Xfinity is one of the largest broadband cable internet and television providers in the United States. Xfinity operates in 18 states and boasts over 23 million internet customers across the country. Read on for our comprehensive review of Xfinity cable internet and TV service.
Xfinity is owned by Comcast. It is the branch of the company that specializes in delivering TV and Internet services to the public. Xfinity is a well-recognized brand and is considered a provider of quality content. Not all aspects of the company are as highly regarded. Faster and more available than most ISPs, Xfinity is a performance-driven company. This allows it to deliver some of the finest content. However, customer service has a lot of room for improvement.
Xfinity is able to deliver a powerful service for both its TV and Internet plans. They can be bundled together, so it is a one-stop solution. Combining TV and Internet is a no-brainer. The company recognized this early and, disregarding customer service, has established itself as a blue chip option above other companies in this industry. Its Preferred XF Double Play delivers good content at an affordable price.
Xfinity Internet is known as a speedy and data-rich service. Overall it is a good solution, though, several things need to be considered before deciding on a contract. Discerning between Internet speeds and data limits can become confusing. Xfinity offers advantages in both regards. It is important to understand that unlimited data is not the company’s standard. Also, saving money by buying an independent modem requires additional effort to assure compatibility with Xfinity delivery methods.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) evaluated the Internet speeds of tens of thousands of users. Its extensive research confirms that most Xfinity customers get the speed they sign up for. This is uncommon for ISPs, which makes Xfinity services seem that much more valuable. Other competitors deliver about 50% of their advertised speeds. Specifically, about 80% of Xfinity customers receive 99% of the speed they were expecting. For added reassurance, several websites independently test download, upload, and latency speeds.
Offering twice the speed is quite an advantage. Imagine looking at very similar services and then cut the wait times in half. The 20% that do not get their full speed will probably be just as disappointed as half of the customers served by Xfinity’s competitors.
It is uncommon for ISPs to fully satisfy customer complaints that relate to promised speeds. People may not have many options. Factors that can slow speed are location, the method of delivery, and hardware. Depending on location, one provider may perform better than another. Method of delivery, like location, may be a hard obstacle to overcome. In contrast, ensuring basic hardware is merely a matter of being well informed.
Xfinity’s standard data limit outpaces its competition. It offers 1 Terabyte (TB) (or 1,000 gigabytes (GB)) over the course of a month. This is the company’s standard across its plans. While 1 TB is rather large, a plan with no data limit is best. Still, it is sufficient for 99% of Xfinity customers.
The 1 TB is used as a marketing scheme by the company. It is better to have more than not enough. Xfinity overstates the statistic, especially in regards to its ability to stream HD video. The 1 TB is a convenience for large families with multiple media devices. In practice, exceeding this much data on a monthly basis probably means a person is well enough equipped to manage some technical details.
Xfinity prepares its customers in the event that they exceed their data limit. It is a rather straightforward strategy which does not charge a fee during the first two months in which this occurs. However, if exceeding the data limit is not curbed, there can be a hefty fee. The company charges $10 for every .05 TB (50 GB) over the monthly limit. Chances are, that if a customer exceeds the limit it will be by more than 5%. This is why the two-month warning is a nice safety net. It allows customers to get to know their data usage and if the unlimited plan will be required. They can upgrade to the unlimited plan for another $50 per month.
A Good Solution Overall
Xfinity is the most popular cable ISP. It is a quality service that is typically as fast as advertised. Still, it is very important to check the fine print before signing up with any provider. The installation process should be critically examined. Xfinity’s discount offerings may warrant added inspection. Be sure to get a direct answer to every question prior to committing. This is especially important concerning temporary pricing and services.
Purchasing a modem separately is one way to save on costs. Xfinity promotes a Wireless Gateway modem. Over the long term, it can be costly, but it does assure customers of being compatible with their other equipment. This topic is discussed further in the pricing section.
Xfinity offers quality TV, but typically has less total channels than its competitors. On the other hand, movies are usually newer than Netflix or Redbox. Available On Demand videos surpass industry standards both in number and quality. There is an option for no-contract service, but at $10 above the regular monthly rate costs can add up.
However, Comcast is now bundling Netflix into the packages of their cable TV subscribers.
Contract costs can be significant if a consumer is not discerning. Added fees are commonplace. Often times, what might be considered, ‘hidden’ fees occur. For example, regional sporting events can incur an additional charge that is not readily apparent until the monthly billing statement arrives.
