Vail wants Comcast to ﬁx problems in 30 days
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Now armed with an audit to support widespread claims of poor service, Vail Town Council members had every reason to remain stern with a Comcast cable representative Tuesday as the two parties continue talks over a new cable franchise agreement.
The Vail Town Council voted unanimously to require Comcast to file a letter of credit for $100,000 within seven days and to resolve the hundreds of violations identified in a town audit within 30 days.
The previous franchise agreement expired more than a year ago, and the town and Comcast have tried unsuccessfully to reach a new deal. The town ordered an audit of the cable company’s service in October, which produced evidence of hundreds of violations by Comcast during the previous franchise agreement.
Janet Rinaldi, Comcast’s director of government affairs, told the Vail Town Council on Tuesday that about one-third of the problems identified in the audit have “already been addressed.”
Rinaldi’s tally of the violations was far less than the total number of violations the audit identified, however. Rinaldi said one-third represented 75 violations; however, the audit identifies a range of 1,500 to more than 2,500 code violations.
Rinaldi said the auditor uses a sampling to come up with its conclusions, but when asked whether she had proof any of the violations were wrong, she said she did not.
“We’re not disputing the audit,” Rinaldi said. “We’re happy to work with the town on identifying the issues addressed.”
Council members echoed some of the sentiments they’ve heard from citizens about an “overwhelming dissatisfaction” with Comcast’s services over the years. Town Attorney Matt Mire said he had several statements from local residents about Comcast’s service that he would be entering into the public record, all of which are negative.
“Frankly, I’m at the end of my rope with them,” Councilwoman Margaret Rogers said.
Rogers was the member who pushed for requiring Comcast to fix the violations within 30 days, saying the only reason she was even giving them 30 days is because the law requires it.
“I want to put the flame under the feet of Comcast as soon as we legally can, and that’s 30 days from now,” Rogers said.
Rinaldi said that if Comcast can’t “cure the violation” in a certain amount of time because of snow-covered cables, for example, the company could at least identify that it’s working toward fixing each specific problem.
Councilman Andy Daly took it a step further by suggesting the town look at the possibility of condemning the Comcast system, taking it over and opening it up to a bidding process to other service providers.
Daly said the lack of competition in town could be to blame for Comcast’s unwillingness to address concerns as they arise.
Council members agreed and gave Town Manager Stan Zemler the direction to look into a future bidding process.
As for service improvements that customers would be able to recognize in the near future, Rinaldi said On Demand service would be available in Vail by the end of February and Comcast Digital Voice would be available in June.
The company has entered an agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation that will allow it to bring such services to town via fiber optic lines that run along the Interstate 70 corridor.
“A lot of services have to be rolled out in a phased approach – there’s a behind-the-scenes readiness we need to accomplish first,” Rinaldi said.