Comcast continues to get bad press for capriciously shutting down users that consume too much bandwidth. The latest ding is an April 14th article in The New York Times entitled, "Say Goodnight, Bandwidth Hog." This follows an article in PC Magazine as well as a blog started by a disconnected customer.
I say "capriciously" because although these customers are downloading much more content than their peers (and so slowing down that network leg), Comcast won't tell them the magic consumption number they must fall below to avoid being disconnected. I have no problem with Comcast imposing a surcharge for high consumption, or disconnecting customers if they consistently exceed a predefined limit, but a magic "poof" with no metrics attached is just bad business.
I had my own Comcast adventure a month or so ago -- my Internet connection just died. I called Comcast support and they eventually figured out that my rented cable modem had died. "Bring it to our local depot, they'll give you a new one and some software, and you'll be up and running."
So I took 45 minutes out of my day, drove to Lawrence, turned my cable modem in and got not a new one but a used one (based on the scuff marks on the outside) in return. I pointed out, "The Customer Support Rep said I would get software as well." "Nope, we never give out software," was the response.
I went home, plugged the new cable modem in, and my Internet connection was still dead as a doornail. At that point I called Comcast to arrange a house call. Meanwhile, I was detailing my woes to my co-worker, Peter O'Kelly, and he said he had an extra cable modem, and why didn't I try that? He brought it over, I plugged it in, and it worked just fine. Eventually the service tech turned up, I told him I had a bum cable modem, he replaced it with a new one, and I figured that was that.
Oh, no. "No, this won't work until I register the new cable modem with the service." [If that's true, why did Peter's loaned cable modem work just fine?] So he sat down, installed the software that the depot hadn't given me while making sure I couldn't see what he was doing, and after about 10 minutes announced everything was set. I figured the software he'd used had been a network configuration utility. Silly me. It turns out the CD he used (and didn't leave behind) installed a Comcast-branded version of Internet Explorer and Comcast Desktop Doctor, a diagnostic program.
In summary, I'm paying Comcast over $100 a month (cable TV and broadband service) to be handed a cable modem that doesn't work, not given software that I allegedly need, and then forced to use their branded software that I don't need. (I de-installed Desktop Doctor, but I don't dare de-install IE). And I'm sure Comcast management is sitting around, trying to figure out why its customers are so disgruntled...