable and broadband service, if they agree to pay in advance. Customers accepting the offer don’t get any upgrades and lose their money.

Stop the Cap! reader Don Nelson alerted us that a group calling itself the “Loyalty Rewards Department of Comcast” has called residents in Comcast service areas offering huge discounts and upgrades on cable and Internet service for as little as $80 a month.

Nelson was offered Extreme 105 Internet, HD Premier with an X1 set-top box, Unlimited Phone, and HBO, Starz, Showtime & Cinemax for $79.99 for 24 months if he agreed to pay $239.97 to cover the first three months of the promotion in advance. If he was willing to prepay for six months, Nelson would also receive a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 tablet as a gift. It sounded like a great deal. Comcast’s own website sells the same package for $159.99 a month for 24 months with a two-year contract.

“It’s a very slick operation and they have your personal information and exactly what services you receive from Comcast, so I strongly suspect Comcast’s systems have been breached or some of their employees are involved in the scam,” Nelson said.

When he told the representative it sounded like a deal too good to be true, Nelson was reassured he was speaking with Comcast by telling him his account number and current level of service, including the number and types of set-top boxes already in his home. They knew his street address and had two phone numbers on file, a fact that now bothers Nelson because one of them was an old throwaway prepaid cell phone number he gave Comcast five years ago when he signed up to avoid future telemarketing calls.

“Only four companies had that phone number, including Comcast, and now so do these guys,” Nelson told us. “Something is wrong at Comcast for these scammers to have this information.”

Comcast-LogoAs an extra assurance of good faith, the Indian-accented representative invited Nelson to call him back at 866-694-8573 — the same number displayed on Nelson’s Caller ID.

“Most of these scammers go fishing for your personal information, but the person I talked to didn’t ask me any personal details at all because he already had them,” Nelson said. “When I called back, the interactive system that answered sounded professional and authentic, with options to make a payment and report service problems.”

What started to raise Nelson’s suspicion was exactly how the “Loyalty Rewards Department of Comcast” expected to be paid.

Nelson was told he shouldn’t visit Comcast to make a payment, read his credit card number over the phone, or send a check in the mail. Instead, he was asked to acquire a Green Dot MoneyPak “Scratchable Prepaid Card” at his local CVS, Walgreens, or Kmart and load it with the expected pre-payment. Instead of mailing that card to the “Loyalty Department,” he was supposed to call back and read the numbers off the back of the Green Dot card.

“I was assured everything was okay and this was a co-promotion between Green Dot and Comcast that covered part of the cost of the cable deal I was getting,” Nelson said. “But that sounded strange and I requested an email confirmation to make sure I understood the offer.”

The “Loyalty Department” did, in fact, send an email “verification,” which only further raised suspicion because of its word choices and lack of familiarity with common colloquial expressions. The grammatical errors did not inspire confidence either:

No legitimate company will advise you to buy a prepaid card to make a payment.

No legitimate company will tell you to buy a prepaid card to make a payment. Scammers cannot afford to accept standard credit cards that can and will be traced back to them eventually.

Dear Customer,

Good Day!

This email refers to the promotion on your current/new services with Comcast Xfinity, this promotion offers you free upgrades in your existing (new services)services of Comcast.

With this up gradation you will be having i.e.

i) Up to 105Mbps download speed. This package gives you liberty to enjoy unlimited uploading and downloading with no fair usage policy applicable.

ii) The upgraded cable package will be Digital HD Premier Package with 260 digital channels with 40 premium movies and 25 sports packages.

iii) The upgraded Comcast voice package will give you unlimited Nationwide and North American talk and text.

A quick review of the available programming is mentioned below:

FAMILY CHANNEL:
ABC Family, Bloomberg TV, A&E, Cartoon network, Disney, Bravo, E!  etc.
MOVIE CHANNEL:
Action Max, AMC, HBO, CINEMAX, STARZ, SHOWTIME, HALLMARK, ENCORE etc.
SPORT CHANNEL:
Big Ten Network, CBS College Sports, ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel, NFL, NHL, NBA etc
NEWS CHANNEL:
ABC News, Weather, BBC, C SPAN, CNBC, FOX NEWS etc.

fraud

Green Dot offers this fraud advisory.

Payment Procedure:

This promotion is applicable once you prepay your account for $239.97 (good for 03 months).

As this promotion is brought to you with the Co-operation of Green Dot Inc.

