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Old 11-13-2007, 12:31 PM   #1
cjayr
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Comcast Unfair Business Practices Re Serial Port Change - Please Complain

Comcast has made a software change preventing the use of the serial port on their Motorola boxes. This is a nationwide change and it is, in my opinion, an unfair business practice whose purpose is to reduce competition. We have rights as consumers. Please, lets all exercise our rights.

The cable industry is regulated both at the Federal and local levels. Regulatory responsibilities are split, in this situation the body governing this issue will be your local state body. You'll need to find out who that is.

In Georgia, the body regulating cable affairs in a mediation body which is a trade agency for consumers, the Ga. Coble TV Association, 1-800-321-311. The actual state agency regulating cable is the GA Public Service Commission but our point of contact is the former. For those outside GA, look for a state Office of Consumer Affairs, they will be able to point you to the right regulation/mediation body.

That said, as consumers, our first step is to contact a person of authority within the company.

1. The Comcast CEO is Brian L. Roberts. The Comcast executive office can be reached at +1-215-665-1700
2. Ask for the office of Brian L. Roberts. You will be transferred to an executive assistant. Likely Maria Baptist. Her email address is:
maria_graham-baptist@cable.comcast.net
3. Explain you are calling regarding the Serial Port Block which is preventing your TIVO from changing channels and that you wish to give them an opportunity to resolve the issue before lodging a formal complaint with your local regulatory/mediation body. It would be good to have the name of the body.
4. Document your conversation and all conversations. (A copy of my email to Maria documenting our conversation will be posted in a separate post as an example.) You will need this documentation if you need to proceed to the local regulatory body.

Maria will take ownership to contact your regional Comcast office and have your local office contact you. This is fine, this will not be a simple process, but one we must follow to get results. We have the numbers. It will be our volume of complaints and resolution that will achieve us those results. Iím retired from a large tech company and have seen how enough consumer complaints at the CEO level can effect change. Be positive, be resolute, we can make this happen.

In the Comcast loop, be prepared to be offered the IR Blaster workaround. This is not acceptable because the IR blaster is on the same frequency as your wireless, cordless phone, etc and is therefore much less reliable. Comcast has therefore either reduced the reliability and effectiveness of our TIVO service, or our ability to use the service, in an effort to force us to choose their competing product.

WE ALL NEED TO TAKE ACTION at the Comcast Corporate level to get this addressed. Call and write. WE can Effect this Change.

Thank you!! Cj
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:13 PM   #2
timstack8969
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First off I agree with you. Second what Motorola box are you using and what does the software and firmware say on the configuration page on the comcast guide.
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:50 PM   #3
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Correction to IR Blaster Statement

Thank you for the private message received from the user who corrected my statement regarding the IR blaster reliability reason:

" This is not acceptable because the IR blaster is subject to IR interference from other remotes, reflections from walls and furniture, and is far slower and less reliable when changing channels."

The gentlemen's point is that the IR blaster is not on the same frequency as wireless and portable phones and therefore reliability is not compromised for that reasons.

Please be aware of this correction.

Thank you all!
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Old 11-13-2007, 03:32 PM   #4
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I'm on a Motorola DTC
SW Ver: 74.02-3319
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Old 11-14-2007, 07:48 AM   #5
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I have Comcast and the serial ports are still working fine, so its not a nationwide change... at least not yet. I will keep a careful eye out though.

You are absolutely right on how to go about this and I encourage all to pursue it.
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:24 AM   #6
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I live in the New England area and had to reconfigure my box yesterday. The wife complained that the box was no longer working and indeed the serial port has been disabled.

Yet another reason to hate Comcast.
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:44 AM   #7
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Its time to raise hell.

Today, I was told by Comcast that the serial and firewire ports on all Comcast cable boxes are being disabled and will not be supported in the future. I demanded a reason that they would take functionality away from their customers and still raise prices, and they had no reasons.

Its time to raise hell. I am in Atlanta and called (770) 559-7516, ask for Denise White, operator number OIE. Demand to understand the reason that your serial port was disabled, and demand that you receive a call with the reason that the port was disabled. Make sure to make it abundantly clear that this is unacceptable, and that you are unhappy and frustrated with Comcast.

Denise White, (770) 559-7516, operator number OIE.
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Old 11-14-2007, 09:17 AM   #8
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My serial port is still working here in Philly.
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:28 AM   #9
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I most definitely agree with all of you... and trust me if it has not happened to you yet, it will.

I tried to email Maria Graham-Baptist but it came back as undelivered. Do you have the correct email address for her! I do better complaining in writing, rather than phone calling as I get to emotional and upset and do not come across as professional enough to be taken seriously. I like writing better.

Please if you could get a viable email address, I will be glad to join the fight. I have called Comcast for the last 2 days. I have a Job Ticket Number #ND003860444 that has been started in the Malden, MA Comcast Center. The more people call and complain and reference this Ticket Number, the more effort they will put into getting this resolved (IF it can be resolved...)

Comcast Customer Support 1-800-266-2278 and ask for Tech Support for Tivo, DVR and HD. Please be sure to reference the Ticket Job Number.

