Rich Warren: Comcast representatives offer a friendly, personal response

Rich Warren: Comcast representatives offer a friendly, personal response

Comcast bought me lunch. One of the largest and most powerful companies in America paid for my tuna wrap. Representatives of the company read your frequent letters printed here and my often less-than-charitable responses regarding Comcast. Two very pleasant and concerned public relations people wanted to know how they could improve our relationship.

I shared with them three of your emails concerning Comcast service. They responded to the one that came with a telephone number within 24 hours, although they continue to work on solving that problem.

We agreed that communication between Comcast and you ranks very high. The Comcast PR people pointed out that the company regularly receives hundreds of queries and complaints from its millions of customers, and it deals with most swiftly and efficiently. It pains them when they see emails printed here that they failed to properly address. No company wants its problems printed in the newspaper.

No company claims perfection. You can buy a Mercedes that needs to be returned to the dealer once too often. The old Ma Bell telephone network was the epitome of simplicity compared to the modern cable network.

I agreed with the Comcast reps that some issues, especially those involving rates, defy easy resolution. We all moan that rates are too high, but we have little understanding as to the costs of providing service. As long as we live in a market economy a corporation profits its shareholders. We may agree that those shareholders and the corporate executives receive too much of our hard-earned income, but that is a fight I'll leave to someone else. Let me know if you receive inappropriate charges or fees inconsistent with Comcast's own rate structure.

Many of you lament or rail against the requirement to use a cable box now that all transmission is digital. Not long ago, you could simply screw the cable directly to your TV and enjoy your basic cable package. The flip side is that with digital transmission Comcast can offer more channels, frequently with improved video quality, and many additional services.

The Comcast PR people whipped out their iPads and Android tablets to demonstrate all the entertainment available even when you are away from home that Comcast provides as a bonus at certain tiers of cable service.

You can view live streams of scores of programs anywhere there is broadband Wi-Fi, and you can download numerous programs and movies for the train ride to Chicago or flight to L.A.

The Comcast folks even demonstrated their new home security system monitored from smartphones or iPads.

So did that tuna wrap corrupt your humble columnist?

First, I am not in a Comcast service area, so I don't receive any free or discounted service or features from the company.

Second, the Comcast folks and I agreed that I would continue to print your letters complaining about service, the difference being that they would respond to issues over which they could provide answers or solutions.

Sometimes you might hear from them directly; other times you'll read the results here. They impressed me because the monolithic cable company that many equate with Josef Stalin wants to be more like Mr. Rogers. I'd be happy if my own cable company, Mediacom, acted a bit more like Boris Yeltsin and less like Vladimir Putin.

'Miracle worker' to the rescue

I installed all new video monitors and video graphics cards in the complex computer system in my office and studio. While one computer worked right from the start, the other caused me scores of hours of grief.

In utter frustration I called Jesse Swinderman of Swinderman Engineering Services (493-9534), who originally set up my system a decade ago. In a couple of hours, Swinderman solved the problem.

Don't call him for computer problems; he's mainly a "wiring" guy, which was partially the source of my problems. He is a miracle worker, and yes, I pay his full hourly fee.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. He can be emailed at

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Lostinspace wrote on March 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm

I have no complaint about Comcast service, whether TV or internet.  What I resent (a lot!) is being required to pay for other people's viewing preferences.  I pay quite a bit so that people can watch ESPN, etc.  I don't see anyone paying so that I can watch movies (Encore, IFC, for example).  Comcast asks me to pay more for more movies: do they ask sports fans to pay more for sports?

pattsi wrote on March 28, 2013 at 10:03 am

This intrigues me that people send you complaints about Comcast and there are results along with a tuna wrap. There is a C-U Cable Commission plus a contact person in the city of Champaign through which complaints can be registered. Effectiveness is not always effective. Plus the Cable Commission has so little powers to enable change.

I do wish you had asked why it is that Comcast customers have to pay extra beyond basic to receive C-SPAN II and III when it our monies through cable companies that support C-SPAN. In other word for II and III, the cable company gets paid twice.

vcponsardin wrote on March 28, 2013 at 11:03 am

No more complaints about Comcast.  I simply cancelled my subscription a year ago and now get all my television online through Netflix and Hulu.  It's cheaper, easier, and I watch what I want to watch, when I want to watch it.  No extra machines, no fancy connections, just my laptop and a wire.  I will never go back to Comcast or cable TV--it's a pointless waste of money.  I got tired of the rate increases, the packages of channels I never watch, the extra costs for HD, and the endless lines in the Urbana office (sometimes as long as an hour) just to talk to someone.  Pointless, wasteful and very poor business practices.  So with me at least, Comcast lost a customer for life.  I suggest everyone try dropping their Comcast for just one month and see what a difference it makes.  You'd be surprised at how much you can now watch online.  And the money you'll save is wonderful.  It won't be long before the old cable companies will be gone forever anyway.  Might was well get ahead of the curve now.