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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.

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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.

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Street Legal 2017 BAC Mono lands at auction

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Some sports cars are made for comfort and cruising long distances, and some are more built for days spent at the track. The BAC Mono certainly falls into the second category. It’s a track day god and one of the highest performance single-seat cars you could ever own. The coolest part of the BAC Mono, in this case, is that it is registered and legal to drive on the streets in the US.

The car is finished in white with a red wrap over the top and a black interior. The seat appears to be done in leather and the car has an open cockpit complete with a digital steering wheel that looks straight out of an F1 car. The car up for auction has only 3,000 miles on the odometer.

The Carfax report shows no accidents, and it features 17-inch wheels and AP Racing brakes. The Williams harness inside the cockpit is FIA approved. The car was constructed in England and then assembled in the US. The seller is a dealership and says that the only modifications to the car are a red wrap over white paint. The car was originally orange.

It does have aftermarket stickers on the sides and a GoPro mount above the seat for recording track day festivities. Power for all BAC Mono cars comes from a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder that makes 280 horsepower and 207 pound-foot of torque. The engine is from Ford and was modified by Cosworth. Power goes to the rear wheels via a 6-speed sequential transmission shifted with paddles behind the steering wheel.

The AP Racing calipers squeeze carbon ceramic brakes. The car appears to be ready for the track or streets. It’s sure to be one of the fastest rides at the track day. The car has three days to go at cars&bids and is at $85,500 right now.

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2022 Acura MDX Type S revealed as Acura heads to Pikes Peak

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The Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb is going on soon as automakers and racers from around the world converge on Colorado Springs to race up the mountain. Among the many automakers participating in the event for 2021 is Acura. The automaker has revealed the 2022 MDX Type S as the tow vehicle for the Acura race team.

Acura has confirmed that it’s entering four different racecars into the 99th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb that are all going to be driven by the Acura R&D engineers. All four of the vehicles are production-based and will race up the mountain on June 27, taking on the challenging 12.42-mile 156-turn mountain course.

The hill climb is one of the most dangerous races that automakers can participate in as cars have been destroyed and participants have been killed during the event over the years. It’s not drivers in cars that face the most danger during the race. Motorcyclists are much more likely to die during the event. The 2022 MDX Type S is being used to tow one of the TLX Type S cars from the team shop in Bremen, Ohio, to Pike’s Peak, Colorado. The SUV will also be used to support the Accurate team during the competition.

The MDX Type S is a high-performance version of the company’s SUV featuring a turbocharged engine. The vehicle is the first Acura SUV to wear the Type S badge and is the fastest and most powerful SUV Acura has ever built. It will go on sale later this year. For now, Acura is mum on any performance specifications for the MDX Type S.

Acura has historically done well at the hill climb and currently holds the hybrid class record set last year by driver James Robinson in the “Time Attack” Acura NSX at 10:48.094. Acura also holds the open division record at 9:24.433, set by Peter Cunningham driving the Acura TLX GT racing car.

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Toyota foils leakers by offering an official image of the 2022 Tundra

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Earlier this week, leaked images were going around claiming to show the next generation 2022 Toyota Tundra. Automakers never like leaks, and often they simply deny that the images are of their vehicle or ignore the leak altogether. However, Toyota used a different tactic when images of its 2022 Tundra leaked, choosing to release an official image of the truck.

2022 Tundra TRD Pro

With Toyota’s move, talk of the 2022 Tundra has moved from the leaked images to Toyota’s official image. However, it’s worth noting that Toyota only offered a single image of the TRD Pro version of the Tundra and offered no details on the truck. Last month, SlashGear posted a review of the 2021 Tundra TRD Pro, highlighting that it was the last hurrah for the current generation of the truck.

However, it does offer a nice opportunity for us to compare the exterior of the 2021 model to the 2022 model. What we see is significant changes on the exterior of the truck. While the overall profile remains virtually the same, the 2022 has a completely new front end that closely resembles the style used on the Tacoma and 4Runner SUV. That means a large black grille with hexagonal openings and bulky Toyota branding on the grille.

It’s unclear if non-TRD Pro versions will have the same front-end treatment. Another interesting tidbit that is easily seen from the official Toyota photograph is that the truck is equipped with an LED light bar underneath the Toyota logo in the grill and what appear to be LEDs underneath the grill on the front black portion of the bumper. The headlights are much smaller and appear to be LED.

2021 Tundra TRD Pro

The truck has modest black fender extensions and rolls on very attractive black wheels. We also note that the truck has integrated sidesteps to make it easier to get in and out. Unfortunately, there’s no indication of what changes might have been made to the interior or under the hood of the truck at this time.

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