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Comcast billing in Alameda, tricky-tricky

When last I ran into trouble with Comcast (my phone wasn’t working), they told me 1. there’d be no charge for the repair visit and 2. that I’d get a credit for two days—very generous.

But then a week or so ago I got a past due bill that 1. did not reflect that I’d paid the previous month’s tab 2. charged me $48 bucks for the repair and 3. didn’t reflect the credit they said they’d give me. (The bill does reflect, though, that I’m getting the Starz channels, which were offered to me as compensation for my troubles earlier in the month.) Then a couple days later I got another bill from Comcast (??) this one slightly smaller in size and reflecting one but not both of my most recent payments to their company.

I waited a few days, minding my other life responsibilities, and then, yesterday morning sat down, bills in hand, to call Comcast. Since last time I’d had reasonably good results with the Alameda Power & Telcom changeover office, I called them. Immediately, though, I was into their recorded-voice-system, and I hung up. I remembered the real-life manager who’d called me last time and that he had—kindly!—given me his cell phone number. I called it. He answered. He was home (daughter was sick) but said he’d have the right person call me back. And a few hours later a man did! I explained my situation, the confusing and contradictory bills, the unexpected charges. It turns out that when I signed up for Comcast, nothing was done to stop the billing for the AP&T (now Comcast) service: they were billing me for service twice, once as Comcast and the other time as Comcast.

A few minutes later, the man called back, said it was all fixed: accounts combined and properly credited. And the remaining balanced totaled. I promptly sent them a check. I am curious if others have had double billing issues and if they have had good results for resolution. I for one feel extremely lucky to have the cell phone number of a particularly dedicated and able Comcast employee.

epearlman

  • Andrew C. Johnson

    Eve: I asked our Alameda Hotline folks to investigate what exactly took place. It appears that we failed to properly “close” the old “APT” account when we established your new Comcast account. A couple of keystrokes corrected the problem. This has happened to a small number of former APT customers as we convert the 9,500 accounts to our billing system. As you know, folks can call the hotline at 510-567-9350 if they have any questions.

  • Eve Pearlman

    Hi, Andrew,

    I do indeed think that is what happened with my account. The problem is, in my experience, getting to a live person who understands the problem and has the authority to fix it. I called the cell phone number that one of your employees kindly gave me…but I wonder how long the fix took others?

    Thank you for posting the hotline number. –Eve

  • Andrew C. Johnson

    We established the Alameda Hotline, and staffed it with specially trained customer care representatives, in order to handle the unique issues that may pop up during the transition.

    As I have mentioned in earlier postings, I strongly encourage the former APT customers to take full advantage of the Hotline if they have any questions or concerns.

    The Alameda Hotline Team is an effective trouble-shooting group and they are standing by to quickly deal with any issues, as you indicated in a posting on January 6, 2009

    Eve Pearlman Says:
    January 6th, 2009 at 10:59 am
    Hi, Andrew,
    Thanks for your comment.
    The first few times I called Comcast yesterday I called the 800 number. I think the last time I called I tried the Alameda transition number, which definitely got me a live voice on the phone more quickly…

    As always, thanks for your ongoing efforts to keep the residents of Alameda informed about issues that are important to the Island and for your continued assistance in helping us communicate with our new customers.

  • Ray inAlameda

    Something similar happened to me, an APT subscriber. I was already planning to cancel cable, and at first notice of the changeover, I decided this was the time to do it. Here’s the hangups I experienced:

    I had autopay for APT to my bankcard. My first notice of the changeover was a Comcast debit to my bankcard in early December. I had authorized APT for autopay, but never authorized Comcast to debit my card. Later I found the APT changeover notice in the mail. and called the changeover number.

    First, I was advised by the changeover agent to take my cable box to the APT office. When I got there, I was told to take it to the Comcast office. Wasted time and trip.

    Delivering the hardware was fine. In Mid-December I was given a printout showing I was cancelled, returned the hardware, and no balance due. When I asked about the Comcast debit, the desk agent advised me to stop payment at my bank.

    A few weeks later, I received a Comcast statement by mail for 2 months service, 1 month past due. After calling, the agent confirmed that I was cancelled and there was no balance due. I was to receive a zero balance statement shortly in the mail, none yet.

    So, 1. surprise Comcast debit, 2. agent misinformation, 3. billed after cancelling, 4. late receiving zero balance statement. I do want to mention that all the agents were polite and professional, but there were a few mixups not in my favor.