So you have to pay Comcast for the promotion with Money Pak billing card by following 3 simple steps:

i) Go to any of your favorite leading chain store’s checkout counter e.g. CVS Pharmacy, Kroger, Walgreens’ 7/11, Kmart, Circle K, Rite Aid, RadioShack etc, and get Green Dot Money Pak Scratch-able prepaid card (This is a hard paper twofold card without any plastic wrapping in the color green)
ii) Carry enough cash. You can’t use your debit or credit card to buy this Card. ($4.95 Service fee applicable on top of your billing)
iii) Call back the Billing department of Comcast Xfinity at 1-866-694-8573 and pay your bill using that card.

This is a contract free offer for 24 months, with a fix monthly bill of $79.99 after the first three months of Subscription.

Bonus offer: If you are able to clear your billings within 24 hours,  you will automatically will be qualified to earn 100 Loyalty Reward points as good as cash from Comcast Xfinity that can be redeemed by you any time to get one month of extra services.

Bonus offer: If you are able to pay for 06 months of service up front, you will be qualified to receive a Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 tablet free.

Please feel free to contact for further queries from 8am till 6:30pm PST (Operational timings) at 1-866-694-8573.

Regards,
David Clarke
Employee ID LHM
Loyalty Rewards Department
Comcast Xfinity

*  30 Days money back guarantee. No cancellation or recurring fee applied.

This is a service-related email. Comcast will occasionally send you service-related emails to inform you of service changes, upgrades or new benefits. Services and features are subject to Comcast’s standard terms and conditions of service and are subject to change. Copyright 2015 Comcast. All other trademarks are properties of their respective owners. Comcast respects your privacy.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Green Dot BBB MoneyPak Scams What You Need to Know 6-2015.mp4

The Better Business Bureau offers its advice about how to avoid Green Dot MoneyPak schemes, which are increasingly common online. (:55)

“That email message convinced me it was all a scam,” Nelson said. “No cable company would write something like this and send it out to customers. They also don’t apparently realize Walgreens and 7-11 have nothing to do with each other. Can you imagine Comcast telling a customer they have to get the ‘green’ prepaid card -without- the plastic wrapping. Most of their customers cannot understand their monthly bill. They are not going to understand the confusing world of prepaid credit cards. It made no sense.”

Stop the Cap! called the “Loyalty Rewards Department of Comcast” and we were disconnected each time we asked a question that did not involve taking advantage of their offer. We called back, trying different departments, and each time we were connected to the same Indian-accented man who had hung up on us before. After the fifth call, they blocked our phone number from reaching them.

We next called Comcast’s security department and got nowhere. They were not interested because we were not Comcast customers inside a Comcast service area and invited us to have our reader call them directly. When Nelson tried, he was left on hold for over 45 minutes and when he finally spoke to someone, they couldn’t be bothered.

“It amazed me how little interest they showed in this operation, which has apparently suckered customers all over the country,” Nelson said. “I asked them to call the number and hear how these people are directly misrepresenting themselves as Comcast, right down to repeating their Xfinity slogans. The representative seemed to have heard the same story before and seemed mostly concerned about telling me Comcast was not responsible for any money paid to the scam artists. They did not even seem to care when I told them they had my personal Comcast account information and suggested the scammers got it off Facebook. Yeah, because I always put my Comcast account number on Facebook, if I used Facebook.”

With further investigation, Stop the Cap! identified several numbers (as well as currently active 866-694-8573) associated with this operation. If any of these numbers call you, hang up: 855-328-7913, 855-859-6946, 800-526-1037, and 800-399-5791.

If you were scammed by these people or have other useful information to share about your experiences with them, please share in the comment section.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/WWMT Kalamazoo Scam targeting Comcast customers makes appearance in Michigan 6-18-15.flv

WWMT in Kalamazoo, Mich. reports the Comcast Loyalty Rewards scam has affected customers across Michigan through aggressive telemarketing campaigns. (2:01)

Comcast Hosting $2,700-a-Plate Fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Bid

Clinton

Clinton

Comcast executive vice president David Cohen will host a $2,700-a-plate fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, to be held at his home in Philadelphia.

“Comcast NBCUniversal operates in 39 states and has 130,000 employees across the country,” said Comcast’s Sena Fitzmaurice earlier this spring, defending the company’s high-profile public policy lobbying efforts. “It is important for our customers, our employees and our shareholders that we participate in the political process. The majority of our PAC contributions are to the senators and members who represent our employees and customers.”

Those attending the June 26 event that manage to raise $27,000 from others qualify as co-hosts and win membership in the Clinton campaign’s exclusive “Hillstarters” program. Those donating at least $50,000 at the event get to attend a private reception with Mrs. Clinton and are automatically enrolled in the “Hillraisers” program for money-bundlers. While the ordinary voter will have to rely on newspapers and cable news, Hillstarters and Hillraisers get premium personal briefings from top campaign officials.

