Comcast v. Burlington Telecom

What with the hoopla surrounding Burlington Telecom recently, and; more importantly, with my neighbors suddenly encrypting their wireless Internet connections, I decided to compare Burlington Telecom with their rival Comcast.

I signed up first with Comcast. I had called Burlington Telecom on Wednesday during business hours to order service but was answered by a recorded message requesting that I call back during office hours. They listed the office hours and in so doing, confirmed that I was indeed calling during office hours. These humble beginnings did not bode well for Burlington Telecom. I left a message and called Comcast.

Comcast was open, did answer, and I was able to speak to a live person without too much hassle. I asked if they had a free trial period. Yes they do. I asked if the free trial covered the installation fee. Yes it does. I asked how soon they could establish service. The answer to that was less direct. I’d have to sign up before they could determine a service date. After supplying my name, and phone, and address, I  learned I needed to give Comcast my social security number to sign up over the phone. That wasn’t going to happen. Establishing service via phone was a bust with both service providers.

One point to Comcast for offering a free trial period. One point to Burlington Telecom  for making the failure to sign-up for Internet service via the phone quick and easy.

I established service with Comcast the following day at their S. Burlington office–no social security number needed with a picture ID. (Burlington Telecom returned my call as  I was driving to Comcast. The customer service representative was quite apologetic.  I learned the Burlington Telecom does not offer a free trial period.) Comcast sent out  a tech to connect the service the following morning. The tech was helpful and friendly. I chose the self-install set-up and already own a cable modem so the tech’s roll was limited to making the connection at the pole.

The rest of the Comcast set-up was not as friendly. Comcast just doesn’t let you  logon to the Internet. You first need to install a bunch of unnecessary bloatware onto your computer and initialize an account using the account number on your bill. I just established service, I had no bill. Consequently, I needed to call Comcast for my account number.

I read their Terms of Service. While they do require 30 days notice to change the service terms, they reserve the right to change the End-user license agreement at any time without notification of any kind. They suggest going to their website often and checking for changes. Not a user-friendly way of doing business. 

The next step involved installing software. The requirement that Comcast install  software onto my computer is, I feel, a needless compromise of my privacy.  But it got worse, after installing and retarting my computer, I found that Comcast chose to update my Internet Explorer homepage to their website without my permission. This  is a serious misuse of their services. No company should be making any changes to any item on my computer without my permission.

I’ll test out the Comcast speed, advertised at 6 mps download later this week. But their modifying me IE settings is a deal breaker. I don’t think I’ll continue with their service. Hopefully Burlington Telecom has a less intrusive procedure for establishing service.

2 Responses to Comcast v. Burlington Telecom
  1. Pike
    December 27, 2009 | 11:27 pm

    I plan to cancel my comcast service when my trial period is over. I am not seeing the speeds that Comcast advertised. I was able to uninstall the needless Comcast software without effecting my Internet access.

    I would like to support my local telecommunications company anyway. It is a shame that poor Burlington Telecom management has placed it in the precarious situation it now faces.

  2. Trent Harvey
    March 12, 2010 | 1:04 am

    As a Comcast Tech. I feel your pain. I too feel that software installed on the customers computer is not needed and intrusive. The speed that you see is all relative and varies greatly on what servers you are hitting at a particular time. I would like to add that I am currently a urban planning student at Portland State University in Portland, OR and currently conducting a research paper on the importance of municipal owned fiber optic networks. Burlington Telcom is my case study. The more research that I undertake the more I realize the importance of networks such as Burlington Telcom. Please support your community ditch Comcast and invest in your future there in Burlington.

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