Dear PoPville – Starpower vs. Comcast

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Dear PoPville,

My building offers both Starpower and Comcast for cable/internet. Anyone have experience with Starpower? The services quoted are comparable and the fee is 1/2. Just curious. Not sure. Any insight welcome.

I tried to negotiate better rates with Comcast and the best they could offer was $20 less. Still no where close to what Starpower offers…yet worried on delivery by Starpower and services promised.

31 Comment

  • comcast is the devil. take any option other than comcast. their service blows. their prices are high. and you will have over the phone battles with them every 6 months as they try to jack up your rates.

    • +1 – signed a 2-year contract with them and they started jacking up my rates after a year. By the time I called them to downgrade, the Triple Play package I was paying ~$150 a month for when I first signed up had been raised to $230 a month. My building isn’t wired for RCN and I don’t feel like going the satellite dish route, so I’m left to count the days till we get FiOS.

      • Hate to break the news to you, but Fios is just as expensive as Comcast and ther service is a lot worse. I had it when I lived in VA and at least half the time the channels were unavailable or the picture was scrambled. Everytime Verizon came out to address the problem (or reset the boxes remotely) it wouldn’t help. Luckily we hardly ever watch TV so we could deal with only having it available occasionally. But it’s silly to pay that much for something so unreliable.

  • my experience with comcast has actually been okay. my internet service at home is a little wonky… and i only have basic cable because i think their prices are high. but every 6 months i get on and go chat with an agent (soooo much easier than calling), and ask them if their are any promotions. they give me internet anywhere for $19.99/month to $24.99/month or maybe $40/month at the highest.

    they always hook me up.

    i have never heard of starpower, and tried to google it but only came up with rcn. are they the same?

    • This is what I hate the most about Comcast. Absolutely everything they offer is bait and switch, so to get reasonable rates you have to keep contacting them and playing their idiotic game. The whole model is based on you forgetting to do this, or not knowing that you can, and they just keep jacking up the price.

      They fundamentally hope that you forget about the price escalations and end up paying way more than you would ever initially sign up for. It’s a scum sucking lice infested dirtbag of a company, and real competition can’t come fast enough.

      • Well I do see my bill every month, so when the price goes from say, $38 to $68 it’s a good reminder to get in touch with them again and see what they can do. Yes I do think they are way too expensive, but considering I think they are the only ones in DC.. unless I want to use a phone line.

        • With what other service would it be acceptable to see a 1 month doubling in price, especially with an auto debit setup?

          I think the entire “see what they can do” and rotating facade of specials and discounts is a load of BS. The offerings even change depending on who you call and which option tree you use to get through to a representative.

          • i never use auto debit for anything. but… if you don’t like it, don’t use comcast? not sure there are many other options though.

        • I have Comcast for phone, TV, and internet, and my bill has never increased more than a few cents (due to taxes/fees). I don’t sign up for their promotional pricings, which may be why my bill doesn’t fluctuate.

  • I have RCN/Starpower and have no issues. They offer TiVO, which I really enjoy.

  • I only have Comcast internet and phone now, but I used to have the TV, too, and I’ve never had any service problems with them. They’ve been good to me, with one exception – you really have to stay on top of your bill. If it goes up, call immediately and they’ll get you on a new promo.

    Outside of the bill shenanigans, I have been happy with them. For what it’s worth, Verizon pulls the exact same billing trick with my business FIOS account at the office.

    • Like JCM, I have only Comcast phone and internet. Their customer service is noticeably better than it was like 5-10 years ago. Had a phone issue last week and they had a guy come out. He missed his window, I called and they gave me a $20 credit.

      If the same thing had happened in the earlier part of this century, I probably would have heard the indifferent shrug the rep would have given me over the phone.

  • I had a terrible experience with Comcast, and I’ve been a very happy RCN customer for years now. The DVRs they rent are now TiVos, which is even more awesome.

    FYI, Starpower no longer exists. It’s just RCN now.

  • I’ve been a satisfied RCN/Starpower customer for several years. I don’t think they offer the same volume of On-Demand options as Comcast does, but that’s not a concern for me, especially at the price points they offer. Internet is quick (over the last few years they’ve regularly upped my speeds at no cost to me) and reliable. They used to have outsourced customer service which was annoying but I just got a card in the mail that says they now have 100% US-based call centers.

  • RCN is also good about adjusting rates if you’ve been a good customer and call and NICELY talk to the agent about how surprised you were to see your bill go up.

  • Another vote for RCN. I’ve used their service for a few years now without problems. I like the TiVo and OnDemand, but I also don’t have anything to compare them to. Had Comcast previously, and a problem with our connection took days and several technician visits to fix.

  • I concur with the comments above. I’ve had RCN for the past 6 years and have been happy with the service/pricing. Despite a few rate hikes, I’ve had some success getting them to reduce the rates after I threatened to switch services. Either way, they’re priced below Comcast and I found their offerings to be comparable (in terms of basic services). Sure they may not have the same on-demand options, but with most new TVs (or set top boxes) allowing you to tap into Hulu Plus, Amazon, or Netflix, I don’t know why you’d chose a cable provider based on On-demand selection.

  • I suppose by Starpower you mean RCN. I have had them for Cable, internet, and pone (local & LD) for nine years now and am very satisfied. Almost never outages – maybe twice in all that time, and at one point when I was unemployed and needed to cut back, they were cooperative when I called to drop some features to reduce my bill – many cable companies are not. I could change to Comcast, but I haven’t.

