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A customer experience story: After a year of Comcast, my verdict

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Oh, [bleep]. It was an uh-oh moment when I realized that the house we’d just rented after escaping Hurricane Irma had Comcast, and only Comcast, as a broadband service provider. I’d never used Comcast before, but I’d sure read my fair share of horror stories.

I rely on the high speed internet in my house in order to make my living. Here I was, facing a year or possibly more (we would have to sell our Florida home and find and buy one in Oregon). And now, I was stuck relying on Comcast, a company’s whose reputation oh-so preceded it.

Also: If being customer first is so important, why don’t companies do it?

My [expletive deleted] perception of Comcast wasn’t just personal opinion. It was a matter of public record. I’d never actually used Comcast, but I’d sure read all the stories.

Xfinity is Comcast’s name for home cable service.

Comcast’s reputation

Perhaps the most classic of them all was when former Engadget editor Ryan Block tried to cancel his Comcast service. CNET (and just about everyone else in the world) reported on this epic conversation. There’s a recording in there that just can’t be missed. In fairness, Comcast did apologize on behalf of their rather over-eager rep.

Frankly, based on their reputation, I dreaded dealing with Comcast reps before I met them. After a year talking to at least a dozen folks, I can say that they’ve all been pleasant, reasonable people with good attitudes.

Even TIME Magazine picked up the story. When TIME runs a recording of bad customer service, you know it’s legendary.

Also: Comcast security flaws exposed customers’ personal info CNET

That was back in 2014. This wasn’t the first time that Comcast was in hot water. Back in 2011, Comcast was voted the worst company in America and CNET covered that as well. Consumerist ran an online poll about which company was most hated — and, to make matters worse, apparently Comcast encouraged its employees to vote on behalf of the company. And, making things even worse, they got caught.

For years, there were stories like this. Customers annoyed at Comcast. A reputation made worse and worse. Like me, many folks were stuck with Comcast as a monopoly provider. If you wanted broadband, you had no choice. You had to use Comcast.

Yes, 2011 and even 2014 were a long time ago. This is true. But then there’s the story PCMag ran in January 2017, just months before I discovered Comcast was suddenly my only broadband option. Comcast, the story declared, is America’s most hated company. Yowch!

My experience

As many of you know, I’m finally out of our temporary rental house and in our new home. The town I now live in is an historic rural small town. It’s beautiful. And it doesn’t have Comcast. So last week, I cancelled my rental-house Comcast service and yesterday, I returned the cable modem to the nearest Xfinity store (Comcast has rebranded its home cable service as Xfinity).

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As I drove the 30 minutes home from the drop-off, I reflected back on my Comcast experience. Honestly, it was pretty benign.

I did have a few issues. First, I had a service failure that took a while to clean up. I was annoyed that my appointment was canceled out from under me ( read about that here), but when the technician finally showed up, he did a comprehensive job rewiring and repairing my feed and I had no additional problems.

My second minor issue was data usage. The normal Comcast plan caps data at 1TB per month. For normal consumers, I guess that’s probably manageable. But for me, well, let’s just say I didn’t last more than a few days before I started getting warning messages. Fortunately, Comcast did offer an upgrade. For an extra $50, they had an unlimited bandwidth plan.

I wasn’t thrilled about paying what amounted to an extra $600 last year for unlimited data, but it could have been far worse. They could have tiered that data plan, and I could have found myself somehow trying to limit my bandwidth usage or going into debt. A fifty buck per month surcharge for the amount of data I use was not unfair.

Finally, upload bandwidth was slow. It never got above 10Mbps, and often hovered lower than that. I found that difficult, moving from the Spectrum/Brighthouse service I had in Florida. Back there, I had a 25Mbps upload speed, and it held that rate pretty solidly. Of course, I always wanted more, but I didn’t realize how good I had it until I tried doing backups with 4-6Mbps up.

Also: Comcast: How AI, machine learning, DevOps, and a bit of hardware may make it a smart home platform

So, while my experience with Comcast wasn’t ideal, neither was it traumatic. A big shout-out to every Comcast person I encountered. Everyone was unfailingly polite and pleasant. Yes, one or two of the phone reps were a bit dense, but not in any way worthy of TIME Magazine coverage.

Frankly, based on their reputation, I dreaded dealing with Comcast reps before I met them. After a year talking to at least a dozen folks, I can say that they’ve all been pleasant, reasonable people with good attitudes.

Given the famous service disconnect call mentioned above, I was curious what I’d encounter. When I called in, I was asked for my reasoning for disconnecting. Once I said I was moving, I was immediately shunted to a “customer loyalty” rep. That seemed weird, but the rep actually had a great sense of humor. She understood the idea that the town I’m not in isn’t serviced by Comcast and made the disconnect process easy.

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Dropping off the cable modem at the local store took — and I’m not making this up — less than a minute. A rep at the door greeted me, scanned the bottom of the modem, and handed me a receipt. Done.

Comcast isn’t perfect, but at least my experience doesn’t support the initial dread their reputation engendered. If I had to work with the company again, I don’t think I’d mind. I’d want better upload speeds, but otherwise, I’ve had far worse experiences with other companies over the years.

Comcast was quite simply not bad.

Ooh, fiber

That said, boy-oh-boy did I trade up! Back in the early 2000s, the little town I now live in discovered that they were too small to expect any of the traditional carriers to install broadband. So, in 2005, with a loan from the state, my new town and its neighbor teamed up to create MINET, a public utility broadband service.

A small town public broadband service certainly didn’t inspire high hopes. That said, the reality of MINET in this town sure wasn’t what I expected. Okay, are you sitting down?

The best upload speed I’ve ever had was 25Mbps. Even when I paid for a commercial, dedicated line back in New Jersey in the early 2000s to serve the millions of pages ZATZ sent out each month, I didn’t have speeds anywhere close.

