Feb 28, 2015

ComcastComcast Sucks - Continued:
<rant>If you read my previous month's rant about Comcast (a three part story/continued in Feb (see below)), you know that I made the mistake of engaging Comcast Customer service in an endeavor. I tried to 'Upgrade' my Comcast 'Experience'. The results were heartache, disappointment and downright despair, stretched over several hours of toil and trouble. Did I get what I wanted? Well, I really couldn't say until now - and the answer; unsurprisingly, is no. After all the work and trouble, I really had to wait until I saw my first bill. I couldn't fathom or calculate success or failure without seeing the first bill. As I had feared, Comcast screwed me. The first bill ($258.68) after all my changes clearly revealed that Comcast had not delivered what was promised.

Persistence Pays off - Comcast caves and finally restores my Premium Channels. Here's the final chapter in this recent tale of Comcast corruption and the lying liars. Perhaps you've been following my ongoing woes with one of America's most hated companies. I've been a Comcast customer (prisoner?) since 2003, and it's been a horrible experience. Why don't I leave? No one has better/faster internet service. I've tried CenturyLink (fka Qwest) for internet service, but their speeds (their network) are only a fraction of Comcast, and their customer service is abysmal. So I suffer, I struggle, I die a little... every time I have to contact Comcast customer service.

If only I could avoid all contact with their customer service. Unfortunately, that's impossible if you want to upgrade something, get something fixed, have a question or dispute. Their website is an absolute mess. I can never figure out exactly what 'package' I have, what services (and channels) come with that package, and what equipment they think I have... Eventually, I am forced to 'call' Comcast.

This ongoing spate with Comcast began when I called to find out if/when my internet speeds were going to 'double' - as indicated in numerous recent media campaigns produced by Comcast. I found out that my area wasn't slated to receive any such upgrades (of course not!)

During that conversation, the Comcast representative tried to sell me some lies. I knew he was lying before he started his spiel (as I've indicated in a Previous Comcast conversation), but I was suckered anyway. His lies led to the tragedy that I'm dealing with today. An ongoing saga that began when a Comcast liar sold me on an 'upgrade' that turned out to be an upgrade in cost, and a downgrade in my health; my blood pressure has been several notches higher than normal since 'speaking' with these Comcast liars. My new 'Triple-Play' upgrade was supposed to include some premium channels for $1.00 each.

Here then is the final chapter of that long and dark tale. Just today, (Feb 21st, 2015) I was able to reconnect with Comcast (via chat). I finally got them to submit a ticket escalating my issue, and I was given an actual ticket number for the issue (ticket #150220-000301). A promised return call came while I was napping, and Kim received the happy news - The two premium channels: Showtime and HBO have been added back onto our plan for the price of $1.00 each for 24 months. Of course I don't really believe them. I'll have to watch my bill, and I'm betting - As is usually the case - that they haven't delivered what they said they would...

I was supposed to get Showtime and HBO for $1.00 each for two years (as part of my upgrade); I even had signed papers saying I would. Unfortunately, for some reason a Comcast representative took that deal off my plan when they implemented my 'upgraded' plan. I had never agreed to having the premium channels removed from my plan, they never told me they were going to remove the premium channels, I simply discovered them missing from our plan a couple of days after the changes were made; along with a bunch of extra charges that don't apply and shouldn't have been applied to my 'upgrade'.

Now I was promised an email and a call-back in resolution of this incident. I never received an email, but Kim got the phone call while I was sleeping. Upon checking (in my account online and through the cable-box), I can now confirm that we now have HBO and Showtime as part of our plan. Kim checked, and she was able to watch some HBO and Showtime programming. Trying to find out what services, channels, features I have as a part of my plan is impossible using the Comcast web page; and as usual, the billing section is a complete mess. The only remaining bone of contention is the bill - It comes due in a few day, and I really don't know how much I'm going to end up paying on a monthly basis, because they can't generate a bill more than once a month (B*llSh*t). I guess I'll just have to wait and see how badly they sock it to me in the coming week.

Comcast representatives lied to me on several occasions during this 'Upgrade' experience, and I've come away with a reinforced opinion - Comcast Sucks. It's the evil you live with as a consumer in America. If you want internet, if you want cable TV, you're doomed to select the only option in your area. No matter which company that might be (For me it's Comcast), it's likely to suck. With no competition in your area (certainly not in my area), these companies have quickly become very expensive reminders of what happens with monopolies. They Suck! in more way than one. There really isn't much you can do as a consumer. You can fight - Like I did, but the effort is seldom worth it. It took me several hours of my life, and far more stress than I care to think about, but I finally managed to get some measure of relief out of this fight. Good luck with your fight.