Xfinity X1 is one of the better plans in the industry. It is available without a contract. Smart devices can use it for offline access. On Demand videos are a highlight of this plan. However, X1 only comes with 64 recording hours for HD. The Digital Preferred plan is a step up. It offers On Demand plus a wide variety of channels. Its sports package make it one of the best values. Both plans require watchful eyes on the hidden fees. This is especially true for recurring charges of regional sporting events.
Overall, Xfinity offers fewer channels than other TV providers. This applies to HD as well and, remains true at the higher priced plans. The Preferred plan starts at just over 200 total and 100 HD channels. Competing offers nearly double both the regular and HD channel totals. The company recognizes the disparity in its service and tries to draw attention away from it. In regard to channels, customers will need to put in a bit more effort to see what is and is not available from each provider at a given location. Opting for the Plus plan will include more high-quality major channels.
Xfinity STREAM On Demand
About 20,000 available programs makes Xfinity STREAM On Demand better than the competition by leaps and bound. This is up to four times as many programs as the competition. At any given time, customers are bound to find higher quality titles than the competition. Many of these are recent movies. It is important to note that Xfinity’s recording disadvantages benefit from the freely available On Demand content that never needs to be recorded. An added plus is that it is a very easy to use service.
While On Demand makes low recording hours less of a priority, one still should carefully review a few related features. First, the company makes getting information about equipment difficult (see the customer service section). More information is made available about Xfinity X1 DVR than the HD DVR. The X1 allows six programs to be recorded at once. Cloud backups are standard. This enables streaming on devices that are connected via Wi-Fi. However, X1 is only available for bundled packages. Voice controlled remotes are another X1 feature.
Be aware that representatives tend to be elusive in discussing HD DVR purchases. Even after perusing the forums, one may come away without an answer. In this situation, it seems that all that can be done is to prepare carefully worded questions for representatives or hope that someone on the forums will respond to a question or find an existing relative post.
Competitors have been known to offer more than 8 times Xfinity’s recording amounts. Representatives typically avoid giving a straight answer when discussing recording issues. This is the case for questions about the identical recording hours for HD and non-HD. It begs the question: is there a significant disadvantage present (i.e. in the 500 GB X1)? It could just be that the On Demand advantages make innovating recording features less significant. Competitors may be calling attention to low recording hours, while Xfinity customer service may just want to avoid a discussion it deems outdated. In any regard, the low hours puts Xfinity near the bottom of the industry.
Mobile applications take full advantage of On Demand programming. The TV Go app enables customers to watch live programs on any enabled device. The 20,000 programs available On Demand can be downloaded to watch at a viewer’s discretion. There are hidden fees for some live programs, especially sporting events. Clearing up the nuances behind the hidden fees is where the lack of good customer service is a real disadvantage. Overall though, this feature receives positive reviews.
Both Internet and TV costs are dependent upon location. Plan pricing and composition are intermittent. Fees are very important considerations. Promotional and exclusive offers can vary quite dramatically. Negotiating terms is key in this industry, especially for Xfinity because the company’s standard annual contracts lock in pricing that changes in the second year.
As is typical of the economy, the northeastern United States has a higher cost of living. Western regions have been known to have lower ISP prices by as much as half that of the northeast. Location affects several other factors as well. Some Internet and TV plans won’t be available in every region. Occasionally, high-performance plans won’t be available at all. For certain locations, Xfinity just won’t be a feasible choice for media-intensive households. Location even impacts installation fees. Always be cautious of contract details. Read them carefully when it mentions location.
Internet prices vary dramatically from one plan to another. Several factors that determine prices include location, term length, promotions, contracts, and bundles. Price differences due to location can be quite substantial. Introductory, or advertised, prices change after the initial period has ended (usually after a year). It is possible to renegotiate, but customers must take the initiative. Committing to a contract costs less than the no-contract service. Bundling with TV services also influences prices. Other factors are exclusive promotional offers that may be regionally or seasonally driven.
The Performance Starter plan begins around $30 per month for 10 Mbps of download speed. Likely the cheapest option, it is a solution for individuals who do not require fast Internet speeds. Know that it will likely become a hassle when trying to interact with media applications. The Blast! Pro plan is an alternative. It costs about twice the monthly amount, but delivers much more download speed around 200 Mbps. This is a good plan for households with multiple people online. It is designed for media-intensive use. Signing up for annual contracts saves $10 per month regardless of the plan.
