June 2, 2008

Burn in Hell, Comcast

To the large and growing record of Comcast's continued demonstration of why monopolies* are evil, let me add this entry:

Our bill for next month arrives yesterday, and it is double what we usually pay; an scan of the billing details shows something called a "misapplied payment" is the culprit. Perplexed, we call Comcast customer service (our first mistake, I know). After calling twice and being put on hold for about 10 minutes each time, we finally get someone to explain to us the problem: Back in January, we got a bill for only less than a dollar, which at the time we assumed was related to credits we had heard Comcast had given to customers in response to a class action lawsuit. It turns out that another customer accidentally paid our bill for that month, and that Comcast only got around to fixing the matter recently.

The upshot is that, through no fault of our own, we owe two months' worth of service (January and June) by the middle of next month. But don't worry, says the Comcast representative, just let us know when you can pay off the balance, and there'll be no late fees or disruption of service. Uh-huh.

Perhaps I'm just nitpicking here, but does this seem ridiculous to you? I suppose the proper response, when getting the paid-off bill, was to call Comcast and see what was going on; and obviously if Comcast had overcharged us back in January, we would have (rightly) complained. But to complain about being undercharged would hardly be a rational response, no? I may show altruism to a cashier at a grocery store who gives me too much change, but not to a behemoth cable company (though perhaps there is no real difference).

* Technically, Comcast isn't a monopoly in the DC metro area, but my experience is that the introduction of Verizon into the cable TV market hasn't changed Comcast's monopolistic behavior all that much.

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