  • Comments from friends in the aftermath of this epic battle:
    • Roger B.: Always get them to send you an email with the details of the transaction before signing off from the chat. It's amazing how quickly they will stop lying when they have to put their name to something.
      • My Reply: That's great advice Roger. Unfortunately, it's sometimes difficult to get them to do that. This time around the representative signed off rather quickly. I asked for an email with details, but I didn't receive it. As a matter of fact, in all my dealings with Comcast representatives, I've never actually received an email from one of them. As you indicated, liars don't like to put their names on any written form of communication. That's another reason why I prefer to use the chat method of communicating with Comcast representatives. I keep the chat transcripts whenever I can, but sometimes technological issues interfere with that.
      • My conspiratorial musings: I wouldn't be surprised if the evil corporation didn't give their representatives a 'kill' button which sent malicious code over the chat session. The code might be designed to crash a 'javascript' or 'java' powered chat session.
    • Chris U.: Now if you can please fix that ISIS problem. Thanks a bunch.
      • My Reply: Comcast is a way bigger threat to our way of life than ISIS. Let's try to focus on the imminent dangers.
    • Chris U's response: damn, that's good rob.

All in all - I'm going to count today as a small victory in my corner. I finally got them to restore the premium channels they had removed from my plan. I was promised (by the lying Comcast representative) five premium channels as part of my 'Upgrade'. I ended up with one free channel (Starz), and I had to fight 'tooth and nail' in order to get Showtime and HBO added back to my plan for $1.00 each.</rant>

Colorado WeatherSnow, Snow, and more - Snow!
February isn't usually this snowy, but that hasn't stopped mother nature - I guess we won't have a drought this year. Here's another week of snow storms that kept me and my snow-blower busy. The snow and cold started on Friday, the 20th of Feb, 2015. By Saturday evening we had 2 inches of snow. It was a slow and steady pace, and as the temperatures dropped on the evening of Saturday, the pace started to pick up a bit. It snowed all night long. By the time Sunday morning arrived, we had a total of 10 inches. I went out there and shoveled, but that didn't cause the snow to stop. I waited until later in the day, but we still got more snow. I was hoping it would stop, so I wouldn't need to shovel after work (on Monday), but as I indicated earlier; Mother Nature had other plans. Arriving home from work on Monday (the 23nd of February), I had another two inches to clean up. But wait! that's not all. On Wednesday (the 25th of Feb) it snowed again - Gadzooks! When does winter end?

Feb 10, 2015

D&D AdventureHouse Rules:
Like any other D&D campaign (outside of tournament play), the campaign that I manage makes use of various house rules. You can pick up a new copy of these House Rules online. The House Rules are published in pdf format, and they define the 'flavor' of our campaign. Every good DM has his own list of House Rules. Recently, I've updated one of the house rules documents used in our campaign.

As noted over previous years (during "Rob's World!" campaign play), I have always* applied a house rule that I’ve never documented (before now). That house rule involves a character’s starting age. *The only time this ‘house rule’ hasn’t been applied is when the character is 1st level. At all other times; whenever a character is created at a level other than 1st, I have always directed that the character must add some additional years to account for the amount of time that has passed since the character first began adventuring. You're not going to encounter (or be allowed to run) an 18 year old Human warrior that's already 8th level (unless of course there are some serious extenuating circumstances in your character's background).

The particular method (for calculating a character’s age) has changed over the years, but the most frequently used modifier, and the one I am now codifying in the House Rules; is 'The 1.5 Rule'. For each level beyond 1st (because that’s assumed in the character’s starting age rules - See PH pages 7 & 110), add an additional 1.5 years to the character’s age.

There is no specific House Rule for ‘Character Age’, but a character’s age is mentioned (significantly) in two of the existing House Rules. As a result of this change, I have updated two pages (two rules) in the “Rob’s World!” House Rules. The ‘ABILITY SCORES:’ rule on page 15, and the ‘ABILITY SCORE MODIFIERS:’ rule on page 16. Here are the revised rules:

When determining stats and adjustments due to ability scores, use the PHB pgs 7-10. Age and Race modifiers are used IAW PHB pgs 10 & 109 (add another 1.5 years per level after 1st). The following ability scores are used in this Campaign. Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Constitution (CON), Intelligence (INT), Wisdom (WIS), and Charisma (CHA). See PHB pgs 7-10. In addition, a Renown score is also computed. (see below)

Aging and racial modifiers are used when determining a character's ability scores. See PHB pgs 10 & 109 (add another 1.5 years per level after 1st). In addition, age modifiers may be applied to a character's existing ability scores due to some unforeseen circumstance. Watch out for those Ghosts!

Note that these changes do not change the page count or index numbers (locations of rules) in the House Rules, as each rule had enough room at the end of the paragraph to add the additional text without changing the length of the overall content on the affected pages.

I have updated the House Rules available on our website: <http://www.robsworld.org/3ehsrls.pdf>, and <http://www.robsworld.org/dndcampaign/House%20Rules/>. I have also printed new pages (15 & 16) and inserted them into the hard copy printouts that I maintain for use at the table. If you have a copy of the House Rules, I recommend that you update your copy (if you're keeping a hardcopy of your own) in order to include these updates. If you have any questions about Character Age or these changes to the house rules, please feel free to contact me.

*Always is a long time: I don't actually believe, nor expect anyone to believe me (or believe anyone) when I use a term such as 'Always' or 'Never'.

