"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." - Inigo Montoya (Spanish fencer, henchman to Vizzini, Dread Pirate Roberts (successor to Westley) and now Comcast's new lawyer)
Maintaining its hard-won reputation for being one of the most-hated companies in America, Comcast has seemingly redefined the meaning of the word “lifetime” – and received a lawsuit in response. Brian Baker has sued the cable giant in Utah for, it is alleged, going back on its promise to give him a “lifetime” price lock after …
I am always curious about products such as routers and switches that come with a lifetime (or limited lifetime) warranty. I almost expect that if it fails and I go back to the vendor, they will just tell me that "well its dead isn't it, its lifetime is over. No warranty for you matey!
3Com used to have a "lifetime" warranty on their 3C509 ethernet cards. If you had one that failed and went to all the bother of returning it to 3Com they would indeed send you another one -- often a whole box of them. Of course, what you paid for shipping usually ended up costing more than if you just went to the local shop and bought a new one -- plus the shop usually had them in stock so you could get the replacement the within the hour -- rather than having to wait several days or a couple of weeks for the shipping and processing.
My understanding (which may well be wrong) was that a limited lifetime warranty was valid from the time of purchase until the date the vendor declared end of sale/end of life dates for the item in question. In otherwords, the lifetime of the product, not the lifetime of the individual who bought it :)
"not the lifetime of the individual who bought it"
Could work out better in some circumstances:
"Hey, our network card has failed, can we get a replacement"
"Alex was run over by a last week I'm afraid, I've taken over"
"No replacement for you then sorry, it's too late"
"It's only six months old!"
"Lifetime means lifetime pal"
I needed to set up a rack of systems to help support some software, but had no official budget for an install in my local lab, so I rummaged about in our stores for some adequate but long-EOL boxes that weren't being used. Along with them I found some unused HP "ProCurve" GB switches that had been bought many years before (we've been acquired between times, so my current company wasn't even the one that bought them). I racked them all up and used them for a year, then we had a power cut, and the switches failed to restart afterwards.
I had no budget to replace my unofficial rack setup, but discovering that ProCurve had a "lifetime" warranty, I called HP support to see if they'd do anything. To my very pleasant surprise they said "sure, we'll replace them". They did exactly that (at their expense, shipping included), and the replacements have been humming away happily for years.
I know, it's unfashionable to say nice things about HP, but kudos to them, they do respect their lifetime warranty agreement.
Been a big fan of ProCurve switching for years and years. Must have deployed a few hundred of them across multiple clients.
I've found them to be very reliable, but I've called on their Lifetime warranty twice and both times had the same experience as you. Free, fast and hassle free.
Shame pretty much everything else HP/HPE is utter dog shite.
The HPE warranty check typically displays the end of warranty about 100 years from the date of manufacturing.
My experiences are very similar to you, though I remember HP stating that for 4000m modular switches (ancient stuff) they would ship replacement cooler for free only one time. The switches had been working for 15 years until then and another 15 afterwards was very unlikely for such noisy Fast Ethernet stuff with only a couple gigabit interfaces.
There's also a fleeting chance that you'll receive something much more modern when that 10base-T switch finally dies...
Procurve's lifetime warranty is as long as the original owner owns them. I've had HP replace an ancient Procurve switch with newer models. All the years I worked at a company where we supplied and supported Procurves I struggle to remember many failures at all. Work for a company where we use Cisco. They have some models that have Limited Lifetime Warranties that extends till the Last Day of Support date that Cisco sets, typically 5 years after End Of Sale. I've tried to use this in the past and I'm yet to succeed in getting Cisco to replace any failed switches under their LLW, TAC just claims that I need to contact the reseller as I don't have SmartNet and the reseller says contact TAC round and round we go.
For once it would be the salesman claiming:
"'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!"
I was recently told that my Teamviewer lifetime license would soon be invalid. But I could continue to use Teamviewer if I switched to their new monthly rate plan. Turns out, their definition of lifetime meant as long as they supported the version. Since this is how they treat their customers, I will not switch to their monthly payment option. I would have been willing to pay a HUGE discount for an upgrade. Teamviewer lost a customer and recommendations.
unlimited unlimited* data plans
*subject to fair use which we aren't going to define upfront, so very much limited
"unlimited", like "infinity", does not exist on a numerical scale. There is no value you can add or subtract from unlimited that changes the value of unlimited. Unlimited is not subject to limits, this needs to be clarified once and for all in the Courts.
I'm not sure folks appreciate the sheer amount of resistance to lobbying, regulation and enforcement required to create and maintain them, though.
Meanwhile, Comcast seem to defy the received wisdom that reputation and revenue are somehow linked. Proof of market failure/monopoly situation, perhaps?
Exactly. Free markets are good, as competition is increased and the prices are lowered. A monopoly breaks that, and is not in the interest of the public (and the customers), so in many places rules exist to stop that from happening. In some countries it is less well enforced than in others, and in some countries the regulator is actively deconstructing any rules of this sort that existed. No wonder that they favour big money, in order to end up high up there in politics you have to be crazy rich (it seems from the outside)
Free markets are good, as competition is increased and the prices are lowered.
