Comcast: new consumer focus?

So, I’ve been pretty harsh on Comcast-with good reason. However, I have to share a rather pleasant trip I had to the local Comcast office.
I had two DVR’s and neither of them worked right. One would not authorize and the other stopped displaying the HD channels and refused to record or playback. Since we only need a DVR on one TV anyway, I decided to swap one for just a digital box. So, we went to the Comcast office and not only did we not have to wait (went Saturday afternoon) but they were pretty efficient. The damned window booths are gone. They are using iPads to pre-screen customers so they can go to the right person and, in our case, that was just two feet away. The young lady who waited on us was not only helpful and patient (I couldn’t make up my mind as to what kind of box I wanted) she was also very nice.

Unfortunately, the experience once I got the gear home was different. The DVR installed quite easily, but the digital converter did not – and it is much simpler than the DVR. Calling the local authorization number did not help. I had to call the national number. However, it was not a difficult ordeal as they now use voice prompts instead of the keypad on the phone. Once I told it which box to authorized, it took just a few seconds to get the box working.

The DVR, however, does not work with HBO, which I pay for, and the Video On Demand. It is giving me the old ‘not authorized’ message and a funky error screen. So, another call is in store.

Overall, though, I have to say, the Comcast of old appears to be going away, replaced with a better, more consumer focused company.

The recent change to the data cap, the better attention to consumers via Facebook and Twitter and the revamping of the local offices all add up to a more pleasant experience.

Good on you, Comcast!

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A double rant: V.Tech and used video games (like Battlefield 3…EA, I’m looking at you!)

EA and used video games

OK, so used video games are very popular because, generally, you can get a good buy if you don’t mind waiting a short time after a hot game is released. I tend to do this myself as I am a cheap bastard and hate to spend fifty to seventy dollars for a game we may or may not like or play for very long.

Recently, I got a copy of Battlefield 3 by Electronic Arts.  Now, EA has been notorious in it’s anti-piracy campaign but have recently begun to fight the reselling of video games—a very legal practice.  EA, and other publishers, feel they should get a cut of every resale of a game. Say what?  Why should they? Failing that, they come up with schemes to force the purchaser of said used game to pony up money or they cannot take advantage (or play, in some cases) the full game.  Such was the case for Battlefield 3.  The online multiplayer portion (the part I am interested in) requires a code to be entered the first time use the game.  Since my copy was used, the code was already redeemed. I had to spend another ten bucks to go online and play the multiplayer portion of the game (mind you, I have already shelled out sixty dollars to Microsoft for this very privilege.) So, rather reluctantly, I ponied up the money to play the game (which is pretty good, I might add.)  While they got money from me, I feel like I was cheated.  And, please, don’t give me any bull about cost of servers, etc. It’s already been paid for…that copy was already paid for and they have no right to any further payment.  It is like Ford demanding another grand so you can drive the damn used car. And, buying anything and reselling is like buying a car and reselling that when you no longer need or want the car.  This is no different.  And GameStop, you should have told us that this might happen.  I know you knew this and it is poor customer service.  (Speaking of GameStop, they are primary reason these companies are pissed off about used game sales, GameStop overcharges for these things, but, people like me fuel them.)

V.Tech V-Reader

On to the V.Tech thing.  Months ago, we purchased a V-Reader for our three year old.  The thing was a huge hit. Unfortunately, it lasted just a few short months.  We swapped out the batteries and it quit working. Trying more batteries did not fix the problem. So, it was shelved.  Yeah, we could have sent it back for service, but we did not. They aren’t that expensive now and there is a newer model with real buttons for the keyboard, so we decided that we would just buy a new one since we had an investment in the software.  Well, my fiancé read many, many posts about the same problem and, in one of the posts, someone mentioned that it might be the switch. So, I popped the cover off and did some digging.  I checked the wires for the batteries (one of them is pinched, but that was not the problem.) Nothing obvious (other than poor soldering and nicked wires) so I tried shorting the switch. Presto! The device sprang to life.  Further reading reveals that V.Tech is aware of the problem yet is not doing anything to address it (other than charging fifty bucks to replace the switch…you can buy a new reader for forty-five, you do the math.)  So, now that I know what the problem is, I am going to fix it myself.  I just need to find a switch that is small yet durable.  I will post an update once I have fixed this. 

ON the surface, these two events seem to be unrelated. Well, they aren’t. They are yet two more examples of the poor customer service that is being foisted upon us.  EA makes me never want to buy anything from them again.  As cheap as I am, I do buy new games but will avoid EA as much as possible (as it is not possible to do so completely when one has a 14 year old and a three year old.)  And V.Tech should acknowledge a poor design choice and fix the damn things for free.

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