Services fees are a generally considered a burden on the industry. It should not be surprising that poor customer service will compound problems in this area. Installation, equipment, one-time, and termination fees are all things to consider before making any commitment to a plan or Xfinity itself.
Installation Process: Installation fees depend upon location and plan. A common negotiating tactic is to mention a competitor that offers free installation in the area. This will require additional research because it is Xfinity’s business to be aware of its competition. Activation fees are among the most common complaints that customers unfamiliar with the industry have upon receiving their first month’s bill. With bad customer service, one can see how the relationship between ISPs and their customers can turn sour right from the start. Professional installation is in this boat as well. Inquiring about the specifics of one-time fees is just the nature of the industry because of established marketing practices. Make it a habit to negotiate a lower fee. It is hard to imagine gaining more leverage than mentioning that a competitor will do it for less.
Equipment Fees: A few things are important regarding the cost of equipment. First, it is not necessary to obtain a modem from Xfinity. The modem will probably cost about $10 per month. Over a year, the Xfinity device will typically exceed the cost of obtaining a quality device independently. Unlike the old days, the router is now built into the device. Even with modern advancements, devices still need to be compatible. Considering the renowned bad customer service, and Xfinity’s interest to rent its own cable modem, it makes for good practice to find out (in writing) that a device is specifically compatible with their service. In any event, doing personal research online followed by confirming with a representative is a wise combination.
Termination Fees: Contracts come with termination fees. Annual contracts are the most common, but sometimes exclusive offers come under this concern. Again, one needs to be aware of the specifics of a contract, particularly the important dates. There is a standard of 30 days where the company allows cancellation with minimal cost. After this period though, the fee to exit the contract will be substantial. This fee will often be weighted against the conversion rate of competing ISPs and the exact number may be difficult to obtain.The penalty could be as much as paying the rate of the non-contract service for the term used. Depending on the promotion and initial free channels, this could mean paying a premium if canceling after just a few months.
Just as with Internet service, TV costs are dependent upon location. This applies to both price and available channels. Online offers may differ from exclusive offers. Either a representative or advertisement may be an avenue for negotiating an exclusive offer.
3 Standard Plans Advertised Online
There are three chief plans promoted by Xfinity online: starter, preferred, and premier.
Starter: The Starter plan offers over 140 basic cable channels. Many of these are household brands. It is competitive with other cable TV providers.
Preferred: For just an extra $10 per month, the Preferred plan makes over 220 channels available. Many of these include paid subscription sports. Note that premium movie channels are left out. Also, there may be changes following an introductory period, i.e. after the first year. Here again, it is wise to read the contract carefully and ask a representative to disclose all pertinent features that discernable consumers would want to know.
Premier: This is the top plan and includes premium movie channels. The Premier plan offers about 20% more channels than the others. The additional costs are significant at $50 per month above the starter.
TV Contract Lengths
Getting exact pricing is difficult because of the variable costs associated with location. Generally speaking, Xfinity is a better option its than competitors. Unlike its competitors, it offers one year contracts rather than two. The first year is usually a promotional rate and subject to change at the beginning of the second year. This change will likely be more significant in higher cost of living areas. While canceling is an option, the poor customer service will, at the very least, make this a challenging and possibly unpleasant effort.
The availability of obtaining cable TV without a contract is a good way to test out the company, that is if installation fees can be mitigated. It is $10 per month over the annual contract price which becomes more significant after six months. Of course, location is a variable factor across ISPs, but for those on the move, this can be a good option if cable TV will not be used for a full year.
Xfinity’s fees are typically higher than its competitors. DVR fees, at $20, are twice that of the $10 upgrade from Starter to Preferred. But what stands out is that it costs $10 for each additional receiver. A good question for a representative might be as to what is, and is not, possible using specific receivers. It is a bit surprising that there is no HD fee.
Broadcast fees are not significant for a single use. However, they can quickly add up. Same goes for regional sports fees. It might be a good idea to inquire about baseball, basketball, and hockey games since their schedules resemble daily, rather than the weekly schedule of football games. These fees would benefit from obtaining a definitive explanation. One might ask to be pointed to the specific area of the contract and read along with a representative.
