(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Comcast Apparently Verifies Next To Nothing Before Digging Up A Yard

from the verification?-why-that-takes-time... dept

Hot on the heals of a tragically botched Comcast installation blowing up a house, killing two people, comes a story from security blogger Mike Rothman, about how some folks at Comcast just showed up at his house the other day preparing to dig up his yard to install a line. There were a few problems with this, starting with the fact that he didn't order (nor want) a line -- and there actually already was a cable line into the house. He investigated the issue and discovered that someone using the name of whoever owned the house two owners prior to him was on the work order. Rothman has a few different theories for what may have happened (some a bit more paranoid than others), but can't make sense of why this would happen. Much scarier, however, is the fact (as he points out) that Comcast did nothing to verify the order before they planned to start digging up someone's yard. They didn't check with the homeowner. They didn't call the person on the work order. They didn't even check to see if there was already a cable line to the house. They just sent a crew out to dig. It seems like this is the sort of thing that shouldn't happen. It's not hard to do some basic checking before ripping up someone's yard, but apparently that's not how things are done.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Tora1188, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 9:16pm


    Doesn't Comcast also have to verif the order with the city before they start any major construction or excavation project? For some reason they may or may not have checked with the city (who would have noticed that the propery owner was in fact NOT the person on the work order.... Cities want to yank their tax from the proper people....)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 9:29pm

    I live in New York State and if and if anyone dose any digging for any reason they must first notify the Elwctric and Gas Co.,Phone,and Cable companys so they can mark out where if any of their lines are laying in that area underground.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    big dog, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 10:41pm

    I used to work for them, and the sad is that they will do just about anything to get money out of people. I have alot of examples but one is the best. i called an order in and there was a lte fee i was told next time call the boss and he will put it in without using the office phone because they are recorded. ie:change the name kon the account so the order goes through ih yeah and he had to change the social security number also a big nono in america!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 10:50pm

    From my experience, comcast workers will refuse to make a hole to route cable w/o explicit permission from a landlord, if they are installing cable at an apartment. This is a strange case, but probably not typical.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Paul, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 11:20pm

    Not suprising

    Comcast outsources their call center to places that barely speak English and it isn't at all surprising that this could have happened. What most likely happened is that the person had cable at their old address years ago then needed to have a new line put in at their new place and so Comcast botches it by pulling up old records.

    I just the other day was with someone who had called AT&T a few days prior to have their old landline transfered to her new apartment, she was calling AT&T again to see if the transfer had gone through. She was calling from her cell phone and between people barely speaking English (she had to spell out her last name 8 times, and had to say the first letter 6 times) and getting her call transfered to 4 different people there was so much confusion on AT&T's end that they thought she was trying to transfer her cell phone to Nebraska (she is in California)

    All she was trying to do was check if her prior request was completed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Luci, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 3:22am

    Re: Not suprising

    Not surprising in the least, actually. I worked for the contracting company that handles (or handled, it has been a few years) AT&T/Comcast in Toledo OH. They closed down our call center, which was earning them in the neighborhood of 4 TIMES projections and moved all the jobs to India. Supervisors and up could keep their jobs... if they agreed to move to India.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Robert G., Dec 8th, 2006 @ 3:36am

    Call ahead???

    Excuse me, but if an order was placed to have a line repaired or replaced, the either one of two things happened. First, Comcast is required to have you sign a form to consent the digging of the yard UNLESS it's a feeder cable, not a drop. If it's a feeder line, then the right of way access has been granted already by the city for the cable provider to dig. If it's a drop they were digging for, then someone screwed up, and will likely be fired for not getting the signature. The guy either was an existing customer, and was having trouble, or had a feeder running thru his yard that needed repaired, or was visited by someone who didn't follow procedure. A company as large as Comcast (the largest in the US), will unfortunately be in the news all over because everyone knows who they are, and they are in just about every state in the US. The policies are in place, the employee just needs to follow the rules.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Evil Bastard, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 4:12am

    Comcast Call Center

    The call center is not in another country. I have called them on several occasions. I am in Harrisburg, PA and my calls are usually routed to a place in DE. I usually ask where the caller is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Sean Carton, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 7:32am

    Bastard Comcast Contractors

    I had a similar thing happen to me.

    I was having trouble with my cable and Comcast said they'd "send a crew out." A bunch of dirtbags hauling a trenching machine showed up one morning just as I was leaving for work. I asked them what they were doing and they told me they were going to dig a trench for a new cable.

    "Where are you going to put it?" I asked.

    "Oh, we're gunna run it right up yer yard there," said one, pointing to the hill in front of my house.

    "I've got an irrigation system in my lawn," I told them, not wanting to have the pipes chewed up.

    "Hmmm...well we're sure as heck gonna chew 'em up when we put the cable in," the foreman cheerfully told me. "Just take it up with Comcast when we're gone and they'll reimburse you for the damage."

    "F*ck no," I yelled. "Get the hell outta here. I'll fix it myself."

