ISP horror stories have always been a staple at Ars Technica, and over the past 12 months we’ve detailed some of the most horrific broadband customer experiences we’ve ever heard of.
Comcast, the largest home internet provider in the US, has figured prominently in these stories as usual. Let’s take a look at the biggest ISP horror stories we’ve covered in 2022.
Comcast wanted the man to pay $19,000 after he falsely advertised a service on his street
This article from April 6 described Jonathan Rooney’s ordeal after moving his wife and child from Virginia to Washington state. Ronnie fell victim to a common problem in the broadband industry – ISPs falsely telling customers that a service is available.
Rooney said he scheduled Comcast to install the next day after they moved into the new house, in May 2021, only to have Comcast cancel the order because the house wasn’t wired. Despite Comcast falsely advertising the service as available, the cable company told Rowny he would have to pay more than $19,000 for the line extension.
Ronnie cut his initial cost to about $10,000 by hiring a contractor to do part of the work. But the family had to go without wired internet for more than six months, in part because building Comcast took longer than expected.
Even after construction apparently ended in mid-December 2021, Comcast initially refused to say when the installation would take place because the company’s internal systems incorrectly showed the house as still unserviceable.
“I spent weeks calling Comcast, and they said, ‘Your house is not serviceable, and our records show it will be serviceable in April. ”I’m staring at this call box in my yard that I paid $10,000 for and can’t get internet — I think that was the most frustrating part,” he added.
An email from a Comcast store manager told Rowny that “The current hurdle is the billing system. You cannot activate any equipment or service in our system until the billing codes are in place. I cannot put the billing codes in place until I can get the service team to recognize that The address is serviceable.
Desperate to find a solution, Ronnie had to escalate the problem to Comcast’s regional vice president. The CEO was able to help, and Ronnie finally hooked up his Comcast service on January 13, 2022. Comcast told Ars that he was “so sorry for the inconvenience this all caused.”
The couple bought a home in Seattle, then learned that Comcast Internet would cost $27,000
Zachary Cohn and his wife, Laurel Zenobi, assumed they’d be able to get Internet service at home when they bought a home in Seattle. The house was surrounded on all sides by homes with Comcast service, but they learned after closing the house that it had never been wired.
“All six of the neighbors I share an ownership line with are hooked up for Comcast, but our house never was,” Cohn told Ars, saying he was “amazed that a house like that, in an area like this, might not have been possible before. The Internet. ” Because the house is “in the middle of Seattle, it didn’t even occur to me that it was possible,” he said.
Getting any information from Comcast was nearly impossible. After about eight months of trying to get an answer about how they got internet service, Cohn gave up calling Comcast directly and reached out to a Seattle city councilman. Finally, Comcast revealed that it would only offer internet service if homeowners paid more than $27,000 up front.
Cohn and Zenobi decided not to pay, and continued to rely on a mobile hotspot, despite working from home. “I’m so nervous about spending $27,000 to lock myself in a company that can then raise prices, we don’t even have the classic ‘send me to your retention’ cause I’ll threaten to quit and go to another company argument.” You just have to pay what they want to pay.”
Comcast wanted $210,000 for the Internet – so this guy helped expand the cooperative’s fiber ISP
This story from October 2022 mixes the elements of horror and feel-good. Sasha Zbruzyk bought a home in Los Altos Hills, California, in December 2019, only to learn then that the home was unwired.
Zbruzyk recalls that a Comcast agent told him it wouldn’t be “a big deal” to hook up the house he was buying, and many of his neighbors had Comcast service. But after Zbrozek spent more than a year trying to get information from Comcast about extending the line, Comcast told him in February 2021 that it would cost him $210,000 to run 700 feet of cable.
By the time Comcast finally provided that estimate, Zbrozek had become involved with a collaborative ISP called Los Altos Hills Community Fiber (LAHCF). He now sits on the board of directors of LAHCF, and he orchestrated an expansion that brought multi-gigabit fiber internet to his home and others on nearby roads.
“Residents are tired of having to deal with carriers, and they just want to take this into their own hands,” Scott Vanderlip, LAHCF Chairman of the Board, told Ars. The LAHCF network is built by a company called Next Level Networks, which uses a model where residents own the infrastructure and split the upfront costs.
CEO David Barron told Ars that Next Level has six broadband networks either built or underway in California and plans to expand to other states. Next Level’s approach is based on “the idea of micro-grids rather than building buildings at the municipal level, just doing neighborhoods, home associations, buildings, whatever the case, where you know there’s demand, and having them actually share the cost from the network.”