The First Honest Cable Company
April 6, 2013 9:18 AM   Subscribe

Your Local High Speed Internet & Cable Provider gives it to you straight.

A significantly more in depth discussion of the topic, previously

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posted by Blasdelb (39 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Time Warner Cable: What can we do worse?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:30 AM on April 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's better than DSL...
posted by Hoosier Prospector at 9:38 AM on April 6, 2013


I loled. "Oligobble"
posted by Uncle at 10:03 AM on April 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


That's not really accurate for my area.

It's an actual monopoly here. Sigh.
posted by ODiV at 10:06 AM on April 6, 2013


We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company.
posted by hades at 10:06 AM on April 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Time Warner Cable - What Can We Do Worse?

Time Warner Cable proceeds to shut down their online presence.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:18 AM on April 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


The more things change...
A gracious hello. Here at the Phone Company, we handle eighty-four billion calls a year. Serving everyone from presidents and kings to the scum of the earth. So, we realize that, every so often, you can't get an operator, or for no apparent reason your phone goes out of order, or perhaps you get charged for a call you didn't make. We don't care!

Watch this... [ hits buttons maniacally ] We just lost Peoria.

You see, this phone system consists of a multibillion-dollar matrix of space age technology that is so sophisticated -- [ hits buttons with her elbows ] even we can't handle it. But that's your problem, isn't it? So, the next time you complain about your phone service, why don't you try using two Dixie cups with a string? We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:33 AM on April 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


Canadian story ... but it probably has universal application.

A few years ago, at a point when my so-called high speed internet got so slow/intermittent as to be absurd, I decided to file some sort of complaint with the CRTC (that would be FCC, I guess, in the USA). Anyway, I didn't get very far at all into the process (it was an online thing) before I was told that, because my particular neighbourhood had more than one service provider, I couldn't file a complaint. In other words, because I had a choice (a different provider who I'd bailed from previously due to similarly absurdly bad service), I had no grounds for complaint.

Ever since then, the phrase Freedom Of Choice has spooked me, like a smug code for "this is how the world ends", or perhaps, "this is Orwell's eternal boot to the face", but kinder, gentler, more prolonged, maybe with a laugh track.
posted by philip-random at 10:37 AM on April 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


In other news, google fiber is expanding to new cities.
posted by empath at 10:41 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nice touch, matching the shirt with the graphics.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 10:44 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've come to believe that there is a largely unknown business principle at work in fields where customers are faced with unreasonably high switching costs, like contract-based cell service, cable and internet providers, etc:

If your customers like you, you've left some money on the table somewhere.

It's better for the cable company's revenue to have X customers who hate their guts than it is to have 3/4 X customers who think they're OK or 1/2 X customers who would recommend them to a friend.

I've got cable internet, and my web browsing actually improves if I turn on a VPN to get an endpoint outside their system. And that VPN passes through a 1mbps DSL uplink path. Jesus.
posted by Western Infidels at 10:54 AM on April 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


In other news, google fiber is expanding to new cities.

Because if there is a monopolizing corporation you can trust, it's definitely Google Inc.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:11 AM on April 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Western Infidels: "largely unknown business principle...: If your customers like you, you've left some money on the table somewhere."

See also car dealerships. Following my last car purchase, I was delivered a customer satisfaction survey, wherein a 4 out of 10 was considered average or acceptable (I forget which).
posted by pwnguin at 11:11 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's better than DSL...

This has not been my experience with CenturyLink DSL here in Minneapolis. In the last two years I've had it go down twice. My guess is that, unlike cable, there are a lot more than two companies so there is a much broader range while both Comcast and Time Warner both suck pretty consistently.

They aren't fantastic or anything and I'm still salivating for Google Fiber but I don't have the seething hatred of them that I do for Comcast.

Or maybe it's that, in any given service area the DSL or the Cable company makes an effort to be just a bit better than the other. In your area, the cable company has decided they want to compete on quality, in my area it's the DSL area.

