Has Comcast found an effective way to keep us from bugging them?

** Update September 23, 2014 ***

The conspiratorial side of my brain wants me to point out:

1) The Outage notifications on Comcast’s site ceased immediately after this blog post

2) My service has been.. spotty ever since, including a complete outage that lasted around an hour the following night….

Where my Download / Upload speeds were consistently 50/10, now I’m thrilled if my download is in the 20’s.

Just ran another check and can see that I’m sitting at 23.2/10.4.

Just saying’ . Not that the only available option of our local duopoly would *ever* stoop to vindictiveness… would they?

** End Update **

 

I had a recent dealing with Comcast that had me logging on to their site pretty much every day for almost two weeks at the end of August/beginning of September.

Something that started to bubble up in my consciousness was how many outages they were reporting in my area, none of which seemed to be affecting me.

I decided it would be an interesting exercise to, for one week, log into my account periodically throughout the day whenever I was working on my computer (which I do quite a bit) and check my status.

Of greatest interest to me was the fact that not once in all the times I logged in was there ever NOT an outage in my area.

I will concede that there was at least one day where I was impacted by some issue so these notifications are not 100% bogus. But the continuous nature of the notifications has me thinking what a great way this would be to keep folks from calling in if they *did* have a complaint. After all how often do you log into your Comcast account anyway? I know I certainly wouldn’t (haven’t) noticed the notifications during my monthly visit to capture my billing statement.

Below are the details of when I logged in and what the current outage situation was. You tell me – am I just having a spate of issues or is Comcast saving money by reducing customer service call volume?

Date and Time Outage Notification
9/10/14 9:41 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 1 AM tomorrow.
9/11/14 10:00 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 PM today.
9/11/14 1:02 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 4 PM today.
9/11/14 4:36 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 8 PM today.
9/11/14 7:25 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 AM tomorrow.
9/12/14 7:52 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 11 AM today.
9/12/14 1:56 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 3PM today.
9/12/14 6:50 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 11 PM today.
9/13/14 10:46 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 2 PM today.
9/13/14 6:28 PM An outage has been reported. We’re working to fully restore service as soon as possible.
9/14/14 12:15 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 2 AM today.
9/14/14 11:51 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 1 PM today.
9/14/14 1:12 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 5 PM today.
9/14/14 4:33 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 9 PM today.
9/14/14 11:27 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 1 AM tomorrow.
9/15/14 7:56 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 PM today.
9/15/14 7:07 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 8 PM today.
9/15/14 8:13 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 12 AM tomorrow.
9/16/14 7:41 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 11 AM today.
9/17/14 7:55 AM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 10 AM today.
9/17/14 12:02 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 2 PM today.
9/17/14 6:13 PM An outage has been reported in your area. We expect this to be resolved by 10 PM today.

 

Posted under Retail Experiences, Tech Stuff

This post was written by Marc
on September 17, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Vision Fitness U20 Classic Exercise Bicycle Review

I purchased this exercise bike as a replacement for my Vision Fitness E3600HRT which I used for over 10 years before it died on me. My experience with the E3600HRT and with a Vision Fitness Treadmill that I own are what led me to consider the U20.

The U20, when I purchased it from Amazon, cost about $900. The E3600HRT cost about $1,400 in 2001 if that gives you any indication of the class of bicycles I am comparing.

This bike arrives in TWO packages (Amazon did not know this), one containing the frame and bulk of the machine, the other containing the console. The bicycle package weighed in around 70-80 pounds and was pretty beat up but was packed well enough that the only visible damage to the bike was that the sleeve where the seat post enters the frame had some plastic chipped off of it. Vision Fitness is VERY good at warranty replacement and had a replacement part at my home in about 3-4 days.

I made the rookie mistake of not actually test driving the bike before ordering it. These days “Spin Cycles” are all the rage and there are precious few showrooms where you can find an old school exercise bike such as this to try out. I had decided to trust my prior experience with the brand. LEARN FROM MY FAIL.

Some of the CONs below are from my own biases which emphasizes my point that all bikes are not for all people so a test ride, no matter how inconvenient, is required.

First the PROs:

  • This bicycle is big enough where you mostly won’t feel constrained on it. I don’t see much chance of even the largest users hitting their knees on the handlebars
  • The handlebars are sturdy and the heart rate sensors well placed and sensitive. I’ve used other bikes where you seem to have to fiddle with your hand position to get them to report your heart rate.
  • Easy to assemble. Although mounting the handlebar would the one task more easily performed with some help it *is* doable.
  • The seat post appears to be standard so you can swap out the provided seat for one you prefer (see CON)

Now the CONs:

  • The cranks are those awful straight ones that ensure that you will hit your heel or ankle against the base of the crank arm on each revolution. In order to avoid this you need to cant your foot inward which leads to an awkward pedaling position.
  • The seat post was loose when attached to the frame. The way it is designed there is no satisfactory way to tighten this. This is magnified up at the seat and resulted in it being “wobbly”.
  • Contrasted with my E3600HRT, the console is nearly 3 inches closer to the nose of the seat than I’m used to, the console is also angled more steeply. These two factors put the console right in my face if I’m leaning forward during a particularly challenging interval. I’m used to using aero bars on my racing bike and this lean-forward position is encumbered by having the console so (literally) in your face.
  • The provided seat points upward to a degree that I find just about the limit of my tolerance. And it *is* adjustable, but only to point even higher.

I ended up returning the U20, the first two issues ultimately made the decision for me. I *could* have replaced the cranks with the old ones from my retired exercise bike. And I can probably find a suitable seat at my local bike shop. And I may have been able to shim the seat post to stabilize it. But for $900 and the fact that I intend to spend at least 10 years with this equipment, I want it to feel right coming out of the gate.

Don’t get me wrong, Vision Fitness is an excellent company and this bike may work very well for some folks, just not for me. Now I need to go test-drive some stationary bikes.

Posted under Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on March 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm

HULU Ad complaint 20140117

I sent this to HULU this morning:

I like Hulu’s offerings. But the ads have become an overwhelming issue for me.

It’s bad enough that I cannot get rid of them entirely even though I am willing to pay a premium to do so.
But can you PLEASE do something about the repetitiveness of the ads? Last night there were 6 ad slots in the show I was watching and you aired the same series of ads in every slot.
I can be persuaded to watch an entertaining or novel ad but once I’ve seen an ad I usually never need to see it again. Having the same ad foisted on me every 8-10 minutes is not only annoying it’s downright insulting. I am astonished that anybody deems this effective.
There are plenty of viewing alternatives out there and, while HULU does a very good job at managing and delivering content, for me it is worth pursuing the other more cumbersome options to avoid this ongoing vexing issue.
I do ask that you rethink your model – there must be an ad free alternative – even at a premium. It is literally a weight off of my shoulders when I watch programming on Netflix and don’t have those constant interruptions.
Thanks for your consideration,

Marc

Posted under General

This post was written by Marc
on January 17, 2014 at 7:48 am