Layoffs of Alameda city staff expected today

Michele Ellson of The Island stayed up to watch last night’s city council meeting and has this on job cuts in the city: “…the word is that we’re getting a list of the positions to be cut today, so I’m sure there will be more to come.” She also has, for your edification, a list of current city employees and their salaries and benefits. Both Alameda bloggers John Knox White and Lauren Do have other info on cuts to city staff.

Oh! For context: Oakland layoffs, Fremont layoffs, and Bay Area layoffs.


To lowly me in Alameda, Comcast staff reaches out

Yesterday, I had four…make that five different communications from Comcast staff, each one a Comcast employee wanting to make sure my phone service had been properly restored. The first, around ten in the morning, was a phone call from a customer service manager in Hayward. He and I spoke at length about the timeline of my wait Monday. I explained the conflicting messages I got from Comcast folks. He explained how their system works. I asked for a day’s credit for the day without phone service, he said Continue Reading


In Alameda: My comcast phone service repaired around 6:30 p.m.

When the Comcast repairman arrived just as we were eating dinner, he was friendly and kind. It took him about a half hour of moving here and there in our house (he said that there was a short on the line…though, in the years we’ve lived here we’ve never had any difficulties at all) to restore phone service.

He only showed up two hours outside the window THEY told me, about six hours after I expected him, based on my first conversation with my first Comcast rep of the day. My favorite part about dealing with Comcast is that no one appears to be accountable. I called Comcast four times today and spoke to four different operators in four different cities. There is no way to speak again to someone you’ve already spoken to, and there is no way to make contact directly with any of the people relevant to the situation—the local dispatcher, the local technician. How hard would it be to set up a system where customers can call their local dispatcher to find out where their technician, and when s/he might be expected? Each time I called Comcast, the phone call took more than eight minutes. And, I got to do my favorite (in the sense of not favorite) thing which is enter my phone number on the key pad and then tell it again to the operator when I speak to them. Ergh.


Waiting for Comcast in Alameda

So it’s an hour after the time the Comcast operator-guy told me the Comcast technican would be coming to, hopefully, restore phone service to my house. I called Comcast again and Stephen from the Comcast Call Center in Winnipeg told me—he was quite friendly and polite, btw, just like Alonzo was earlier—that there’s no notation on my account to come at noon, and that the window for coming to my house is 12 – 4.

I reiterated my inability to be here for the whole time slot, and asked that a technician be asked to come earlier. Stephen said he couldn’t reach a technician directly, but that he could call dispatch. I asked him to call me back after he had done that (I have very few minutes on my cell phone, which I rarely use.) He said he didn’t have the ability to make outbound calls from his center. I said that Alonzo, who helped me earlier (I forgot to ask where he was located), had called me back when we were disconnected…had in fact asked me for my number so he could do so. But Stephen said he didn’t have that ability.

After three minutes on hold, he came back and told me that the technician who is supposed to come my house is on a call nearby and has been there for twenty or thirty minutes already. My hope is that he will be here soon and phone service will be restored. The second phone call to Comcast took just under nine minutes. Is anyone else having Comcast phone service troubles?


Comcast, where is my dial tone?

I was feeling pretty jolly about my new Comcast phone, internet and cable service (installation was seamless) until, uh, this morning when I found I had no dial tone. A dial tone, as you know, is important for one’s ability to make and receive phone calls. As such, I have not been able to make and receive phone calls this morning. Though, yesterday, I was able to do so. Which was nice then.

Moments ago, I called Comcast on my handy cell phone, and spoke to a nice young gentleman named Alonzo. He said, no problem that he could reboot my phone modem by remote. He rebooted and tried to call me on my home phone but, still, nothing. As Alonzo found, if you call my number right now you get the Comcast voicemail center which I don’t need to use (as old-fashioned as it may be, we have an answering machine) but don’t yet know how to uninstall. In any case, Alanzo said he would send a technician over at noon today. Actually, at first he said, “Will you be able to be home between twelve and four today?” To which, I replied I am not. So we agreed on him trying to get someone here at noon. Which, mercifully, I am able to be here for. Though, as we all know, many others are not able to be home mid-day to receive a phone technician. Hopefully my phone service will be restored by, say, 1 p.m. Details to follow.

