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Comcast: The Suck Continues

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still relevant

I started to write a big, long post to update you guys on everything that has happened with Comcast since my last update at the end of September. But then I realized it’s pointless. The details don’t matter because no one there wants to hear them, including Comcast. So instead, I will share the facts as of today.

Fact 1: I am not getting the internet speeds that I pay for, and haven’t been for 13 months now. The infrastructure in the small town where I live is not capable of providing the speeds I pay for. At least not consistently. This has been verified by tech after tech, month after month. Despite some recent equipment upgrades in my area, there are still too many people sharing too little bandwidth. So in the evenings when people get off work and kids are home from school, my connection is unusable for anything more than looking at websites.

Fact 2: Comcast offers multiple levels of service in my area. They are not capable of providing them. I won’t bore you with the technical details, but the system here is not able to provide different levels of speed, nor is Comcast able to throttle the lower-tiered customers. Most people never notice the difference because they are just surfing and playing Facebook games. For me, it’s the difference between being able to work and ending up homeless. Still, I am paying for a service tier that isn’t even possible with the current infrastructure.

Fact 3: Comcast techs are liars. I have been upgraded to “corporate escalation,” which apparently means that I get to talk to someone who pushes paper and has even less of a clue what’s going on than the technicians. I was promised by Ryan on the customer care team (or whatever the hell it’s called) that someone was being sent to my home to find out, once and for all, what’s wrong. You know who I got? Jerry, the same local guy who has been here 15 times. Jerry, the guy who told me I just needed to move. Jerry who, after showing up 20 minutes past the 2-hour service window and acknowledging (again) the fact that my problem is caused by downstream contention, TOLD ME THAT HE WAS GOING TO LIE IN HIS NOTES.

He said, “I don’t want them to charge you for the service call, so I’m going to write down that I called and you said your service was fine, so I didn’t come out.”

“But it’s not fine,” I said. “That’s not going to work for me, because I’m supposed to call this Ryan guy back and tell him what happened.”

“Then I’ll tell them that I repaired something outside. I just don’t want you to get charged.”

No, you douche nozzle. You just don’t want to get in trouble for showing up late. And you aren’t willing to tell someone above you about the problem because it’s easier to pretend I’m crazy and my service is fine even though you know better.

Fact 4: My service is not going to get fixed. Ever. The sad truth of this whole thing is that there’s nothing I can do. No matter how many calls I make or BBB complaints I file or how many times my case is escalated, the issue I’m facing is a systemic problem within Comcast’s corporate structure. They don’t care that a small business owner in Kentucky is losing money. They don’t care that I can’t transfer files or do my job. Because if they admitted for a second that there was a problem with this system, they would have to do something to fix it.

Fact 5: I literally have no choice but to continue to pay for service I’m not receiving. There are three options for internet service in my area: Comcast, DSL through AT&T, and satellite through whatever Hughesnet is calling themselves this month. The fastest available DSL speed in my area is only marginally faster than my worst speeds with Comcast, plus DSL is more expensive. Satellite internet would cost about three times what I currently pay for literally 1/5 the bandwidth I typically use. So I have no options other than to remain a bug on Comcast’s windshield.

I have called every number I know to call. I have complained to every entity that deals with internet service in the state of Kentucky (and some that don’t). I have complained to the Better Business Bureau, who just accepts Comcast’s claims that my service is fixed and doesn’t do anything about it. I have emailed a guy who (hilariously) calls himself Comcast Cares on Twitter. I have screamed and stomped and pleaded and replaced equipment and tolerated idiotic Comcast employees in and out of my home for over a year now. And for what? To find out that this is a battle I can’t win.

I’m just a little dot on the map, not even a blip on the Comcast radar. But I swear, someday I’m going to get someone to listen to me. And if nothing else, I want the world to know that Comcast is the most pathetic, useless company in the history of all mankind. And there’s nothing ANY of us can do about it because this is the society we’ve created – one where big businesses rule all and the little people don’t matter.

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web designer and single mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!

Comments

  1. If DSL is more expensive but also is more reliable, than any business-owner would normally move to DSL. My wife is dependent on the internet for her work and so we have two providers. Just in case one goes down. So why are you not changing to DSL if it is so important for your business??

