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Brunswick hosts meetings to air concerns about Comcast service

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Brunswick hosts meetings to air concerns about Comcast service

BRUNSWICK — The Cable TV Advisory Committee was scheduled at its regular meeting Thursday to host a discussion on complaints about Comcast services.

Cable TV Coordinator John Goran said in an e-mail last week that Jay Somers, a representative of Comcast and member of the advisory committee, would not be able to attend Thursday’s meeting. The committee will consequently hold a special meeting on Thursday, Sept. 16, to allow Comcast a chance to respond to comments made at this week’s meeting.

The Sept. 16 meeting will be held in the Brunswick Council Chambers at 7 p.m.

District 1 Town Councilor David Watson, chairman of the committee, said last week that 11 area municipalities have cable TV franchise agreements with Comcast: Brunswick, Bath, Topsham, Harpswell, West Bath, Phippsburg, Freeport, Durham, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and Woolwich.

He said a recurring complaint is about customer service.

“If you look at the statistics ... Comcast is probably rated the worst of all cable companies in the United States, as far as customer service and everything like that,” Watson said.

He noted that Brunswick’s franchise agreement with Comcast includes requirements for both parties. For Comcast, that includes answering customer calls in a specific amount of time and having a live person speak with callers.

“There’s some debate as to Comcast’s compliance with those agreements,” Watson said. “This isn’t just isolated to Brunswick; this is across the board.”

He said he has heard complaints from people who have had to wait for two hours to reach a customer service representative.

“I’ve heard one story of a person having problems and trying to make contact for multiple days,” he added.

Marc Goodman, a Comcast spokesman, said last week that “we strive to provide a superior customer experience. And it’s unfortunate that some customers did not receive the information that they should have when they called in, in these instances, or that maybe it took longer than it should have for them to have their question answered.”

Watson said there have also been complaints from residents about their Internet service.

Internet-related complaints include customers not getting adequate service and difficulties related to suscom-maine.net subscribers having to switch their e-mail addresses over to comcast.net. Subscribers have until Oct. 31 to make the switch, a result of Comcast buying Suscom a few years ago. Users of other previous Suscom domains, like Blazenet-maine.net or suscomme.net, must also make the change.

Since the purchase, Comcast has been working to make its services in the Brunswick area consistent with other Comcast markets, Goodman said. The first part of that process was to connect and offer increased Internet speeds in the Mid-Coast in July, he said. Goodman also noted that Comcast offers a variety of features that are accessible only through a Comcast address, such as anti-virus software and storage backup capabilities.

Goodman said that in recent weeks Comcast has had a technician in its Brunswick service center at 336 Bath Road during normal business hours to help people through the switch, supplementing instructions available via mail or e-mail, or by calling 1-800-COMCAST.

He also said the company will hold open houses this month and in October at the Brunswick center, where additional technicians will be brought in to help with the e-mail transition and to discuss the new features.

Watson said he yet to make the e-mail switch, and noted that when he has Internet issues, he has received the service from Comcast that he expects. But he added that “I’m not concerned about me. I’m concerned about the citizens of the town of Brunswick. And let’s face it, if citizens from ... all those 11 communities are facing the same problem, I think it would be much more intelligent for us all to get on the same page and talk in the same language, and we as a block would have much more power than one community.”

Watson said he saw the Sept. 9 meeting as a necessary public airing of issues.

“What I’m trying to do is to provide the opportunity for all 11 communities to address the problems at one time,” he said.

But he noted that “I am not interested in any sort of an inquisition against Comcast. I just want an honest and fair airing of grievances, and explanations, and hopefully commitment to a better service.”

Comcast representatives will have the opportunity to review video from the meeting so that they can respond on Sept. 16. Both meetings are to be cablecast live and recorded for replay, Goran said. They will both also be available on Brunswick’s “Video on Demand” server.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.