A software engineer living in Washington state may have no choice but to sell the home he bought last December because, despite repeatedly checking with Comcast before he even considered buying the property, the company just can't (or won't) give him internet service.
Seth Morabito's thorough chronicle of how Comcast strung him along is some real Twilight Zone shit, and provides a grim cautionary tale about making any decision—let alone buying a house—based on assurances from the Worst Company in America.
Before he made the decision to move to rural Kitsap County, Morabito says, he called Comcast and Comcast Business to make sure he could get service—especially important because he works from home, and can't do his job without internet access. He says he was told it wouldn't be a problem, and Comcast Business even assured him a previous resident had an account with them.
That now seems unlikely, considering that the house isn't wired for cable, and Comcast's nearest connection point is 2,500 feet away. Poor Seth had to learn this hard way, after half a dozen visits—both scheduled and unscheduled—from Comcast techs who hadn't been informed about his problem and arrived thinking they'd just have to install a cable box.
Instead, wiring the house for Comcast access is a complex engineering project involving permits and buried cables, and it would cost between $56,000 and $60,000. Morabito only learned this after several engineering requests were opened and then automatically closed by Comcast's system because—and this is where things get truly nightmarish—someone had incorrectly checked a box indicating he already had service.
After all of that, Morabito was willing to pay his share of the wiring costs—moving out of a house with only three months of equity is pretty expensive, too—and even researched contractors who could do part of the work for less than what Comcast was charging.
Then he got some awful news:
Robert called and told me that Comcast will not do the extension. No ifs, no ands, no buts, they just won't do it. They wouldn't even give me the chance to pay for it. Too much effort on their part.
I'm devastated. This means we have to sell the house. The house that I bought in December, and have lived in for only two months.
I don't know where we go from here. I don't know if there's any kind of recourse. I doknow that throughout this process, Comcast has lied. I don't throw that word around lightly or flippantly, I mean it sincerely. They've fed me false information from the start, and it's hurt me very badly.
I don't know exactly how much money I'm going to lose when I sell, but it's going to be substantial. Three months of equity in a house isn't a lot of money compared to sellers fees, excise taxes, and other moving expenses.
You may be thinking that this seems a little extreme, and there were probably steps our unfortunate homeowner could have taken to avoid getting screwed by Comcast, or alternate ways he could get internet access.
He addresses most of them in a FAQ on his blog:
Why didn't he get something in writing from Comcast? He asked, but was told they don't do that.
Doesn't he have any other options for internet service? DSL? Satellite? Not really—Comcast's only real competitor in the area, CenturyLink, has marked Morabito's area as "permanent exhaust," meaning they're not hooking up any new customers.
He also tried the local point-to-point wireless company and got the best, worst response ever: "We used to serve your area, but last year somebody built a building between our tower and Poulsbo. We lost a lot of customers. There's nothing we can do for you."
All of this leaves him no option but to do his work from mobile hotspot whose bandwidth limits aren't enough to last him a whole month, and go to Starbucks whenever he needs to transfer a large file.
The only reasonable suggestion I've seen that could have prevented this fiasco was to make the sale of the home contingent on an internet connection being successfully installed—Comcast still would have screwed him, but at least they would've done before he moved in.
Or, as Seth points out, Comcast could have just been straight with him in their initial phone calls:
This whole thing would have been avoided if only Comcast had said, right at the start, that they didn't serve this address. Just that one thing would have made me strike this house off the list.
So, good bye dream house. You were the first house I ever owned, I'll miss you.