is the 22nd anniversary of the harmonic convergence, when people all
over the world meditated or at least concentrated on "world peace."
part in this myself, from my perch on the wall of a ruined Austrian
castle to which I had hiked, as church bells pealed from the valley
years later, the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War ended. Good
job, convergers and Ronald Reagan, too.
think we need another such meditation to address the present war
between Comcast and Verizon.
seen it on television: The unassuming Verizon technician installing
the new FiOS system as the hapless Comcast tech guy stands by
watching helplessly as customers make the switch-over. You may have
seen it so many times over the past few months that you are
beginning to feel sorry for the Comcast guy.
on June 24, when the FiOS guy came to my door, I felt as if I knew
him already. I certainly knew I admired the brilliant ad campaign
that had a potential client already primed to listen to his pitch.
heard was that if I switched from my bundled Comcast services
(phone, TV, broadband) to FiOS bundled services and dropped HBO, I
would save more than $50 a month.
hesitated: I had always gotten good service from Comcast when I
called, and I am usually a loyal consumer when I'm treated well. I
sent the FiOS guy over to Chip Ford's house, knowing he could make a
technologically superior decision.
Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that Chip, like many guys, easily falls
for the phrase "bigger, better, faster." To my surprise, he
immediately signed on; so I did, too.
scheduled his switch-over for the next week; I chose a week later,
so one of us would have our vital business communications if
something went wrong.
day, I remembered that my Comcast system includes my fax, so I
checked with the FiOS guy who was still walking the neighborhood,
and he said just to call on Monday and make sure it was added. He
didn't mention it would cost more.
called, I learned that it would cost $45 more and would have a
the reasons I'd switched to Comcast originally was so I could get
one bill, assisting my "life simplification" project. Also, with the
loss of HBO, FiOS was no longer a better deal.
Meanwhile, Chip and I realized that the digital recordings of our
sometimes missed favorite television shows would disappear in a
week. Unless we immediately did a "Kings," "Castle" and "The Unit"
marathon, we were going to lose our planned summer viewing!
we canceled, at least until we could see our shows and I could set
up my fax on the same line as my phone. I was told my date would be
moved to September, giving me time to think about it all.
went on ... until late July, when I realized that I hadn't received
a phone call in three days, except from Chip, next door. Then I
started getting e-mail from people repeating messages they said
they'd left on my answering service.
nothing on my answering machine but checked the backup Comcast
service and found several calls, mostly from media and my family,
who was driving here from Nevada. I suddenly realized that I could
call out and get calls from Chip next door, but from no one else.
Comcast, which quickly sent a technician, who couldn't find the
problem. When I mentioned having briefly flirted with FiOS, I was
told that Verizon had "captured" my number, so I called Verizon,
which told me it had not. From that point on, they blamed each
things got bizarre. The Comcast message service vanished, too; now I
couldn't get calls at all, while callers heard a message saying that
the phone was disconnected. They probably assumed I was out of
business or dead.
again phoned the 800 number on my Comcast bill, I heard a woman's
voice asking me if I was "hot," among other things I won't mention
here. The phone company had crossed lines with a phone sex line?
thought was that Comcast was tired of hearing from me and had
created a distracting connection. My second, only slightly more
rational, thought was that Verizon was running a guerilla campaign
by sabotaging the Comcast 800 number.
finally reached Comcast by using its cable TV number. This time, I
got an operator named Terri who contacted something called the
"provisioning department," where someone named Justin finally fixed
the line. Sort of.
few days going forward, the phone sometimes worked, sometimes
didn't. Right now, it seems OK. Thanks, Justin.
also offered to credit my bill for the two weeks I was without phone
service. Meanwhile, Comcast has started fighting back with its own
television ads warning that the FiOS deal may not be all that it
that competition is a good thing. But war is hell.