    • As I said in the post, DSL costs a lot more and the highest available speed is 3mbps down and 768kbps up. Which is unusable for what I do. When my Comcast service works right for a few hours a day, it's 15mbps down and 3mbps up. I would rather have service that sometimes achieves the speeds I require than pay more money for something that won't allow the file transfers I need for work. I'm not sure what's hard to understand about that.

      • And the other consideration about DSL is that it's very dependent on the length and condition of the wire from your home to the central office. In most cases, in order to even get that 3mbps down/768 up (best-case), you need to be living in a house next door the central office and are using platinum-coated 10-gauge wires between you and them (just kidding about the wire, but you get my drift). Almost nobody gets that 3mbps rate with DSL.

        I feel for you Andrea. I read your story on Consumerist and it sounds like you've done everything you can. If you haven't hit up the local cable TV authority about this (even though it's data related), sometimes they can do amazing things to grease the skids. After all, Comcast operates in your location in the first place under a permit granted by the local cable TV authority, and not from anyone to do with the internet. Good luck.

      • SJActress says:

        Have you considered cell phone tethering? I don't know much about how the magical internet works, so maybe this is a dumb suggestion. I just know that at my house during peak hours, my 3mbps go down to as low as .5mbps. If I tether to my phone and use that connection instead, I get 12mbps (Verizon 4G Network).

  2. Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence says:

    That sucks! I have the same problems here and another just as bad provider that I could switch to, which would be for nothing. There has to be drawbacks to living in a small town!

  3. Andrea – I would try @ComcastWill – have had better luck with him. :)

  4. We have verizon and I love it..years ago we had comcast and it made me want to scream on a daily basis. Good luck

  5. We had Comcast on and off, but maybe because of better infrastructure, we get what we paid for. And even free upgrades, since both my dad and my brother are very tech/hardware savvy and wont be eaten up by all the techno lingo and cutting corners techs try to do. My current landlords, on the other hand, have been getting ripped off left and right, but since they only use the internet casually and for farmville, they dont care much for how slow it gets. It. Drives. Me. NUTS. I guess you've moved as high up the chain as you can… but since you're already posting this online, may as well go to the big dogs. They hate bad publicity… or used to. Not sure they care these days anymore.

  6. studentdebtsurvivor says:

    "douche nozzle" Awesome! Sorry to hear about your terrible experiences with comcast. I've never personally had to deal with them but have heard horror stories from other people who have. Hoping someone high up gets word of this posts and they offer you a lot of money to be quiet :-)

  7. The best part was the solution to move! I love it!! Seriously, what's up with the repairman trying to lie so that you don't get charged? I agree with you that he is just trying to cover his butt for being late. This reminded me when my girlfriend and I came back from a recent trip. Her car was parked in a lot that shuttles you to the airport. Well, her bumper was hit while we were away. She was parked on the end and her black car had a white scuff mark. All of the shuttles are…..white and they have all kinds of marks on the fenders where they hit cars. The manager of the lot said that none of his employees reported hitting a car. We were like "of course not because if they did they would be written up or fired". The logic boggles my mind. I too hate Comcast.

  8. Hmm…thought about talking to the consumer protection agency or the Kentucky attorney general? These are two organizations that I used when an unnamed alarm company decided that they didn't want to keep up their end of the contract. They helped and I ended up with a free alarm system!

  9. Douch Nozzle – How did I not have this term in my vernacular prior to now? I'm incredible frustrated on your behalf, and I seriously want to slap around that technician who said he was going to lie in his notes. What is it with lying companies? I had to deal with a lying sleazebag recently myself.

    I know it may be a mute point by now, but have you talked to the local Comcast manager about the technician himself, rather than the internet issue? The company may not realize they have a trouble employee on their hands.

  10. Keep trying!

    1) Try your Congressman. Seriously. I work for an advocacy group and I can tell you that having your Congressman on speed dial will get you results. Be his shadow. Make it so when he sees your face he says, "I know, I know. Comcast needs to fix your a problem." Be a boil on his butt. KEY: Get your friends to complain to him about your problem, too. He can't improve their infrastructure, but he can get them to stop blowing you off.

