Official Comcast CableCard Thread!

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by amjustice, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. Sep 15, 2006 #81 of 9385

    dnorth12 Member

    Feb 10, 2005
    Mesquite Nevada


    Motorola cards for both.

    After the tivo finished its install process, with both cards in, all i could get was grey screen and channel banner info. Took out the second card, which is the one I suspect is bad and was able to get video on all channels, but of course only one tuner.

    I am under the assumption at this point that the card is bad and effects everything else although I don't why it should. Anyway will return it and request a replacement when I go to lunch today and try again this evening.

    Once I pulled the card I was required by the TIVO unit to rerun setup so that it could realign the channel information with just one card in place. Will have to do it again when I install the replacement card.

    Couple side notes: S3 menu is essentially same as the previous versions. Now playing list sorts recording in folders for HD and SD. Kind of confusing, but I'll get used to it.

    Also power cord junction to TIVO unit is kind of loose, meaning easy to pull out. A light tug on cord would pull it out quite easily.

    I went for the monthly service at 6.95 because I have no intention of turning off service within the year after spending two house payments, so I don't need the guarantee that comes with the prepaid up to three years offer. Still wish they had the lifetime. I paid for the lifetime on one of their original units, which has long ago kicked the bucket. Still see it on my account info on line and wish I could hack it to reflect my current purchase.

    Other than that I am happy. And will be happier when the second card is up and running. No more moto - thank God....
  2. Sep 15, 2006 #82 of 9385

    Wembley5 New Member

    Sep 14, 2006
    Daly City, CA
    I'm not in SF anymore, but Daly City/Pacifica doesn't have cards and requires tech to come to your house and, most likely, look puzzled.

    I am not looking forward to it. Comcast are the same geniuses who brought me 3 dead STBs when I started service, b/c they don't return the dead STBs to the warehouse, they just put them on the truck for the next poor shmuck getting installed.
  3. Sep 15, 2006 #83 of 9385
    Andrew Ruess

    Andrew Ruess TiVo Fanatic

    Jan 11, 2006
    The east-side service depot in Portland, OR is full of idiots.

    Over the phone, I've had people quote me: $15/month per CableCARD; $5/month per CableCARD; first CableCARD free and second $5/month; both CableCARDs free; required $75 truck roll; required $15 truck roll; available for pickup (no required truck roll); $5-9 HD fee; no HD fee; additional outlet fee; no additional outlet fee. A majority of conversations included a rehersed marketing message attempting to provide why the Motorola DVR is better than a CableCARD (some of them saying I wouldn't be able to watch any HD channels with the CableCARD, and one moron convinced I wouldn't be able to access any digital channels with the CableCARD...). One gentleman led off with a strong, "I want to make sure you understand what switching to a CableCARD means..." and then listed inaccuracies that attempted to portray CableCARDs as, 'teh evil!!~1

    On Tuesday, September 12, 2006, I stopped by the service depot wanting to pickup two CableCARDS. The gentleman at the window politely explained that consumers cannot use them; only certified technicians. He then tried to schedule a $75 truck roll. No managers available (more likely lying to me) so I left.

    At the 800 number and the local 503 number I have had people note my account that I am going to pick CableCARDs up at the depot. I have had people confirm and read back to me the note.

    On Thursday, September 14, 2006, I stopped by the service depot again (this time with the Motorola DVR). I told them I wanted to exchange it for CableCARDS. A different gentleman told me that was impossible; "digital television service that used to use a Comcast box cannot use a CableCARD as a replacement." That really pissed me off, but I tried not to make too much of an ass out of myself. I politely asked him to lookup my account and find any notations. He was able to find the note at the top of his screen (I could read it from the side as well), but was still convinced someone at the call center was mistaken. I asked if I could speak to a manager. He huffed and puffed but eventually produced a young woman with a sideways scowl on her face. At least Ms. Scowl wasn't mean to me, it was probably just permanently etched into her jawbone from working at Comcast.

    She took me to a different window (even though I am the only customer parked in the parking lot, let alone in the building), and looked up my account again; found the note again... then she lied to me.

    "We don't offer CableCARDs."


    After mentioning the FCC more than once, she relented. "Let me go talk with one of the technicians."

    After a few minutes of me watching the Today show on the television behind me (powered by that infernal Motorola box), she reappeared.

    "I think we can get you setup with a CableCARD."

    "Excellent," I replied.

    "Would tomorrow between 2 & 4 PM be available for you?"

    I looked confused. "Uh, now would be better," I stated. She stared at me.

    "I don't have a technician available for you today."

    "Is it not possible for me to take one?"

    "No, I can't do that. We don't even have them here."

    I think a look of incredulous anger swept over my face. "What does that mean?"

    "All of our CableCARDs are stored in a warehouse."