Now, with MINET, I’m getting verified 250Mbps upload speeds and 1Gbps down. 250Mbps. Holy cow! Do you know how much faster my backups and YouTube uploads will be? Weeks down to hours. Days down to minutes. I get tingly all over* just thinking about it.

Also: Comcast won’t sweat video customer losses with business services, smart home growth ahead

The idea of community, citizen-owned broadband fiber is fascinating to me. I’m still unpacking, but once I get fully situated, I want to dig deeper into how community fiber is changing the face of small towns.

I’ll tell you this. If MINET wasn’t here in this town, we wouldn’t have bought our house. We get to live in a beautiful, rural town and I can still do my job. So while my Comcast experience wasn’t bad, they don’t hold a candle to 250Mbps up. Wheeee!

*Yes, I know I’m weird. But this kind of stuff does it for me. You all know me. You know it’s true.


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

Previous and related coverage:

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Comcast Business customers hit with Voice outage

Business customers across the country were left without phone service for several hours on Wednesday.

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Can You Use An Xbox Controller On Nintendo Switch?

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It’s worth noting that some of the Xbox controller’s functions do not work on Switch, nor are many of the Switch’s unique features supported by the controller. Specifically, it lacks support for rumble, NFC, analog triggers, trigger vibration, the audio jack, IR input, and the LED doesn’t correlate to any Switch functions, including player indicators. You also can’t wake the Switch up from sleep using the controller.

You’ll also want to keep in mind that Xbox controllers swap the positions of several face buttons in relation to Switch controllers, so the labels won’t match up perfectly. For instance, the positioning of the “A” and “B” buttons on the Xbox controller correspond to “B” and “A” on the Switch controller, respectively. The same is true for the “X” and “Y” buttons. Otherwise, the Switch’s controller scheme perfectly matches the Xbox controller’s available buttons and triggers.

None of this is the fault of the 8Bitdo adapter. These limitations are simply the byproduct of marrying two devices that were not designed to work together. If that’s a dealbreaker, then your best bet is to buy an officially licensed Nintendo Switch controller. The best alternative for Xbox fans is Nintendo’s official Pro Controller.

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The Incredible Capabilities Of The US Air Force’s New Supersonic Training Jet

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According to the USAF, Boeing will produce over 350 Red Hawk aircraft as part of a contract worth more than $9.2 billion. There’s also speculation that the Red Hawk’s design could be easily modified to incorporate radar systems, electronic warfare equipment, or under-wing weapon stations, making it an attractive purchase for other U.S. military branches or even international allies.

The training jet features a glass touchscreen cockpit that provides a more modern flair — as well as a more practical piloting experience, one would hope — and tiered seating, so both the instructor and the trainee have sufficient ability to pilot the aircraft without visual obstructions.

Production models of the T-7A Red Hawk sport a red tail section, a reference to the red-painted tails of the aircraft flown during World War II by the 99th Fighter Squadron, better known as the “Tuskegee Airmen.” One of the planes they flew was the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, which influenced the design of the T-7A Red Hawk.

In the same tradition of equality that the Red Hawk’s name and design aspire to embody, the training jet is built to safely accommodate a wider variety of pilot body types and sizes than previous jets, allowing for a larger recruiting pool including more women than has historically been the case. Let’s hope similar updates make their way to the USAF’s other next-gen aircraft.

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How To Transfer Digital Games To A New Nintendo Switch

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Let’s say you’ve just gotten ahold of a brand-new Nintendo Switch console, but this isn’t your first. Maybe it’s an upgrade to the fancy OLED model, perhaps you’ve been sharing with family, and this one is just for you. Whatever the reason, if you already have or have had a Switch, and now you have a new one, you don’t have to start building up an entirely new games library (or even start your games over).

Thankfully there are ways to transfer your digital games from one Switch to another, along with your user accounts and saves. While the process is a bit different depending on whether you have access to that original Switch console, it’s still doable either way. Just know that it might take a little more effort without the console where all of your info was previously saved. And you’ll likely lose any game progress that wasn’t backed up using Cloud saves.

If you still have the original Switch console

Assuming you do have both the previous Switch and the new one you want to transfer everything over to, here’s what you do:

  1. From the original Switch, open System Settings (the icon looks like a gear) on the Home menu.
  2. Select Users, then select Transfer Your User Data.
  3. Select Next twice, and then choose Source Console to mark this Switch as the transferrer.
  4. Select Continue, then grab the new Switch console to which you want to move everything.
  5. From the new Switch, open System Settings and select Users, then Transfer Your User Data.
  6. Select Next, Next again, then choose Target Console to designate this Switch as the transferee.
  7. Select Sign-in, then sign into your Nintendo Account using either the associated email or sign-in ID.
  8. Select Sign-in, then Next, then go back to the original Switch.
  9. Wait for the systems to find each other, then select Transfer.
  10. Wait until the transfer is complete (this may take several minutes), then select End to finish.

If you no longer have the original Switch console

Things are a little more time-consuming without access to the original Switch console on which your account was created or primarily used. Also, note that any saved data that hasn’t been backed up via Cloud storage will not be able to carry over.

  1. First, ensure the original Switch console has been deactivated (via Nintendo), which can be done remotely through your Nintendo Account via the official website.
  2. Next, if you haven’t done it yet, link your Nintendo Account (via Nintendo) to the new Switch console.
  3. Log into the eShop on the Switch using your Nintendo Account, which will designate it as the primary console.
  4. You can download cloud backups of your game saves — if you have a Switch Online subscription and have been using the feature.
  5. You can also access your account’s download history through the eShop and begin installing any of the digital games you’ve previously purchased. This will, of course, take longer when dealing with more or larger games and will require an adequate amount of storage space.

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