  • Comcast may be $20 less now, but just give them a few months. You’ll get a notice that says your bills have mistakenly been undercharging you, despite the fact that you have a package deal. And now your bill is $30 more a month. And that’s when they even bother to notify you. I’ve also checked my monthly bill and found random charges added on for no reason whatsoever. Then, after hours on the phone to get the charge removed, they charged me a service fee for having the charge removed. I kid you not.

    Avoid Comcast. They are the worst.

    • Don’t avoid Comcast, just avoid any promotional offers they try to throw your way. I think that’s the source of frustration for most people. Just get the bare minimum that you need, at regular price. Your rates won’t go up, there will be no surprises, and you won’t have to deal with speaking to an agent.

      • My post is only the tip of the iceberg of my problems with Comcast. Installation took three separate attempts over two weeks. The random charges that just appear out of nowhere have occurred more than once. If didn’t watch my bill like a hawk, those scam artists would be getting tons of extra charges out of me. I am convinced that is part of their business model. If there was a viable option in my area to switch I would.

        I need to investigate whether Starpower is an option for me. Neither Cox nor Verizon are available for me.

  • It’s really quite simple: they both suck. These are among the worst companies you will ever have to deal with. Verizon is bad too. We live in a first rate country but telecom providers are enjoying their monopoly status like they are operating in a 3rd world country.

  • ah

    I’ve had RCN for 10+ years, and have been pretty happy. Very few service outages (maybe 5 in that time, and only one in the last 5 years).

    Pricing seems less of a ripoff than comcast, but they do jack your rates every year or more often. “Promotions” are constantly expiring, and you have to call and negotiate a new rate, which usually is a more modest increase (they sometimes throw in a sweetener, like an upgrade on internet speed).

    Service has been pretty good. Tech support is in some place on the other side of the world, and walks you through the same 5 steps on every call, but they actually seem to make an effort once you cut through the crap.

    That all said, after years of price increases FIOS pricing has become competitive with RCN, so I’m thinking of switching the next time they try to jack me.

    (And, yeah, Starpower was dropped once Pepco sold its interest in the RCN-Pepco JV. RCN is now owned by some private equity firm, which is why they are increasing rates–generates short term cash flow at the expense of long-term loyalty).

  • Was this email lost from 2004? I have RCN (successor to Starpower) and the service has been decent for the past couple years. They also offer a TiVo option which is vastly superior to the generic cable box.

    When then inevitably raise the rates after a set time you can usually negotiate lower rates by calling (multiple times) and complaining/threatening to reduce or remove features. Just watch the bill carefully, because they *will* jack up rates, but it’s not quite set in stone.

    I once experienced a ridiculous customer service issue when I had Starpower/RCN phone service. I was billed for a year after I cancelled the phone service. They eventually reversed the charges, after I jumped through hoops and *faxed* proof of the error to them each month for 6 months.

    Also a few years ago RCN service was down in Logan Circle for a month. I was compensated with a pro-rated bill and three months of HBO, but it wasn’t fun.

  • Can you opt to not get cable? We watch movies on Netflix or Hulu and got a digital antenna for the TV. Use the money you save to treat yourself to a weekend at a different B&B once a month every month. Go out with friends to see sporting events when you really want to. As you sip your wine watching the sunset over the Chesapeake/mountains/city you will wonder why you ever spent so much on TV.

  • I’ve been an RCN/Starpower customers for 9 years, and am very happy with the service. Internet speeds are fine, I’ve only had one or two cable outages in 9 years, and their phone service is fine as well. I’ve only had to call customer service once or twice, and they were fine as well. Comcast is consistently ranked as one of the worst companies for customer service. You couldn’t pay me enough to use Comcast’s service.

  • I have had both, and would choose RCN over comcast anyday. Better customer service, better pricing, better company.

    Sadly, my building is Comcast only, so i am stuck there. I just spent 35 minutes on hold saturday after my cable mysteriously went out. wait time for billing: zero minutes. wait time for customer service: 35. Hmm….

    If you are a soccer fan, RCN is a must because they carry Fox Soccer Plus. Comcast refuses to carry it.

  • I don’t want to defend Comcast, but some of you obviously were never taught to read the fine print.

    • fine print has little to do with it. i promise you, i can read as well as you can. and comcast continually alters my bill and adds new fees without notice. i’ve called and complained and they have admitted they dont know where the fee came from. they remove the fee from my account. on my next bill, there is a service charge for removing the fee. the fee that was incorrectly added to my bill in the first place. this has happened more than once.

  • I had what was then starpower for 8 years, and was paying way too much for cable/internet, although admitted we had every single channel you could imagine. It was a group house, and a no one was watching the bills too closely. The house switched to comcast for a much better price, but someone had to be on them every six months to re-negotiate for a good deal. It was a pain, but it worked.

    When i moved into my own place, I fully intended to continue on with comcast, but just for internet, as I watch a majority of what I like online. A snafu with tenant before me not canceling her phone plan meant that comcast needed me to wait a month to sign-up, and I ended up with RCN. And you know what, I couldn’t be happier. I locked in for a year of internet at a low rate, haven’t had a any problems, and only a few outages.

    At the end of the day, you just have to stay on top of it. I would go with the company with the best deal, and be vigilant. Comcast certainly has a poorer reputation, but I think that’s just because more people in the area use their services.

  • We just moved and got RCN after Comcast was a total disaster in getting the service set up. After multiple missed appointments etc I finally told Comcast to leave us alone. Their response was to send me a bill for $64; I’m not exactly sure what for…
    So far RCN has been great.

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