Cohen has been deeply ingrained in state and federal politics for years and is usually Comcast’s top point man dealing with Congress and other politicians. Cohen has a particular affinity working with Pennsylvania Democrats. He was chief of staff for former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who now earns a stipend from Comcast-owned MSNBC turning in regular appearances during the news channel’s political coverage.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Comcast donated almost $5 million in political campaign contributions last year, and spent more than $17 million on lobbying.

Comcast Tells Customers Gigabit Pro Service Will Likely Arrive “Sometime in July”

Phillip Dampier June 10, 2015 Broadband Speed, Comcast/Xfinity, Consumer News No Comments
calendar

Comcast initially announced its 2Gbps broadband service would be available in May.

Three Comcast customers have told Stop the Cap! the cable company has informed them their wait to sign up for 2Gbps service will be a bit longer than planned.

“First it was May, then June, and now I’m being told ‘sometime in July,’ at least for Comcast’s central division, and even then they were not sure,” reports our reader Bruce Nuñez in Atlanta. That same answer was also received by Tom Davis who contacted Comcast this morning about the service.

“They still won’t release any information about anticipated installation costs, although the representative was fairly certain there would be a charge, and they won’t tell anyone the monthly price either,” said Davis. “The representative did tell me it was safer to assume the service will premiere in July and not hold out for June.”

A third potential customer in Miami was also given a vague availability date of “sometime in July” after being told there was no longer a scheduled launch date in June because Comcast wanted to simultaneously launch the service in several cities at once, and there were unspecified delays.

Comcast had previously announced the service would launch sometime in May. While not ready to actually provide the service, Comcast has been busy promoting markets where Gigabit Pro will eventually be available:

(Image: DSL Reports)

(Image: DSL Reports)

  • California: Chico, Fresno, Marysville/Yuba City, Merced, Modesto, Monterey, Sacramento, Salinas, San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Barbara County, Stockton, Visalia
  • Colorado: Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins, Longmont, Loveland
  • Florida: Jacksonville, Miami
  • Georgia: Atlanta
  • Illinois: Chicago
  • Indiana: Northwest Indiana suburbs near Chicago
  • Minnesota: Minneapolis, St. Paul
  • Oregon: Portland
  • Tennessee: Chattanooga, Knoxville
  • Texas: Houston
  • Utah: Salt Lake City
  • Washington: Everett, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma

Customers will have to live within one-third of a mile of existing Comcast fiber infrastructure to qualify for the service.

Initially leaked price information seemed to indicate Comcast was planning to sell the service for $300 a month. At that price, Comcast will likely limit customer demand. Comcast’s Metro Internet service, offering 505Mbps, has been priced at around $400 a month. But to sign up, one must agree to pay a $250 installation and $250 activation fee. The service also is provided on contract, with a very steep $1,000 early termination fee.

Massive Comcast Service Outage on West Coast Means $5 Service Credit… But Only If You Ask

comcast“Last night, Internet service for a number of our customers in the western part of the country was degraded or unavailable for several hours,” Comcast wrote on its blog this morning. “We had a team on this immediately, and were able to restore full service to most customers by 9pm PT.”

The cause of the failure – a defective piece of hardware – began that morning, which meant it took almost nine hours for Comcast to find the equipment responsible for eventually wiping out Internet service for millions of broadband customers up and down the west coast.

Most backbone networks, including Comcast’s, are designed to heal themselves and route traffic along alternate paths much like a detour would route automobile traffic around a street closed for construction.

One type of traffic that gets automatically rerouted is Domain Name System (DNS) traffic.  Unfortunately, some of that traffic shifted in an unexpected way and overloaded local DNS server capacity causing many customers to experience service interruptions.

The worst of the outage affected most California, Oregon, and Washington customers between 6:30-9:30pm PT, but many reported poor service for at least six hours before that.

“Our condolences on the death of your Internet,” wrote Upgrade Seattle, an advocacy group trying to convince the city to run its own public gigabit Internet service to compete with Comcast. “This is why we need a strong, accountable municipal Internet service throughout Seattle.”

Comcast has offered to placate angry customers with a $5 service credit for the outage, but offered conflicting information about how customers will get it.

Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury claimed the company will “proactively send the credit to affected customers.”

comcast outage

“Down Detector” shows the extent of Comcast’s latest service outage, which largely covers its entire service area in the states of Washington, Oregon, and the Bay Area region of California.

But other Comcast representatives, and the company’s own blog post, suggest otherwise.

Comcast’s policy states customer outage credits are not automatic, and callers to Comcast report customers must still ask for an outage credit to receive one.