    2) Kentucky has a One-Party Law. What that means is that if all members of a party are in KY or another one-party state, you can legally record a conversation without notifying the other person they are being recorded. Jerry! How lovely to see you again!

    3) I think Debt RoundUp has a point about contracts: Comcast is not holding up their end. Continue documenting and one day you may wind up the owner of your very own telecommunications company via winning a lawsuit!

  11. Anne_UGifter says:

    Blargh! That has got to be beyond frustrating. I wish there was more I could do to help!

  12. Have you tried the Executive Email Carpet Bomb? I can’t post the link but there’s an article on Consumerist.com on how to do it.

  13. PKamp3 @ DQYDJ says:

    What's the cost difference with DSL? Can you buy 2 DSL lines and a load balancing router? That gives you 6/1.5. How about that same DSL line with one of the other options (even Comcast or Satellite like ViaSat or HughesNet)?

  14. That is frustrating! We only have one internet option since we're out in the middle of nowhere, it's AT&T DSL and honestly, it's faster than any other internet service we had in our previous home (Uverse, cable, etc.) Our friends have Comcast and deal with the same problems you've mentioned for years, they recently switched to DSL and while it's advertised as lower speeds, it has worked significantly better for them than cable has. Here though, DSL is cheaper than Comcast. You just never know what kind of service you're going to receive until you try it I guess. I love the "just move" advice, because that's a logical solution….!

  15. Not helpful I know, but THANK GOD I have other choices where I live. I don't even want to think about how many hours I've spent on the phone to Comcast because of my work, but luckily I have different service at home. It may be a bit slower, but I'll be damned if I give Comcast one cent of my money. Good luck! :(

  16. My cousin used to have Comcast and she used to say exactly the same thing, particularly about the internet speed and customer service representatives. Hence, she decided to switch to another company. Sadly, she was still in contract with Comcast so she was forced to pay for the months that she was not able to use the service. Some would say it was not a wise decision; however, she is running an online store so fast and stable internet connection is a necessity for her. She would rather pay for the termination of the contract than lose her clients and eventually, her business.

  17. I just think it's hilarious (tragic) that I read to the bottom of this post and there was a Comcast ad. Womp woooooomp

  18. Yes, Comcast should be held responsible for not being able to provide advertised speeds, but in terms of the comment that the writer should just move, well, unfortunately, that is what it is going to come down to. In the end, I think Comcast is just unable to live up to their claims, and they are unable to make changes to live up to them. This unfortunately means that the writer will never be able to get the speeds she needs…

    Now if Google could step up and provide Google fiber…
    :(

  19. Andrew Madigan says:

    I haven't seen in your posts any mention of what level of service you pay for. Do you have Comcast Business Class or are you paying for residential service? Out here in San Francisco I have Business Class. It costs me $100/mo. I pay for 25/5 but I get 75/15 or higher. I've never seen a speed test below 25/5.

    • Business Class isn’t offered here. I live in a town of 4,000 people – we just don’t have the options that people get in a larger city. I pay for the Performance package, which is supposed to be 15/3. Actually I think they now advertise it at 20/3. And between about 5pm and midnight, I’m getting like 0.25/3.

  20. As a Comcast family, I find issues with the occasional full screen YouTube video.

    My wife works from home (Florida) as a software tester and regularly connects to New Jersey where she uses GotomyPC and actually does all the work on another machine. Which is extremely convenient, since most of the time, she has the office workers there watch what is happening on the screen(s) (two screens at both locations), or they show her what is happening on the screen. We are at the default speed for residential. Even my torrenting and other things that I do (she's on WiFi, I'm direct wired) don't affect her. The router deciding that the wireless going to flake out can be a problem, but I can reboot the router without leaving my seat since I'm wired.

    I suspect that a different way of working may be needed, although I don't know enough about Andrea's work to be of much help.

    • I own a web design company. Unfortunately there's really no way to do my job without transferring large files and using my connection. I paid for the plan I did because I needed that level of speed, and no one at Comcast ever told me that I wouldn't be able to get it. The problem is with the headend equipment, not anything with my modem or router. It's just a hot mess.

  21. Hi from the great white North (WI/MN)

    I too suffered through issue after issue with comcast speeds (when I had them–now got CenturyLink and HATING it). I was able to get mine fixed bc the problem is in the equipment/line. Give these a try and see what happens.

