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Old 01-07-2012, 12:44 PM   #1
slowbiscuit
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Additional outlet fees on Comcast under new FCC Cablecard rules

Are folks still getting charged an additional outlet fee for the 2nd or more cards, minus the credit? From the way I read the new FCC rules, Comcast can only charge to rent a card, they can't charge the service fee. But they still show the old rental fees of $0.00 for first card in device and $1.50 for second (for the old Tivo S3s that needed two cards) with no mention of card rental for additional devices.

I recently added a card and they are charging me the outlet fee ($9.95) minus the $2.50 credit, but I'm not sure this is correct with the new rules. I know they're giving the credit for the first card since it's part of the package price, but I'm not sure about how the additional cards are supposed to be billed - the rule implies that you pay a rental fee and that's it.

Getting this from http://www.fcc.gov/guides/cablecard-know-your-rights, 3rd para:

Use your own set-top box without extra charge. FCC Rule 76.1205(b)(5)(C). Your cable operator may charge you to lease a CableCARD or tuning adapter, but may not charge you an additional service fee for using your own digital-cable-ready television or set-top box.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:22 PM   #2
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Would they have the same charge if you rented their cable box? If not, then I don't believe it's permitted.
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:21 AM   #3
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Would they have the same charge if you rented their cable box? If not, then I don't believe it's permitted.
I suspect that is how they are getting away with it. The "additional digital outlet fee" includes a HD converter or one CableCARD. If you have your own equipment, such as a TIVO, they still charge the same amount but then give you a "Customer Owned Equipment" credit.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:30 AM   #4
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Hmm maybe that explains why Comcast *didn't* charge me an outlet fee when I added CableCards to our second S3 recently. They just charged 2x$1.50 for them when I was expecting an outlet fee plus at least 1 $1.50 CableCard fee (depending on whether the first was free or not on additional outlets too).

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Old 01-08-2012, 11:48 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post
I recently added a card and they are charging me the outlet fee ($9.95) minus the $2.50 credit
I had this problem when I added my SiliconDust HDPrime tuner. It uses a m-stream cablecard and it showed up as $9.95. Its a mistake due to how the woman set it up at the comcast store i went to pick it up at. I called them and they fixed it. Make sure you dont get the $5 charge for making a change to your bill either - another lovely money making "opportunity" they are pulling.

Now I have 2 TiVo Premier's and the Silicon Dust HDPrime - 3 cablecards and no boxes. My bill now shows $3 for the cablecards (2 @ $1.50 each). Then for some reason i get three of the $2.50 credits for customer owned equipment.

Now I am paying $135.12/month for the double-play bundle (all HD cable + 12mbit download) the sports package and 3 m-stream cards.

Hope this helps. -Matt
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Old 01-08-2012, 12:50 PM   #6
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That's exactly what I did, add an SD HDPrime tuner. I'll have to call them and see if I can get the outlet charge removed and the $1.50 extra card charge added instead.
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Old 01-14-2012, 11:05 AM   #7
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Well I finally heard back from Comcast Exec Relations and they are insisting that the outlet fee is correct for extra cards. I disagreed and pointed out the the new rules require them to break out the card rental fee separately, but they only do this for the first card.

So I filed an FCC complaint and referenced FCC rule 76.1205, but I doubt it will go anywhere. I'm now having to pay a net $7.45 for each extra card because of the outlet fee.
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Old 01-14-2012, 03:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post
Well I finally heard back from Comcast Exec Relations and they are insisting that the outlet fee is correct for extra cards. I disagreed and pointed out the the new rules require them to break out the card rental fee separately, but they only do this for the first card.

So I filed an FCC complaint and referenced FCC rule 76.1205, but I doubt it will go anywhere. I'm now having to pay a net $7.45 for each extra card because of the outlet fee.
While I abhor the "additional outlet fee", I don't think it is a violation of the regulation you cited. You are not actually paying for the CableCARD per se. You are paying for "Digital Additional Outlet Service with HD Converter". You are getting a CableCARD in lieu of an HD converter and a credit for the difference in monthly cost for a card vs. a box.

With Comcast, the only time an actual separate charge for a CableCARD would apply would be if you had more than one card installed in the same device. The only TiVo that needs that is the TiVo 3 OLED.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:41 AM   #9
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The real problem is that a) they don't apply a standard charge universally - just look at the threads here, it's all over the map, and b) they don't break out the card and STB rentals (for extra cards or boxes) separately on the rates per the FCC rules. All they say is that the first card is free and additional card in same device is $1.50. They do not give the actual rate for extra cards, and instead try to hide it in this 'outlet fee minus credit' junk so they can make more money on them.