    Which I did (it was a small break that I fixed with a quick splice), avoiding what would have surely been months of hassle with Comcast.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Benji, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 7:54am

    Dunno, I rather liked it

    They dug up a trench in my backyard when I got the drop replaced (old one didn't have a strong enough signal to get the internet), and I saw it as an opportunity to get some free work done. I had them remove the unused planter at the back of the yard for me and it was all free :)
    You just gotta look on the bright side sometimes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Namrok, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 8:30am

    My parents had the exact opposite problem

    When the cable line to my parents house went bad (it was 20 years old and got messed up somehow) it took Comcast almost 2 years of constant calls to bury the thing. It wasn't until my parents threatened to cancel and get DirectTV (which they should have just done) that they finally sent someone out to bury the cable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Bob, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 8:44am

    Cox is no better

    Cox came out 2 years ago and ran their trencher around the trees in my front yard, minding where the painted markers indicated other buried utilities. Then they made their final turn, decided they had worked themselves into a corner and quit, after 2 hours and pulling up the cable buried so far.

    It laid there for a couple of months until I got tired of calling and moving it to avoid my mower. I just trenched a groove with a trowel, put in the cable, tossed some topsoil and grass seed over it. No problems in over two years, and they never came back duing that time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    The Original Just Me, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 9:08am

    Odd error at the source URL

    Precondition Failed

    We're sorry, but we could not fulfill your request for /blog/mike-rothman/paranoia-and-idiocy on this server.

    We have established rules for access to this server, and any person or robot that violates these rules will be unable to access this site.

    To resolve this problem, please try the following steps:
    Ensure that your computer is free of viruses, Trojan horses, spyware or any other sort of malicious software.
    If you are using any sort of personal firewall or browser privacy software, check to ensure that its settings do not cause your web browser to inadvertently violate any of the rules listed below.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous idiot, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 9:24am

    I know why!!

    Cause Comcast sucks! Outragous prices, ricidulous service, rude salespeople, and I even used to work for them!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    James K, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 9:47am

    Re: I know why!!

    I have to agree that Comcast is now, in general, lousy. Hilarious that a company in the business of communication can suck so horribly at it.

    I moved residences, and had to cancel my existing account and start a new one. Not only did it take them a month to get my new service started, but to this day, I still get calls from them "confirming my service cancellation" or checking on my "pending service transfer." I have to literally ask them, "where is this coming from... what records are still open about this?"

    I find myself simply baffled at the internal miscommunication. The individual customer ends up being the only one who can help the major corporation sort out their own records.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Steve H, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 11:08am

    Better than..

    I moved 3 years ago and when I bought my house, the previous owners dog had dug up the cable.

    When Comcast came to install, they ran the cable across the yard and informed me that another person would come and bury the line.

    Im still waiting..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Lance, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 12:35pm

    I've experienced worse...

    A couple of months ago, AT&T was digging in one of my neighbors' yard. Either by accident, or perhaps on purpose, they cut one of the lines in the area where they were digging.

    Imagine my surprise when I received a call from my wife from a number that I had never seen. A bigger surprise awaited me when I got home that evening. Through a series of conversations (including one with the neighbor that was attempting to call his own wife), I discovered that the good folks at AT&T had switched my line with my neighbor. I'm not one their (AT&T) customers, so they didn't seem to be in any big hurry to get it fixed.

    Finally, three days after they initially screwed things up, they managed to get me reconnected to my own phone number. All of this happened without either my neighbor, or me, having any kind of service request to AT&T. Yeah, Comcast screws things up sometimes, but they all do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    shawn, Feb 25th, 2007 @ 5:05am

    Re: Bastard Comcast Contractors

    your full of it . contractors are responisable to fix what they mess up or break befor they leave. I am a contractor and never had a problem however i dont use a machine i do it by hand. I want to leave and have them happy that i did not tear up there lawn and i know that there is others out there that care about peoples propety....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    unwanted digging, Mar 5th, 2007 @ 9:10am

    unwanted digging

    I woke up this morning to 6 guys digging a 4 foot trench in my front yard. There vans had no company markings, none of the guys were wearing any company insignia. We had received no phone calls, letters, or anything to let us know that anyone would be digging. None of the 6 guys rang the doorbell to announce their arrival, NOTHING.

    I ask some questions, and finally figure out that they are Comcast Contractors. It was hard to find out because none of the guys spoke English very well (shocker).

    Called that guy's supervisor, and he said "Well, the first 3 feet up to the curb is county property, and we can dig whenever we want." OK- maybe that's true, but how about a courtesy call / letter / ring the doorbell? The other thing that doesn't make sense is that there's nothing wrong with my cable, or anything else.

    Comcast is bar none the worst corporation in the U.S.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Midlothian VA homeowner, Oct 1st, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    Broken Irrigation Pipes

    Comcast guys dug up my yard a month ago, to put in cable for a neighbour of mine. In the process, they dug into my irrigation pipes and damaged a pipe really bad.. I called Comcast and reported a damage the same week! and been calling every week since then, to hear a different tones of "someone will call you" every time! The sod that they dug up and put back is now dead, due to lack of water.. Still waiting.. COMCAST, when are you going to call me!