    Prior to making a service call
    1–See what brand/model modem that you have. If its a Motorola, it may need a firmware patch from comcast to get speed. (Note the model and serial from the sticker on the modem–also ask for 2nd level technical support they will know) With mine, they had patched it with generic firmware and it crippled my connection

  22. Contd

    2–Check the leading wire from the outlet to the modem. Make sure it says RG-6 on it. RG-59 is the old crap and will mess with your signal to the modem.

  23. Contd

    3–I know that they have replaced all of your equipment, but try buying your own modem from WalMart or Radio Shack (avoid BB as they are idiots). Plug in the modem and let them do their activation thing on it. It may be that you are getting a tech that is recycling crap modems and continously give you a bum one. Upside is if you actuall get it to work, you no longer have to lease a modem from Comcast and if not, you can return it with no restock fee (Walmart only)

    NOTE– If you do decide to do this, try to get one that is DOCSIS 3.0—most of Comcast's service areas have been upgraded to this new standard. Basically, the older modems can only send on 2 channels and recieve on one (DOCSIS 2.0). DOCSIS 3.0 modems have an extra channel to bypass the congested two main channels and keep the speed fast. I recommend the Motorola SurfBoard 6800 series as they are reasonably priced and do not get very hot when being used heavily.

  24. cont'd

    Doing a Service Call
    If you have to go this route (which I fear you will) make sure that your technician does the following
    –Check the wire coming into the building. If it is pinched/crimped/stripped, it is losing signal and causing your speed to drop out. Also if it enters near a power meter, that can also cause issues with signal

    –Have the technician check the signal at the modem outlet. Believe it or not, the signal has to be just right for the modem to function properly. If it is too high or too low, it will cause the service to drop out or speeds to be inconsistent. When I had issues the tech put something called an attenuator on my wire at the modem—fixed my problem entirely.

  25. cont'd

    –Unplug any signal boosters that you may have in the system. These are not good for cable internet.

    –Remove any splitters that you have in-line with your modem and have the tech give you one from his truck. The ones that are sold in retail stores are not rated for cable internet and will interfere with the signal to the modem.

    Hopefully something from my post helps. I too went through a horrible year with Comcast and finally found a technnician with a brain who schooled me on all this.

    BTW once the problem is found, your internet will be stupidly fast!

    • Thank you, but my equipment is not the problem. The problem is that the headend CMTS is only 8 ports and 550mHz trying to handle 1200 modems in the area. Comcast is aware of this. My entire town has the same problem – it's not just something at my house. But since 90% of the users are just getting on Facebook or messing around, they don't notice. It's during file transfers (which are necessary for my job) that the problem becomes apparent.

      • I hate to say it but ,Comcast is not going to invest to change its infostructure for just one customer. I do not have FIOS in my neighborhood and my provider is not going to install it just for me . The whole country has areas that dont have what you have when it comes to speed . If you love your job and cant wait for change , you must decide what you yourself can change .

  26. Ideas to work around this.
    You may artificially be limiting your choices by only looking at consumer grade connections. Can you afford to pay to have fiber ( or other true business grade connection) pulled to your office? Most states' tariff schedules provide for all sorts of better-than-residential connections, but they can be spendy.

    Consider getting a multi-wan router and buying multiple connections. I have a router that can tie 3 wan connections and one wwan line into a single shared/load-balanced connection. I have a Comcast (flaky but fast) connection tied with an ATT DSL connection with a prepaid USB wwan modem as a backup. My wife works from home and needs connectivity to do her job, so we've bought reliability and speed, each from a different vendor.

  27. I'm all for the complain about the cable company thing, because many cable companies have messed a lot of people over in the past, but in this case I think you need to see it from their side. With a town of 4000, they would never get their money back from installing more bandwidth unless they charged you each $50,000 per year. Businesses that lose money don't stay in business long.

    You're trying to run a bandwidth intensive business in a town of 4000. If you opened a five star hotel in the town, would you complain that people were going to New York City or Los Angeles instead of going to your place?

    Jerry's right – you need to move if you want more bandwidth because as you said, the problem is not going to be fixed ever for the same reason you'll never have an eight lane freeway to take across town.

