Comcast is having a tough time with its leap into home security, through its XFINITY ™ Home platform. The stakes are high: in fact, Comcast’s commitment to the space is backed by what we hear is roughly $11 million in advertising expenditures so far this year. And even more interesting is the persistent rumor that ADT, now an independent public company, is a potential acquisition target for Comcast. Wouldn’t that be interesting: if ADT, already known for its subpar customer service and above-average cancellation rate, was acquired by Comcast, the routine butt of its own poor service jokes, and one of the ten most hated consumer service companies in the US.
For background, the XFINITY ™ Home offer “bundles” home security and home automation with other Comcast services. The term bundling means you can’t get the home security services alone: you have to be signed up for other Comcast products as well. It’s become generally accepted why cable companies have embraced home security: Comcast and the other Multiple System Operators (MSO’s) have extremely high cancellation rates, combined with stagnant top line growth, so migrating into home security makes sense – to them. However, they are learning that protecting homes and families is not as easy as they thought. When it comes to life safety and security, the system has to work, and it has to be supported well. Here’s a recent string of posts from the Comcast XFINITY ™ forum that reinforces some concerns about Comcast I’ve been sharing here for some time.
Posted 10-23-2012 07:46 PM (Tuesday evening)
I purchased an upgraded premium package and have been dissatisfied with the Xfinity home security system. Since I’m away from home often I’m finding that the remote access is often off line which requires someone to reset the modem, router or touch screen. I’m starting to feel this system is only appropriate for those that are regularly at home. I’m constantly having to ask someone to reset the equipment or meet the Comcast technician to problem solve the issue. I’ve had batteries go in new wireless sensors, replaced all the motion detectors and cameras, been provided a rental modem because the one I purchased was “not compatible” as well as been told the router has a weak signal. I’m starting to look for a new system but want to confirm that this one was indeed not the right choice because I’m sure I will have a battle over canceling my contract. Does anyone have a similar experience or know how to resolve this issue?
Posted 10-25-2012 11:52 AM (Thursday morning)
Our records indicate that you were assisted by our local colleagues regarding your concern. If you need more help, please feel free to contact us.
Comcast Corp. – National Customer Operations
10-25-2012 01:01 PM
No, that isn’t correct. The record shows a satisfied resolution because the customer service representative is probably evaluated on that basis. Your system is flawed in gathering accurate posts because they’re one sided and subject to being written by someone that seems to have an alternate objective. He was very nice and understanding but I told him that there was nothing he could do to help since I was not home to reboot the control box. He also provided some more phone numbers to call when I got home to address the lack of connectivity.
My post really isn’t about resolving my problem(s). I simply was looking to get feedback and confirmation that a security system based on the Xfinity technology is poorly suited for someone who is frequently away from home and is reliant on remote functionality. With a system that routinely goes off line and needs to be rebooted I regularly have no video, light and thermostat control. Although I believe the house is armed and monitored this is not the level of service I contracted to receive.
So Many Issues – Where Do I Start?
For one thing, the Comcast system is based almost entirely on a vulnerable Internet connection: if you have problems with your connection, as this customer did, you may be out of luck for anything except the most basic alarm service. And a burglar can easily cut that Internet connection. A better solution – such as the only one we use at FrontPoint – bases almost everything on a safer, more robust, and more reliable cellular connection. That we way there is no phone or Internet connection needed for sending an alarm, and you have much better access to remote arm/disarm, text and email notifications, and even home automation features (for control of lights, locks and thermostats) – all with free mobile apps. And here’s a tip: Comcast uses the same Internet-based platform that ADT uses for its “Pulse” service. Misery must love company!
Support Begins with being Compliant
While some technology platforms are better than others, you also have to be able to support your customers. After all, this isn’t just about cable TV: this is about home security, and the peace of mind that should come from protecting your home and family. I noticed from the dates and times above that it took a good day and a half for the customer to get a response from Comcast – it should have been the next morning, at the latest. And that brings up another issue: is Comcast even playing by the rules?
Alarm Company Licensing
For those of us who have dedicated our careers to protecting homes and families, compliance is a big deal. In this industry, compliance means following the law, including having the required licenses that are needed to operate in a state or local jurisdiction. These statutes generally relate to consumer protection: you don’t want bad guys in your home, so background checks and fingerprinting may be involved, and you also don’t want your house to burn down from faulty wiring or other reasons. And Comcast is already in trouble in one state for not being compliant.
The Massachusetts Systems Contractors Association (MSCA) is asking a judge to find the two new security industry entrants are violating state law and ban them from selling, installing and monitoring security systems in the state. The MSCA contends Comcast and Verizon are endangering the public by having unlicensed personnel do security systems work, and also infringing on the rights of the group’s members.
The MSCA says all its members who do security systems work have a state electrical license, have passed a criminal background check and work for companies that are licensed by the Department of Public Safety. Comcast and Verizon don’t meet such licensing requirements in their security systems work, the group alleges.
It’s No Laughing Matter
Then there is my favorite take on the Comcast XFINITY Home offering. One web site affiliated with Consumer Reports fielded many comments that indicated a “thumbs down” even before the product launched. Here’s a tongue-in-cheek simulated response following an alarm event:
We just received an alarm from your XFINITY Security System. The police are scheduled to arrive between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm next Thursday. Please make sure someone is home to let them in. Or, if you prefer, you may choose the self-arrest option.
This is darkly humorous, but is also a painful reminder that Comcast may well be way out of its depth in trying to provide true peace of mind. As a “real” alarm company that is focused on protecting homes and families, FrontPoint welcomes the huge ad spend to increase public awareness of interactive monitoring services – exactly the advanced features that FrontPoint has offered since our inception in 2007. We also expect that the more people research their options, the more they’ll choose FrontPoint. As the leader in wireless home security, we specialize in the best protection: that’s why we’re the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. FrontPoint systems are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat – and you’ll be thrilled with our service.