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FCC Internet Service Complaints Revealed: 2,226 Tales of Comcast Woe, Mapped

Baltimore ranked 13th among 928 municipalities with the most complaints from residents against Comcast’s Internet services over a three-month period earlier this year, according to complaint data from the Federal Communications Commission.

The complaints, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by CityExplainer, showed that Atlanta, Ga.; Chicago, Ill.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Houston, Tex.; and Jacksonville, Fla., were the top five cities with the most Comcast Internet service complaints. The FCC received more than 2,200 complaints about Comcast’s Internet service from April to June this year, the records show.

[The complaints are available for free download here [in spreadsheet format]; and in the original PDF format released by the FCC, available here. Please cite CityExplainer.com if you use the data.]comcast-complaint-snippet

The types of complaints CityExplainer reviewed included customer issues with Comcast Internet service availability, billing conflicts, and speeds. You’ll see senior citizens and others complaining about unrelenting billing errors, people complaining about alleged data throttling and data caps, and residents’ sad tales of dealing with technicians who come — or don’t come — to their homes to fix problems.

Comcast is considered the largest provider of residential Internet service in the United States in terms of customers. Its next largest competitors include Time Warner Cable, Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Charter.

The complaints offer a rare window into the wide variety of persistent and troubling customer services issues at a company that tried to merge with one of its competitors, Time Warner. One of the main concerns from advocates for Internet broadband competition was that such a deal would be bad for customers.

The deal ultimately fell apart due to government fears Comcast would hold too much power in the nascent video-streaming market. While the complaints come from about 1 percent of its 22+ million broadband customers, they typically appear to come from customers who have exhausted most other avenues for resolving their conflicts with the company.

Comcast has said in the past that it has roughly 400 million phone and in-person interactions with customers every year. These FCC complaints are but a small percentage of these customer encounters; it’s unclear how many people are aware they can file FCC complaints against their Internet provider.

Comcast started out as a cable company, but as of this past summer, its number of Internet users surpassed cable users for the first time, as the consumer trend of “cable-cutting” continues in favor of Internet services.

Complaint Ticket #: 370148

“Comcast disconnected my account without reason or notice. I am disabled homebound. I moved in to my house and for 2 weeks had no new Internet service after setting up my new account. I called several times. They told me the modem was the problem. Then I called today to say there was no signal to my home. They said my account was cancelled. I asked why and they said there was no reason. I was never notified.”

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Follow-up message by Consumer on 6/27/2015 4:08:02 PM:

I would like to add that I was offered a 14.99 internet plan with no activation fee. This was after 4 telephone calls to correct the account which had been bumped to a TV account plus Internet when all I wanted was the 14.99 promotion. They seem reluctant to sell me the 14.99 internet and finally relented, only to cancel my service without my knowledge.

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Follow-up message by FCC on 6/29/2015 10:35:25 AM:

This constitutes a notice of informal complaint filed with the FCC against your company. Your response to the consumer (with a copy to the FCC) is due no later than 30 days from the date of this notice.

For more information on your legal responsibilities, see https://us-fcc.app.box.com/complaintnotice.

If you have any questions regarding this notice, please contact the FCC at carriersupport@fcc.gov.

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Follow-up message by Consumer on 7/1/2015 12:21:04 PM:

Was contacted by representative who apologized for the mistake cancellation. Was told the situation was rectified and was told to register my service with “technical support”. Contacted technical support who told me it was not possible to activate service for the account. Left message for FCC liaison at Comcast and never received a call back.

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Follow-up message by Consumer on 7/1/2015 5:45:16 PM:

Was told today by Comcast that they were sending a technician to my house for 39.95. I asked why and they told me it was for a service call. I called back 5 minutes later and the supervisor told me there was no need for a service call, or a charge, because the problem was with the Comcast system. Billing could not remove the charge. I still have no service and the FCC representative at Comcast

never called back as promised. I now have charges and have never had service. Additionally, Comcast has added TV service to my account even though I only ordered Internet for 14.99. This is the second time they have done this without my permission. It seams like an ongoing game with their office.” — Boca Raton, Fla., June 27, 2015.

Comcast has a notorious reputation for poor customer service, earning the title of the worst company in America last year from The Consumerist website, a nonprofit subsidiary of Consumer Reports.