These updates follow the creation of a new character (a new player joined our campaign after the last adventure concluded). These updates and more make their way to the players and some interested parties (lurkers) throughout the year. You can keep up to date with our adventures by continuing to visit "Rob's World!" for all the latest campaign info. Although our traditional 'Journal' style updates have ended (No one has the time to produce the drafts I used for the official 'Journal' updates) I'm doing my best to keep the rules documents up to date for the benefit of our current players, former players and lurkers of all sorts. If you're enjoying the story of our adventurers, I encourage you to write me and let us know. Perhaps you've got an idea you'd like to share, some criticism or praise. Either way, it'll be earnestly appreciated.

ComcastComcast Sucks - Continued:
<rant>If you read my previous month's rant about Comcast (a three part story), you know that I made the mistake of engaging Comcast Customer service in an endeavor. I tried to 'Upgrade' my Comcast 'Experience'. The results were heartache, disappointment and downright despair, stretched over several hours of toil and trouble. Did I get what I wanted? Well, I really couldn't say until now - and the answer; unsurprisingly, is no. After all the work and trouble, I really had to wait until I saw my first bill. I couldn't fathom or calculate success or failure without seeing the first bill. As I had feared, Comcast screwed me. The first bill after all my changes clearly revealed that Comcast had not delivered what was promised.

On/about the 5th of Feb, 2015 - I received a bill from Comcast for $258.68! So much for lowering my bill! Soon after receiving the bill, I fired up my browser and engaged Comcast in a 'Chat' session. Attempting to speak in person would only have resulted in more frustration. Thankfully, the chat sessions offer a couple of advantages. No foreign accents to get in the way, and a permanent record of the details discussed. What follows is a transcript of that conversation. When necessary I will editorialize in Italics with colored font, to emphasize the addition of my editorial or intentional redaction/obfuscation. The session started at approximately 0855MST:

  • user ROBERT has entered room
  • analyst Glory has entered room
  • Glory: Hello ROBERT_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Glory. Please give me one moment to review your information.
  • Glory: Thank you for contacting Billing Department. It's my pleasure to have you on chat. Hope you are doing fine.
  • ROBERT_: My Issue: I received a very high bill ($258.5 a couple days ago. I would like to discuss it.
  • Glory: I understand you are trying to verify why your bill is high, right?
  • ROBERT_: That's right. There are a lot of charges that don't make sense and seem to be 'wrong'.
  • Glory: Thank you very much for verifying Robert.
  • Glory: I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you. I can certainly understand how this is for you and I really appreciate the opportunity to make things right.
  • Glory: I see you have logged into your account so there is no need for us to verify security thank you for doing that.
  • Glory: Please give me 2-3 minutes to pull up your account and check. Will that be okay with you?
  • ROBERT_: yes
  • Glory: Thank you for patiently waiting.
  • Glory: Robert, I found the account and it shows here that the bill is high because there is an Early Termination Fee of $60.00 that was charged on our current bill.
    • I've been a Comcast customer for several years, and the changes to my account came during a period where I hadn't made any changes for more than 2 years, I wasn't bound by a current contract, yet for some reason they charged me a 'termination' fee. It's not like I quit Comcast, and then came back. Early termination makes no sense as I had been with Comcast for several years (Hooked up Comcast in our new house in March of 2005/Price 'For Life' was locked in during March of 2008). This is likely an administrative practice which occurs any-time a customer changes their plan - I'm guessing that they just apply it on any change, assuming that the changes were the result of a termination in an existing account. If you ask me it's a B.S. move which they try to get away with by default. Most people won't challenge this type of practice.
  • Glory: There is also a $15.00 Self Install Kit/Shipping fee and $10.00 Modem Rental
  • ROBERT_: Why was there an early termination fee? Why is there a modem rental fee?
  • Glory: No worries though, because the $60.00 Early Termination Fee was already credited to your account
  • Glory: And for the modem , I will remove it from your account now since it shows here that you are using your own modem.
    • Here's another couple of examples where B.S. charges are applied when Comcast knew that they weren't applicable. The $15.00 Self Install Kit/Shipping Fee wasn't applicable as discussed previously (during the month of January). Comcast can't charge me when I install the equipment myself. It's illegal. They said they would waive it, then they charged me anyway. The other charge is also B.S. Comcast knew that I had my own modem before they charged me. It was discussed during my previous conversations. Once again - These are the types of charges that they apply by default, hoping that customers won't challenge them or notice the charges. I believe these charges are likely illegal. Given the fact that these particular charges were discussed ahead of time, and still charged to my account makes me feel like a victim, and I can only imagine how many more victims are out there. These deceptive and predatory practices are a clear sign of contempt and disregard for the customer. If Comcast wasn't the only option I would drop them in a hot minute. Unfortunately American consumers must suffer this monopoly without recourse.
  • Glory: That is $70.00 credit already applied to your account
  • ROBERT_: O.k. Why am I paying extra for 'Blast Internet Svc'?
  • Glory: Blast is an upgrade for Internet Speed
  • Glory: Did you request to upgrade your speed when you changed your package?
  • ROBERT_: No - What internet service is provided with my package?
  • Glory: The package includes Performance with speed up to 25mbps
  • ROBERT_: What is the name of the package that I have?
  • Glory: It is HD Preferred XF Triple Play
  • Glory: Would you like to cancel Blast upgrade from the account?
  • ROBERT_: Can you provide a link to a description of HD Preferred XF Triple Play package? I would like to read a description of the package.
  • Glory: YOu can find our offers at http://www.comcast.com/
  • Glory: Please choose Triple Play package in the Products Tab at the top portion
  • ROBERT_: please wait while I try to find that.
  • ROBERT_: There is not Triple Play package in the products tab at the top left of the comcast.com page:
  • ROBERT_: I have a screen capture but see no way to share that.
  • Glory: Robert, I can give you instead the details and services included in your current package
  • ROBERT_: No - I don't really believe anything you type. I want to see it in writing.
  • Glory: Please check under Bundles & Deals Tab
  • ROBERT_: Here is a link to the screen capture: https://www.dropbox.com/s/intentionallyredactedbyauthor/Voila_Capture%202015-02-07_09%3A12%3A12.png?dl=0
  • ROBERT_: There is no 'Triple Play package' anywhere on the Products menu.
  • Glory: I am sorry Robert, but we have limited access and was not able to access that link. I can connect you to our partner in Sales Department for them to walk you through how to access the offer online
  • Glory: Is that okay?
  • ROBERT_: No
  • ROBERT_: I prefer to resolve my questions/issues without having to be transferred between multiple departments. I don't want to re-explain every question over and over again.
    • Here's another tactic that Comcast tries to employ. Transfer the customer as many times as possible. Especially if they're 'difficult' - This get's rid of the 'difficult' customer, frees the customer service rep to do other things and possibly results in not needing to explain or correct billing problems. I don't want to have to start all over again. If this customer service rep transfers me, I'll have to start all over again, and it's likely that the next customer service rep won't be able to provide any better 'service'.
  • Glory: I apologize Robert, we have limited access to the offers online as we are from Billign Department and if you will allow me, I can give you the details of the package instead since you are unable to pull it up online
  • ROBERT_: No - I am not unable to pull it up online. You are unable to give me a URL where I can view the information. I have provided you a URL which shows a screen capture of the menu you asked me to look at. Why can't you give me a URL which describes the 'Triple Play Package' or the Performance internet?
  • Glory: I am sorry about that Robert, but we have limited access to the offers online as we are from BIllign Department and only our partner in Sales Department has the full access to that online