That is only true for a market which is infinite in size and has a negligible cost of entry. One can easily imagine a situation where the upfront cost of entry, in terms of the investment needed to compete, exceeds the potential rewards, which are limited by the size of the market and the cost of production for the incumbents. In this situation, the market may be as free as you wish, but the prices will remain exactly at the point where entering it makes no economic sense - and no lower, even if the cost of production is much below the selling price.
"investment needed to compete, exceeds the potential rewards"
Which means that any original investment business case was flawed, or that it was accepted on the basis that the only possible model for making a profit on it is either by being fraudulent or, "legally tricksy" - as we constantly see in the cases involving companies such as Comcast, AT&T etc.
The cost of production will always be lower than the selling price. The difference is made up of profit. If there was no profit, there would be no reason for them to offer the service in the first place.
Would you start a business painting houses if the only thing you could charge was the cost of the paint?
"If there was no profit, there would be no reason for them to offer the service in the first place."
Unless, like Uber and similar, you can BS enough VC that you can afford to take huge losses for years while you undercut and attempt to destroy your competition.
Yup Comcast really are a bunch of dirtbags. Hopefully some of these people kept a copy of their contract, because I'm quite sure (allegedly) that they'll find the company's copy of the contract will have magically updated to have no mention of "lifetime" even if the one they agreed to did.
On what planet does the article author live? The cost to provide TV is increasing far faster than the rate of inflation, because networks keep asking more for their channels every year. In just over 2 years the local channels (which are broken out on my cable bill) have gone from under $8 a month to over $15 a month. ESPN's channels are nearly $10 a month now, they were half that 5 or 6 years ago.
The cost of providing internet may be going down, but that is in no way shape or form true for providing TV. Anyone claiming otherwise has zero clue what the hell they're talking about.
Not defending Comcast here, if they offer "lifetime" price lock that's on them to provide it even if they make less money on it every year. They should be forced to continue offering him that price for as long as they offer TV & internet service in his market.
Unless the contract specifically spilts out the costs as yours does and then keeps the internet charge constant, the lifetime price should be kept.
If the contract states its lifetime (for example 24 months) then their free to change prices after that point.
But if the contact doesn't expire, the cost is bundled into one cost and they promise 'lifetime' at said cost, I would expect it to stay the same.
Maybe, but a contract is legally binding at both ends so I'm assuming that (A) the contract would need to contain some legal confetti to explain termination or expiry conditions, or (B) at the very least Comcast would need to contact the customer to agree a change to those terms.
Small print terms buried down on page 14 of an agreement such as "we retain the right to change terms or cancel/revoke/withdraw services at any point without notification" generally don't stand up in court.
But this is the US legal system right? So anything could happen.
There are actuarial methods for figuring it out - you can put a static value on $10 a year forever, if you make assumptions about inflation - I made the mistake of trying one of their exams once and it was very clever math that just refused to stay inside my head long enough to pass. ;)
More likely they will pick a sensible-sounding number of years and use that, and if the case wins then they get to have a separate argument over the exact calculation in order to determine the final award. There are likely precedents in other cases that can be looked at - this may even be why Comcast want this in a federal court, as there could be differences in the normal damage calculation methods.
This could be an example of something that REALLY annoys me. Was the "lifetime updates" on the outside of the box while the definition was inside?
Reminds me of the old shrinkwrap software dodge: "Opening this box indicates that you accept the license agreement." The agreement that you couldn't review until you'd opened the box...
And such agreements are automatically unenforceable in law in the UK. It is simply not possible to enforce ANY contract term which was not made known prior to entering into the contract.
Hence, with these shrinkwrap licences, you have teh absolute right to return the product for a refund if - after opening it and getting access to the terms - you are not happy with terms including in the licence contained within. The shop/whoever can NOT refuse to take the product back with the "sorry, you've broken the seal" excuse.
R: and what we're going to do is BRRRRRRReak into the cable box and hack it so that it only shows telenovas or CNN.
M: How will that help us?
R: It *wont'* help us, this is Jerry's cable box. *I* don't watch primitive Earth cable, I only watch interdimensional cable on a box that due to some minor enhancements doesn't show up on any billing systems and that doesn't block any channels.
Even if you can get a corporation to admit they used the word "lifetime" on a cable/internet contract, they'll quickly refer you to the small print definition.
"Lifetime contract" generally means the lifetime of the contract - which can be any length of time they want it to be.
Guarantee that even if they did use the word on a written contract, there will be small print definition that explains that as soon as the company decides to cancel or change the contract, it's "lifetime" is over.
The tech world is always using this word and it always means the lifetime of the product, not the lifetime of the person buying it. The usual time frame for "lifetime" warranties is 2-5 years.
Other industries do the same thing. Your "lifetime" warranty on a mattress is usually about 10 years, but can be 20. Your lifetime warranty on a vacuum cleaner is normally 5. Hard disks 3. I've yet to hear of a product whose warranty ends when you die.
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