Saturday, April 3, 2010

AT&T U-Verse vs Comcast

Here is a summary:

Price: Uverse charges more for HD channels, Comcast has free broadcast HD channels
OnDemand: AT&T's is pathetic, Comcast has lots of free movies & shows
Phone service: similar for both
Internet: no noticeable difference
DVR: AT&T is good for non-HD users (see below), Comcast let you record only two shows at once

I had Comast for four or five years and it was good but it was kind of pricey. There were also some small things that were kind of annoying (like not being able to watch OnDemand while two shows were recording). U-Verse came to the area claiming lower prices and sweeping me off my feet with the promise of recording four shows at once. Switching to U-Verse was on my to-do list but when a co-worker said they were handing out $300 Visa gift cards to switch I got on the horn and got the ball rolling.

In late February, I took half a day off and waited for the tech to come out. He was due to be there by 5:00 but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and didn't call to check on his whereabouts until 5:30. Nobody could tell me where he was or if he was coming. I called back six times between 5:30 and 8:30. The fifth time I was transferred to an office that had closed for the day. I called right back and told the first person who answered the phone, "Just cancel it. This is ridiculous. Cancel the whole damn thing." The guy said, "Great," and hung up on me.

I called back the next day to make sure they were canceling the order and the rep told me there was a technical issue and they apologized for the inconvenience and promised to cancel it.

A few weeks later I got eight calls in five days from them asking me to call them. Whatever the problem had been, they fixed it. I wrote that day in Feb off as a one-time snafu and gave them another try. The guy was prompt, friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. There was some wiring issue in my apartment building's phone box so he had to call out a special tech at 4:00 to fix it. The first tech stayed as long as he could but he had to leave at 4:30. The lineman came out and fixed the box later that evening and the first tech was back promptly the next morning and everything was installed properly.

While he was cleaning up his tools and things I was playing with the remote and trying to set up recordings. When I tried to set up HD channels to record, it said "doesn't allow recording." That's when I found out it's $10 a month extra to have HD, even for broadcast channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. What the hell? These were all included with Comcast.

The tech left and I went online to program my TV from my computer. This is a useful feature that I wish Comcast would offer. I couldn't use my existing Yahoo address to set up my account so I had to open another Yahoo address via AT&T, an annoying process that should be eliminated for people who already have a Yahoo account.

When I tried to set up HD recordings, it kept telling me that there were conflicts even though there were only two recordings set in one time slot. I didn't understand why it wouldn't let me set up the promised four recordings at a time so I called up customer service again.

Apparently you only get two HD lines at a time. So you can still do four shows, but not four HD shows. I was irritated because I paid for the whole TV and I wanted to watch the whole TV, not just the middle of the screen which is what I have to do when I'm watching non-HD media. But whatever, I could live with that.

Then it got to where it would only let me set up one HD show at a time. What the hell? I mean come on. It turns out the DVR starts recording one minute early and stops recording one minute late and there is no way to change this. It's a default setting.

So say you have one show set to record at 7:30 and two shows set to record at 8:00. The 7:30 show records until 8:01, while the two 8:00 shows start recording at 7:59. So that's three minutes that you're recording three HD shows at once. but you only have two HD lines so you can't do that. Which means you can only set one show to record at 8, since the 7:30 show is still recording. You can still record up to four shows, as long as they're not HD. So at 8:00 I could record one HD show and up to three non-HD shows. This is what an extra $10 a month gets you from AT&T.

Yesterday I looked at my bill online. There was a $57 charge listed as a "prorated charge." So I called them up again. It turns out your billing cycle has nothing to do with when you signed up, it's on an established cycle for your neighborhood. Also, they pre-bill for the next month. That $57 was for the ten days in the last cycle that I had service, and then I also have to pay for a month that I have not yet used.

$57 isn't a lot to most people but it sure is to me, and by the time they added taxes and fees and all that crap it was $80, which is a big chunk of my budget.

So my bill that was supposed to be $157 is now $235, which is going to mean I'm washing my clothes in the bathtub for a while because $80 is two months of laundry at the laundromat.

