Coronavirus: Comcast Ends In-Home Installations For New Customers

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Q. My cable TV service with Comcast has been acting up lately, but I am scared to death to call someone out to the home to fix it with the Coronavirus out there. Is there any way to fix it without having to see someone? That’s what scares me the most. What is Comcast doing to protect us? Is it safe to have the cable guy come out to your house? — Kathryn, Arlington, Virginia.

Kathryn, that’s a great question for which I wish I could give you a definitive answer. But as with food delivery, and other at-home service calls now, it’s impossible to know with certainty if there’s a risk or not. Any engagement with a fellow human being right now is fraught with fear and the unknown, which is why health and government officials are urging everyone to practice social distancing.

The anxiety among pay TV subscribers may be particularly high now after the tragic news this week that a Comcast home service technician died from the Coronavirus, just 10 days after he visited several homes in Bloomfield, New Jersey.  There’s no evidence that any of the Bloomfield customers caught the virus from the technician, but the possibility can put a scary picture in any customer’s head.

Cable and satellite TV services, including Comcast, are keenly aware of consumer concerns regarding home visits, and have taken steps to try to ensure a safe call as well as soothe anxieties.

The TV Answer Man asked Comcast for its new safety precautions, and you can see them below:

Comcast
The nation’s largest cable operator has decided to end all in-home installations for new customers. Instead, the Comcast technician will perform the outside work required for a new installation, and then leave a package at your door with your equipment and detailed activation instructions on the scheduled installation day.

The self-activation kit will also include access to videos, FAQs and troubleshooting support at xfinity.com/selfinstall. If the new services include Internet, you can download the xFi app ahead of the installation for faster and easier activation.

Comcast’s decision to end new in-home installations is a bold one, considering that many consumers are not tech-savvy and may choose not to order its service without a professional installation. This could diminish Comcast’s new subscriber totals in the coming weeks and months.

But the decision is certainly an understandable one considering the company just lost one of its own.

“We are staying consistent with the advice of our government and public health officials and limiting contact as much as possible, including when technicians entering customer homes,” the cable operator states at its web site.

Comcast says it will also not charge a new customer for a technician appointment.

For existing customers, Comcast says most issues can be resolved digitally using the company’s support tools. You can find technical support information at Xfinity.com by searching for ‘How to Get Help.’

However, if your services are still not working, Comcast sends it will send a technician into your home to resolve the issue. Before the technician comes inside, Comcast’s customer service will ask you the following questions to protect his or her safety:

* Are you under quarantine for the Coronavirus?
* Are you experiencing flu-like symptoms?
* Have you been exposed to someone with the Coronavirus or flu-like symptoms over the last 14 days?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, Comcast will ask that you reschedule the appointment.

To protect your safety, you can request that your technician show you a certification that shows that they:

* Have not traveled to any country that is designated “Level 2” or “Level 3” by the CDC in the last 14 days;
* Are not aware they’ve had direct contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus;
* Are not currently subject to any mandatory quarantine;
* Have not had a fever or flu-like symptoms in the last 14 days.

Comcast says the technician will also wash his or her hands before and after every customer visit.

Kathryn, I don’t know if that alleviates your concerns. But I think it’s clear that Comcast is taking the Coronavirus quite seriously, and possibly, more seriously than any other pay TV operator right now, for obvious reasons.

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Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at swann@tvpredictions.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.

— Phillip Swann

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