In any case, there needs to be more competition or more socialism. As Google expands their fiber service I'm really interested in how their competitors will react.
posted by VTX at 11:13 AM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


In Canada this is the reality. I pay more for my one cellular phone than my cousins in India who have multiple cellular phones in their family combined.
posted by Fizz at 11:26 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great post, absolute garbage this stuff....I just "changed" to a cheaper package and for no reason whatsoever I learn TBS is not in the "HD Channel" package anymore. True, I still have 50 HD Channels (less than 75 or so I had before) -- but I NEVER saw many of the channels in HD so I figured that a drop to a lower tier would be ok, but then they take out TBS (and it's occasional sporting games). Absolute crap. They know what they're doing, I gotta pay an extra $25 to get TBS HD and some will do it.

My friend even offers another very different example -- his Dad has never seen espn -- either Mike from Mike and Mike could be seated next to him at a restaurant and he'd never know -- but he has to pay for it no matter what package he gets AND espn extracts $6 per month from the cable providers for offering it (so it's not always their problem).

It's worse because it's over public wires, public rights of way, publicly subsidized infrastructure work, etc, etc, that they can even begin to do this stuff....and, remember they were all public utilities first.
posted by skepticallypleased at 11:27 AM on April 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm gonna get pilloried for this, but from my personal experience, Comcast only kind of sucks.

I only use them for Internet, and I have the same package I started up with Road Runner back in the day, and I've been down like 100 hours over the past ten years. Usually there's an accompanying storm of the century that explains it. It's like $54/month and I get right around 22 down and 7 up. I would never, ever buy television or laughably overpriced VOIP from them, so YMMV.

Caveat: I used to work for Century Link back when they were called USWest/!nterprise, and if the same buffoons are in charge now as were in charge then, I'd stay waaaay the hell away.

It was realy an amazing place to work, you had real honest to god boffins inventing real useful shit, but they were hamstrung by fantastically inept management. I've met some incredibly intelligent people in my life, but nobody made me feel so inept as the linux/engineering guys who were so casually incredible that it made me feel bad.
posted by Sphinx at 11:29 AM on April 6, 2013


I'm using optimum cockbag in a conversation sometime this week.
posted by arcticseal at 11:29 AM on April 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Time Warner Cable: What can we do worse?

Author the bill that makes community cable service illegal in North Carolina.
posted by ardgedee at 11:38 AM on April 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I had great hopes for satellite and public wireless because those are things that don't require ground easements to put in, so you don't have the municipal monopolies you do with DSL and cable. Unfortunately, all those over-the-air systems seem to have stalled out.
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 AM on April 6, 2013


My local ISP is totally awesome. But it's a local ISP, not a cable company or AT&T fragment
posted by aubilenon at 11:42 AM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


My local ISP is totally awesome. But it's a local ISP, not a cable company or AT&T fragment

Indeed. When reading this thread all I kept thinking was "it's a shame y'all can't just use Sonic." They're the best. Their CEO is a funny guy, too.
posted by Dokterrock at 12:26 PM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've got cable internet, and my web browsing actually improves if I turn on a VPN to get an endpoint outside their system. And that VPN passes through a 1mbps DSL uplink path. Jesus.

That's amazing. Sounds like they've got QoS customer traffic prioritization designed mainly in support of their business objectives (i.e. not spending money on more capacity) at the cost of any given customer's experience. And you just defeated them by denying them the kind of port and protocol inspection they need to differentiate your traffic, and chances are they give high priority to telecommuters because they want to keep, for example, employees of major local employers with clout, happy. And because telecommuters are mostly opening word docs, as opposed to streaming youtube and torrenting.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:31 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't we be hearing more along the lines of:

"I'm on Time Warner, so naturally I couldn't view this clip at all..."
posted by ShutterBun at 12:36 PM on April 6, 2013


Comcast CEO made more than $29 million last year.
posted by NorthernLite at 12:44 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Canada this is the reality. I pay more for my one cellular phone than my cousins in India who have multiple cellular phones in their family combined.
posted by Fizz


I don't know where you live, but I'm in Toronto and I pay $22.50 per month for unlimited everything: data, text, voice, long distance North America-wide. If you're in a city serviced by Mobilicity, Public, or Wind... switch.
posted by dobbs at 12:50 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, all those over-the-air systems seem to have stalled out.

