Let’s see, now. At the New To Seattle world headquarters I get my Internet service from Comcast. Four times in the past three weeks it has gone out, for periods ranging from 30 minutes to four hours. Comcast outtages usually aren’t that frequent, but they’re hardly uncommon, either. Since I also get my landline phone service from Comcast, and that blows when the Internet does, I have to call Comcast on my cellphone.
I don’t know whether to laugh like Jeff Bezos or cry like Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” when the tape tells me I quickly and easily can check on the status of the service problem (it’s never at my end) by going to a Comcast website. Remember, the reason I’m calling is that I can’t get quickly and easily to a Comcast website–or any other, either. (For some reason, the cable TV service I also get from Comcast rarely fails, meaning while I’m waiting I get to kill time by binge-watching something really stupid like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”)
Judging from comments on Seattle Reddit and other forums for venting, this is a persistent problem across Seattle. Yes, that Seattle, the city that touts itself as the new high-tech Mecca, a region with Amazon.com, Microsoft, a major Adobe research facility, a string of brand-name Internet firms and God know how many NSA intercept taps.
Nor is the Internet problem limited to Comcast, which is by far the city’s largest ISP, with a near-monopoly position. Still, despite the persistent lack of quality and reliability, Comcast keeps trying to charge more. This forces savvy customers into a Kabuki dance of repeatedly calling and threatening to walk unless the price increase is rolled back, which it always is. I chalk up much of the lackluster performance to toothless regulation by the City of Seattle.