Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Businesses Network Networking The Media Your Rights Online

Comcast Failed To Install Internet, Then Demanded $60,000 In Fees (arstechnica.com) 139

Earthquake Retrofit writes: A Silicon Valley startup called SmartCar in Mountain View, California signed up for Comcast Internet service. After hearing Comcast excuses for months, company owner Katta finally got fed up and decided that he would find a new office building once his 12-month lease expires on April 20 of this year. Katta told Comcast he wanted to 'cancel' his nonexistent service and get a refund for a $2,100 deposit he had paid. Instead, Comcast told him he'd have to pay more than $60,000 to get out of his contract with the company. Comcast eventually waived the fee—but only after being contacted by Ars Technica about the case.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Comcast Failed To Install Internet, Then Demanded $60,000 In Fees

Comments Filter:
  • To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Notabadguy ( 961343 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @01:56AM (#51720477)

    Not that I'm making excuses for the most loathed company in the United States, but California is the most backwards state in the Union when it comes to building and permitting, and it is not only plausible, but quite likely that they actually *were* stuck in the permitting queue that they claimed.

    Lesson to business owners: There are some critical questions you should have answered before you purchase or lease a building if you aren't constructing it yourself.
    -Does it have utilities?
    -Does it have a parking lot?
    -Does it have deployed fiber or wiring for internet and phone service?
    -Do the doors have locks?
    -What are the zoning laws around you?

    And a dozen more. C'mon.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      Not that I'm making excuses for the most loathed company in the United States, but California is the most backwards state in the Union when it comes to building and permitting, and it is not only plausible, but quite likely that they actually *were* stuck in the permitting queue that they claimed.

      Welcome to beautiful Commifornia, breadlines coming soon.

    • Re:To be fair... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @02:25AM (#51720551) Homepage

      Fist question should be - do this state have bad politicians and complicated laws?

      Whenever you consider running a company it's not only about which state that have the lowest taxes but also how much paperwork that's involved in running it. It's easier to pay a bit more in taxes than to have to fight paperwork every day.

      • Fist question

        Punch them if they don't answer.

        do this state have bad politicians and complicated laws

        Not as bad as their educators, it seems.

      • Fist question should be - do this state have bad politicians and complicated laws?

        Find me a state that doesn't have this issue and I'll start packing.

    • Most permitting rules are set by the cities, not the state.

    • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @03:55AM (#51720753) Homepage

      -Does it have deployed fiber or wiring for internet and phone service?

      Well in his defense:

      The website informed him, "Comcast Business is available at your address."

      Depending on your actual experience with ISPs, you might not be aware that this is what we call a boldfaced lie. It might be. It might not be. It might take forever to install. It just means it's within an area they think they might deliver service. I've experienced that here in Norway, twice. The parents of my best buddy as well. Due to some particular extender, they couldn't deliver. No room in the central. And they probably won't do a real check until sometime after you actually order, which is rather premature if you're just considering renting. The only thing you can probably believe is if it's installed and working right now.

      The other lesson here is that contracts where the other side has an inifinite amount of time to deliver are bad. What the sales rep says doesn't matter, in 99% of the cases it's not going to stick and be legally binding. Or at least you don't want the legal costs to make it stick, get it in writing. Sadly this is a large part of running a business, dealing with various other parts of your supply chain or support infrastructure not delivering or not with the scope and quality you were expecting. Like when you make SLAs, the penalties for violating the uptime requirements and conditions for termination are just as important as the agreed level, perhaps even more so.

    • I currently have 2,750 square feet of office space, Verizon FIOS provides service to my building, the prior tenants had it, the FIOS box was still on the wall inside the unit.

      I *STILL* put a condition in my 3 year lease that said that if Verizon did not install FIOS phone and Internet into the office, I could get out of the lease without a break lease fee.

      My business depends on Internet, so if at any point in my lease term, FIOS goes away, I can move without penalty. If your business depends on a service,

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Some of this no doubt has to do with the real estate market in Silicon Valley. I live in a pretty high-regulation state (although we don't have to post signs saying our building may contain carcinogens), but we don't have to go through such rigamarole to get workable business premises. That's because the market is still competitive for landlords.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      While I'm sure the tenant wasn't happy with all the delays, I don't think that was the issue. I think the real issue was Comcast demanding $60,000 for the contract, as well as keeping the $2,000 deposit for a service they could not and would not deliver.

    • I'm not so much worried about that, I'm still trying to get phrases like "We do own the commitment to you from end-to-end" translated from authentic Business Gibberish into English. I tried Google Translate but it crashed trying to process it.
  • by pablo_max ( 626328 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @01:57AM (#51720481)

    I mean seriously, this is par for the course. And you know what, you guys deserve it.
    Time and time again you elect officials who go out of their way to protect the incumbent ISPs and other special interests even though it is expressly against your own interests. And then everyone makes noise about it and then every does fuck all about it.
    So, what the hell do you think the end result will be? You have Comcast literally writing laws to outlaw competition for F's sake!
    Then in the next election cycle, the same asshats are voted back into office. I have no sympathy at all regarding the currently political landscape in the US.