    For anyone that doesn't live in Portland, the east-side service station is a sprawling complex with three stories to the building (more than 25,000 square feet, I would assume) with a cement rollramp from the raised street-level parking lot that goes underneath the lot and deeper underground. There must be at least 50 Comcast trucks & vans stationed here; you can see a helluvalota vehicles from the I-84.

    I think this is when I began gesturing wildly. "So... when someone requests a CableCARD that you claim to not offer or service, even though it is required by FCC mandate, someone goes to a warehouse that only holds CableCARDs to pickup up a CableCARD... all of them one by one?"

    She cocked her head and looked at me. Then she looked at her screen and typed some stuff in. Sighed heavily.

    "I apologize that the call center gave you wrong information. I want to try and resolve this for you today. I can waive the installation fee and have someone available between 2 & 4 pm to do the install. Would that be acceptable?"

    Feeling like nothing else could be done, I accepted defeat by this mismanaged corporate lovefest and said tomorrow would be okay. I also pointed out I would be needed two CableCARDS.

    She looked startled. "Oh, T-W-O CableCARDs," enunciating the quantity as if it were a foreign volume. "I'm not sure if we will be able to fit two installs into that time window tomorrow. Let me go check with the technicians." She hobbled away to the den of sin and inequity below deck. After some time obviously consulting with an ancient sagely seer, she returned somewhat perkier.

    "It looks like we should be able to maintain the 2 to 4 time window."

    My happiness was contained. She continued.

    "Now, before I commit this appointment, I want to make sure you understand what switching to a CableCARD means..."

    I think I blacked out. But I'm told the appointment was setup. The automagical 800 telephone number confirms it for today.

  4. Sep 15, 2006 #84 of 9385
    Brainiac 5

    Brainiac 5 New Member

    Aug 24, 2003
    Do you remember where in their FAQ it says that? This problem seems to be somewhat common and in case I run into it I'd like to be prepared to point them to their own FAQ...
  5. Sep 15, 2006 #85 of 9385

    sharding Member

    Feb 11, 2001


    I went in and got my two cable cards at the Redmond, WA office today. No problems at all, and no charge. They didn't even ask me what they were going into.

    Edited to add:

    For any Seattle folks reading, I ended up getting my S3 at the Southcenter BestBuy. It was (according to the guy I talked to, at least), the last one in any Seattle-area BestBuy until they get more. I called Fry's right after they opened (at 8) this morning, and they were out. Then I called the Lynnwood BestBuy right when they opened (at 10), and they said they had two. They wouldn't hold one for me, though. I got up there as quickly as I could (about 15-20 minutes), but both were gone (one guy was in the process of buying the last one). So I trucked down to Southcenter (all the way on the opposite end of the Seattle metro area) as fast as I could. I'm glad I lucked out and got one!

    Edited again, this time to add the rest of my experience:

    Activating the CableCards was almost as smooth as getting them. I called in, and apparently they already had the necessary information in the system for the cards I have. They didn't ask any information other than to confirm my name. They also asked if I'd already installed the cards in both TVs. I said they're both in one box, but they're installed. She said "they're both in one TV?," and I just said "yeah." Didn't seem worth arguing about. Then she said she sent several signals, which would activate the cards. Several times during this process (each time right before she said one signal had gone through), the TiVo brought up a message that said something like "a technical problem is preventing you from configuring your cable card. Press select to continue." (I'm sorry I didn't write down the exact message). It also gave an error code. But I just pressed select each time, without saying anything to the CSR. It was very closely correlated to the signals she said she was sending. Once all the signals had been sent, I tested both cards and they both worked perfectly. I'm getting all of my channels, including premiums.

    So, overall a very smooth experience with Comcast.
  6. Sep 15, 2006 #86 of 9385

    jhurlbut Make the S3 Work!

    Sep 1, 2005
    Puyallup, WA
    Puyallup, WA (35 Miles South of Seattle)

    Minor update:
    I hooked up the S3 last night Sans cable cards and was able to get basic cable and a high def local or two. Spent 4 hours playing with all the stuff that was not on my DTV HR10-250. I'm pretty good at the games if anyone cares. :D

    After reading the posts here, I swung by my Comcrap Office today in Tacoma and picked up two (Motorola) cable cards. There wasn't much of an issue getting them. No charge for either card, no additional outlet charges. They did have to cancel my appt. for the installer though, which I was hoping to keep in my back pocket should I have any issues similar to DNORTH12. CSR at the local office was very polite. She was very curious what a "Dual Tuner" device was and kept asking questions and finally arrived at "Is it similar to a TiVo?" . . . and I finally told her that yes, it's EXACTLY like a TiVo. :D

    So tonight when I get home, I'll install those puppies and run the GS again and see what happens . . .

