May 22nd, 2008

RCN "Crushes" their customers

Well, as foretold by my last posting, RCN has started encrypting all their digital channels in the Boston area now. I called tech support to find out the scoop, and was informed that indeed all channels except 2-22 and 93-98 would be encrypted. (those ranges include only the non-HD broadcast channels).

Their codename for this project is "Analog Crush". They almost got it right, if they just renamed it "Customer CRUSH", that'd be about it...If you want to read more people bitching about this topic, there are discussion forums at: AVSForum and DSLReports.

I had a really poor experience talking to their support people on the phone, and followed up with the following email to We'll see what they say in reply.


I have been a "triple-play" RCN customer since about 2002, and up until now have been entirely satisfied by the services provided. I receive Cable TV via a QAM tuner: <> connected to a computer. Up until last week, I was able to watch your entire "Expanded Basic" lineup, and additionally, the HD versions of the channels available in the Expanded Basic lineup. I was quite happy with this.

However, recently, some of the channels started becoming encrypted. In particular, I seem to have lost FOODHD (181), TBSHD (174), HGTV (182), ESPN2HD (169), NGC (172), WSBKDT (159), WLVIDT (156), LMN (47), and BCTC (85). I am especially surprised that WSBKDT and WLVIDT became encrypted. These are channels that are available free over the air!

When I called up tech support today, they told me that these channels had indeed been intentionally encrypted, and that furthermore, all channels except 2-22 and 83-98 would be encrypted in the near future. He told me I'd need a converter box, for which I naturally expressed my displeasure, and transferred me to Sales to work that out.

When I got transferred to sales, everything went wrong. First of all, the rep was very argumentative, and kept insisting upon untrue statements that displayed a remarkable failure in the training process:
1) That I could not possibly have been watching HDTV channels without an RCN converter box for the last year. He had no idea what a QAM tuner was.
2) That it's all the FCC's fault that RCN is encrypting channels, and that I should not be upset at RCN for making this change.

This was not the start of a good conversation. And even after I tried to express that I wasn't interested in arguing with him, he continued to attempt to convince me I was wrong...Anyways...

As of now, I am a mightily unhappy customer: you want to force me to pay an extra $12/month to rent equipment that I do not want to have, and which will provide me poorer service than what I already had. When I expressed my displeasure to the representative, he essentially brushed me off and told me that I might as well go to another provider.

Additionally, the rep was unable to tell me whether or not your DCT-6200 boxes have firewire output enabled, and if they do have it enabled, whether the output is 5C encrypted or not. (actually, he had no idea that Firewire was even a thing that existed on cable boxes). This is an important point for me in comparison shopping for service. A cable box with a usable firewire output will allow me to connect it to my computer without the purchase of new equipment.

Thanks for any assistance you can provide.

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