  • ROBERT_: Now checking 'Bundles & Deals' tab/menu.
  • ROBERT_: I see Xfinity Triple Play.
  • Glory: I can give you details of your bills instead as that is our scope of support
  • Glory: All our offers are available at http://www.comcast.com/ , that is the link provided to us
  • ROBERT_: That's what I am asking for. What internet service is provided with my pacakge? You said Performance Internet. Now I'm trying to determine what 'Performance Internet' is.
  • ROBERT_: I see a description of 'Xfinity Triple Play' on: <http://www.comcast.com/Corporate/Learn/Bundles/bundles.html>
  • ROBERT_: Xfinity internet under 'Xfinity Internet': http://www.comcast.com/Corporate/Learn/Bundles/bundles.html#second_module
  • Glory: If you want information about Performance, you need to go to Internet pacagkes alone and the system will ask you to enter your Comcast log in to access the packages specific to your account
  • ROBERT_: I will try that.
  • Glory: After you go that link, click the yellow button that says SHOP LATEST OFFERS so you can log in
  • ROBERT_: I am logged in.
  • Glory: Please tell me if it works, I have no further access anymore since there is a need for you to log in and we have no access to that
  • ROBERT_: There is no yellow button that says 'shop latest offers' on the page I'm on: <https://customer.comcast.com/Overview/>.
  • Glory: It is in the right portion of this link
  • Glory: http://www.comcast.com/Corporate/Learn/Bundles/bundles.html#second_module
  • ROBERT_: The right portion of this link? I went to that page... Perhaps you meant on the right hand side of the page?
  • ROBERT_: The page shows three sections. Xfinity TV, Xfinity internet, Xfinity voice.
  • ROBERT_: The Xfinity internet section states: XFINITY® Internet XFINITY® Internet delivers the fastest in-home WiFi for all rooms, all devices, all the time. Get the reliably fast speeds you need, even during peak hours. Plus, help stay safe online with a comprehensive protection suite and get access to millions of hotspots nationwide, all included at no additional cost.
  • Glory: The fastest, most reliablein-home WiFiGet the speed you need to do more of everything you love online at home and on the go. See for yourself.Shop latest offers New Customer?
  • ROBERT_: There is nothing here about Performance internet. And no yellow button
  • Glory: That is in the right portion of the page
  • ROBERT_: I see it now. At the top of the page. The link you provided brought me to the middle of the page.
  • ROBERT_: I have clicked 'shop latest offers'.
  • Glory: Please tell me if that directs you to the offers as I cannot go beyond that page anymore since there is a need for you to log in your Comcast log in
  • ROBERT_: The page:
  • ROBERT_: sorry - standby
  • ROBERT_: The page: <https://www.comcast.com/upgrade-center/offers>
  • ROBERT_: shows 'Performance' home internet as speeds of 50mbps
  • ROBERT_: That's not 25mbps. You said 25mbps. This page says performance = 50mbps
    • Here we go. Comcast charged me extra to get 50mbps, even though the Triple-Play that I signed up for is supposed to deliver 50mbps as part of the package. Comcast deceptive practices. This is just criminal. They're charging me twice for the increased speed.
  • ROBERT_: I have a screen capture at: <https://www.dropbox.com/s/intentionallyredactedbyauthor/Voila_Capture%202015-02-07_09%3A35%3A20.png?dl=0>
  • ROBERT_: I was told that the 'Triple Play' package that I was signing up for was 50mbps speed.
  • Glory: Okay, thank you for that information Robert. Your area is one of those who were given the double your speed upgrade for speed recently
  • ROBERT_: Why do I have to pay extra (Blast! internet svc) to get the 50mbps speed that I was promised under this triple play package?
  • Glory: We can just cancel Blast from the account Robert and you will receive a credit of $12.00
  • Glory: There is no need to add that anymore since Performance will already give you 50mbps as per the website
  • ROBERT_: What is the Blast! svc? Can you provide a link?
  • ROBERT_: I see it on that same page.
  • ROBERT_: I'm reading it now.
  • Glory: The same link for that Robert
  • ROBERT_: I do not want the Blast! svc. The Performance level provided with my package is enough, and I never asked for a Blast! svc.
  • Glory: Okay, we can cancel Blast then and you will be credited for $12
    • So here's another 'add-on' that I didn't ask for. Comcast decided that they would also increase my internet speed beyond what I asked for.
  • Glory: Shall we proceed with that?
  • ROBERT_: Yes - but we're not done with other things I would like to discuss.
  • ROBERT_: I have two contracts that I signed when I changed my current plan (on the 25th of January).
  • ROBERT_: One contract describes the 'HD Preferred XF Triple Play' package.
  • ROBERT_: The other contract describes a 'Premium Entertainment' offer.
  • ROBERT_: The premium entertainment offer describes: the following for 24 months: 2 Premium Channels (Choice of HBO®, Starz®, Cinemax®, or Showtime®). Once selected, the selected Premium Channels cannot be changed for 24 months. Each Premium $1.00 more per month for months 1 – 24. Requires subscription to Limited Basic TV service (or higher) at regular rate and both selected premiums.
  • ROBERT_: Why am I not receiving the two additional channels that I signed up for?
  • Glory: I am sorry but I can see that there are no premium channels in the account now, we only have HD Preferred Triple Play here that is showing in the system
  • ROBERT_: I have a copy of that agreement here: <https://www.dropbox.com/s/intentionallyredactedbyauthor/Comcast%20Agreement%20Terms-a.pdf?dl=0>
  • ROBERT_: The agreement says that I would get two additional premium channels for $1.00 each (for 24 months).
  • Glory: I am sorry Robert but we have no access to that link here on our end. We can add back the channels to your account but this needs to processed through Sales Department. So you an access the channels again
  • ROBERT_: Starz comes with the 'HD Preferred XF Triple Play' package. I also agreed to the 'Premium Entertainment' offer, but I am not receiving those additional channels.
  • ROBERT_: So you cannot do this?
  • Glory: The channels are not currently listed as part of your services and we need to add it back to your account with the help of our partner in Sales Department
  • ROBERT_: It must be done through sales?
  • Glory: Yes
  • ROBERT_: One minute please. I need to check my notes to see if there is anything else you might be able to help me with.
  • Glory: Okay
  • ROBERT_: O.k. Earlier in our conversation you indicated that my account would be credited $10.00 for the modem lease (I am using my personally owned modem). Is that correct?
  • Glory: Yes
  • ROBERT_: Earlier in our conversation, you indicated that my account would be or has been credited for the 'early termination' fee. Is that correct?
