Corporate Malfeasance

Apparently this is the time of year when I get pissed off about advertising. Last week, it was* Organic Valley’s casual disregard for science, logic, and their customers’ intelligence.

* Still is, actually

Then there’s this piece of trash produced by Comcast:
Comcast camping ad (Click to enlarge for readability.)

I sat on this for a couple of weeks to give my ire a chance to subside. It hasn’t, so I’m going to vent a bit.

Comcast, with casual disregard for tradition, has co-opted a piece of childhood. Yeah, OK, I know they’re hardly unique in that, but I find this a particularly egregious example. Damn it, the backyard campout isn’t about watching movies. A computer has no place in a kid’s tent. The backyard campout is for looking at the stars, eating junk food, and telling time-honored scary stories. Oh, and hoping that those noises outside the tent are just the neighborhood raccoon, rather than the neighborhood psycho with hooks for hands*.

* Mind you, the raccoon’s claws are likely sharper than the psycho’s hooks, but the raccoon is much cuter. That excuses a lot of questionable behavior, right?

Look, I’m not questioning Comcast’s right to advertise the wonderful advantages of Wi-Fi in the backyard. I’m sure there are some, even if I can’t think of any off the top of my head. If they want to promote watching movies in the yard, how about connecting that laptop to a TV and showing the whole family gathered around it on the deck (every family has a deck in the backyard, don’t they?) Or show the kids using a tablet to look up information about a frog they’ve found in the yard. Obviously, I’m not going to make it in the ad industry, but the point stands: there are ways to show off their service without crushing a hallowed tradition under a steamroller.

But wait: the ad gets worse. Did you notice the text at the bottom? “…with a plan to create more than eight million hotspots across the nation.” That plan is to use their customers’ routers as hotspots. As Ars reported earlier this year, when Comcast sends customers new modems with built-in Wi-Fi routers, they’re sending them pre-configured with a public hotspot. Yes, customers can turn it off, but Comcast doesn’t go out of their way to advertise the feature or make it easy to turn off.

They do charge customers seven dollars a month to rent the modem/routers, though. That’s a pretty good deal for Comcast, getting their customers to subsidize expansion of Comcast’s hotspot network.

Comcast is currently pushing the new modem/routers on customers via paper mail and robocalls warning them that their “devices need to be upgraded in order to fully maximize our service offerings”. Isn’t that a nicely worded phrase? It suggests that the change is of direct benefit to the customer, when it’s actually all about a direct benefit to Comcast.

As the final touch, the letters warn customers who are using Comcast’s voice telephony that–unlike their current modem–the new modem/router will not include a backup battery. Unless the customer purchases a battery, they’ll lose phone service if the house’s power goes out. Read that again: the customer must buy a battery from Comcast for a device that they rent from Comcast in order to maintain the same level of service they have now.

I’m starting to froth at the mouth, so I’ll wrap up before someone calls Animal Control to report a rabies-infected koi in the neighborhood. No doubt they’ll think I caught it from the raccoons that invaded my backyard campout. You know the one: the only one in the whole community that didn’t show movies on a laptop.

4 thoughts on “Corporate Malfeasance

  1. Aargh. There’s been electronic transmission of rabies in koi between California and Washington State. I sure hope my computer guru will do whatever it takes to keep comcast from invading MY back yard. Throw ’em in the Sound. Splash!

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  2. I’m glad you caught that one, too, Casey. It left me slack-jawed- wrong in so many ways. On the list of truly evil corporations, Comcast is fairly low, (unlike Nestles and Halliburton, for example), but they’re on the list, no matter what they call themselves.

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    • I tend to think of Comcast as being closer to the clueless end of the spectrum than the evil end. It’s hard to hold onto that idea when they come up with something like this, though.

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