I know a lot of people complain that Comcast is expensive and they have bad customer service. I've never had a bad customer service experience from Comcast. Their prices are about the same as AT&T, but they have lots and lots of free shows and movies on demand, while AT&T has no free movies and not a great selection of shows. I can't find any regular broadcast shows on their "Free on Demand" at all. They want to charge me $5.00 to watch the super shitty "All About Steve." I wouldn't watch that movie even if they were the ones paying me to watch it.

They don't even carry CLTV, Chicago's local news channel. With Comcast you can only get it if you pay an extra $10 for a digital box, but at least it's available.

I'm sticking with AT&T just long enough to get my $300 gift card and then I'm running back to Comcast as quick as I can. I'm sorry, Comcast! It was a weak moment! Let's never fight again!


daryl said...

Thanks for an honest review. I work for Comcast and get so tired of hearing how att is so much cheaper. I look at att bills all the time at work and no that they are not cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Well Daryl, I was a comcast customer, and yes AT&T is about $20 cheaper for me, for the same tv service, and actually slightly faster internet. So try looking at some more bills, Daryl.

Anonymous said...

Overall ive had a much better experience and cheaper with ATT. My biggest problem with comcast is their customer service and constant internet problems. There was a reason why comcast was rated the worst company of 2010.

Anonymous said...

Great Review. I was thinkin of switching. Might as well stick with Comcast.

Anonymous said...

I hate com cast. Rude and lots of delays. Try uverse and you will never go back to cable or dish. AT&T bundles save money

Straith said...

I also work for Comcast, however the bill in advance is something Comcast does too. Most cable companies do. Comcast makes you pay 15.95 for and HDDVR. Plus, for Anyroom DVR you have to pay 19.99 + 9.95 for each extra TV. You could have total room DVR -- and be able to control recordings in every room (but not pause live tv) with ATT with no extra monthly bill, because you can use your xbox 360 as a receiver. That means, with current pricing, you will be paying 97 with HD, The Movie Package (TMC, SHOW, STARZ, ENCORE) and over 300 channels. With Comcast, that would be over 100 with tv only. Closer to 140. Your entire bill would be 130 with current ATT pricing. Of course you can make it cheaper by reducing your package, but you still need to compare using the same anyroom dvr that Comcast would provide you.

Workin' Man said...

Internet is becoming so important to people in the world that there are a lot of choices now. That's great. Bundle discounts aren't for everyone though and cheaper reliable HD TV is hard to come by. I get my internet from one of the companies mentioned here, but I get my TV from DISH Network. I had Comcast before, (3 times before) and although I have had my problems with them I thought they were my only choice. I didn't know about satellite until I worked for DISH and it is a good option for many people who want more HD for less money. My dish has only gone out 3 times in more than 2 years of service. With 5 packages to choose from when requesting options DISH is better for any budget. As for cable, internet is about the only use I have for them and I wouldn't even do that since our phone company is so much cheaper here in Denver.

Anonymous said...

Have had comcast for years, BAD (complained to comcast about a bad node for almost 5 years, they ignored and said they could not find and problems, I did however find the node, dropped packet, disconnections on the internet ALWAYS) but Comcast WAS the only show in town for broadband, I am excited that AT&T now offering fiber, I am switching to AT&T as of 11/15/11, more channels like national goegraphic, history international, NFL and NHL packages included, AT&T on-demand updated weekly, not monthly like Comcast and still AT&T MUCH less expensive than Comcast

Anonymous said...

Now Comcast records up to 3 shows

Anonymous said...

satellite internet speeds suck. uverse may be cheaper up front but eventually they will get you. if you are under 40 switch providers every week if you want and you will not break a sweat. if you are 66 like me and cant operate anything other than a stereo system and tv from the 70s(you know, simple receivers, 2 speakers, a turntable), then you had better stick with comcast. moving to att and t may be cheaper but you may have a heart attack figuring out the paradigm shift and the equipment. i have comcast and hate the customer service and cost but i truly believe that in switching to uverse, the juice aint worth the squeeze. i might save 500 bucks the first year but then who knows. i cant live without wireless but in my large home it is a bitch in some rooms away from the router. bottom line, i will suck up the price and shitty service with comcast but stick with the devil i am used to. they are all devils and could care less about you. its all about the profit. you know the rest.

Anonymous said...

Comcast has crappy DVR service. That is a main reason I will NEVER go back to them. It's time for them to get with it, and offer 4 show at once recording.