  • Glory: Yes
  • ROBERT_: You indicated that the Blast! service would be removed from my account. Will I be credited for the $12.00? I was billed for it, but I did not agree to the addition of Blast! service.
  • Glory: Yes
  • ROBERT_: Can you tell me how much my monthly bill will be, with a recap of the services?
  • Glory: Your current month's bill after the credit is $176.68
  • Glory: Your monthly rate moving forward is at around $137.67 after taxes
  • ROBERT_: Are you going to provide a recap?
  • ROBERT_: I would like to know what I will be paying for before taxes
  • Glory: Yes, Robert, I am taking note of your services. Please bear with me
  • Glory: Thank you.
  • Glory: Your current services in the account is HD Preferred Triple Play $119.99 per month with Digital Adapter of $2.99. Total of $122.98 before taxes
  • ROBERT_: Thank you.
  • Glory: You are welcome.
  • ROBERT_: Will I receive a new bill in the mail? I would like something; either email or paper, that indicates what my next bill will be, including the amount due and date due.
  • Glory: I am sorry but we only generate the bill once
  • ROBERT_: The bill I currently have says $258.68, but that's wrong
  • Glory: With this, you will only be able to see the credit that we discussed on your next bill
  • ROBERT_: What is my total amount due, by payment due date of 02/26/15 (that's the due date on the current paper copy that I have).
  • Glory: Your current month's bill after the credit is $176.68
  • ROBERT_: Thank you.
  • Glory: You are welcome
  • ROBERT_: Can you transfer me to a sales representative to discuss the 'Premium Entertainment offer'?
  • Glory: Alright, please stay online for the next representative
  • Glory: Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst
    • Here we go - I'm going to get transfered. As I explained above, this will likely result in a lot of grief.
  • user ROBERT has entered room
  • analyst Dinesh has entered room
  • Waiting for response from Glory
  • analyst Glory has left room
  • Dinesh: It's a privilege to have you here on chat and I am looking forward to provide you excellent service!
  • ROBERT_: Hello - On the 25th of January, 2015, I engaged in a very long 'sales' chat with a Comcast representative. On that date, I agreed to change my Comcast services.
  • ROBERT_: I agreed to two new services.
  • Dinesh: Thank you for providing that information.
  • ROBERT_: An 'HD Preferred XF Triple Play' package, and a 'Premium Entertainment offer'
  • Dinesh: What services you had agreed?
  • Dinesh: Thank you.
  • Dinesh: May I know the price?
  • ROBERT_: I am not receiving the two additional premium channels that I agreed to under the 'Premium Entertainment offer'. I saved the pdf of the offer that I agreed to, but I never received the additional channels.
  • ROBERT_: I can provide you with a link (dropbox) to the offer (in pdf format), or I can copy and paste the text from that offer/contract into this chat session.
  • ROBERT_: The offer stipulated: The Premium Entertainment offer includes the following for 24 months: 2 Premium Channels (Choice of HBO®, Starz®, Cinemax®, or Showtime®). Once selected, the selected Premium Channels cannot be changed for 24 months. Each Premium $1.00 more per month for months 1 – 24. Requires subscription to Limited Basic TV service (or higher) at regular rate and both selected premiums.
  • Dinesh: Thank you for providing that information.
  • Dinesh: May I know which channels, you want to get added?
  • ROBERT_: Here is a link to the full 'Premium Entertainment' offer/contract: <https://www.dropbox.com/s/intentionallyredactedbyauthor/Comcast%20Agreement%20Terms-a.pdf?dl=0>
  • ROBERT_: One minute please.
  • Dinesh: Sure
  • ROBERT_: Starz comes free/as part of the 'HD Preferred XF Triple Play' that I am already receiving, so I would like to add the HBO and Showtime channels.
  • user ROBERT has entered room
  • analyst Dinesh has entered room
  • Dinesh: Thank you.
  • ROBERT_: What happened? Did you see my last chat?
  • Dinesh: I am checking the details.
  • ROBERT_: ok
  • Dinesh: I can add the Showtime and HBO for $1/mo each channels for first 24 months with 2 years contract after that $19.99/mo each.
  • ROBERT_: O.k. Can the contract date match the date that I originally agreed to? I signed up for both services: 'HD Preferred XF Triple Play' and the 'Premium Entertainment' offer on the 25th of January, 2015.
  • Dinesh: It will start from today's and previsous one removed.
  • ROBERT_: o.k
  • Dinesh: Thank you.
    • Here's another opportunity for Comcast to charge me an 'Early Termination' fee. Anytime you change your service; even if it's to correct their billing errors, they might take the opportunity to penalize the customer - claiming that I 'terminated' my service. They would imply that this is some sort of penalty for being a bad customer and 'terminating' my service. Like I did something wrong. I'm trying to correct the billing errors that they introduced through their deceptive practices - well, I'll admit that some of this may be 'incompetence' or simple 'mistakes' on the behalf of the billing department employees, but I suspect that it is intentional practice, encouraged and possibly even trained as a way to increase profits at the expense of the customer.
  • ROBERT_: Can you confirm how much more will I pay per month with the addition of this 'Premium Entertainment' package/offer?
  • Dinesh: Current bill will be increased by $2/mo however while adding the channels, I am getting some technical error.
  • Dinesh: I am trying to fix it.
  • ROBERT_: waiting
  • Dinesh: Thank you.
  • Dinesh: I regret to inform you that due to unexpected error, I am unable to add however I would suggest you to call at 1800-XFINITY and they may able to add the channels.
  • Dinesh: I am also making a notes into account so that they may easily assist you with.
  • Dinesh: I apologize for the inconvenience.
  • ROBERT_: Why will calling on the phone make a difference?
  • Dinesh: I understand.
  • Dinesh: Robert, I tried my level best to fix it now but as this is an technical error, I am unable to fix it now.
  • Dinesh: That is why, I suggest you to call at 1800-XFINITY as they may only fix the issue.
  • ROBERT_: o.k.
  • Dinesh: Thank you.
  • ROBERT_: Goodby
  • Dinesh: Thank you for understanding!, I have added a notes as well.
  • Dinesh: If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to chat with us at your convenience. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Comcast also offers great FAQ and Help forums located at http://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/ to help you solve many issues on your own.
  • Dinesh: Thank you for contacting Comcast and have a great day.
  • Dinesh: Stay blessed and be safe Robert!
  • Dinesh: Bye bye!

