Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Denver wants Comcast customers to be aware of digital transition

Denver, CO - The “Basic-Only” or B1 service is Comcast’s lowest tier of service and consists of approximately 20 channels (broadcast TV stations, Denver 8, Denver Open Media, and a few others). It is popular with Denver’s senior population and those on fixed income as it provides these channels for around $20/month. It also has been the only tier of service which hasn’t transitioned from analog to digital. This means it hasn’t needed any additional equipment connected to one’s TV to receive service….until now. Comcast has notified the City that service is now changing.

Other tiers of service – Economy Package, Standard, Expanded Basic – transitioned last year. Starting in September, that transition to digital will begin for Basic Only customers. Comcast will provide up to three DTA boxes per household at no cost. Starting with the fourth box per house there will be a $1.99 per box per month charge. After mid-October, a subscriber will HAVE to have a DTA box connected or they won’t be able to receive cable service. This change is allowed by federal law, and thus the City cannot prevent it.

The City is concerned that basic-only customers may get confused or frustrated with the DTA connection process. To that end, Comcast will set up a special section of their Customer Care Center to assist people and will even send out technicians to homes to help a subscriber connect the device to their TV. One caveat about the last; at this point it is unclear to the Cable TV Administration office whether Comcast would provide that technical service for free or whether they plan to charge for it as a service call. Please ask the Customer Care Representative to clarify.

Under federal law, the City cannot prevent Comcast from changing its technology or dropping all of its analog service. The City can work with Comcast to make the transition as easy as possible, and is exploring possible joint sessions at senior centers and other facilities to explain to residents, face-to-face, what is happening. If residents do have questions, they can contact the Cable TV Administration office at 720-913-8888 and we’ll be happy to explain the issue and attempt to get them in touch with the proper Comcast personnel to complete their transition to the DTA boxes.

One last word of caution from the City: last year we received a number of complaints from Denver residents that the Comcast Customer Care Representatives were aggressively “up-selling” a higher level of service. Further investigation found that on multiple occasions the national call center representatives were “informing” Denver subscribers that they had to sign up to a more expensive level of service. That is not the case at all. Denver staff has followed-up with Comcast Government Affairs about our deep concern of this inaccurate policy. To be perfectly clear – NO SERVICE UPGRADE IS NEEDED WITH THIS TRANSITION. You may keep your existing level of service and pricing. All that is needed is a DTA box for each television. If you are a Basic Only subscriber and experience inaccurate information that you have to upgrade to a higher level of service to continue to see your existing channels, please contact the Cable TV Administration office immediately


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