As you likely know, Comcast bought Alameda Power and Telecom‘s telecom portion a few months back. Anyone else having Comcast troubles? Comcast successes?


Bye-bye Alamedanet.net

With Alamedanet.net email down all day Sunday (all three customer support people I talked to at the hotline set up for the transition from Alameda Power & Telecom to Comcast said the outage had nothing to do with the switchover), I’ve decided to move forward with a switch of my own. With AT&T home phone rates ever on the rise and plus that nasty experience a couple months ago with the many-phone-calls-requiring-to-remove fraudulent charges for a web-based voicemail box I never authorized, I signed up this morning (thanks, Mike) for cable, internet, and home phone service through Comcast.

On Saturday, the Comcast technician will be here (do you think s/he will make it in the two-hour window, 2 -4? b/c I have Alameda Civic Ballet Nutcracker to attend) to switch us to their digital phone service (unlimited long distance and local calls) and update us from basic cable to expanded basic. My understanding is that they will also be unhooking us from the AP&T cable and attaching us to the Comcast one. The logic of this is not completely clear to me. The introductory rate for all three services is about $90, which is less than we’ve been paying…and we’ll have more channels. And there’s no installation fee, says Mike. Hopefully, internet service will be as fast as lightning. And the next time alamedanet.net email goes down, I will not be shut off from the world. Also: one of the kind tech people I talked to—and they were all friendly and local (Mike reported Comcast is hiring)—said that if we call tech support they’ll set up a bounce message for emails sent to our old alamedanet.net addresses, letting them know where we can be found. Gmail it is.


Alamedanet.net email down

Email was inaccessible this morning when I, up early, tried to download my email at 5:00 a.m. A friend and neighbor, who said she did get some emails through this afternoon, said it was also inoperable late Saturday night as well.

My mid-afternoon phone call to the ‘transition hotline’ number cost me 20 minutes on hold. When I finally got through, a young man in Concord said that Comcast had just learned of the problem a few hours before. Which, if true, made me sad, because email had been down for 12 hours at that point. Internet access remains live at my house, as does cable TV. When will the email come through again?


Alameda City Council approves sale of AP&T’s telecom business to Comcast

Last night, past midnight, Alameda’s City Council approved the sale of the money-losing telecom part of Alameda Power & Telecom. Michele Ellson had a write up in last week’s Alameda Journal. Some history:

The city embarked on its cable business a decade ago, after voters gave approval. The city originally planned a $10 million investment in the system and up to $20.5 million in financing. Ultimately, the costs grew to include $44 million transferred from AP&T’s electric operation and a total of $39.3 million in bonds.

The sale of the money-losing venture had been greeted with relief by many in the city:

City Auditor Kevin Kearney called the deal a “miracle.” In February, the Public Utilities Board directed AP&T staff to look at three options for the future of its telecommunications line, including refinancing its existing bonds and providing the same services, refinancing and adding a voice service, or selling the system.

Mark Northcross, a consultant hired by the utility to help examine those options, said the cable business doesn’t make enough funds to refinance the bonds without putting up money from its electric business or the city’s General Fund as a guarantee. And he said adding a voice component could cost the city, which is facing its own budget crisis, an additional $2 million. “Selling the system now eliminates further financial risk for AP&T and the city,” Northcross said.

My understanding is that those with alamedanet.net email addresses will have 18 months to transfer them over. Current customers should expect info about changes to their cable packages and rates in the mail Look for more discussion of the deal at Lauren Do’s blog here and here.


Alameda Power & Telecom moving toward sale of troubled telecom

As has been in the news lately, Alameda Power & Telecom is working on the sale of its debt-ridden telecom business. Apparently there has been an offer from Comcast. Some details here and here. More info, I’m sure, will be forthcoming. Ahh, Michele Ellson has the scoop.