I feel that Comcast & Tivo know exactly what they are doing as they are integrating their services together. So it as it always goes... "Out with the Old and In with the New"!~

Last edited by Deedles916 : 11-14-2007 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleverdevil View Post
Today, I was told by Comcast that the serial and firewire ports on all Comcast cable boxes are being disabled and will not be supported in the future.
It is illegal for them to disable everyone's firewire ports. FCC regulations require them to provide a box with a working firewire port if the customer requests it.
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Old 11-14-2007, 11:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deedles916 View Post
I feel that Comcast & Tivo know exactly what they are doing as they are integrating their services together. So it as it always goes... "Out with the Old and In with the New"!~
TiVo makes a lot more money off of standalone subs, so I doubt they'd be in on it. But that doesn't mean Comcast isn't doing it to force the change.
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Old 11-14-2007, 04:11 PM   #12
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Go To the Media

Folks,

I just sent an email to the Boston Globe localnews@globe.com encouraging them to look into the matter. While not a tragic event compared to a lot of other issues in the world, Comcast has a an image problem right now with their messing with Internet downloads....now this. It's a decent business story and will likely encourage a quicker response than just calling customer service.

I recommend you contact your local news paper...TV and Radio will pick it up if they do.

Good luck,
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Old 11-15-2007, 06:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredct View Post
I have Comcast and the serial ports are still working fine, so its not a nationwide change... at least not yet. I will keep a careful eye out though.

You are absolutely right on how to go about this and I encourage all to pursue it.
Looks like they've done it in the Philly area too. Bastages!!! I am going to complain to my State Attorney General and to the FCC. Comcast must be STOPPED!

They had the gall on the phone to tell me that I shouldn't be using TiVO with their cable box! Unfair business practices indeed.




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Old 11-15-2007, 06:18 AM   #14
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Serial port disabled in Philly!

Quote:
Originally Posted by timstack8969 View Post
My serial port is still working here in Philly.
Mine is not in Ardmore.
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Old 11-15-2007, 07:10 AM   #15
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As much as I dislike Comcast and believe that they are disabling the serial ports to interfere with the use of devices like TiVo I cannot see that they are doing anything illegal by disabling them.

They, not the user, own the boxes.

The boxes are provided to enable the user to watch TV, not to provide a signal to any third party device.

The serial ports are not needed for any purpose in simply connecting to a TV and the are also not needed for the basic recording of shows for time shifting.

This is the not even at the same level as when TiVo turned off some unsupported features in their software, The user can complain but in no way are the companies required to continue a feature that they never supported or advertised.

While we might want these features and we might even need them for our equipment to function at its best; neither Comcast nor TiVo are required to provide them.

As far as the Firewire issue I have never seen that requirement on the FCC site but it could be there as that site is quite difficult to find things on.

I fail to see anything in the disabling of the serial ports that is against the law.
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Old 11-15-2007, 07:50 AM   #16
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My parents serial ports were turned off in North Andover, MA this week. Mine are still working in Brighton, MA. For how much longer I don't know. Has anyone made any traction with this? Is it best to open a service call in your local area and then go up to the top or just start at the top?

This completely sucks and is unacceptable.
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Old 11-15-2007, 08:21 AM   #17
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Taking my business elsewhere

Another course of action is to take your business elsewhere. I've been considering switching to FiOS for a month or so now (since it became available at my house - Arlington, MA) and this is the last straw. I'm done with Comcast and I'm going to call Verizon. The only thing I need to figure out is the best way to make sure Comcast knows why they lost my business.
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Old 11-15-2007, 08:33 AM   #18
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I wish I or my parents had another option, FIOS is not available in either one of our area and direct tv is out of the question. So we are stuck with monopolistic comcast.
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Old 11-15-2007, 08:57 AM   #19
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DirecTV did this for about three days with one of their receivers once. Enough people complained that they turned them back on within a week or two. They haven't done it since.

That serial port is really supposed to be used for testing only. It wasn't intended to be used like it is, and they have a good argument for turning it off. However, if they lose a lot of business and receive a lot of complaints, that's a good reason for them to turn it back on again.

I don't think the use of IR is "unacceptable". Many people have to use IR with their Tivo and it works just fine. I used to use IR, and it's around 99.5% effective. Serial for me is around 99.8% effective -- but using the serial port causes the box to freeze up completely. AN IR failure meant it didn't change channels for one show, but it always got the next show. YMMV.

It is illegal for them to turn off the firewire port.
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Old 11-15-2007, 10:35 AM   #20
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Well my serial cable stopped working this morning/last night, too. I'm actually in North Chelmsford, near Lowell, MA now (haven't bothered to update my profile location info yet, I'm no longer in Waltham).

We all know that Comcast has the "legal right" to do this; the point is, cable companies are highly regulated monopolies and consumers are supposed to have some input into the regulatory process. We're supposed to be getting more choice and freedom, not less; that was the whole point, allegedly, of the "reforms" passed about a decade ago.