Comcast is different from every other cableCo in that they do not have a universal rental charge (say, $2-4) per card. This was the FCC's intent, not this bogus outlet fee junk (see second para here). If they are not going to apply this junk universally, they should be called out on it.
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:32 PM   #10
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Another explanation for the rates being all over the place is that they have absorbed so many mom and pop systems with different billing systems.

In my case, they have been incapable of billing my two cards in my Series 3 OLED correctly. They bill me for two cards instead of one additional card and one included in the outlet fee. When I complained, they could not figure out how to make the billing system work according to their published rate card. So for the last two years, I have gotten a $10/month credit. I was being overcharged only $1.99 (soon to be $1.50) and they gave me a $10 credit.

Go figure.
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Old 01-19-2012, 08:09 AM   #11
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And that's exactly why they should be taken to task with the FCC - they alone do not charge the same rate for them uniformly as the new rules require.

We really need more people to file complaints about this, and to reference the stories reported here. It's the only way to have even a small chance to get them to change.
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Old 01-19-2012, 01:17 PM   #12
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My personal feeling is that the "additional digital outlet" fee is just a money-grab by Comcast, and I should be paying no more than the FCC-mandated $2-4/month for each CableCARD. I stated this opinion in the FCC complaint that I just filed. My local Comcast office (Nashua, NH) obviously does not agree with my opinion.
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Old 01-24-2012, 12:47 AM   #13
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Comcast charges extra fee for cable card. FCC violation

I have proof! I got a customer rep to admit that the extra outlet charge of $8 is due to the cable card. this really looks like a violation of FCC 76.1205.
I will not post the whole case because it contains personal information but you can reference case ID"6D4C6F36-FDBB-438E-B565-424BBF792A07".

Below is the section of the case that is of importance.

• Marnelli > Total of $9.10 is to be removed.
• James > ok great that helps
• Marnelli > Now let us move to your next concern.
• James > Ok so the additional outlet fee is related to the cable card
• Marnelli > Yes, James.
• James > I would like you to also remove the other Digital Additional Outlet Service fee. However leaving the cable card.
• Marnelli > May I know why, James?
• Marnelli > That is related to cable card.
• James > yeah and it should not be
• Marnelli > When I remove the cable card, one digital additional outlet is also removed.
• James > I know thank you
• Marnelli > As what I have mentioned they are related.
• James > That is in violation to the new fcc rules
• James > FCC 76.1205
• James > I know you may not be able to do anything about this.
• James > I would like you to forward this transcript to your management. I know comcast is just a company trying to provide a service. Their practices of all these hidden charges is just not right.
• Marnelli > Let me try to remove the additional outlet of $8.00 and please check if your cable card is still working.
• James > ok thank you.

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Old 01-24-2012, 08:02 AM   #14
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It is unbelievable how these charges can vary from town to town. I have 2 m-cards, one in each of my TiVos. My charges are:

Cablecard: $0.00
Digital Additional: $6.30
Customer Equip. Credit: ($2.95)
So my total charge is $3.35 per month
Digital Additional is described as "Outlet Service Charge with Cablecard, Includes Customer Owned Video Equipment Credit".

So, they say that the Digital Additional includes the credit, but then they list the credit again. Makes no sense, but I ain't complaining.

I also got a notice that the fees are changing next month, whereby the Cablecard fee (second card in device) will go from $2.50 to $2.15, and the Customer Credit will go from $2.95 to $2.50.

So I expect that my charge will go up $0.45 per month. We'll see.
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Old 01-25-2012, 01:10 PM   #15
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I'm currently using 4 cards, 2 in my S3 (OLED), one in a Premiere and one elsewhere. I'm getting a $2.50 credit per card for all 4 cards (total $10). I'm also not being charged for any of the cards (though technically I think Comcast can charge for the 2nd card in the S3).

I'm not being charged any additional outlet fees. Comcast did add a "Additional Outlet" fee back in June last year, but I convinced them to remove it when I pointed out that their rate card says that fee applies to outlets with a "Digital Converter with HDTV
capabilities". I told them I only have one HD digital converters and that was covered by the "HD Technology Fee" ($9.95) . That fee was waived when I had their Triple Play package, but it came back when I dropped their voice service.

