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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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Solar permits in Alameda?

There’s an article in the current East Bay Express about solar in Alameda. The headline, “Less Than Light Speed,” and much of the story takes what seems to be the greater-Bay-Area’s default stance toward Alameda: Alameda is backwards. Though, if you read the whole article, it sounds like city departments—after a solar contractor complained about turn-around times for permits at an Alameda Power & Telecom board meeting in July—are actually working hard to streamline the process: the city responded by coming up with a plan to issue solar permits within five days.

I did learn (if the Express reporter got it right) that Alameda Power & Telecom, as an independent utility, didn’t have (as other California cities have had since 2001) a state-funded consumer rebate program, until a new law, “Million Solar Roofs,” went into effect at the beginning of this year.

And for those of you interested in alternative sources of power, you might enjoy reading about this gym or this bike.