Avoid Comcast’s Internet Installation Activation Fee

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Last November, the promotional rate on my Comcast Internet and digital cable service expired and jumped from a somewhat reasonable $70/mo rate to an ridiculously unreasonable $140/mo rate. We tried to do the Comcast cancel dance to no avail as the CSR said “I can’t do anything” and we said “I want to cancel” and the bozos at Comcast actually let us cancel. Almost the same day, Verizon started putting in signs around the neighborhood advertising their new FiOS service, fiber optic right to the house, and we were intruiged. Talking to the Verizon folks at their booth, it appeared that their rates would equal the promotional rates of Comcast so we decided we’d live without Internet for a couple weeks until they got the whole thing setup. Well, as expected, Verizon still hasn’t setup FiOS is our area so I’ve decided to sign back up with Comcast for their promotional rate.

So, how do you avoid that ridiculous $50 activation fee? Well, the activation fee is so that you have the pleasure of waiting at your home during a four hour window, where they will invariably show up an hour after the end of the window, just so the guy (or gal) can do one of two things:

  • If you live in an apartment, he will unscrew your coaxial cable panel from the wall, and connect the cable on the inside with the jack, or,
  • He will find the box outside, open it up (it’s hardly ever locked), and connect it.

So, to avoid the $50 charge, just connect it yourself and ask for the self-install kit (please do not steal cable and do not trespass on their property, I’m not advocating or condoning the theft of services that you aren’t paying for). If you have a cable modem, simply hook it up and try to open any website. A Comcast site will appear where you can download their installation CD software and you can do the installation yourself. If you don’t have a cable modem, wait for the modem to show up before you do all of this. If you’re patient, you can avoid the $50 fee but you can’t avoid a phone call, and the 30 minute wait because somehow they are always busy and they never hire more CSRs, to Comcast to activate your service.

The benefit is two-fold – not only do you avoid the $50 fee, you get internet the day you start paying… not two weeks later when their technicians are able to pencil you in for a four hour window they stand no chance of making anyway.

{ 100 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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100 Responses to “Avoid Comcast’s Internet Installation Activation Fee”

  1. Dustin says:

    When I last signed up, I just asked if I could not pay the install fee, and they went for it. Hey, it’s worth a shot.

  2. Amanda says:

    Wow – I had no idea you could install yourself – I always thought the activation fee was mandatory! Lesson learned.

    • donald says:

      Duh! why do you think they have self install kits????? and it took five minutes and i was on internet

  3. eROCK says:

    I liked FIOS, but from what I can tell, there is a contract 🙁

  4. Dan Rocha says:

    I just moved two weeks ago and I can tell you this only works if you have existing cable-TV service. Otherwise, they will not allow self-install.

    • dan says:

      when i ordered comcast for my new apartment i was given the self install kit without existing cable. when i ordered the cable the lady i spoke with said a tech would come out and hook me up from the outside and the only charge was ten dollars for mailing the insall kit to me. so its not neccesary to hook it up yourself to avoid a 50 dollar charge. even if you hook it up yourself you will still be charged the same amount for a self install kit.

  5. S says:

    While you’re at it, hook up your phone and power as well. What’s a little legality when it comes to saving a buck?

    Make sure you use you meter to get the levels correct so the modem doesn’t drop out every 10 minutes or so. It is important that you do this as you WILL be charged for any and all troulbe calls when a tech arrives to find you connected it yourself and proper procedures weren’t followed.

    And if you only want cable modem service, if you connect yourself you get free TV service! At least until the cable company finds out and the police pay you a nice little visit.

    So let’s do the math….$50 savings by connecting yourself, $30 charge for the tech coming out to the home to fix what you screwed up, $10,000 fine for illegal cable tv service=$9,980. You can deal with that, can’t you?

    • Static says:

      Comcast CEO is that you?

    • Ex- Comcast Tech says:

      Actually we never pay attention and plugging those things in is no more difficult then plugging your tv into the wall. We really, in apartments, just have to come out, find your wire, screw it on and charge you. When I tech’d, I’d smoke a couple cigarettes and sit in the van to make it seem like I was doing something.