  • Ezra

    Friday morning I got converted over to Comcast. I was not thrilled, but I really had no choice, did I? Now, I’ll admit up front that I am a very loyal and happy Alamedanet customer, and I have an incipient dislike of Comcast (from my previous days as one of their customers..) just to make my bias clear.

    Friday morning I called the 24 hour hotline. I only had a short time before I had to go to work. I called at around 7:40, and got a recorded message telling me that the 24 hour hotline was only available after 8AM. That’s slightly Orwellian. Heh.

    That was merely a precursor to the fun that would follow. I got home Friday night after 10PM, and remembered that I needed to deal with my internet. Out of curiousity, I checked my TV & found that my DVR had erased all of my saved shows and had gotten rid of all my scheduled recording. So, I was in a great mood already when I called the 24 hour hotline (which, happily was open this time.)

    I called, and was on hold for 30 minutes before I even spoke to a real person. Now, admittedly this was 10PM on a Friday night, but still. One thing I loved about Alamedanet, was that when I called I always spoke to a person. They weren’t always terribly helpful (especially with the internet) but they were always there, and that meant something to me. Comcast loses here big time.

    After 30 minutes (thank goodness I can put my iPhone on speaker and ignore it) of listening to a voice tell me over and over, every minute how important my call was to them, I heard a real voice.

    I explained that my internet wasn’t working, and that email was gone. He then explained that he had to transfer me to the internet department. Five more minutes on hold.

    Finally, I talked with a tech who started to work me through the process. He let slip that the alamedanet email addresses weren’t supposed to work, and that I needed a comcast email. I quoted him the letter comcast sent me telling me that my email would still be around. He had not heard that at all.

    It also turned out that the account number on my Comcast bill (from January 2009, the most recent one) did not have the proper account number on it, so I couldn’t even enter my web browser until I had the right account number (which was totally different than the one on my bill.) The customer rep was polite, I’ll give him that but my gosh could this whole thing have been screwed up worse? I’m now fully expecting to be double billed (since Comcast has gotten everything else wrong) and look forward to the interminable wait of being told how important my call is to them.)

    I miss Alamedanet.

  • Erik Freitag

    I miss AlamedaNet too.

    Our Comcast cutover went pretty smoothly on a Friday afternoon, but we had intermittent outages on both video and Internet for the rest of the weekend. I logged 2 hours of hold time and 4 hours of support time getting things turned on.

    This may just be a “new service blues” but Comcast support is pretty helpless when you call — if you’re using anything but Windows they offer to transfer you to “Apple” or “Cisco” support, but they really transfer you to Apple or Cisco, where you have the opportunity to explain everything again. I didn’t really need Apple or Cisco support since everything was working with AlamedaNet.

    Support was unable to explain any of the technical details of the Comcast service which might have been helpful (their DHCP configuration would have helped me — I had to reverse-engineer it). Their best and only technical move is to reset your cable modem or cable box or send out a technician.

    They did offer to sell me their “home networking” service. Hard to see why that would be necessary if my home network was working fine with AlamedaNet. After 30 minutes of discussion with their home networking support person, I was told “you’re on your own”.

    This matches well with my experience with Comcast prior to AlamedaNet, so I’m not looking forward to the next year.

  • Sharon

    It’s good to see that I’m not the only one with the APT/Comcast change-over. The physical change to the line was easy but the billing is nothing short of awful.

    You’ll remember we received those notices from APT telling us to pay whatever APT AND Comcast bill we might get during the transition, to ensure continued service. Well, despite paying my December APT bill, my first Comcast bill was over $200. They’d mistakenly included installation charges and a bunch of other unnecessary fees. I had the same problem with the dual account numbers. Even though I called and had the APT account number closed, I still received bills demanding payment from anything from $30 to over $200… all incorrect and all on the old account number. Nothing made any sense and no-one when or how much I should pay. I kept getting the same response: “just ignore that bill, the next one you’ll get will be right”.

    The last person I spoke to three days ago told me to pay about $52.38, which I paid. Today – now that the internet doesn’t work – the person told me I owed $90… or possibly $53.35. And still the old APT account number keeps resurfacing and confusing the poor folks on the end of the phone.

    No surprises, the account is now suspended, I’m sure about to be cut off. I’m at loss to explain how after being a customer for only four weeks, how they can disable your service, but it’s true.

    I’m onto my fifth call with Comcast. They’re so confused themselves, they’ve said someone is going to have to call me back today. I’m not holding my breath for that to happen, or for this to be resolved quickly.

    I wish there was a competitive service in Alameda so customers would have a choice. This is a miserable situation.

  • Andrew C. Johnson

    At the outset, let me apologize for the customer service hiccups a small handful of former APT customers are encountering as we work diligently to transfer their service to Comcast.

