The title is borrowed, of course, from Bob Garfield’s ongoing digital hatefest of Comcast, complete with its own Facebook group. But rather than singling any telecom provider out, I think things are in bad shape all around. Check this out.
Last week, I had Comcast TV and Verizon FIOS (internet, phone) installed. Comcast was quick, in and out in a couple hours. But with Verizon, after a few hours of installation, it turns out that the fiber on my street isn’t hooked up to the main line at the cross street. Upon further investigation, the installer discovered that my entire TOWN isn’t hooked up to the network. Oops.
So I called Comcast and they came back out in a couple days, set up phone and internet. No problem. Then I discovered, working out of a home office, I’m hogging the phone line like a stormy adolescent middle-schooler. (Well, actually like me as a stormy adolescent middle-schooler, today’s stormy adolescent middle-schoolers use text messaging and IM. We’ve got Forrester data on that somewhere.)
So I call Verizon to request a good old-fashioned copper line installation. Which would help if the power goes out, because with cable, the phone goes dead (same with FIOS, but they provide a battery backup – smart). But there’s a problem – Verizon can’t handle a "downgrade" given the fiber already connected to the house, which is actually about as useful as a buried underground clothesline. So reluctantly, they tell me to get a second Comcast line.
Great. Online, I see I can get a new line for $10 without voicemail, call forwarding, and all sorts of modern conveniences – I just need POTS, works for me. The Comcast rep tells me that the $10 line is fine, but I’ll have to pay for long distance. Well, what’s long distance? For starters, "Boston is long distance." (What? I live 14 miles away from the center of the city.) Also, "toll-free numbers are long distance." (What? Since when did toll-free not mean free?) Yeah, "I’m seeing people having to pay for those calls more and more." OK whatever – give me the $20 deal and add your gold star to the upsell board for today, I just need a 2nd phone line. I called back the next day, downgraded to the $10 and told Comcast that they needed to give this crazy phone rep a geography lesson, who lives in the Boston area but seems to have the education of Miss South Carolina.
Using Garfield’s parlance, is there any company that "must die" in this situation?
In my opinion, it is what it is. Everything works now and I’ve got a blog post out of it. Time to move on and get back to work.