Basically I've never been charged additional outlet fees since I got Comcast at my address a little over 8 years ago.
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Old 02-06-2012, 01:01 PM   #16
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I heard back on my FCC complaint via a call from the same local Comcast Exec Relations specialist that I talked to before when I called corporate. She, not surprisingly, repeated the same line that the outlet fee was correct. I told her that the rate sheet does not state that cards were part of this, and that the only line items for the cards were 'first card in device is free' and 'second card in same device is $1.50'. Going by that sheet, you could make an argument that all cards are free (and many have, and have gottem them for free).

I'm supposed to email a scan of the 2012 rate sheet for the ATL to her, but it will go nowhere I'm sure.

All we can hope is that if enough complaints are filed, somebody at FCC will take notice. She certainly didn't care about all the reports of widely different pricing around the country, but I asked her to escalate this to corporate anyway.
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Old 02-06-2012, 01:39 PM   #17
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I was looking my bill in the SF Bay area recently and it apparently breaks down as:

Digital Outlet Fee $8.00
User Owned Equip Credit $-2.50
First two cable cards are free - subsequent cable cards $1.10

So I have two Elites and one S3 and as a result I have 4 cable cards and have to pay for 2 * $1.10

versus each Digital Outlet gets a free cable card. Anybody else see this?
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:01 PM   #18
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I have gone in circles with Comcast on this issue since September 2007, when I bought a TiVo HD to add to my CableCARD-enabled HDTV. This is when I first ran into the "Additional Digital Outlet" garbage. My TiVo HD with two S-Cards was treated as the primary outlet (free+$1.50), but then I started incurring an additional outlet fee for having a card in my TV, even though "the first card in a device is free." Now I have a Premiere, TiVo HD and the TV, and I get fees for the latter two - recently increased to $8.95/month!

I have pretty much given up. I'll file an FCC complaint and cite the new rules, but I think I'm wasting my time. Comcast thinks they're covering their butts with the new "Customer-Owned Equipment Credit," and I fully expect to get the same response from Executive Care that I have been getting for years.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:41 PM   #19
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As I posted elsewhere Comcast is charging me a digital outlet fee and CableCARD fee for each of my 5 cards, in only two TiVos - for $38 a month.

It will stop. I'm canceling.
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:51 AM   #20
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Comcast in AL

I went to Comcast yesterday to discuss my bill. I just have one TIVO Premier and I was getting charged a CC Fee of 1.50, an additional outlet fee of 9.95, and an HD Technology Fee of 9.95.

They removed all of the fees except the HD Technology Fee. When I asked what happened they said they just needed to be removed.

Someone with a CC HD Box (not a DVR) has to pay this HD Technology Fee as well. You would think since we own are own box this fee would be less, but that isn't the case.
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Old 02-07-2012, 11:02 AM   #21
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I went to Comcast yesterday to discuss my bill. I just have one TIVO Premier and I was getting charged a CC Fee of 1.50, an additional outlet fee of 9.95, and an HD Technology Fee of 9.95.

They removed all of the fees except the HD Technology Fee. When I asked what happened they said they just needed to be removed.

Someone with a CC HD Box (not a DVR) has to pay this HD Technology Fee as well. You would think since we own are own box this fee would be less, but that isn't the case.
I think the HD Technology Fee is just an extra charge for being able to view high definition. Why charge extra for that? Because they can. It's like the phone company still charging extra for touch-tone dialing even though anything that doesn't use that nowadays is an antique.
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Old 02-07-2012, 11:36 AM   #22
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I think the HD Technology Fee is just an extra charge for being able to view high definition. Why charge extra for that? Because they can. It's like the phone company still charging extra for touch-tone dialing even though anything that doesn't use that nowadays is an antique.
According to my rate sheet the HD Technology Fee provides HD service to all boxes on your account.

The HD Technology Fee evolved out of the additional fee for a HD cable box instead of a SD cable box on your first outlet. It used to be that Comcast would provide you one SD cable box as part of your service. If you wanted an HD box you had to pay extra. That additional HD fee also applied to additional outlets.

At some point Comcast decided to change that fee to a "HD Technology Fee" and apply it to all outlets. That way they could say you are only paying once for HD, but at the same time they raised the fee for additional outlets to cover the lost HD per outlet fee.

So basically it was a shell game. Comcast could say they weren't charging a per box HD fee while still collecting the same amount of money.