After this, I dialed 1-800-934-6489. Hopefully they can help me get the 'Premium Entertainment' package that I was offered on the 25th of January, 2015. The first thing I got was that crappy 'your modem isn't high speed' bullshit. It's an automated message of some sort which looks at it's records and sees the last modem that I used with Comcast. Their old records still show me as using an SB5100 (I've since upgraded to an SB6141 - which is 'High Speed'). Then I had to speak to the machine which misunderstood everything I said. I so hate talking to their 'Intelligent Assistant' phone maze. Eventually I had to press the buttons, and even enter the last four of my social security number...

More automated crap about providing feedback in a survey after the service call. Finally I got to speak to someone. During that phone call, I spoke with Benjamin. He read all the notes associated with my account. I can only imagine what the notes say! He's seen the $1.00 offer in people's accounts, but he can't do that? He puts me on hold to talk to the technical services department to see if they can allow that code... I don't know what's going on. Transferred over to the 'Loyalty Team'. This is where all my problems began (on the 25th of Jan, 2015). Great - I'm probably going to get screwed again.

Waiting. 1046-1048mst Now speaking to Haley... I explain what happened on the 25th of January, 2015. (It was actually the 20th of January, 2015... I'm not sure why the Comcast Agreement terms say 25th of January in the bottom corner, and 20 January on the top of the agreement). She's saying she can't honor the offer I was provided. She won't give me her 'personal' Comcast email address, and she won't look at the offer that I have a copy of in Dropbox. We spoke for approximately 8 minutes. The more I spoke to her, and heard her excuses, the more upset I became. She offered me the two channels for free for three months. Why can't I get the deal I was offered and agreed to? She has internet connectivity and an email address but she won't allow me to forward the offer that I agreed to?

She insists that I have to go to the local Comcast office. That only they can look at my offer and provide the service, even though it was the loyalty department who offered me this offer to begin with (on the 25th of January, 2015). Now I'm asking to speak to a supervisor. On hold. 1056-1101mst. Haley(sp?) Comes back on the phone and says she's just transferring my information over. I say 'o.k.' On hold. 1101-1108mst. Haley's back. Her supervisor can submit a ticket and get this issue escalated. The result will be that I will get the 'Premium Channels' offer that I was promised and agreed to. I will get HBO & Showtime for $1.00 each for 24 months. Theses channels will be effective within 48 hours. I agree to this.

I'll probably get screwed, because none of this is written down anywhere. Of course they record everything, but that doesn't make any difference (this is why I prefer the chat option). On hold. 1112-1116mst. Haley comes back on the line. Everything is set to go. You'll get an email with the details, and the channels should be available within 48 hours. So, today's Comcast experience took ~2.5 hours.

Stay tuned... I'm sure there will be more grief in my future, and you'll certainly want to know how I fare in my battles with Comcast.</rant>

Colorado WeatherYes - Robert, it's still Winter!
Every now and then Colorado sends a little surprise our way. A surprise in the form of a snow storm. As it is still winter, it doesn't really come as too much of a surprise. The only issue with this particular deposition of precipitation was its water content. This particular storm hit us on the evening of 31 Jan, 2014, extending through the night and into the morning. The storm finally ended around mid-morning on the 1st of Feb, 2015. In all we received approximately six inches of very wet and heavy snow. I ran the snow blower, but even it had a hard time moving this extremely dense snow out of my drive way. Given the way our temperatures swing, it would probably be all gone within a week. All except the snow at the very top of my drive way. I've got a north facing house, and the winter shadows keep that part of the house in the shade for most of the year. Everyone across the street will have clear yards and driveways in no time - just from the melting caused by sunlight. My house will keep snow for a long time. So, as my mom would say 'Go shovel young man'.

Music CollectionFound some new tunes for February:
Here's a list of some of the music I recently acquired. Where do I get all this stuff? For the long story on my music discovery efforts, see my music page. After rdio was shut down (in Dec of 2015), I searched for an alternative streaming service, but the only thing that made sense (given price, catalog, service, support and my existing preferences) was Apple Music. I signed up for a 3 month free trial in December of 2015, and I've been a $9.99/month subscriber ever since - Thank you for not raising your prices (as of Feb, 2019). For now, eMusic is my primary download service (even though it's catalog is severely shrunken - no major labels, and the minor labels seem to be disappearing on a daily basis), and Apple Music streaming is my primary music discovery service, but I certainly can't afford to buy my music from them, and the other major players - Amazon and Google both think that the outrageous prices that Apple charges are o.k. Really? - $1.29 for a single track!

Artists want you to Hear their music - If you like it, you'll buy it; or maybe you'll buy some concert tickets - That's where bands really make their money. The major labels of the music industry want you to pay for their product. - letting you hear it for free is contrary to their business model. Well, guess what? I won't buy the music if I can't listen to it first, and no one listens to the radio anymore (I don't because of all the advertising, interruptions, lack of new music and lack of information - you can never figure out who/what is being played) The major labels are killing themselves with their restrictive distribution and dissemination policies. If you like new music, you can do a web search to find your favorite artist's web site, a new music web site, or an archive of free music. Free music is available - Legally! Don't believe the propaganda of the major labels - Not all free music is illegal. You can legally download and listen to all sorts of music for free (Have you heard of Pandora, Presto, MySpace, SoundCloud or DashRadio?). I download (purchase) most of my music from a couple of commercial sources (eMusic and iTunes), but I occasionally download tracks (legally) from various websites, newsgroups and blogs in order to satisfy my craving for music.