Xfinity TV is not available in all areas. Their website does have a location tool, so one can skip the call to a representative if it is found that service is not available. The website is not the best means of obtaining an accurate price. That appears to be an enduring task that will require some form of confirmation between perusing online information and company representatives.
Much is written about Xfinity’s customer service. It is not good. Not just some of it. All off it can be grouped into the below average category. In an industry that is notorious for bad customer service, Xfinity reigns as the most influential poor performer. This holds true for both the Internet and TV services it provides. Customers should expect the same treatment regardless of signing up for Internet, TV, or a combination of the two.
An Industry Problem
Customer service just seems to be a poor department overall. Neither Xfinity, nor others in the industry, invest much into improving the situation. However, difficulty in getting answers to basic questions, like modem compatibility, should not deter a person from signing up with Xfinity.
Apparently, the company places a lot of emphasis on underlying numbers that influence behavior. It does not seem concerned about attrition since it can satisfy the speed of more users than any other ISP. The general dislike of its customer service is factored into the company’s business model. Add this to rapidly advancing innovation, along with, location service disparity, and the situation becomes more complex.
The true cost of improving customer service is not a public discussion. Both the company and the industry can do without that. And thus, it is unlikely that Xfinity will use its influence over the market to bring about change. Customers will need to be savvy in their approach to Internet and TV service providers.
Things Tend to Get Worse
Could customer service for Xfinity TV be worse than its Internet? It is more likely that most representatives contend with both. They might just be trained with better material for their Internet services. Consumers interested in Xfinity services should expect the same poor customer service regardless of Internet, TV plan, or both.
Xfinity has a track record of being one of the worst at satisfying its customers. Some recent reports suggest improvements occurred. However, it has not been enough to bring up the company’s customer satisfaction to even the industry average. In fact, it is still considered one of the worst. It is worth noting again that the industry standard is low when it comes to customer service.
Most people who choose Xfinity will opt for the contract option over the non-contract option because it is cheaper. Not everyone will want to go through the hassle of finding a new provider in a year when the promotional offer expires. And even if one does, it is not easy to cancel. Thus, it is important to prepare for a potentially disheartening customer service relationship.
What to Expect
The relationship between representatives and customers can make a difference. One way to get off to a good start is to not go into a contract disillusioned. A few things are all but certain. Cancellations are never easy, regardless if it pertains to Xfinity’s TV or Internet service. Terminating a contract, even after the initial year, is likely to be an Olympian task. New customers take priority. Existing customers are going to be put on hold more often. The representative wants to know if the call has a good chance of selling additional services or if a technician needs to be dispatched.
Representatives in this industry are known for up-selling services. At Xfinity, they have been known to initially dismiss questions and sometimes ignore them. Being transferred several times is not uncommon. Unless there is an immediate answer, plan to devote a full day to get things done. Considering how much regional locations determined services. It is no wonder why customer service can often become too complicated to be helpful.
How to Approach Xfinity Customer Service
Being in the proper frame of mind is important when dealing with elusive customer support representatives. In the case of Xfinity, over preparation may not be possible. Long holding times and multiple transfers are typical. Prepare a snack. Literally, there is a good chance that hunger will set in before the call is completed. Always have something else that can get done. Do not waste time waiting for an organization that is known to be one of the worst in a bad customer service industry.
There is a difference between the way Xfinity representatives cater to new customers versus how they handle existing ones. Among other things, longer holding times are common for existing customers. Know that the company is large and has trained its staff a particular way. Patience and careful wording will help make the most of a call.
It is probably best to write down some target points, rather than, needing to call again about a forgotten issue. Among things to include on the list are specifics of the desired contract, fees, and dates of changes to exclusive offers. Know how to rephrase questions to more closely connect with a representative. This will help to avoid repeating the same question three times in a row. Be sure to make a solid attempt at getting an answer to the important questions. A representative admitting that a lack of sufficient information exists can still be helpful in making a decision. It also serves to exhaust avenues of pursuing answers.
Xfinity is a premium product at an affordable price. It provides some of the best TV content. Few companies can match its Internet service. The main drawback is customer service. However, the discerning consumer should be able to overcome most reasonable obstacles. One needs to be well informed on their own and meticulous in reviewing a contract with representatives. While Xfinity is widely distributed across the United States, it is not the best choice for every region. Occasionally some services won’t be regionally available. If Xfinity is available, do not be discouraged by hard to find information. Remember, there is a better than average chance that it is the best choice.
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