    We’re working hard to make the transition as seamless as possible.

    For those handful of former APT customers who are running into difficulties I recommend they take advantage of the hotline we set up to handle the unique issues associated with the transfer from APT to Comcast.

    The hotline, 510-567-9350, is staffed with a small, dedicated group of customer care representatives located in Concord.

    They will be happy to address your individual issues, and if necessary track down the right answers if for some reason they come across a complex problem, with a unique set of circumstances.

    Thanks again for patience and understanding.

  • James Heideman

    It has been a nightmare dealing with Comcast. I have never experienced such horrendous customer service. Like almost everyone I know who was switched over from Alameda P&T to Comcast, I was double billed. I was assured on at least two occasions that the payment to my old account would be credited to my new account. It wasn’t, and nearly one month has passed since I first raised the issue with Comcast. I have been on the phone with Comcast for hours trying to get this as well as other issues resolved. I have resorted to leaving a message with the regional VP, who has yet to contact me.

    Contrary to Mr. Johnson’s indication otherwise, I do not believe this is a limited phenomenon, based upon my conversations with other former AP&T customers, ALL of whom have been double billed. According to our neighborhood blog, at least one person who was double billed was told by a Comcast representative that it was too much trouble to credit the new account or refund the money and that just a few dollars were at stake, in any event.

    If Comcast wants to retain AP&T customers (who can always choose satellite TV over cable), they will have to do a much better job.

  • James Heideman

    In fairness to Comcast, I have to update my previous post. The regional VP returned my call and was very apologetic and contrite. He admitted the old AP&T billing system had not been integrated well with the new Comcast billing system, and he acknowledged that resolving billing issues is Comcast’s number one priority. I can only hope Comcast will address this issue systemically instead of waiting for individual customers to complain about billing; the latter approach surely will result in wasted time and resources for both customers and Comcast.

    My billing issue was ultimately addressed…but incorrectly. Comcast credited my new account with the payment made to my old account TWICE, so now Comcast’s billing system reflects that they owe me money. I can only hope they will correct this error without making further billing errors.

    Oh, and I should correct one thing that I noted in my earlier post. I incorrectly stated that Comcast asked a customer to overlook double billing when the amount was de minimus. In fact, the complaint was that the customer’s AP&T service had been turned off and there was a gap in time before the Comcast service was working, so the customer wanted a credit for the time the customer was not receiving cable. It was in response to this request that the Comcast rep purportedly told the customer that only a few dollars were at stake and it was too much trouble to credit the customer’s account.

  • JT

    Many former Alamedanet customers seem upset about the change over, and just from a billing and service perspective it has been a huge headache. I had the joy of spending almost 3 hours being bounced among various customer service reps after my internet service was cut off without notice last week and I’ve also experienced the joy of being double billed for the same service.

    However, as an internet customer only, I feel I may be among only a few who saw their monthly bill unexpectedly DOUBLE from $21.50 to $40.00 this month. Despite what the Comcast service rep I spoke to insisted, a letter outlining my “low cost options” for signing up for cable and phone service (of which I wanter neither) I have received no prior communication from Comcast regarding this huge price hike, and they’ve been billing me happily enough for the previous two months at the old $21.50 rate. I’m upset enough that I’m prepared to pay more than $40 a month to any competitor who is honest about their upfront costs, but it seems Comcast now has a monopoly on high-speed internet to match their monopoly on cable television.

    Does anyone know of a competing high-speed internet service, short of satellite internet, available in Alameda?

  • Ray inAlameda

    Here’s an update to my APT Comcast woes. Rather than receiving a zero balance statement as promised, I received a PAST DUE notice for some $80, with my old Alameda PT account number on the notice. Also, I received a Comcast statement, with a new, different account number, and a $130 balance (2 months digital service). A Saturday night call and separate online chat only confirmed the balance (they could not find my APT account) but could not do anything about it. I would have to call Monday morning.

    Monday morning I called the changeover number. After 20 minutes, the courteous Comcast agent sorted the mess out and assured me that all accounts were closed, and no balance due. I would not receive any more past due notices or statements. When I asked the agent who screwed up, he blamed it on an automatic computer script error.

    SO TO RECAP:

    1. surprise Comcast debit
    2. agent misinformation
    3. billed after cancelling
    4. Never received zero balance statement as promised
    5. NEW statement and account # with balance due
    6. PAST DUE notice on closed account (the famous double-bill)
    7. finally sorted out after 1 hour total in phone calls and chats.

    You dropped the ball on this subscriber, now DTV and cable free.