Alternate solutions to bypass terrible ‘customer service’

Surreptitious policies that provoke customer ire are frequently associated with large scale telecommunications providers. A recurring complaint relates to the quality of customer service. Now I’ll be the first to admit the damning incompetence of some phone representatives. Whether it pertains to their base knowledge, lack of experience, or hostile demeanor, sometimes it’s downright painful in the violently aggressive type of way. There’s got be a better method to elude the madness, right? Actually, there are several.


For instance, having owned a cable modem for three years on an active account, Comcast sent a letter explaining that they will begin billing a modem rental fee. Several calls and much aggravation later, nobody over the phone would assist in rightfully reclassifying the modem as owned. One trip to the local Comcast store & briefly flattering the female representative led to the issue being remedied.

While sometimes impractical, it is likely your best option. Face to face communication prevents some of the silly stunts afforded by anonymity.


If you are encountering a pervasive issue that goes beyond the scope of the front-end customer service agents, a governmental regulatory agency exists to intervene on your behalf. The Federal Communications Commission, otherwise known as the FCC, fields complaints regarding telecommunications providers. Their regulating text, Title 47, is about 3,000 pages in length. Reading that text would be a poor use of energy, but filing a complaint is still quite easy by filling in an online form.

Assuming your complaint is valid and devoid of superfluous rambling, the FCC will contact a special department of your provider. That special department will then contact you and attempt to resolve the issue. These departments are replete with representatives and technicians who are knowledgeable in several ways more than standard customer service. The resulting effect is a more pleasant service or troubleshooting experience. Even the automated system is friendlier, clearer, and easier to navigate.

Complaints can be filed at:


Deemed the “Customer Security Assurance” by Comcast, the agents within are better spoken, experienced, and overwhelmingly more equipped to address other educated peoples’ needs.

Sidenote: If you’re still reading, I’m assuming, perhaps mistakenly, that you’re fairly educated.

Comcast Customer Security Assurance (888) 565-3429


HBO GO for Xbox One, the story behind a one-year long delay

Without access to contracts signed between Comcast and HBO, it is impossible to state with full accuracy, the causes behind the year-long delay of HBO GO on the Xbox One. But it is fair to say that this contract has stipulations regarding device restrictions & allowances. The authentication system HBO uses to validate that users are subscribers of their content has been dependent on content providers cooperating. Comcast, the content provider, authenticates all HBO devices with one exception, Roku. This infers that the contract between Comcast and HBO allows for prohibiting certain devices from being authorized to receive streaming services.

Comcast has also refused to authenticate Viacom’s Comedy Central and VH1 apps on the Xbox One. However, Viacom has released the apps anyhow with Comcast subscriber’s left in the dark. The long delay for HBO GO pertains to parity. To avoid confusion, Microsoft and HBO have been aiming for all content providers to be on board before releasing an app. This eliminates superfluous Comcast customer inquires to both Microsoft and HBO along the lines of, “Why isn’t HBO GO available ?”. Comcast’s track record has proven an unwillingness to authenticate where they see competition. As Comcast aims to diversify and become a “technology” company, more manufacturers and technology-related services will be viewed as competitors.

HBO recently announced that they will fore go content providers and offer a streaming plan directly to consumers. The timing of this announcement either indicates it’s being used as leverage, or more damning, talks with Comcast have turned sour. Either way, the imminent release of HBO GO for Xbox One is now here*.

*Comcast TV subscribers potentially excluded. Comcast Internet subscribers can access HBO GO on Roku if they have TV service with another provider such as Dish or DirecTV

UPDATE: Shortly after this editorial went live, an anonymous user on on Reddit posted images of a working HBO Go app on Xbox One. The images have since been removed.

Ms. Jackson: I’m sorry, but physical media is the real deal

Outkast’s Stankonia was released during the pinnacle of Napster’s popularity on October 31, 2000. The Halloween release was well-timed, as anticipation for the album had been growing since the release of Stankonia’s first single, “B.O.B.”. American society had a now-unimaginable patience with regards to entertainment consumption. B.O.B. had been out for an entire two months before the album had dropped. This was a musical era before the iPod, where burning mixes on CDs was high-tech, and physical collections were amassed by the population at large.

Any OutKast fan who’s heard their complete discography is well aware this album was far from a best effort. Some very catchy singles caught the mainstream wind and sailed it for several years. Yet Big Boi and Andre 3000 are superb lyricists who could have just as easily been dismissed was it their sole recording. Those who owned a legitimate version of Stankonia know this particular album was memorable not because of the music contained therein, but due to the discs’ highly provocative and visually-appealing artwork.

This disc has shocked and awed millions spanning multitudes of cities during numerous years. That said, even today, a search online for this particular artwork only results in scans of the disc and several partial images. About two years ago, I’d finally decided to research the artwork. It just so happened that the Stankonia disc insert was tucked away deep in an old drawer. Hundreds of contributors are credited on this album from producers, songwriters, beat makers, drug dealers, photographers, caterers, and many more. Graphic design and artwork was credited to a Mike Rush.

A Google search turned up several results for this seemingly popular name including a healthy selection of politicians, musicians, IT personnel, and painters. But the graphical artist remained elusive.  Next step: Bing. My secondary option at the time turned up nil. Moving forward, I tried Yahoo. No matter how many variations of Mike Rush I threw at the search engines, nothing would show up. Even incorporating additional terms such as “Outkast” or “Stankonia” or “graphic designer” proved equally ineffective. Shortly before despair set in, a LinkedIn search proved fruitful.

Listed on the third page of results was a graphic designer going by the name of J. Michael Rush & at the very bottom of his résumé , a stint with Arista Records is listed. His Prosite contained images of the original artwork pre-digitalization.

I contacted him via his now defunct ProSite. He responded via email to an inquiry about his work with OutKast:

“…As for the artwork of the woman, Andre started penciling it in studio and I took it from him. We were talking back forth on what he wanted and he takes it very seriously. He gave me a book about the art of Filmore in the 70s and I decided to give it a fractal black light kinda feel.  He loved it…”

It’s contentious whether a singular point can even be deduced from this chance encounter. Numerous observations could be made here regarding the benefits of purchasing physical albums vs. downloading, and the experiences that ensue. A similar argument can be made to the additional dimensions one may enjoy whilst concert-going with other avid fans. Artists will further the divide by suggesting that creating your own art is even more enthralling. Perhaps good fortune or karma brought me in touch with Michael Rush. However it came to be, I am grateful the lady commonly referred to as Ms. Jackson now adorns the wall above my love couch in splendid 18 x 24” glory.

Michael Rush is now the Art Director with Wine & Spirits Magazine. More information on him can be found on LinkedIn.