When we moved into our current home I had a choice between Qwest DSL service and Comcast Cable for high speed internet. Qwest service was less expensive and we had good luck with our DSL service when we lived in Seattle. So I decided to try DSL since we needed a phone line for our DirecTivo receiver anyway and the bundled price (phone + DSL) was reasonable.
But the DSL service hasn’t been as reliable as I expected. Flashing the DSL modem with the latest ROM from the Qwest website hosed the modem and our speeds have been in the 150k down/550k up range. We’ve never approached the 1500k download speed that Qwest advertises. On a good day we might reach 1100k although the upload speeds have been consistently over 600k till lately.
So last night Kim and I finally had it with slow internet speeds. Running a number of speed tests confirmed we weren’t getting close to the speed we are paying $42/month for. Here’s what I’m getting as I write this.
I went to the Comcast website to see what type of service they have at our location. Their website is easy to navigate although not very helpful. When I fed it my address it gave me the option to order high speed internet online but only if I were a current Comcast cable TV customer which I am not. I eventually located the customer support number and called expecting to hear a message stating their offices were closed given it was midnight.
I was surprised when a man answered the phone and offered to answer my questions. Yes, high speed internet is available at my home. Yes, I can supply my own cable modem. I can even have it installed as early as Monday. The only confusion came when I asked about prices. I heard him shuffling papers around for a bit. He said he needed a few minutes to locate the “pricing chart” for customers who don’t bundle phone or TV service. I can’t be the only person that does this, and why wouldn’t the prices already be loaded in system? He asked if I wanted to order service which I did, but not without a solid price quote.
For a split second I pictured myself signing up for some exotic broadband service that includes satellites, underwater fiber lines and unmarked black vans for $3000 a month.
He eventually found the pricing chart, but his voice didn’t instill much confidence when he said, “It’s about $42 a month…oh wait…it’s ten dollars more since you only have internet”. I said, “So it’s $52 a month?” and he replied, “Let me see what the computer says”.
Can someone at Comcast introduce the computer and the pricing chart to each other?
He typed some stuff into his computer for a bit. He then said, “It’s normally $99 to install your service, but I’ve got some coupons around here”.
More paper shuffling.
At this point I started to wonder if I had called the wrong number and got some kid playing World of Warcraft in his mother’s basement.
More typing as I now wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have removed that 56k modem from my PC a few years back.
Eventually, he enthusiastically exclaimed that the “coupon worked!” and that I would only be charged 20 bucks for the installation. “That’s great news”, I remarked to which he replied, “Funny how nobody minds the wait when I’m saving them money”.
I had to cover the phone while I giggled a bit. This kid is a crack up.
He then asked me the weirdest question of the night which is saying something: “In order to access your account in the future I’ll need the last 4 digits of your Social Security number. But my system will only allow me to put the last 4 numbers into the computer if you give me all nine digits”.
It was past 12:30 am by now. I decided to give him what he needed to place the order and hope my identity is safe.
Comcast internet is scheduled to be installed on Monday between the hours of 8 am and Noon. If nobody shows up, I’ll know there’s at least one more Brett Nordquist running around.