    • SW says:

      The guy showed up at my apartment to do the same simple cable hookup and I was charged $70 for becoming a Comcast customer. What a privelege! I still own a home in another state and have never lived in apartment. We have done our own connections and found that it works so much better. We had Comcast when we first moved out here last year and it NEVER worked. We couldn’t stay connected to the internet, the phone worked rarely and the cable was out more than it worked. I was foolish enough to believe that I wouldn’t be able to set up a dish in an apartment. Plus, I get far fewer channels than with the other company and my kids are upset they can’t watch what they want. Not only that, the phone was so fuzzy I couldn’t use it. I called the installer back to let him know he left several pieces of equipment at my apartment (then waited all day to return it. He showed up at 9:30 PM.) and let him know. That was Saturday. I finally had phone service on Wednesday and it still drops out inside my apartment! Thursday, I received a bill for the first month and intallation! You’ve got to be kidding! INSTALL IT YOURSELF. YOU HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF DECENT SERVICE!

    • old_man_with_loud_dog says:

      “And if you only want cable modem service, if you connect yourself you get free TV service! At least until the cable company finds out and the police pay you a nice little visit.”

      And you let them in for what reason? Even if they test the load it could be read wrong and here Chicago I can tell no police or DA is going knock on your door because you have a cable modem and digital tuner installed in your PC to watch TV. Excuse me I need to put out this blunt and lay down my crack pipe and hide a dead body as the cable cops are at the door. U idiot

      • old_man_with_quiet_cat says:

        Old man, we can do without the name calling. Sides, you’re three years late in the reply. Whose the idiot now? (not as though you’re going to check back here anyway, I sure as hell won’t).

  6. jim says:

    I never opened up the box outside my house but when I found out that all you needed was a television signal in order to run cable, I knew I didn’t have to get the install kit. I don’t advocate going to the box itself, opening it, and connecting it, I just meant that you can connect the jack inside your apartment if one exists.

    I don’t advocate or condone stealing cable television.

  7. anon says:

    If you get Comcast’s phone service too, the tech has to call some automated system and activate your number. So having a tech come out is kind of unavoidable as they won’t do this for you over the phone. When I first signed up I asked them to waive the install fee and the did, but when I moved I had to pay.

  8. Snert says:

    Nice commentary, sadly it has nothing to do with the entry. o.O

  9. Chris says:

    Gotta love this. Just had Comcast digital voice service installed in my home. I was suprised to see a $99 charge on the receipt for installation charge, which nobody told me about beforehand.

    Like others have said, all the tech did was open the cable panel on my wall and plug in an additional cable jack, and then plugged in the phone to the now activated cable jack. Twenty minutes.

    I called Comcast, and the CSR told me:

    a) the tech did lots of “complicated” work hooking up my service
    b) it would be ILLEGAL for Comcast to not charge an installation fee. Illegal??? They then nicely reduced the charge to $29.99. That’s on top of the other $29.95 for service activation (a charge I do understand).

    I think the best way to avoid installation/activation fees is to act shocked when you are ordering the service and hear how much the fee will be, and then threaten to go with a different service. Comcast is really nice about making you happy when you call to complain. It should never get to that point in the first place.

    Not the most Comcastic night for me.

  10. John Mills says:

    Who wants to pay for something that you could do yourself? Personally, Comcast should make users aware of how to hook up your own cable. Unfortunately, more jobs and more money seems to be be important to them.

  11. Katie says:

    It sounds like people have had decent service with comcast… I wish I could say the same… In our first apartment, we signed up for Comcast internet and tv. We had this service for 2 years until we moved, I called and transfered the service to our new home. I asked the CSR point blank “so, service will be disconnected at so-and-so date and turned on at the new place?” and they said yes. Come to find out, , they never disconnected the original service and since I have auto-debit on my account, they have been charging me an extra $100 a month for our old apartment. This has been going on for over a year and just finally, after numerous phone calls, have recieved a measely $200 credit. Mind you, they’ve “stolen” over 1300 from my account. Their excuse? You have to make TWO phone calls to transfer service, one to start service and one to stop service…..

