The Second It’s Possible, I’ll Cut the Cord

The ‘new’, and still inadequate, Comcast DVR channel guide

Like so many others, I’m fed up with Comcast/Xfinity and am constantly seeking developments that will allow me to cut-the-cord and do away with cable TV. 

Comcast in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul acquired TimeWarner’s Roadrunner service. Here in my hometown of Eden Prairie, Comcast claims a “legacy millstone” hangs around their necks and that’s why their HD DVR interface is so horrifically bad. I’ve talked to Comcast technicians, VPs in the business group, and cable analysts and all say that, “It will change at some point soon.” I’ve been hearing that now for three years.

I’ve been looking at my bill and decided to go out and buy my own DOCSIS 3 modem for the Comcast internet service. Instead of paying $7/month, I bought it for $109 and my connection is about 25% faster! Think Comcast would’ve notified me and encouraged me to upgrade months ago? Nope.

Besides the HD DVR interface being so horrible, the ‘Comcast On Demand” service is a joke (from an interface standpoint…the content play fine once you get to it). Turns out that HD TV content is buried within nested categories which means it’s tough to find and tougher to find again once you want to watch something. Since Comcast has invested heavily in three new data centers for this service, one would think they’d spend some time in the human interface that THEIR CUSTOMERS TOUCH, wouldn’t you? 

The second I can, I’m cutting-the-cord

Fed up, I bought a new TiVO at Best Buy Saturday afternoon about 4:15pm. On our way to the checkout counter, the Best Buy blue shirt told me, “Oh yeah…it won’t work until you get a cable card from Comcast.” Huh?

Discovering the Comcast service center near me closed at 5pm — and knowing I had zero time during the week to deal with this — I headed home, unplugged the HD DVR to return it, and hightailed it up to the service center, arriving at 5:02pm…

…and the three women inside wouldn’t even come to the door. “We close at 5pm,” one of them mouthed. I was on my iPhone with customer support at that moment who then told me that the service center is also closed on Sunday and doesn’t re-open until 11am on Monday. Really? Don’t most people do their home theater stuff on the weekends? 

I often don’t get filled with rage, but I was then and am now as I write this post. Comcast continues to do the right stuff for Comcast. Making a cable card for a TiVO hard to get is one way to lock people in to renting their piece of shit HD DVR and the claim that it’s so incredibly hard to configure is either bullshit or Comcast is engineering-incompetent.

If Apple can get the iPhone on multiple carriers all over the world — carriers that used to have hardware companies by the short-hairs and would squeeze — then there is NO reason why Comcast can’t engineer a cable card for 3rd party products that can pop in and work. (Note: A helpful Comcast technician I met at a convenience store Saturday evening on my way back home from their service center, was kind enough to hear my tale of woe, assure me he didn’t have a cable card in his truck, and then tell me that, “The cable card configuration is VERY tough so I’d heartily recommend you have a technician come in and set it up”). 

No techs are available until Wednesday (tried @ComcastCares but @ComcastMichael couldn’t help me faster than normal customer support) so I’ll go over to the service center when I can and attempt to set the TiVO up myself. Otherwise I’ll have to wait AND I’m going to have to pay Comcast their $80 service fee. Guess this is yet ONE MORE WAY to get money out of their customers and keep people from buying 3rd party HD DVRs.


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  1. Steve Borsch on October 24, 2011 at 10:24 am


    No question that’s a great price. My issue is there is enough programming that’s not available on Hulu, Netflix and others to make it compelling enough to continue with Comcast.

    Plus the big reason I stay with Comcast is because of the speed of the Internet service. Unfortunately, there are NOT any other options for high-speed Internet in Minnesota. I guess you could call that a monopoly!

  2. Neil Walter on March 19, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I feel your pain – here’s where I am – bought the Tivo Romario Plus.
    Bought the Motorola Multi-Stream Cable Card on Ebay – for $10
    Turns out – Comcast will not program a Motorola Card that doesn’t belong to them into their system – now I assure you the card I got on Ebay is the EXACT same card – multi-stream 6 chanell capable – just like the one provided by Comcast….
    Comcast is going to charge me $10/month to use their card ….where as I could save that using my own card.
    My question which I sent to Brian (CEO of Comcast) is;
    Why if I had high speed with comcast can I buy my own Motorola Surf Board Modem/Router – then pay only the cost of the ISP
    Same applies here – why can’t I buy my own Cable Card still pay for the TV service… the $120 per year on renting a $10 cable Card !!!!!!!!!!!!
    Bottom line Comcast has been shafting their customers for years and will continue to do so…

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.