“Comcast does not issue blanket service credits for outages,” reflects the policy of Comcast’s west coast divisions. The reason for that policy, according to Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp, is that Comcast prefers to work one-on-one with customers.

“You may have had somebody that may not have been home and did not even notice there was an outage,” Kipp offered. “Another customer may have lost valuable work time.”

But some people might be getting credits, if they got through to Comcast to complain about the outage as it happened.

“We are directly reaching out to those who reported problems last night to offer our apologies and a credit for lost service,” Comcast wrote on its blog this morning.

For everyone else:

“We are also building a Web site that impacted customers can visit to receive their credit. We will update this post with a link to that site as soon as it is available and will share the link on Twitter through our customer support handle @comcastcares.”

“Yeah, after we forget about it in a few days,” says Stop the Cap! reader Sarah Bowler who this morning asked us about the conflicting information coming out of Comcast. “You can’t live your life with Comcast without being ready to let go of their usual screw-ups after they are fixed or else you will become obsessed. They can’t get their billing right on a good day so I don’t believe for a second they will follow through with automatic credits. Go on record asking for that credit or you probably will never see it.”

Bowler tried calling 1-800-XFINITY (1-800-934-6489) but the lines were jammed, presumably with other callers looking for outage credits or information. She eventually got her credit using Comcast’s online support website. Customers can use live chat or try calling again later.

Seattle residents are particularly infuriated because this represents the second major outage since April, when a fiber optic cable cut wiped out service for 30,000 customers for nine hours, forcing some businesses to close for the day and 911 service to be disrupted for thousands because Comcast’s redundancy plan failed.

Customers there were also told they could receive credit, but it later turned out they received it only if they asked, and even then some claim they never got it.

“Comcast spends more time alienating their customers than they work on their service,” Bowler said.

Judge Rules for Comcast in Alarm System Case; Contract Makes It Nearly Impossible to Challenge Company

xfinity-homeComcast’s sweeping disclaimers of responsibility for failures or confusion over its home security system made it next to impossible for a Washington state judge to find the cable company or its contractor liable for an alleged system failure that allowed two men to break into a Kirkland home undetected and torture the family’s teenage son.

Washington Superior Court Judge William Downing sympathized with the Rawat family over the intuitiveness of XFINITY’s Home Security system that required the family to arm it by selecting “away” mode before going to sleep, in turn activating motion detectors that would have alerted the family to the break-in.

“In the world of made-up words like XFINITY and meaningless slogans like ‘The Future of Awesome,’ this is not startling,” the judge said. “It is Microsoft that has trained us to shut down our computers by going to the ‘Start’ menu. More to the point, it is equally counterintuitive to believe that an indoor motion detector would be armed when a system was being set for a family and pets intending to stay inside the house.”

Comcast's security contract lets the company walk away from responsibility for virtually everything.

Comcast’s security contract lets the company walk away from responsibility for virtually everything.

Despite that, the Rawat family attorney had a high hurdle to overcome – Comcast’s contract with its customers that disavowed responsibility for almost any and all failures of the system and goes as far as to require victims to protect Comcast if a matter reaches the courts.

kirkland“Comcast complied with the terms of its written contract and did not breach any of its contractual duties,” the judge said. “No claims can lie for breaches of any expressed or implied warranties that were effectively disclaimed in the written contract.”

The judge added the plaintiffs may have exposed imperfections in Comcast’s installer training, the information conveyed on its lighted home security system control panels, and the nomenclature used to designate different system modes. But none of those acts overcame Comcast’s contractual disclaimers and failed to reach the legal definition of negligence.

Comcast’s attorneys argued the undetected break-in was the fault of the Rawat family because they failed to use the XFINITY Home Security system properly. To activate protection, the family had to arm the system in “away” mode before going to sleep, despite the fact the system’s motion detectors could trigger a false alarm if anyone moved inside of the home.

downing

Downing

Ultimately, the judge found Comcast’s argument compelling.

“The malicious attack by the two criminals was motivated by pure evil and warrants every last second of punishment that they receive,” the Comcast attorney said. “However, what happened to Deep Rawat is not the result of anything that Comcast or Pioneer [the contractor] did or did not do.”

In short, the family should hold Blessing Gainey and Vincent Sisounong, who pled guilty to the attack last year, responsible, not Comcast or its contractor.

While acknowledging the severity of the plaintiffs’ son’s injuries and the emotional impact of the crime, the judge could not find Comcast responsible under the terms of the contract the family willingly signed.

But the case may offer some insight for other Comcast customers who either have or are evaluating an XFINITY Home Security system. A careful review of the contract Comcast makes customers sign may prove important as a customer considers their options for home security and personal protection.

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