    Midlothian Resident.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    tony p, Jan 1st, 2008 @ 10:29pm

    Re: Re: Bastard Comcast Contractors

    Shawn you mabe one of the few. You should be working for comcast it self and get the benefits. We need men like you who take pride in their work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Marie, Jan 29th, 2008 @ 3:45am

    Re: Broken Irrigation Pipes

    Have you contacted Comcast Corporate office regarding your damage?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    jake, Mar 3rd, 2008 @ 9:28pm

    Comcast is a joke. I was a contactor and i took pride in my work never had a customer complaint, never damaged property, nothing people always called in to give me good marks about my installs and usually when i would go and fix somethings that the idiot that was there before me didnt do right. The bottem line is that it all starts at the installation, I would especially on an install try to replace anything that might cause my customer problems in the future. So if your getting cable or internet, and the tech just goes on the pole to hook you up and then just comes in just throws in a modem or box then be prepared to have problems. Usually a typical contractor tech will do the bare minimum to make the equipment work. If I were you I would request an in-house tech, they dont get nearly as much work and will do a better quality job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Mike Jones, Jun 12th, 2008 @ 7:42pm

    Comcast Corporate

    You can call our corporate offices about this issue

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Heather, Jan 29th, 2009 @ 8:13am

    unauthorized digging

    I live in a townhuse community. My neighbors decided to get Comcast cable (we have satellite...nothing to do with comcast). They sent a guy out who instead of digging to the end of my neighbors yard and making a 90 degree angle to where the utilities have a right away to be run, he just dug diagonally through the middle of my yard. My husband and I work from home. There was never a knock n the door aswking for permission for him to do this. He just decided to take the eary way out. Now I am fighting with Comcast to get it out of my yard, because it is right through the place where we are planning to plant trees in the spring.
    Where do these idiots come off just diging up my yard???
    I so HATE Comcast!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    ankola007, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 9:26pm

    Homes For Sale

    for home sales and transactions please visit
    Homes For Sale

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Joel Asaro, Jul 29th, 2009 @ 1:59pm

    Me Too

    In my case I did order the cable, but they came out and trenched through the lawn cutting a sprinkler water pipe without getting permission. Originally, they were going to fish a pipe, but when they gave up on that without explanation, they decided they would just cut through the lawn instead. They did eventually repair the sprinklers after two attempts, but the lawn has a huge brown line and a huge brown spot where the sprinklers were broken. They offered me $20 for my trouble!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    contractor for comcast, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 5:36pm

    related to this deal

    ok so i work for comcast as a contractor, well we have to to to the hosue greet the home owner and we then have to check out where we will be installing cable internet or phone before we start a install then after we will then find the tap (which is the box or electric lines ) then we also if the line will be put under ground run the line from the tap to the house not digging the ground right up and we will hook everything up do wall fishing and wat not of what has to be done then we will send out another truck to put the line in the ground!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    4tees (profile), Feb 16th, 2010 @ 4:00am

    Re: Broken Irrigation Pipes

    I am having the same problem. They came out of easement and damaged water line, which damaged plumbing inside of house. They used an unlicensed contractor and did not get a permit. Then the City cited me for working without a permit. I am now involved in civil litigation and wondering what has happened with your situation. Contact me if you can. thorner03@yahoo.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Robert Jones, May 25th, 2011 @ 4:47pm

    Comcast digging up yard without permission

    Comcast is run by dumb and dummer and greed and greedier.

    I had them out today to fix the TV and Telephone lines.

    I find this orange cable laying in the landscaping. Its cut on both ends hooked to nothing. I ask the Comcast lady what it is. She says its new cable but she has no idea of why it was never completed and she could find no work order for it.
    They dug up my yard, cut through the plastic liner in sandbox and home landscaping. Never got permission and left a hazard as the wire is not tapped off, just a bare wire laying against house and bare wire at other end. Plus it looks terrible. I ran it over mowing days prior, it was just laying in yard. Did a number on the blade and mower.

    All our power and cable runs overhead not underground. We have two cable wires coming in and they are fine. No idea why they did that. She says they have rights but Im not so sure they can damage things like they did in this case.

    A few things to do.
    1. Drop comcast then they have ZERO rights to use easement of the power company.
    2. Sue them for clean up

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    bluerider, Aug 17th, 2011 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Re: Broken Irrigation Pipes

    Iím having exactly the same issue on my property. Without any notice or visit, sub-sub contractor of Comcast started digging my yard Yesterday, then today, they they cut the water line today.

    After they have reconnected the line, water meter up on the street indicates a slow leak between the valve on the street and the main valve of the house.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Bill, Nov 17th, 2013 @ 6:16pm

    comcast rental fees

    I recently sent Comcast a monthly rental bill for the box
    they put on my property without asking.The box was installed
    in 1989 so the bill I sent them was for total cost of property rental at a rate of 70.00 dollars a month for 24 months.We agreed on 4800.00 dollar settlement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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