    • I mean seriously, this is par for the course. And you know what, you guys deserve it. Time and time again you elect officials who go out of their way to protect the incumbent ISPs and other special interests even though it is expressly against your own interests. And then everyone makes noise about it and then every does fuck all about it.

      In this case, it wasn't special interests acting against him, it was cluelessness and cheapness. In the SF Bay Area, there are lots of options for Internet service, but

      • Not sure I would agree with that. Comcast, when they choose to can offer very fast and reliable service.
        Even in the bay area there are loads of areas which do not have access to fiber or even competition.
        My employer has used Point to Point in the past and I can tell you... Never again.
        The real issue is the provider.
        They are greedy and they know they can get away with it. Your current system is designed to enable and encourage this behavior.
        Best of all, they have gamed the system so well that many people act

      • I suspect that, had he been prepared to pay close to $1000/month from the outset, he would have been up and running within 2 months.

        Basic internet for $1000/month ? And 2 months waiting period ? Wow, that's messed up.

    • To add to my comment above, I am betting that the real problem here is that someone in Comcast realized that the payback on providing service to this little company just wasn't there, so that the permitting process was deliberately sabotaged by Comcast.

      When I asked Comcast to quote for installing their service at my office in Santa Clara, they wanted $200,000 (yes, you read that right, 200 grand) just to install. Fast forward a couple of years and now both AT&T and Comcast have brought fiber into the bu

    • by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @04:02AM (#51720771)

      Time and time again you elect officials who go out of their way to protect the incumbent ISPs and other special interests even though it is expressly against your own interests

      You cannot vote your way out of a corrupt system.

    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      The problem with this is that by and large the people who actually stand a snowballs chance of being elected ALL side with the vested interests (including supporting incumbent telcos when they want governments to outlaw competition)

      So there is no-one you can vote for who wont do this crap.

    • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @06:45AM (#51721139)

      American Politics is like a dance of chairs with 2 contestants and 2 chairs. Let's play the music again.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Comcast expends too much evil energy fucking people over with their business "contracts". Terms for early termination is 75% of monthly rate over the entire term of the contract and it fucking evergreens yearly after that with a requirement for month in advance notification to terminate without penalty.

    Of course their sales people go out of their way to not mention any of this, lie out of their ass if you'll sign and bury basic facts because they are scum. Treating customers like total shit is what Comcas

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      Don't sign anything unless you have had a lawyer checking it for you.

      And a trick could be to scan the contract before signing and re-write the wording slightly so that you can bail out quickly.

      A lot of contracts are written in a way that are not far from slavery contracts.

      • A lot of folks like to say this.
        I remember some years back as a renter. Time Warner was the incumbent provider in my area, but didnt offer service to our place as it was a new building.
        Finally, after what seemed like forever they offered "Broadband". A massive 15mbps for the low low price of 80$/month!
        Looking through the terms and conditions, where a lot of things we didnt like. Sure we could just not sign it and not have internet. How many people are going to say, OK, I'll just have no internet at all. You

        • Time Warner was the incumbent provider in my area, but didnt offer service to our place as it was a new building.

          Bizarre. Internet access should be standard for every new building, just like the other utilities.

        • There's just no competition really. AT&T does help a bit with u-verse, slower speeds for the equivalent prices, but at least it's not Comcast. But if you not close enough to AT&T fiber then you're stuck with only one option that's "broadband".

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            No you are not stuck with only comcast.

            You can rent a DS3 from the telco to a POP connection like normal businesses do. The problem is it's not "dirt cheap" like Cable or DSL.

            I have rented DS3's for offices in towns that had NO choices for consumer broadband. we simply leased a point to point DS3 from the town to the nearest office of the company that had broadband and simply backhauled the data and phones over it. it typically goes from the building to the closest telco substation then hops on a fiber

        • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

          I didn't state not sign, I was considering to re-write contract and then send in the re-written contract signed. Sneaky but might work unless the provider proof-reads the contract.

      • by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @03:37AM (#51720707)

        Don't sign anything unless you have had a lawyer checking it for you.

        So, not only do you have to pay top prices for internet, you also need to hire an expensive lawyer to check it. That's just insane. And what are you going to do when the lawyer finds something you don't like ? Ask Comcast nicely to change it ?

        • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

          Some stuff in contracts may not have any legal grounds and therefore can't be dictated there. What's legal or not depends on where you live.

          For a business it can actually be worth the money to have a lawyer in the long run to avoid getting a complete rip-off.

  • The most shocking part is that not every place in Silicon Valley already comes with a fast internet access, for a reasonable price. Even if Comcast had been able to provide internet, it would have cost $189.90 a month for 100/20 Mbps! In other parts of the world, that's becoming a standard domestic speed, sold for a fraction of that price, available in a few days after you order it.
    • The most shocking part is that not every place in Silicon Valley already comes with a fast internet access, for a reasonable price.