Here's a listing of some of the music I legally downloaded - and paid for!

eMusic monthly downloads:
Every month I download ~50 tracks from eMusic.com. This month (Feb of 2015) I downloaded 42 tracks (from eMusic) at the low cost of $22.77. Despite the published non-member cost of $22.77, I only pay a $19.99 monthly fee. This makes the tracks extremely cheap - That's right I didn't actually pay $22.77, that would have been the price if I purchased individual tracks at the non-member price (still cheaper than iTunes). When you purchase an entire album you get a discount. Plus I get a discount for being on a specific plan (as a member), and I've been 'Grandfathered' with additional credits since I'm a long-time loyal member (since 2006). As a subscriber, you save even more. I only paid $19.99 for my $22.77 worth of downloads. The price for these tracks came out at ~$0.48 per track - Way less than the cost on iTunes or Amazon. A non-subscriber/non-member would have paid nearly $38.00! If you bought these tracks on iTunes you might have paid more than $50.00!

* Night Cafe' - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: (10 songs) One of my all-time favorite bands. OMD was formed back in 1978. This English Electronic band has been a favorite since my discovery (of them) back in the early 80s. One of their early songs - Enola Gay (1980), hooked me, and I've been a fan ever since. Originally composed of two co-founders: Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, I hadn't realized that Humphreys left the band in 1989. Now I've got a lead on a new band to check out! Both bands disbanded in 1996, but OMD reformed in 2006 with Humphreys and McCluskey back together again. The Night Cafe' EP was released in 2013. At ten songs, I'm not quite sure why it's an EP...
* Irene & Mavis - Blancmange: (6 tracks) A new band (to me) discovered by listening to rdio recommendations. This band has been around forever... Formed in 1979 (see OMD above), this English synth-pop band was formed in Harrow, London. With very similar foundations, this band has been overlooked for a long time. They performed alongside Soft Cell and Depeche Mode, but they never really took off the way many other New Wave bands did. This particular EP has a very experimental sound, with plenty of noise and percussive syncopation. Very light on the lyrics. Unfortunately, this bands work can no longer be obtained on eMusic.
* Unsound - Mission of Burma: (11 songs) American punk/post-punk band, formed in 1979 (in Boston, MA). Like many bands from the late 70s/early 80s, Mission of Burma went through a break-up in the 80s, only to reform in the 2000's. This album (Unsound) was released most recently (in 2012). I wish I had discovered this band earlier. I remember hearing them back in the 80s, but I didn't follow-up, so now I'm doing my best to get caught up. Unfortunately, eMusic doesn't have any of their earlier recordings...
* High Top Mountain - Sturgill Simpson: (12 songs) Now that's more like it. This is the find of the month. Damn! No longer available on eMusic. Going back a couple of years (from Feb 2019 - to Feb of 2015), I find that many of the bands I want to explore are no longer available on eMusic. I spent several days at home during the month of February. I was sick with the flu, but it hasn't been all misery and chicken soup, thanks to Sturgill Simpson (on rdio). It's not too often that Country Music turns me on, but here's some outstanding music by a new artist who proudly compares to Waylon Jennings. Not sappy pap-pop pretending to be country, but truly excellent country music that resonates with the past yet begrudgingly accepts the future. With two albums behind his solo show, it's about time there's been something worth listening to out of all that emo-crap that rdio was dishing my way. I must admit that I don't always get along with Country Music - because some of it is pop-music disguised as country, but this album is outstanding. His Americana, roots rock has an alt-country sound that I can easily appreciate.
* Crying Lightning - Arctic Monkeys: (3 tracks) This EP by a favorite band makes me wish that eMusic still had some Arctic Monkey selections. Unfortunately, they must have become too popular. Anything that can't be found on eMusic must now - by default - fall into the category of no longer being 'avant garde' or 'new'. Can't have anything too mainstream on eMusic.

Unlike some music outlets, eMusic doesn't have any DRM and they don't insert unique track id's into the ID3 tags. Their terms of service are consumer friendly. eMusic allows you to burn as many CDs as you like and copy downloads to an unlimited number of your computers and portable MP3 players. At less than $.50 a track (I'm currently paying $19.99 for $22.99 worth of downloads per month) you can't really go wrong. You don't have to be a member/monthly subscriber to access the site or buy music, and the membership prices (per album) are compared to the non-member prices right up front, so you can see how much you save as a monthly member. eMusic offers a really good value for your download dollar. iTunes and Amazon still charge more. eMusic offers more music for your money, and the variable bit rate recordings make for exceptionally high quality recordings. If you still want your own copies of the music, check out eMusic.

These are some of the items I added to my music collection during this month. Since revamping my music collection back in September of 2005, I've been slowly adding, revising and updating the collection. If you have a comment, question or correction regarding my music collection, please don't hesitate to send me an email. Please keep in mind that my collection isn't for sale, and I'm not interested in giving you any copyrighted materials. I'd rather not go to jail for music piracy. :-)