Monday, February 18, 2013

…you’re getting warmer!


“Escape” on flickr. CC 2.0 attribution: Photo © 2010 J. Ronald Lee.

In a new development that warms my heart -- much like my last post of realizing the additional rental charge for the cable broadband modem -- we have now found Comcast/Xfinity is charging us $1.99 (+tax) for each of the previously “free” basic digital adapter boxes they gave us. We have 2 units in other rooms that supplement the primary HD/DVR unit in our living room which we rent.

We got these last year when Comcast switched from carrying analog signals for many of their channels to digital-only; their “Digital Migration” project. Want to get all those cable channels that aren’t “over-the-air” broadcasts?  Too bad. You need to use our digital adapter box.  But don’t be sad. We will give it to you for free! See? No pain!

Well that was a bait-and-switch.  Comcast is now charging for those previously-issued “free” digital adapter boxes.

And the frustration is sweeping users and communities across the Comcast service area.

comcast digital adapters - Google Search

From some articles I have read, Comcast “might” be rolling out better models of these first-generation digital adapters…some with HD signal support. Bet they come with an even higher price-tag. Not sure of the accuracy of the reports as you can already rent HD set-top receivers and HD/DVR units from Comcast.

I don’t know.  I brought up the topic of just ditching all our cable services except the broadband internet (which would go up more if we stopped bundling it with other services), but was immediately out-voted by the other family members who wouldn’t be able to get all their favorite TV/movies, even over the Internet.

What is so frustrating is not so much that we need to pay for equipment usage -- that’s fair and the American Way ™ -- what doesn’t feel right is getting something for nothing (which was fair because the service delivery method was a forced change on the customers) but then having to pay for it after the rollout. What would have been more fair and probably generated customer good-will (and enthusiasm) would have been to say:

  • So sorry, we have to convert our analog signal delivery to digital to increase capacity for your benefit and to enhance signal security and delivery control for us.
  • We are giving you up to two basic digital adapter boxes for free; bear with us though the transition process. We know you have some other choices and we want you to be proud to be our customer.
  • Thanks for sticking with us through the transition to digital signal delivery! Hurray! We made it!
  • Now that we are on the other side we have some exciting options for you.
    • You can keep on using the free basic digital adapter boxes -- still no charge for our loyal existing customers! You are “grandfathered” in.
    • Or, if you would like, you can swap them out for a new next-gen basic digital adapter box that will allow you to also get HD channels for your subscription tier -- at only $4.99/ea. a month!
    • Want even more features? Check out our full lineup of HD set-top cable boxes.

That would have been brilliant!  Sign me up!  Here’s my checkbook!  More money for you and more happiness for me!

So I guess Comcast has me exactly where they want me.

Simmering in their pot paying for the privilege of keeping two “free” digital adapter boxes for with two unhappy house-mates who aren’t pleased with quality of the new digital-only signal and clamoring for HD receiver set-top boxes now. Seems like the one HD/DVR in the family room may not be enough any longer.

All hail the great Digital Revolution and the power it brings to the consumer.

Claus V.


About that image/frog; per the photographer, no frogs were harmed in the photo-shoot.

See also: Boiling frog - Wikipedia.

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