    Side note . . . THX sound is cooooooooool on startup. I love that sound.
  7. Sep 15, 2006 #87 of 9385

    Omnius New Member

    May 30, 2006
    I HATE Comcast. My appointment was today from 2:00-5:00. Installer never showed up. I called the local 404 Comcast number for the Atlanta area around 4:30, and was told by the CSR that my call was being escellated and that somebody from dispatch would call me back shortly. I waited 30 minutes and after no call I called them back again, was on hold for a bit while the CSR tried to contact dispatch, and eventually said she would personally call me back "within the hour". I waited a full hour, and called back a third time (by now fairly pissed), and this time the CSR again put me on hold, but evidently forgot to press the hold button. I could hear her talking on a push to talk type phone and I overheard that the person that was supposed to come by "didn't have any cable cards", and then I couldn't hear much else. When they finally came back, I was told that they had somehow scheduled a contractor to come by, and "contractors are not allowed to install cable cards". ?? What the? I guess they have official comcast employees, and then contractors that do some of the work, and only the real deal are allowed to install cable cards.

    I raised a big stink about missing work today and all that crap, but was unable to get them to "make it right" today by sending out somebody late, or better yet just allowing me to pick them up and install them myself. I was at least able to get it scheduled for Monday, so its only a 3 day wait, but STILL, I have my fancy new S3 and its almost useless to me because I don't have an antenna and need the digital cable to work.

    Anyways, after raising enough hell, I was finally able to get them to credit me a full month of service. So I feel a little better now, I guess thats worth a 3 day wait. I just really hate Comcast, because when they originally installed the service two months ago the tech showed up AFTER the time window (but at least he showed up), but he only brought one DVR when I had requested 2. He also cut one of my cables and disabled the room my brother was staying in without asking or saying anything to me. So they are 0 for 2 with their stupid installers.
  8. Sep 15, 2006 #88 of 9385
    Phantom Gremlin

    Phantom Gremlin Active Member

    Jun 20, 2002
    Just a quick note for folks in Portland Oregon west side.

    I went to the center on Nimbus Ave yesterday. I was told no cablecards there, need truck roll, install cost about $16.

    I have $10/mo cheap cable. I wanted to add HBO + two cablecards. First card would be free, second (after consultation with someone on the phone) would cost $10/mo.

    So I'm not buying an S3 until multistream cards happen. So many people thruout Comcast report "first cablecard free" that I think odds are very high that will still be the case in a few months.
  9. Sep 16, 2006 #89 of 9385

    dnorth12 Member

    Feb 10, 2005
    Mesquite Nevada
    I am up and running. At least the last time I looked. Bad cable card.

    Installed the replacement - saw a couple channels via the test menu and continued with installation and I am dual receiver. No need to call comcast. I just ignored the message this time and all was working by the time that the rerun of the guided setup was complete (due to the additional card).

    Next step finish with the recordings on the moto and return it.

    Then got to get my harmony remote on board and I'm golden.

    Hang in there guys - it is worth it.
  10. Sep 16, 2006 #90 of 9385

    jhurlbut Make the S3 Work!

    Sep 1, 2005
    Puyallup, WA
    I'm tryin' to hang, but am feeling no love. Picked up my 2 CC's at the Tacoma Comcast store today and eagerly installed them tonight when I got home. Could not find any channel information after about 10 minutes of searching. Neither card shows as "Subscribed" in the Conditional Access menu. Called Comcast and they sent a reinitialization request to both cards and apparently it found them cause about 30 seconds after he sent the request, 161-4 showed up for card 1, then about 30 seconds later, 161-4 showed up for card 2.

    So as of now, I'm dead in the water. I can of course remove both cards and get 2 - 99 but digitally I'm hosed. I do have a fancy leviton splitter in my network closet that has a -10db to +10db attenuator on it. I had it cranked all the way down to -10db because if it's cranked all the way up, my cable modem and VOIP (also Comcast) crap out. <Sigh> So I've cranked it up a bit, hopefully not enough to kill my internet connection. I'm headed back downstairs to give it another go. I may swing by the Comcast store on the way to work tomorrow with both CC's and try to swap them out and see if that makes a difference.

    As of now, I'd say the CC implementation in the S3 is flawed at best. It may be that the CC's are just flakey, but there is not nearly enough information on, or in the manual to deal with 99% of the problems we've been reporting here. This is frustrating to say the least.
  11. Sep 16, 2006 #91 of 9385

    nhey New Member

    Jul 4, 2004
  12. Sep 16, 2006 #92 of 9385

    drusoicy Member

    Feb 10, 2004
    Okay Seattle peeps:

    I have two CableCARDS here, just waiting for TiVo to deliver my Series3, which hopefully will happen sometime before the end of 2009. I digress. If anyone sees any more on sale in Seattle somewhere, fill us in.

