Comcast: a spectacular failure

A year and a half ago, we added Xfinity Home Security to our Comcast subscription. Comcast sent in a guy who installed all the wireless (read: peel and stick) components throughout our house in Issaquah, Washington, installed the control unit and extra router (which killed Back to My Mac until I reconfigured their network components), and of course added a monthly charge to our bill. The system mostly worked, with some odd behaviors from the control unit, an essentially bad systems architecture, and the “security router” that was basically a joke.

A few months ago, we sold our house and moved. Because we were terminating service before our 3-year Xfinity Home Security contract was completed, we found ourselves facing an early termination fee of nearly $500. But since the new owner wanted the same security system, we were told we could transfer our contract to them and avoid the early termination fee. But to do that, I had to reach out to the new owner, and we both had to meet, in person, at the Comcast service center, to present IDs, sign a bunch of forms and officially transfer service. A total pain in the ass, reminiscent of something out of the 1990s.

We canceled our Comcast service on 27 March, 2014,

Two months later, living on Maui, I was surprised to see that we appeared to be continuing to make monthly payments to Comcast. WTF? That’s where the surreal fun began. I called Comcast and chatted with Jose (Note: I am honestly not making this up.) :

“You have to talk to the account owner to stop this.”
“I was the account owner. I don’t live in that house any more.”
“I’m sorry, but the current account owner for that address is the only one who can change this."
“What? You can’t just stop this there?”
“I’m sorry, but only the account owner can change their automatic payment arrangements.”
I was the account owner. I sold the house. Why are you still using my checking account to pay for someone else’s cable service?”
“I’m sorry, but perhaps you can have the account owner add you to the account so that you can log in and change that.”

I demanded to speak with a supervisor, and was connected with Anthony, who informed me that, because we’d transferred the Xfinity Home Security account to a new owner, Comcast apparently transferred all service to the new homeowner, kept my autopay configuration in place, and effectively ignored my service termination request. Anthony also told me there was nothing I could do about it short of begging the current homeowner to stop using my checking account to pay for their service.

I demanded to speak with a manager and Anthony’s response was:

“I can request that you be connected with a manager, and someone should contact you in three to five business days.”

Thats when I went from perplexed to angry, told Anthony he’d better damn well connect me with someone who could fix this now or I’d talk to my bank about rejecting the payments. Anthony put me on hold for 15 minutes and came back, telling me he’d spoken with a manager:

“We have stopped the autopay from your account, but we will not refund money for services rendered.”
“But those services were rendered to someone else. And it was your team that screwed this up when the account changed hands."
“I’m sorry, but we will not refund money for services rendered.”

I then contacted my bank. The representative there informed me that, once you sign up for automatic withdrawal with a company, there is no way you can prevent a company from continuing to extract funds from your account short of closing that account. He said I could report the withdrawals as fraudulent, which is in a sense completely factual, and the bank would take the matter up with Comcast, and possibly the authorities.

Reporting the withdrawals as fraud would put the new owner in an uncomfortable position with Comcast, so I reached out to him, let him know his cable service was no longer being paid for by me, and asked him to send me a check for the payments I’d made for him. He was agreeable to that, and as far as I know, the situation has been resolved.  

We’ll see in another month if Comcast has really truly dissolved our relationship. Their team screwed this up in a spectacular way, and their customer support proved either powerless or apathetic when trying to resolve the situation.

Update

Two months after the above, we heard from the folks who purchased our Issaquah home. They'd just discovered that I was still the registered owner of the security system. They found this out when they pushed "TEST" on the smoke detector, which promptly set off the alarm and called the fire department, who arrived to address the issue. The homeowners were unable to cancel the test because, well, it wasn't technically their system. The only recourse Comcast offered was for them to contact me and ask me to cancel our system. The one we'd transferred nearly three months before.