At the very least Comcast should understand that they are p!ssing off a large number of their customers. I haven't exactly been thrilled by Comcast's service recently; this may be the final straw for me.

It doesn't help that I can't seem to get my IR blaster working with my cable box, either. I don't have time and patience to waste on this $H!7M2^fR!u&k!Rrr>#!!!
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Old 11-15-2007, 10:58 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OLdDog View Post
As far as the Firewire issue I have never seen that requirement on the FCC site but it could be there as that site is quite difficult to find things on.
From this page, click one of the links next to "76.640 Support for unidirectional digital cable products on digital cable systems." From that page:

Code:
    (4) Cable operators shall:
    (i) Effective April 1, 2004, upon request of a customer, replace any 
leased high definition set-top box, which does not include a functional 
IEEE 1394 interface, with one that includes a functional IEEE 1394 
interface or upgrade the customer's set-top box by download or other 
means to ensure that the IEEE 1394 interface is functional.

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Old 11-15-2007, 12:20 PM   #22
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Does anyone know the correct IR codes for Motorola DCT2500 series. I have a DCT2524 and nothing works. This post is not much help now as it says to use serial port, which no longer works for me:

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...19#post1340519
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Old 11-15-2007, 02:58 PM   #23
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I called up Comcast and the representative blamed the problem on Motorola. They said that they have requested a fix from Motorola and will download it into the cable boxes as soon as they have received it. They said that it has never been their intent to disable this feature.

|>oug
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Old 11-15-2007, 03:28 PM   #24
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Heads up New Englanders, here's WHY your serial ports

don't work:

"Not that it comes as a huge surprise, but it looks like those Comcast TiVos have now started to make their way into the homes of a select few New Englanders..."
http://www.engadgethd.com/2007/10/22...into-the-wild/

And sorry, to the guy who posted above, that Comcast is doing nothing illegal. Bull. I consider their actions akin to slamming, making customers HAVE to choose Comcast's DVR. Whatever happened to free market??

I've read Comcast has been trying to work the TiVO UI into their DVRs for over 2 years, and it has been difficult. Boston area is the test market.
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Old 11-15-2007, 03:30 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by nessus View Post
I called up Comcast and the representative blamed the problem on Motorola. They said that they have requested a fix from Motorola and will download it into the cable boxes as soon as they have received it. They said that it has never been their intent to disable this feature.

|>oug
Obviously they need to get their stories straight because the Comcast person I spoke with said they purposefully disabled it with the most recent upgrade. She also gave me a little rant about how Comcast had never supported it, we should have never used it, Comcast was well within their rights to disable it and they had no plans to enable it in the future. Of course she also told me that I was the first person in the country to report the problem, so after that I took everything she said with a grain of salt.

Our problem happened on Monday evening and we're in Beverly, MA.
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Old 11-15-2007, 04:34 PM   #26
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I just got a response from the Corporate Office of Comcast, a woman named Shayla Hopkins, National Customer Operations, Philadelphia. They promise to find a resolution, not sure what that is going to be (I did ask). Go to the Comcast website, click on Corporate Info, and then go to the PR press page, there are emails on there. Any PR person who gets wind of a potential marketing faux paux WILL pass this up the channel.

Keep the heat on Comcast folks, they know we mean business, and they don't need the aggravation or negative press!!

We will get our serial ports working come He!! or high water! -ET60
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Old 11-15-2007, 04:53 PM   #27
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Obviously they need to get their stories straight
Clearly the Comcast spin patrol is in gear now, as the person I talked to read off of a corporate email stating that this was merely an unfortunate snafu and had nothing to do with Comcast's imminent introduction of their own TiVo service.

|>oug
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Old 11-15-2007, 05:18 PM   #28
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For the time being, our household has actually disconnected our cable box. We have missed way too much because of a failed IR blaster and when you take the cable box out of the equation that's no longer an issue. For us, having the channels change reliably is more important than anything the digital cable box brings to the table.

We're holding on to the box for right now just to see if there's a resolution (the rental is only $4/month which is worth the aggravation factor to see it in and possibly have to get it back later). If Comcast doesn't resolve this issue, we're seriously considering taking our business elsewhere. I don't know much about what our other options are and it would be a PITA since we also have our Internet service through Comcast, but we will definitely be researching our options.
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Old 11-15-2007, 06:27 PM   #29
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Check out DSL from the phone company. In spite of comcast commercials about their speed DSL is really faster. I have 768 up by 7000 down about twice comcasts speed for less money from my local phone company. When comcast bought out AT&T cable they promised not to raise rates for one year. The rates doubled in less than 30 days. My neighborhood is now peppered with Satellite Dishes. My advice to anyone who has comcast is to switch to Directv. You will be happier in the long run.
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Old 11-16-2007, 02:11 AM   #30
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wrong email for executive assistant?

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Originally Posted by cjayr View Post
2. Ask for the office of Brian L. Roberts. You will be transferred to an executive assistant. Likely Maria Baptist. Her email address is:
maria_graham-baptist@cable.comcast.net
This email address did not work for me. Came back as no such address. Did anyone get a better one or another contact?
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