    • Joseph - Pa says:

      Many of YOU – grabbing all the internet processes are fools!
      You should NEVER sign up to allow automated bill paying for anything. I can’t believe people would actually allow anyone to help themselves to the money in your pocket!
      Though I enjoy having a computer – have built two myself – I will never pay a bill over the internet – I feel more secure trusting the Postal Service with my envelopes – where noone can open it to read it.

      • Me says:

        Hhahahahahaha. That’s hilarious how you’ve fooled yourself into thinking that USPS is MORE secure than a 128 or now 256-bit encryption system for paying bills on the internet! Obviously you haven’t read all the reports about where you’re more likely to have your identity stolen…oh, wait, it’s via SNAIL MAIL at your mailbox or along the route. Internet bill pay is NOT, however, the same as automatic bill pay, which is ridiculous.

    • Dan S says:

      Hopefully the lesson you learned was to ALWAYS review your monthly statements — whether they be for your bank account, your credit card, or your utility bills.

      Most people don’t feel it’s worth their time, so minor (and sometimes major) mis-charges continue for months on end. Credit cards with revolving balances are the worst, because you’ll pay significant interest over time even if you later get the initial overcharge reversed.

      Fifteen minutes spent a year ago would have saved you $1,300. That’s like earning $5,200 per hour or $10.4 million per year. Still don’t think it’s worth your time?

  12. Caro says:

    Anyone know how to avoid the cancellation fee with Comcast?

  13. MW says:

    There are no cancellation fees! That’s the benefit of no contract with Comcast

    • Anonymous says:

      know cancellation fee they sent me a bill for 850.00 I took my boxes back so i dont understand Ihave been with comcast for 16 years IM TRYING TO FOUND OUT

  14. Anonymous says:

    steal cable if possible!

  15. joe says:


  16. don stepehsn says:

    This is what comcast speeds really look like. I have comacast and every night it drops. See for your self.

    :::.. Download Stats ..:::
    Download Connection is:: 2746 Kbps about 2.7 Mbps (tested with 4096 kB)
    Download Speed is:: 335 kB/s
    Tested From:: (Main)
    Test Time:: 2008/08/12 – 9:02pm
    Bottom Line:: 48X faster than 56K 1MB Download in 3.06 sec
    Tested from a 4096 kB file and took 12.218 seconds to complete
    Download Diagnosis:: May need help : running at only 44.1 % of your hosts average (
    D-Validation Link::
    User Agent:: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727) [!]

  17. JS says:

    COMCAST is quite possibly the worst company in the United States. They always manage to screw up your order, always manage to over charge and almost always do what you don’t want them to do. Oh and saying their customer service SUCKS would be an understatement.

  18. G says:

    Actually At&T is the worst company in the United States, followed by dentists, then the power company, then comcast

  19. stuck with embarq says:

    you have no idea what crappy customer service is until you deal with embarq
    comcast would be a blessing

  20. screw comcast says:

    comcast always overcharge people

  21. Sandra says:

    What I hate about Comcast is that they charge for each box you have to have (if you have more than one TV). By the time you have paid 6-9 $ a month X 4 boxes, you could have bought boxes on e-bay. However, then Comcast refuses to activate your box(s) whereby they FORCE you to use their equipment.


    BlueEagle 2001
    Huntsville, Alabama

  22. Cable Joe says:

    Hey if you dont want to pay an install fee get a self install kit. Otherwise quit bitching about haveing to pay cable fee’s. I build the cable companies outside main systems on the street and this technolidgy is a science! I get tired of hearing about people complaining about paying for bills when I have to do my work with all the following hazards. I work outside regardless of weather most of the time at night, because to many housewives bitch about not being able to watch their soap operas. I buy my own tools which cost tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention paying for my own hotels, fuels flights and the travel in general. This includes being away from my home, family and friends. So there are alot of costs on side of the people doing the real work, not just the lazy techs. Its a business think about it if you want better service ….. IT COSTS MONEY TO GET!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like you need a new job.