One way or another this usually turns out to be due to the private sector's influence in municipal government: legal challenges to or lobbying against municipal internet, or bad choices of private partners who inflate costs and do substandard planning and rollouts. While it may be unsurprising that it's always about money, what is surprising is that it's not so much about the lack of money, as the large quantity of money spent on keeping it from happening. And it goes without saying that the money came from you.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:54 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


My friend even offers another very different example -- his Dad has never seen espn -- either Mike from Mike and Mike could be seated next to him at a restaurant and he'd never know -- but he has to pay for it no matter what package he gets AND espn extracts $6 per month from the cable providers for offering it

ESPN's subscriber rates are indeed astounding (as are most of the dollar figures related to sports) but the complaint itself is a bit unfair. Everyone has dozens of "services they'll literally never use, but still have to pay for" in their lives.

(That being said, ESPN is indeed an extreme case, and the sports industry as a whole may be on the road toward forcing providers to move all of their sports offerings into a separate tier of premium services for those who want them.)
posted by ShutterBun at 12:56 PM on April 6, 2013


I'm gonna get pilloried for this, but from my personal experience, Comcast only kind of sucks.

We've had Comcast cable modem service in our area (east of New Haven, CT) for 6 - 7 years now. We subscribed at the very earliest moment we possibly could, pitched our positively awful, awful, awful SBC/ATT voice+DSL and never looked back. It just works and works. Customer service is genuinely helpful, and they show up when they say they're going to.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:58 PM on April 6, 2013


So when we moved, here in Seattle, we found out our location had the choice of the provider we already had, Qwest (which was turning into CenturyLink) or Comcast. So we called up to find out what the speeds we could get would be. I note that I play World of Warcraft (hooray patches), one of my housemates and I both use Photoshop a lot (and I use InDesign and Illustrator), and our other housemate is big on XBox and used to Skype her boyfriend until that ended (the relationship, not the Skype account), so we wanted to know what was available.

Qwest could give us 3 up/768K down, and had no plans for upgrades in the forseeable future. This was a downgrade from what we had.

Comcast gave us 7/2 out of the box, and for $10 more a month got us to 15/4. They also had to replace the box they gave us three days after we got the install, but the credits we got out of that entire debacle made our first month basically free, and we've had minimal trouble with their service in the almost two years we've had them as our provider. (And you know, 'pole damaged in high-speed chase' is not something I blame them for, or I'd also have to blame Seattle City Light for the power being out.)

Maybe their TV situations sucks, but the only TV shows I actually watch daily are... uh... er... okay, Rachel Maddow, and she comes down as a video podcast, and anything else I care about I either can buy on the iTunes Store or wait for Netflix to get.

(Before I moved out here, I lived in New Jersey in the arms of Cablevision, and had a hilarious issue with one of their techs which involved the phrase "The guy that did this was an idiot, and I think he's already been fired, dammit!")
posted by mephron at 1:02 PM on April 6, 2013


It looks like Austin might get the next Google Fiber install. Can't wait if true...
posted by jim in austin at 1:16 PM on April 6, 2013


In Canada this is the reality.

I'm going to agree with Dobbs here, Fizz.

I'm in Canada, and I switched from Shaw to Teksavvy years ago (thanks, AskMefi!) when that whole UBB controversy erupted. I don't watch the TeeVee thingy, so I just have high speed internet, with no data cap. Imagine my surprise when I received this notice two days ago ...
We are writing to inform you of some really great changes to your Internet service from TekSavvy. We are lowering pricing and passing on the savings to all of our customers! How TekSavvy is that? As of your next billing date, you will notice that the Internet package you are subscribing to will change from $34.95 to $29.95 No action is required on your part. As of March 27th, 2013 TekSavvy automatically made the updates to our system. Your next bill will reflect the new pricing.

My cell plan is $25 a month, which gets me unlimited calls, text, data and North American long-distance. So there is some competition in data provision in most cities in Canada now, you just have to hunt around a bit. It's still some of the most expensive on the planet, but costs are dropping, as consumers become more aware, and competition increases.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:06 PM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Comcast can fornicate themselves with an iron stick.