  28. Continued….

    I'm sure Louisville or Indianapolis would have a lot better internet. But I'm sure there are a lot of other reasons you live where you live that you would give up if you went to "the big city." You could live in San Franciso in a crappy 1-bedroom apartment and smell your neighbor's pot smoke all day. You could drop your son off at school and hope he didn't get beat up or get hooked on drugs while he was there. Hey, you would have great internet, but for what?

    If you're living the best life you can be, given the choices you have, maybe you should just get up at 4 AM to download the big files. If you aren't, then do something about it. But you're right – the problem will never be fixed.

    • Andrew Madigan says:

      I do agree that a proper connection is not likely to be forthcoming in a small town. Maybe 10, 15 years down the road things will improve…

      However, I vehemently object to your characterization of San Francisco. I live in a very nice, newly built, 2 bedroom apartment. I don't smell pot smoke from my apartment (hardly ever anywhere in the city in fact, though I do smell it on occasion) and I doubt that children get 'hooked on drugs' or 'beat up' often here. Just because this is a tolerant and high-density city doesn't mean it's a cesspool of crime and drugs.

      There are plenty of other cities where business-class service can be had, too. San Jose for one, and Rochester, NY and its suburbs for another. Henrietta, NY has Business Class via Time Warner. Population: 42,000; density 1,200/sq. mi.

      • I'm not trying to suggest San francisco is any more seedy than any other large city. My main point was that the cost of living in San Francisco is such that what would pay for a mortgage on a nice house in rural Kentucky would get you a small apartment on the seedy side of town. I picked San Francisco because I'm sure it is wired to the gills and it is an expensive place to live.

        I also lived across the bay in Berkeley for a while in a small one-bedroom shotgun apartment for a while. I paid $500 a month, and the rent went to about $750 when I moved out. I agree I didn't smell any pot smoke, but I did discover a large crack in my ceiling from which my neighbor's shower would drip on my head once in a while after I killed the mold on the ceiling so I could see the crack.

        • Continued…

          I also had a bike stolen which I had locked downstairs when the electric gate was broken and left open for a couple of weeks, my wife's car was broken into after about two weeks on the street, and I met another person whose car was broken into and everything he owned stolen after being there for one day. There are some beautiful places to live in the Berkeley hilles too but you need a lot of money to live there..

          My point is you can get a lot more for a lot less in a rural small town. You just give up some other things like high bandwidth.

          • Andrew Madigan says:

            Berkeley is not San Francisco, no part of the East Bay is. For someone working in tech (or marketing, website design, etc.) the difference in income more than makes up for any difference in cost of living (and then some). When I was living in Rochester (by no means a large city) I had my bike stolen, and my landlord was a crook who was breaking various housing laws (garbage, split meters, over-occupancy, insufficient heat, etc.). My rent there would have been enough for a small house in a nice area. My rent here is enough for a small condo in a nice area. I could also get a small house outside the city. With BART I could still get to work, there are amenities rural areas will never provide. I stay in the city because there's more to do and it's easier to get around.

            Sadly, San Francisco's internet access is not that great. Back in Rochester I could have gotten a residential account with speeds just as high, without caps (though it probably would have cost about as much). To get an uncapped connection here you have to buy a business account. There are a few more ISPs, but they don't reach every address. Kansas City certainly has better access that we do.

  29. well, yes comcast is to be blamed here., but the larger blame here is on the broadband policies in this country. Its really SAD. if one looks at a global level, we are going backwards. thanks to corporate greed.

    Billions of tax payer dollars have been collected for over a decade now to address this exact same issue.., but nothing has been done……… and looking at the way things are moving,……….. it would only get worse.

    Good Luck!

  30. Comcast doesn't guarantee minimum speeds with their Performace package; they say you'll get speeds up to a certain level, but they don't promise you'll always get the highest speed possible.

    If having faster Internet speeds is crucial to your business then you do need to move. Comcast is ignoring you because in this situation they are doing nothing wrong.

  31. I have only had Comcast in places I have rented on vacation and service has been terrible wherever we have been. I'm in Florida now, Comcast has the internet service in this condominium group. We finally gave up and went and bought a Verizon hot spot and we are just casual users – no business. Can't imagine anyone trying to do anything important with Comcast!

