Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Comcast NHL Center Ice Package Saga: The lies and contradictions continue

By Finesse

Last week I documented my saga with Comcast regarding channel 790, allegedly one of the HD channels that's part of the NHL Center Ice package.  The crux of the complaint is this: the guide shows that this channel offers NHL games in HD, this channel has never worked, and no one at Comcast has done anything about it despite me complaining to them for years.  You can read the full complaint here.

After some back-and-forth last week (more on that below), the channel was still not working.  Last night it said it was showing the Penguins/Canadiens game.  Guess what?  It wasn't.

Not only was I stuck with the borderline un-watchable standard definition channel 771, but nothing was playing on 789, which is usually the one HD channel in the package that actually works.

So I decided to take more measures.  Read on to find out just how ridiculous things have gotten with Comcast...

Frustrated that nothing had been done, I went back onto Twitter to try to get answers.

Instead of helping me address the problem, Michael Cardone (@comcastmichael) of their "customer care" team basically accused me of lying and tried to shift the responsibility for fixing channel 790 onto me.

This is a complete lie.  Here's the email I wrote at 8:17 this morning to Comcast:
I'm writing to describe a problem I've been having with channel 790 of the NHL Center Ice Package, as well as let you know that your representative Michael Cardone (@comcastmichael) has chosen not to help fix the problem, but to accuse me of lying. 
Here's the timeline of events that Mr. Cardone has not only ignored, but has twisted in a way to try to pin the blame on me for a problem your company hasn't fixed in years. 
On April 12th I called Mr. Corey Ings from your Executive Customer Care Team. This is after several calls to the regular 1800-COMCAST number, as well as correspondence on Twitter trying to get someone's attention to this problem. Mr. Ings' voice mail box said that either he or someone from his office would contact me later that day. That never happened. 
On April 13, I emailed Mr. Ings telling him that I called him but had not heard back. On April 14, he wrote back "Lets speak on Monday." Nothing indicated that the actual problem -- which has been going on for YEARS -- was being addressed. 
On Monday April 15, I spoke briefly to Mr. Ings on the phone. He said he hadn't heard about the problem, but wanted me to let him know if the channel still wasn't working. 
On April 16, I emailed him that channel 790 still wasn't working. He never responded or called back. On April 17 (last night), I again emailed him telling him that the channel still wasn't working and attaching a picture. Still, no response. That picture is attached to this email. 
Given that 790 was allegedly showing the game I wanted to watch, my frustrations sent me back to Twitter where I told @ComcastMichael that it still hadn't been fixed and that no one was getting back to me. Instead of making an effort to fix the problem, he basically accused me of lying. This is what he wrote: "our local office emailed you and left you voice mails and never heard back from you." Here's the link to his tweet: 
What he said is flat-out untrue. I've responded to the ONE email I got from Comcast and have called Mr. Ings multiple times. Comcast hasn't been reaching out to me; Comcast has been ignoring me, and this problem, for years. 
Rather than try to fix the problem, Mr. Cardone's response -- and Comcast's, by extension -- is to antagonize its customers. 
This shouldn't be so hard. FIX CHANNEL 790. That's all I'm asking. I pay a premium for the NHL package, and I'm not getting what I'm paying for. What is customer service if not for fixing this issue?
I sent that to Comcast's main customer support email, as well as Michael Cardone ( and Corey Ings (, the person originally assigned last week to assist me.

At 10:10am, Mr. Ings wrote back: "I have the engineers looking into this."

At 10:27am, I responded: "Thank you. 'Engineers looking into this' is a variation on what I've heard for several weeks, and nothing has been done and no one has actually followed up. What does that mean? Who are the engineers? How can I receive follow up from them? What are they actually doing? I'm hopeful this time will be different."

At 10:30am, Mr. Ings replied: "I’m not familiar with who have spoken with in the past and I’m working with them and to give you details as to what they are doing is considered inside information. They will update me with their findings. I know you want resolution and so do I. I’ve informed them this isn’t the first time this has happened but rest assured they are working to correct this situation as quickly as possible. I will update upon hearing new information."

At 10:55am, I replied, "I'll take your word for it, but I'm not going to 'rest assured.'"

Now here's where it gets good.