Our service was so bad with them back a couple of years ago; frequent outages requiring being on the phone for an hour on hold and then taking half a day off from work to not have a technician show up on time, and everyone at the whole company is rude, if you've used Comcast you know the drill. Anyway our service was SO bad with them back a couple of years ago when our internets was out for the umpteenth time, I actually, when I finally got off hold and spoke to a "human", told her that I bet I could get one of their competitors out to hook us up with a working internets before Comcast could get out and fix our problem, and then did so. Their competitor was at my house hooking us up in three days, which is still somewhat ridiculous, but Comcast finally got to our house FIVE days later, when I had already taken their filthy cable-tv box and cable-modem and whatnot and dumped it off at their office where I had to WAIT IN LINE for an hour to dump their shit off, but the technician showed up to our house anyway because he said I didn't FILL OUT THE RIGHT FORM and they were going to charge me for a technician visit AFTER I HAD ALREADY CANCELED THEIR GODAWFUL SERVICE, and sure as hell, two days later we got a bill in the mail from them, THE FASTEST THING THEY EVER DID, by the way, and I had to be on the phone with at least three more doofus Comcast rude-ass jerkoffs telling them each one after another that it would be a COLD DAY IN FUCKING HELL BEFORE I EVER PAID ONE MORE GODDAMN CENT TO THEM AND I WOULD FIGHT THEM TO THE END OF THE EARTH AND POUND ON THE GATES OF HELL WITH THEIR SKULLS IN MY HANDS if need be.

But I guess maybe some of y'all have had better service with them. YMMV, and all.
posted by Cookiebastard at 3:11 PM on April 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


Hmm, TekSavvy's about the same price for 50Mbps as Shaw... which I've been with for years. No complaints about service.

I was paying something like $50/ for 20-something, then a free upgrade to 50Mbps (it now performs closer to 60) for years and years, after they harassed me for bandwidth and wanted me to upgrade to a tier where they had an advertised cap but didn't actually monitor usage.

Then they started throwing in "free TV" for 6 months then for 12 months offers at me that I kept refusing. They finally offered "free TV plus your current internet for $30/ for 12 months" so I took them up on it.

Didn't realize at the time that I was paying grandfathered prices. After the 12 months I canceled the TV (which would have been >$100/) and the same internet alone is now $85/. Bastids, but I can't really blame them too much.
posted by porpoise at 4:00 PM on April 6, 2013


They just improved the largest Internet package here and I now have the privilege of paying $110.95/mo for 50Mbps/2Mbps with a 150GB cap (up + down).

The competition is $59.95/mo for an 8GB cap and reportedly they are charged more for data from the phone/cable company than it would cost for an end user who bundles with cable TV.

Whee!
posted by ODiV at 4:46 PM on April 6, 2013


The trick to getting good service out of Comcast is to subscribe to their business services. At least here in Seattle, the difference I've seen between Comcast Business and Comcast Residential is such that they might as well be entirely separate companies. Maybe they are. That would explain some things. I don't use them for TV or phone, so I can't speak to that, but I would never go back to Comcast Residential for anything they wanted to sell me, and I recommend Comcast Business internet service to my friends fairly regularly.
posted by hades at 6:45 PM on April 6, 2013


In Minneapolis, we at least have a couple of choices; there's Comcast (which I dropped as soon as I could because they sucked), CenturyLink for DSL, and USI for a wi-fi solution. USI's customer service is fantastic, even if the actual service leaves something to be desired (6M is the max, and I rarely see that).

Amusingly enough though, the only time my internet service actually goes down is when the CenturyLink guys are at the coffee shop, and leave their van parked on the corner for hours broadcasting on the same channel as USI.
posted by Ickster at 8:34 PM on April 6, 2013


CenturyLink seems more like an evil disorganized labyrinth of a company vs. Comcast, based on my recent dealings switching to 12Mb DSL and DirectTV after nearly a decade with comcast, the better part with HD DVR. Getting the DSL actually physically activated to my years neglected phone box was an absurd like philosophically fucking absurd saga of horrible shit. But the internet service is noticeably better and the perk of switching to a fancy whole home 5 tuner DVR can't be denied. Comcast were dicks about my 160GB set and refused to upgrade it even after it died, choosing to hand me an identical shitty model from their shit pile. The DirectTV picture is better, the DVR is better, on demand uses your Internet to stream and DVRs everything which is kind of cool. Basically the act of switching just feels cool even if I'd feel exactly the same going in the other direction. But it's much better and a hell of a lot cheaper for the next couple years after getting a round of nickel and dime increases from Xfinitfee.
posted by lordaych at 1:43 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dobbs, PareidoliaticBoy,

Wind only recently started in my city and I'm locked into some stupid contract at the moment but as soon as the next year passes, I shall be leaving Rogers. I have not been happy with their service or their high costs.

Thanks for the advice.
posted by Fizz at 11:12 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


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