  32. Ugh. The lack of reliable internet connection in this country is pathetic. We had Comcast before, and had a horrible connection most of the time (and horrible customer service), switched to AT&T (because we really don’t do much other than research/goof around online) when we moved…and have had just as bad of an experience. Our connection constantly cuts out, and their customer service hasn’t been any better.

    Obviously the best solution would be for them to fix the problem, but it would be nice if they would at least recognize that the advertised service isn’t being provided and give you a discount or something…(not that that would help you do your work, but at least you wouldn’t be paying for something you really aren’t getting)

  33. I am shocked no one yet suggested a virtual desktop VDI solution. It would eliminate most of your need for high bandwidth
    Given it still might suck on 0.25mbs down pipe, but if you are lucky and could get stable 3.0mbs down dsl than by all means VDI might fix your issues with poor bandwidth.

    In my company we successfully using VDI hosted in VA for our UK users. I guarantee you 3mbs down is more than sufficient for good VDI experience.

  34. You took many of the words right out of my mouth! We are trapped for now.

  35. Have you tried seeing if you can start some outreach in your area to get a large number of people to stage a call-in for verizon. ( I currently use verizon fios and get 30mbit down and 25mbit/s up and get those same speeds 24/7 regardless of time of day (my ping does not even increase during peak hours)

    Fios service is pretty much currently being rolled out based on demand. If enough people request it, then they will expand to the area as they will know that enough people are willing to switch.

    In my neighborhood (plagued with crap service from time warner, once verizon started to expand their service through out NY, many people including me called, and a few months later, we received flyer's and phone calls stating that fios is now available and on the day my service was being installed, there were 6 other verizon trucks installing around the neighborhood (almost everyone switched the first chance they got

  36. I’ve been trying since August to get Comcast to fix constant drop outs (shown in the cable modem they own as their problem). They have been here at least 7 times and nothing has changed. It’s like dealing with the government. As soon as there’s another practical option, I’ll be gone.

  37. ProblemSolvers333 says:

    Your problem is getting nowhere due to being stuck on a 'local' level. I've dealt with this before and finally reached Comcast Corp HQ in Philly. I spoke with the office of the presidents ( The CEO ) secretary and my issue ( similar to yours) was dealt with THE NEXT DAY.
    Comcast has quite a few corporate phone numbers. One of these should get your through to the Corporate HQ in Philly.

    My advice ( TO YOU AND ANYONE HAVING ISSUES ) is to calmly explain the situation (because the real corporate office will be unaware) and your frustrations. Be sure to have your account number handy. Tell them how many times you have had someone out here and your story.

    Like I said before, I had a similar situation and was ''escalated to a supervisor'' which really did nothing. Supervisors are there to basically cover their ass and make everything look hunky dory with overall numbers. Once corporate HQ contacts the local office, they will have no other choice but to look into the issue and want to know who,what,where and why. It may seem like they dont care but in my case they did ( after my real issue was discovered ). and now, what you have been waiting for, the phone number,

    comcast corporate HQ ( office of the president ) – 215 665 1700 Lucille Fital ( i think thats correct ) is who you want to speak with and leave a message for.

    and just for the record, I love comcast.

    Good Luck !

  38. I too have the same problems and have for a year or more. I also live in KY. You are correct, they act like I'm crazy and my service is fine. I can get SOME techs on occasion to see something is wrong, and schedule tech visits.. the funny thing is a tech has NEVER shown up after at least 6 different appointments. Its insanely frustrating and I share your pain. You would think a multimillion dollar company would have tools available to identify and correct problems.. Apparently not even a GED is required to work in any division of comcast.

  39. Im so sick and tired of paying so much money for cable and having to suffer through so many long and boring commercials while watching t.v. Corporate is raking in so much money by overcharging us and also overcharging the companies who pay to advertise. With that kind of revenue they could easily afford to cut our monthly premiums in half.

  40. You should talk to your local politician and encourage local government subsidies for Comcast infrastructure upgrade. If not, you should get the local government to team up with a provider to provide 1GB service! Start emailing and talking to your elected representatives.

  41. File a complaint with the FCC everyone should log onto the FCC website and files complaints continually

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