At 1:02pm I got a voice-mail from someone named "George" at Comcast.  Here was his explanation for why channel 790 isn't working (as transcribed by me):
"790 is not part of the NHL Center Ice package. That channel is a high definition channel for NBA League Pass.  The NHL Center Ice package has an equivalent high definition channel, but that's on 789.  I apologize, that's on 787, excuse me, not 790. So 787 is the equivalent high definition channel for the NHL Center Ice package that you have, not 790. The reason that you're not able to use it is because that's for the NBA League Pass or the soccer package that we have, and I'm truly sorry for the confusion. I know you've had some frustrations trying to get some answers with regards to this issue."
First, you think?  Second, channel 787 has never shown HD anything.  The only working HD channel for the NHL has been 789.  Third, when did Pittsburgh and Montreal get NBA teams?

Unbelievably, I then got an email from Mr. Ings only 5 minutes later (at 1:07pm) with a completely different explanation.  He reported to me that the engineers told him:
OK this was a correct Black-Out, there is a small area of the DC DMA (not DC proper) that is claimed as the Pittsburg Penguins coverage area. We will work with Marketing to see if we can get a waiver or perhaps a feed change.
At 1:12pm, I wrote back to Mr. Ings:
That is not accurate. Channel 771 was showing the Penguins-Canadiens game in standard definition. Channel 790 was listed as showing the game in HD but only color bars were present on channel 790. Your explanation is that there was a blackout on the HD feed but not the standard definition feed? That makes no sense at all. Moreover, channel 790 has not worked ALL SEASON for any team. This is not a Pittsburgh Penguins issue.
Of course, maybe I'm wrong and Mr. Ings is correct because it would make total sense for Toronto and New York to also be a "correct Black-Out" in downtown Washington, D.C., right?

As of 2:15pm, no response from Mr. Ings.  I also have a voice-mail in to "George" that has not been returned.


  1. Do you have a non-Comcast alternative in DC? I think RCN is available in the DC area. I have RCN in Boston and it's the dream. And by the dream I mean my channels work and if they don't (rare), they fix the problem ASAP.

    Comcast is the worst.

  2. I don't love that this is happening to you, but I do LOVE your painstaking documentation.

    I had my own issue with Comcast a few years ago when I moved just a couple blocks from one apartment to another and figured I'd never had any major issues (only minor annoyances) with Comcast, already knew the TV/internet package that worked for me, and was in the same service area, so why not just set up the same thing for convenience... But then the guy came out to install and said Comcast wasn't available for my new building. So why'd they let me set up the appointment in the first place? I went with RCN, and their guy said that the installer had been either unaware that it had to be set up on the roof (unlikely, bc I guess this is a common thing in the area), or he was just too lazy to do that (his best guess). When someone from Comcast tried to follow up with me and ask why I hadn't gone through with the installation, she was NOT happy to hear that it wasn't me, it was her tech who said I couldn't have service.

    All verrrrry interesting.

    Commenter above, this was also in the Boston area (Porter Square)... Do I know you? How many of us current/former Bostonians read GTOG?!

    (And now I've moved back to Pittsburgh, into a building that was formerly Verizon headquarters, so they pre-wired every apt for Fios and we had no choice. Seems kinda shady, but what do I know?)

    1. Thanks for reading!

      My apartment building is pre-wired for Comcast, unfortunately. This is what you get.

  3. I am in the same boat as you. I live in a condo that is pre-wired with Comcast on the MD side of DC. I got so sick of dealing with Comcast and CenterIce that I went out and bought an Apple TV and GameCenter Live. Now I get all NHL games in close to HD quality. I don't think it is 1080, but it could be 720. Whatever, it is much better then the SD CenterIce feeds. As a bonus, if I have to work late, I can watch them online... I would say that this is a win-win for me. Anyhow, that is what I recommend that my friends do, especially if they have a decent internet connection.

    1. Thanks. That's definitely the plan for next season. Just trying to get some resolution for the rest of this year while I'm still stuck with Comcast.

  4. All I know is, none of the HD channels are working via Xfinity/Comcast, so I am not buying.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I am in the same boat having Comcast Internet in Washington, DC because its offered via my apartment. How much is the Apple TV? I know Apple products tend to run on the expensive side..

    1. i think $99, but then you also have to buy the NHL GameCenter package