CableCard needed. Difficulty: Comcast
January 24, 2014 8:58 PM   Subscribe

So, through a series of unfortunate events we've made the switch to Comcast for tv & internet. In conjunction with the switch, we got a new Tivo Roamio. In order to make it work, we need a CableCard. How can I get one as painlessly as possible?

The first time I called, I was told the local (30+ minutes away) office would have cards, but they were closed for the holidays so they would mail me one to install myself. After three weeks I called for an update and was told nothing was sent, nor would it be. Since then, I've spent hours on the phone and have been given all manner of conflicting information, always including one or more of the following: I can only pick one up at the local service center, I must have it professionally installed and pay for a tech visit, and finally that in some markets or situations they can be mailed. One especially clueless rep even told me I could purchase one at Best Buy. After being told last weekend that one would be shipped to me from the dedicated CableCard team, I called today for an update only to be told that I had been misled again. Has anyone has success actually getting Comcast to provide a CableCard?
posted by kyleg to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is not a solution, but as ammunition the next time you get into an argument with some salesdroid, here is Comcast's official policy w/r/t CableCards. The first one should be free, every other one is $1.50 per month (although an alternative reading of that paragraph is that the first card per device is free and that devices that require multiple cards per box cost extra, but good luck getting that out of Comcast). Professional installation is definitely not required. So I'd throw that back at them the next time someone starts selling you a bill of goods.

Back when I had Comcast *shudder* the worst way to deal with them was over the phone. Seriously, do not bother calling them. Email, chat, Twitter, whatever, but calling is useless and a waste of your time. I think they put the most underpaid, low-functioning members of their team on the phones.

When I emailed them I got reasonable/not-completely-stupid responses about 50% of the time which was much better than other methods. Worth a shot anyway.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:08 PM on January 24, 2014

The direct line for the Comcast CableCard team is 877-405-2298 -- you may have better luck calling them directly.

Make absolutely sure you get an M card!
posted by brainmouse at 9:34 PM on January 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Kadin2048's link seems to have been amended to clarify the policy:
The first CableCARD in a retail device (e.g., TiVo devices or CableCARD equipped televisions) is provided at no additional charge to Comcast customers. If a second CableCARD is needed for the same device (i.e., TiVo Series 3 boxes), the cost is $1.50 per month for the additional card. Again, this only applies to a second CableCARD in the same device.

posted by XMLicious at 9:54 PM on January 24, 2014

For my Tivo, I just went my local office (also about 30 minutes away) and picked up the card for free (an M Card) and returned my cable box (get a receipt just in case). It just plugs into the slot in the back of your Tivo device--you hook up the cable and you are good to go--no installer needed (unless you haven't gotten the service turned on to your house--in that case, you may need an installer). You'll need your wireless password and, if you use Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. you'll need those passwords handy when you go through set up. Also, my Tivo needed an external wireless antenna (which I'd gotten from Radio Shack for an earlier box) but I believe the Roamio has wireless built in.
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:20 PM on January 24, 2014

This doesn't directly answer your question, but I have had success with Comcast by calmly telling the rep in no uncertain terms that I was ready to cancel my account from all the aggravation.
posted by radioamy at 10:20 PM on January 24, 2014

I have to agree that you should only call the CableCard line and never the regular service line, even for tech support or other issues after you get this sorted out. Those folks actually know what they're talking about and you'll get waaaay less of the "unplug it and plug it back in again" rigamarole.

I do not recommend driving out and picking up a card yourself as they tend to be janky as heck--our installer tried 3 or 4 cards until he got one that worked well for us. We didn't pay for the installation though (and it doesn't really make sense why you should have to) so it didn't bother me that it took a while.

You might want to try looping a TiVo support person into the installation process--they will do a conference call with you and Comcast and that will DEFINITELY get it sorted quickly.
posted by bcwinters at 6:37 AM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't have experience with Comcast, but just wanted to mention that the FCC requires all cable companies to provide you with a CableCard, and allow you to self install it. Mentioning that you know the rules and are considering reporting them to the FCC may get Comcast to respond, and if not, file the complaint.
posted by yuwtze at 11:54 AM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Their Twitter support team is decent. A note to @ComcastCares will start the ball rolling.

Also, F*** Comcast.
posted by easement1 at 1:08 PM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just as an update: I have called the CableCard specific number, and in fact someone on that team had promised me the second mailing of a card. I have been in contact with @comcastcares on Twitter in conjunction with posting this question, and have been escalated to a member of the "executive support team" who naturally only work weekdays. If they can't help even with the threat of cancellation, I might try getting Tivo support involved as well.

I continue to be in awe of how badly Comcast wants you to keep using their awful equipment rather than switch to Tivo. Even the official FAQ online completely avoids answering "How to get a CableCard" (Kadin2048's link).
posted by kyleg at 12:42 PM on January 26, 2014

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