CityExplainer sent an email last week (Sept. 8) to the Comcast’s corporate communications office, seeking comment on the FCC complaints and the reasons why certain cities stood out more than others. The company did not respond.

However, the company does receive notice of each complaint filed to the FCC and typically responds to each complaint, according to FCC protocol. The FCC then classifies individual complaints as open, closed, pending or solved. A clear measure of how many complaints are solved was not available from the FCC data during the three-month time period that CityExplainer analyzed.

The Philadelphia-based company has vowed to improve customer service dramatically, saying it will add 5,500 jobs over the next few years to focus on better serving its customers.

In Baltimore, city residents often complain about the dearth of options when it comes to Internet service for residential use. For those looking for more than dial-up or minimal DSL speeds, the options basically come down to one provider — Comcast — which has been called a monopolistic provider in Baltimore and in other parts of the country where it can face minimal or no competition, depending on the geographic market and the terms of the deals it strikes with municipalities to provide services.

Many of us have heard and shared complaints about Comcast’s customer service in Baltimore. For those who choose to complain, they pick up the phone and call Comcast and, as the complaints show, have varied and often poor experiences with customer service.

A smaller percentage — in Baltimore and around the country — who are not satisfied continue to follow-up by filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, or even the Federal Trade Commission, in Washington D.C.

[Disclosure: I filed a complaint against Comcast in June to the FCC for failing to disclose the Internet speeds I pay for on my residential service bill. I received a phone message from Comcast explaining why that information wasn’t on my bill, but the company did not fix the issue.]

What follows are a series of charts, graphics and maps that illustrate the complaint data. The data below comes from our review of more than 2,200 complaints filed by customers in 41 states, including Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

 

Top 10 States For Comcast Internet Complaints to FCC

April-June 2015

State 

Total Complaints 

Georgia 289
Florida  240 
California  220 
Illinois  164 
Tennessee 143 
Pennsylvania  130 
Michigan 115 
Washington  98 
Colorado  80 
Maryland 78 

 

Detailed (Static) Snapshot of Comcast Complaints

comcast-complaints-snapshot

 

Top 10 Cities for Comcast Internet Complaints to FCC

April – June 2015

City 

Total Complaints 

Atlanta  63 
Chicago  47 
Knoxville, Tenn. 36 
Houston  33 
Jacksonville 31 
Philadelphia 25 
Denver 22 
Miami 22 
Nashville 22 
Indianapolis 21 

 

Let’s take a closer look at these 10 cities and consider some of the latest news stories about Internet service in each market.

1. Atlanta: Comcast is not the only Internet service provider in Atlanta, and is looking vulnerable as AT&T and Google jump into the market. As a result of this new competition, Comcast is speeding up its “Blast!” tier of broadband service by 50 percent — at no extra charge. See that, Baltimore? Competition is good. But Comcast won’t admit it’s giving free speed hikes due to the competition.

2. Chicago: In July, Comcast announced it was hiring 200 additional service technicians and operators in the Chicago area — a significant surge — leading one to wonder if Comcast has been woefully understaffed until recently.

3. Knoxville: Tennessee is a progressive little state, with a couple municipalities, such as Chattanooga, taking the lead in offering cheap, super-fast broadband to their customers. But Knoxville is not one of them. Comcast is even venturing with a faster service offering into Chattanooga. Lots of competition down that way.

4. Houston: Comcast is building out a fiber service in Houston. For another look at customer complaints about Comcast in Houston, read the Yelp reviews.

5. Jacksonville, Fla.: In addition to the FCC complaints below, here are the Yelp reviews.

6. Philadelphia: Where Comcast is headquartered. Amazingly, a report by the city found Philadelphia customers give Comcast very low marks.

7. Denver: Comcast appears to have only one other competitor for cable TV in this city; unclear how many broadband competitors it has.

8. Miami: The Yelp reviews offer a lot of color to the situation in that metro area.

9. Nashville: Unsatisfied Comcast customers in this city will soon have Google Fiber as an option. Coincidentally, Comcast announced in July it is increasing customer speeds at no additional charge. Competition.

10. Indianapolis: Some color from Yelpers.

Explore the FCC complaints through these interactive visualizations:

 

Explore and share the FCC complaints:

 

The Complaints In Original Format Provided By FCC:

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