If you have no HD boxes from Comcast, you shouldn't be paying the fee as it really is a HD box rental fee. Back when I had the HD Triple Play from Comcast, they waived the HD Technology Fee since that package included an HD cable box.
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Old 02-07-2012, 01:58 PM   #23
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Back when I had the HD Triple Play from Comcast, they waived the HD Technology Fee since that package included an HD cable box.
That was my next question. I have one Premier, and one CC HD box. I am paying two HD Technology fees. Under my package, HD Preferred XF, shouldn't I not have to pay for two HD fees?
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Old 02-07-2012, 02:38 PM   #24
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That was my next question. I have one Premier, and one CC HD box. I am paying two HD Technology fees. Under my package, HD Preferred XF, shouldn't I not have to pay for two HD fees?
I think that's up to Comcast. Comcast wants everyone on their Triple Play package so they tend to be more accommodating on fees if you sign up for that (plus they give you "rewards", now called Xfinity Insider).

If your plan is a triple play package, then I would say you probably shouldn't have to pay for the HD Tech Fee, but that's really up to Comcast and what your terms were when you signed up.
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:23 PM   #25
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Smile Update

I contacted CC (through twitter actually) and they opened up a ticket for me. A regional account rep called me the next day to get this straight.

My assumption was correct, my HD Preferred package includes one HD Technology fee. Since I have only two boxes, (one TIVO premier and one CC box) and was being charged two fees, the account rep took off the fee and credited me back the fees I overpaid.

A win win all the way around.
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:42 PM   #26
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As I posted elsewhere Comcast is charging me a digital outlet fee and CableCARD fee for each of my 5 cards, in only two TiVos - for $38 a month.

It will stop. I'm canceling.

Again, this is for 3 HD TiVos.

The rep insisted that this billing is correct. It's not like I pay the same as a customer who was renting 5 HD cable boxes for 5 HD TVs would - they give the $2.50 credit!
(The late fee is due to my bank changing the online bill pay to a new, improved, brain-dead system that doesn't pay the bills.)

Almost $400 a year to use my own equipment.

I insisted they cancel CANCEL CAN CELL CANCEL. Good riddance.

Maybe they can make it up in volume.
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Old 02-08-2012, 01:05 PM   #27
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Not that this would help you, it's probably a regional thing and it took me three months to arrive at this, but this is the way I am being billed for 3 Series 3 boxes with 6 single-stream Cable Cards:


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Old 02-08-2012, 01:39 PM   #28
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Again, this is for 3 HD TiVos.
Two TiVos are S3 OLED with 2 cards each, one is a S4 Premiere with one card. 5 CableCARDs altogether in 3 DVRs.

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Originally Posted by GBL View Post
Not that this would help you, it's probably a regional thing and it took me three months to arrive at this, but this is the way I am being billed for 3 Series 3 boxes with 6 single-stream Cable Cards:

Amazing. It shows I'm not dreaming about being ripped off. A $30 a month difference when you subtract my HBO and you have one more card.

What a way to run a business into the ground.
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Old 02-08-2012, 06:08 PM   #29
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Amazing. It shows I'm not dreaming about being ripped off.
We've had discussions of Comcast's bizarre billing practices here for years. It's one big reason why I switched to FiOS. Comcast's rate structure was much too complicated.

Unfortunately, lately, Frontier FiOS (Verizon dumped us) is starting to pull the same crap as Comcast. They have recently announced some sort of "$10 monthly HD equipment fee". WTF is that? Do TiVo owners need to pay?

Quote:
What a way to run a business into the ground.
Nah. About 99% of the people don't give any of this much thought. Plus in many areas cable is a monopoly, which means they have monopoly pricing power.

Comcast currently has a market cap of about $70B dollars, an enterprise value of $110B dollars. They had $12B of free cash flow last year. Wall Street thinks they're doing quite well.
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:34 PM   #30
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...

Nah. About 99% of the people don't give any of this much thought. Plus in many areas cable is a monopoly, which means they have monopoly pricing power.

Comcast currently has a market cap of about $70B dollars, an enterprise value of $110B dollars. They had $12B of free cash flow last year. Wall Street thinks they're doing quite well.
Comcast, like DirecTV, just can't wait to get rid all of those enthusiastic TiVo groupies, who have multiple boxes and happily pay for the highest packages and have the highest monthlies\ and tell all their friends what the hot setup is and refer oodles more subscribers.

They can do so much better with Ma and Pa and their basic cable service connecting the SD set top box to the TV and enjoying the BIG SCREEN.
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