Residents voice concerns about Comcast during public hearing

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Nine Hattiesburg residents outlined their complaints with their local cable provider, Comcast, during a public hearing Tuesday night, saying monthly bills were being increased without notice, service calls were delayed or going unanswered and more television providers are needed.

The hearing, held at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church, is the first of two for public discussion of Comcast’s performance while the City of Hattiesburg is in negotiations for a new cable contract.

One of the first speakers, Sandra Payne, complimented Comcast on its Internet and mobile services. However, she said other problems exist.

“Comcast is a wonderful product until you have problems,” she said. “Once you have problems, you get thrown to the 1-800 people and all hope is lost.”

Payne said her bill increased monthly while she was under contract. She said she was unable to budget for cable services because the bill changed constantly.

Another speaker, Anna Revies, also complained about her experiences with Comcast.

“I am here tonight because I have been dealing with Comcast for the last 20-something years,” she said. “This is the worst service that I have had.”

Revies said her bill has been different for every month this year. She also said she has been disappointed after calling the toll-free telephone number for service.

“I have laid the phone down, gone to the store, come back and nobody is on the phone,” she said. “It is not fair and it is not right that you have to pay all this money for bad service.”

Among other complaints by individual customers included the duplication of channels, the lack of more free premium channels through Xfinity, too many music channels and having Hattiesburg television channel WDAM broadcast both ABC and NBC programming.

Ronnie Colvin, Comcast senior director of external affairs, provided a five-minute overview of the cable system and what improvements and services were available. He said the technology has become advanced.

“From a product standpoint, I think we’ve come a long way from when the first franchise was issued,” he said. “Basically, the box is a computer now in your home.”

Other improvements in the cable system have included several apps for mobile platforms, addition of Wifi hotspots, shorter appointment windows for calls and a $20 on-time guarantee.

Colvin announced that Comcast will be adding 1-gigabyte Internet service next year.

The City of Hattiesburg’s Cable Advisory Board will hold its second public hearing on cable-related matters at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, at the Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center (220 W. Front St.).

Comments may be written or given orally during the public hearing. Written comments may be sent or delivered to City Hall, First Floor, Department of Urban Development, 200 Forrest St., Hattiesburg, MS 39401. The written comments will then be forwarded to the Cable Advisory Board members.

For additional accommodations, including alternative formats for those with visual and hearing impairments, please call 601.545.4598 or email kweeks@hattiesburgms.com. Requests should be made at least two business days before the hearing.

 

 

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