    Now, once I get the TiVo and slide these CableCARDs in, what number do I call to activate? The normal Comcast number?

    I picked these up at the Northgate TiVo office. Walked in, asked for two CableCARDs, she scanned two onto my account, I signed and left. Very, very smooth transaction.

    Side note - if you are anywhere near Seattle and want to have an awesome time hanging with similar geeks, check out Seattle Mind Camp at
  13. Sep 16, 2006 #93 of 9385

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    I hope Tivo implements better error descriptions in the next update to its software.

    If error 161-2 means the card is damaged, the Series3 should display a message on the screen saying that.

    If they had given you a number, that probably would have cut your time on the phone. But you can call the regular number and they will direct you as appropriate.
  14. Sep 16, 2006 #94 of 9385

    driver49 I Wrote the Book

    Sep 25, 2003
    Aside from all the thorny details of getting all this to work, I wonder, what is the user experience like?

    I gather that if I get an S3, my existing Comcast STB-DVR will go bye-bye. I lose their programming guide, onscreen display, video on demand and pay perview.

    I don't use their VOD, don't use their PPV, so that's not much of a loss. But I wonder if anybody misses the programming guide on screen display?

    Does TiVo work as well as the heart of your cable viewing experience?


  15. Sep 16, 2006 #95 of 9385

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    You don't lose the guide or program information, because Tivo supplies that. Tivo gives you two different program guides to choose from. And Tivo supplies far more comprehensive (detailed) program information than you get from Comcast. Much of Tivo's advanced capabilities and "intelligent" recording depends on this guide data.

    Program and guide information is downloaded automatically from Tivo's servers using your broadband Internet connection (i.e. using your wireless network). If you don't have a network with Internet access, you can get the information by connecting the Tivo to a phone line, where it will periodically dial an ISP (which Tivo pays for) to download the guide information.

  16. Sep 16, 2006 #96 of 9385

    JoBeth66 Temp

    Feb 15, 2002
    Willingboro/Burlington NJ

    Just called Comcast - they wanted to know what I was installing in - advised I need 3 cards, one for a cc-ready TV, and 2 for the Tivo, he had NO CLUE what I was talking about, he has to check into it and call me back, to make sure he gets it set up right. I explained the concept of the Tivo to him, and he really liked the idea, but had never heard of it. :)

    So now we wait for a callback.
  17. Sep 16, 2006 #97 of 9385

    mahk New Member

    Mar 1, 2005
    Anyone have any luck picking up CCs from local Comcast offices in the Boston area?
  18. Sep 16, 2006 #98 of 9385

    sharding Member

    Feb 11, 2001
    Yes, I called 1-800-COMCAST.

    Also, for the record, I got a bunch of the 161-4 errors during the installation (one for every signal they sent, it seemed). I just ignored them, and it worked fine. Kind of lame, but not a huge problem.
  19. Sep 16, 2006 #99 of 9385

    darkcharger New Member

    Sep 16, 2006
    SF Bay Area Comcast customers:

    After getting different information from the 800 number TWICE and then being told at the local Pacifica office that I could not pick up a card there. I went to Comcast's online website and used their live Chat tool.

    First and Second card are both FREE. Installation is $15.99 - no pick-up/self-install available in this area. Only problem was no installation available til 9/28.

    This is vastly different from the $5 each charge + $6.95 additional equipment fee they originally wanted to charge on a monthly basis. Anyway, thanks to all the help from the various posters here. Pointing out the information from their own website really halped facilitate me getting both cards for free.
  20. Sep 16, 2006 #100 of 9385

    ah30k Well-Known Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    The installer showed up this morning. Nice fella' for whatever thats worth. They sent an actual Comcast guy rather than a contractor. I had a bad feeling then he walked in with a handful of about 5 cards. Also, the guy in the headend actually called the field rep rather than the other way around, so it was clear they were ready to tackle this TiVo thing.

    First one went in and it took a while for the pairing screen to come up. When we went to the pairing screen manually it said 'no info available'. I took well over a minute for the screen to populate. Be patient. The headend guy entered the pairing data and sent a reset signal. An error popped up but didn't seem to be real. We went to the test-channels screen and they slowly started populating with Channel names and actual video. So far, so good.

    Popped the second one in and entered the data... No-Go. Failures on the headend side pairing.

    Grabbed on of the other ones the tech brought in... No-Go. Failures in the pairing.

    The tech said these were all the 'newer' (note still only single-stream, but newer ones) and he had some old ones in the van.

    Grabbed an old one, entered the data and everything went well.

    Took about 30 minutes to get up and running.

    Wow, 50% failure rate on the cards. The tech said he had a feeling and thats why he brought so many. "Customer wants two, bring eight".

    The guys on the headend were new to this too! I'm not sure a consumer would ever be able to get that kind of direct access to a headend tech.

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