    • WellThen says:

      If you don’t like your job, don’t do it. We all know “it costs money to get it” but we all know we’re getting ripped off! I am moving from a non-comcast area, sadly, and I know I’m going to have to pay $30/mo more for the same service. Or else go with dish/dsl “technolidgy”.

    • Kevin says:

      I feel ya on that. I install Comcast also and people have NO idead how much work is acutally put in to a day of comcast. On my avarage Thursday Fridays and Saturdays I pull 16+ hours over 40 hrs in 3 days plus the other days i work. People have no idea how much it costs to keep bucket trucks running, employees paid, Gas in trucks, Fleet trucks, How much we spend in supplies, spools of cable, fittings, taps, hardline, amps, equip, Dig boxes, DVRs, modems, HD boxes…ETC there is much more expenses. Atleast unlike Dish and Direct we don’t charge per foot for the cable we run. To install a whole brand new house for Dish or Direct costs a lot more them Comcast. For 13 lines in one house here in TN it cost one of Dishes customers over $275 just to run lines… comcast $120. People have no idea cable isn’t a walk in the park and it’s not a breeze. People also expect every single tech to make every single time frame I wish people would stop complaining so much about time frames. When a tech goes to a job the job can look very easy on the work order and end up being 5 wallfishes new 200′ drop triple play and the customer most of the time told the CSR they had all the lines in there house already it’s ready to go and instead of 45 mins for one job it ends up being 2 hours and he falls behind schedule. Most late time frames are from customers setting up work orders and not knowing what to tell the CSR they need

      • Jason says:

        Kevin, we’re talking about activating service in already pre-cabled houses. Tell me how $99 justifies “activating” the service? Let’s not get off topic. We all agree if you needed your house wired it would actually be worth the $99, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

    • Bob says:

      You chose the job, so stop whining.

      • sat-tech says:

        He’s not whining, he’s venting and you’re being a douche. Just because someone ‘chose’ a certain job doesn’t mean they have to put up with stupid, ignorant, arrogant, ungrateful pricks which is exactly what a lot of customers turn out to be.
        There was a time when satellite cost thousands of dollars to install and Cable was at least $450 because nothing was pre-wired.. but now all you jackholes have this typical American entitlement mentality and think everything should be just given to you exactly when you demand/cry for it.
        Cheap people make the worst customers.

    • dan says:

      sounds like you should quit your job! your getting the shaft! isnt complaining complaining, or are you better than everyone else?

  23. cable guy says:

    You can only qual for a self insall kit if you allready have video or telephone service through them. Also not everyone lives in a underground neighborhood, so unless you want to climb the pole pay for the install

  24. Katherine Boggess says:

    They let me cancel too.,,,, wow they’ve lost a 15 year client. im going with another provider just because they are rude

  25. Unetu says:

    Well, if you live in an apartment, just ask your neighbor to share the cost. 50/50

    • Kevin says:

      If you share cable from apartment to apartment by law that is illegal

      • Nati says:

        Just curious: Why is sharing cable with a neighbor illegal? I don’t know any of my neighbors, if I did, I would share the wireless internet at least. That’s legal, right? Also, to Kevin and to Cable Joe: You both sound like extremely hard working people who really deserve to be treated better and paid better. I agree that you both are not trying to hurt anyone and there is nothing wrong with the hard and intense careert that you have chosen. My complaint is really for comcast for charging me one price, my neighbor another and my mom gets charged no installation fee at all. At the same time, one of my friends lives in a place that already has cable and everything set up and only needed the DVR box, they charged her 30$ to come out and would not let her go pick one up. I guess it would be nicer if customers were treated more uniformely, or better yet actaully charged a certain fee IF they need to do something. The guy that came out to set my cable and internet was super nice and not lazy at all, but he honestly said that everything was already hooked up and there was little for him to do. So I am ok with with pay a smaller activation fee, just not 75 on top of 70 something a month. But onece again, I thank you for your hard work.

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