      What is "shocking" about it? It's Silicon Valley: everything is overpriced, highly taxed, and highly regulated. How could it be different?

      Even if Comcast had been able to provide internet, it would have cost $189.90 a month for 100/20 Mbps! In other parts of the world, that's becoming a standard domestic speed, sold for a fraction of that price, available in a few days after y

      • What is "shocking" about it? It's Silicon Valley: everything is overpriced, highly taxed, and highly regulated. How could it be different?

        High prices can make sense if there's high demand and limited supply, such as floor space in a densely populated city. High prices don't make sensor for a simple commodity item with basically unlimited supply. Silicon Valley is an area with high economic output, so the city should maximize the efficiency of doing business.

        Business connections are more expensive everywhere. Home service is $60/month for 150 Mbps

        In a high business area, there's no good reason for a business connection to cost that much more, especially not if you get lousy service for it.

        • Silicon Valley is an area with high economic output, so the city should maximize the efficiency of doing business.

          Yes, it should. But this is Silicon Valley in California, an enclave of spoiled rich people and the ossified Democratic machinery they elect to run the place.

          In a high business area, there's no good reason for a business connection to cost that much more, especially not if you get lousy service for it.

          Be that as it may, it's the same in many places in the world.

  • Something similar happened to someone else who had Time Warner in Manhattan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • So he's building a "cloud platform" for cars and he didn't bother checking to see if fast internet was available BEFORE purchasing the lease? Then his next braintard was to go out and get Crapcast? I'm more than certain that in Mountain View, there are plenty of other options. This company won't be going places.
    • So he's building a "cloud platform" for cars and he didn't bother checking to see if fast internet was available BEFORE purchasing the lease?

      FTFA:

      Katta’s Internet odyssey began on April 10, 2015 when he checked Comcast’s website to determine whether business Internet would be available at his company’s office in the Clyde Avenue Business Park. The website informed him, “Comcast Business is available at your address.” In fact, the website still provides that same message to this very day, albeit with some fine print that says customers have to “Call a Comcast sales representative to explain availability in your area.”

      Over the next 10 days, Katta told Ars, he signed a lease for the new office space and spoke on the phone with two Comcast representatives. Each confirmed that SmartCar would be able to get Internet service.

      That appears to be in the correct order, so I'm not sure what you're on about.

  • by PuddleBoy ( 544111 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:19AM (#51721743)

    I work in this (general) field and we run into this all the time.

    First, there is no financial incentive for any provider to pre-qualify all buildings. It would cost so much to do all those surveys and assess all that data, without any revenue from it, that no one does it.

    What you saw Comcast use was; looking at the financial model for coax delivery of service, they can't justify the build. But looking at the financial model for fiber delivery of service, you can justify it. Why? Their fiber-based service is 5X the price of coax.

    I have seen 'business-class' Comcast coax installed by a technician just feeding cable thru an open window. I've seen it where the tech drilled a hole in an openable wooden window frame and pushed it thru. They will puncture any external wall and just shoot a little caulk at it later. In fairness, they generally do a better job of the physical install of fiber than coax. For fiber installs, they generally use the same methods as a LEC or other major provider would use (conduit, weatherheads, etc.)

    I am still mystified as to why business people order Comcast coax service, get crappy performance and outages, then can't understand how Comcast can do that. They can do that because people keep buying their products/services. I know they are usually the cheapest game in town - I guess you get what you pay for.

    So many business people say that their business is fully dependent on having Internet access, but they don't want to pay much more than residential rates for it. The nature of all residential service is based on consumers being pain-tolerant but not price-tolerant. So you make compromises on residential service to keep the cost as low as possible. With business-class service, there is a much lower tolerance of pain (outages, slow speeds), so you make fewer compromises (to maintain quality), which drives the costs for delivering services up.

  • The CEO runs a connected, Internet-based company and moves his company - his entire workforce - to an office with an unreliable and iffy Internet connection? Is the guy totally out of his mind?

  • He should have had AT&T sales reps in the conference room with him, working out a deal for "commercial" service, not their DSL crap. Sure, it would have cost more, but the speed and binding agreements for performance and up-time are on paper, signed by both parties. And AT&T has done duties to bury fiber for more than a few clients wanting the service and willing to pay the coin for it.

    Smartcar tried to go cheap and got bitten on the a$$ for it.

  • Should have done more due diligence when they chose their office building. I have Cox service here at home and it's 100 megabit and 20 mega bit upstream. I'm happy as a clam with it. The phone company, frontier (used to be AT&T) advertises that they have "high speed internet available." I look into it and it's only 3 megabit. The long short is the phone company does not want to spend money for a local click on my street. If this guy was the only customer then it looks like Comcast does not want to

In every hierarchy the cream rises until it sours. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter

Working...