Thursday, December 04, 2008

Comcast wants to charge me $5 for not violating my privacy

I just got a letter from Comcast telling me that they want me to pay $4.95 a month for not having my telephone number listed in their directory. Something that takes absolutely zero effort on their part should not cost $60 a year. Companies should not reveal or sell the names and addresses of their customers without their permission.

Yes, I know that this is standard practice in POTS world. But this is VOIP service and until recently my Vonage alternative was working just fine. Now it is cutting out repeatedly and the cause appears to be Comcast dropping packets. In other words it does not seem to be a coincidence that the extortion demand came right after they shut out the competition.

I don't believe Net Neutrality is the solution. That is an attempt to regulate Comcast's behavior and will only work so long as there is an administration willing to regulate. As we have seen in the finance world, from time to time we get a government that would rather not bother with regulating and then pretend that nobody could have foreseen the entirely predictable consequences of not doing so.

The answer here is competition: Force the telcos to open up the local loop as has been required in Europe.

Oh and if anyone else wants to complain about this to Comcast here are their internal numbers.

So does anyone know a good residential DSL provider in the Boston area?

3 comments:

ComcastCares1 said...

Thank you for the feedback. I will pass this on to the appropriate department.

Mark Casem
Comcast Corp.
National Customer Operations
We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com

Eric said...

"I don't believe Net Neutrality is the solution. That is an attempt to regulate Comcast's behavior and will only work so long as there is an administration willing to regulate."

ANY law works only so long as there is an administration willing to enforce it. Comcast can charge whatever they want for however much bandwidth they want to provide. That has nothing to do with Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality would prevent Comcast from inspecting the traffic on it's network and deciding which it will let through based on the content of the traffic and who owns it. In other words, you pay for a 6MB connection and they decide which websites you get faster than others.

Michael said...

I agree completely with your stance that you should not have to pay for Comcast to *not* do something. However, one workaround which I accidentally discovered years ago when I moved in with my new wife is that if you list the number under a maiden name (or even one that's, you know, "accidentally" misspelled or, um, just totally false for whatever reason) you get pretty much the same effect as an unlisted number...

O, and he's right - this is unrelated to Net Neutrality, though it does reflect the same middle-finger-lifted-in-our-general-direction attitude.