Comcast Installer

Feedback on Comcast Post Shows Public-Safety Threat Widespread

After posting about the public-safety threat created by Comcast and its subcontractors yesterday, I received feedback from more than 70 people. The comments show that the safety threats are widespread and ongoing. They include:

  • Broken gas, electrical, water and sewer lines
  • Holes left open and unfenced for weeks
  • Unreported repairs by unlicensed, unqualified people

The comments below paint a picture of a cavalier attitude toward damage, incompetence, training and safety. That attitude is a public-safety threat in itself.

Reader-supplied photo shows Comcast contractor doing Wallenda imitation.

Comments totaled more than 40 pages, so I will summarize them below (including a couple received before the post). My apologies in advance if I left your comment out. Many were redundant. Let’s look at the bright side first.

Two, Tongue-in-Cheek, Positive Comments

Two people actually made semi-positive comments, although I suspect they were tongue in cheek.

One said that when Team Comcast killed a tree on his neighbor’s property, it gave him more sunlight.

And a repair man said he was making thousands of dollars fixing damage caused by Comcast, Aspen Utilities, and their subcontractors.

But the rest of the comments were unquestionably negative.

Gas, Electricity, Sewer, Water, Communication Lines Cut

One resident said, “They have been hitting everything in their path: water, sewer, and gas. We know for a fact they never requested 811 to mark any lines before they began work. This resulted in 100+ gas-line ruptures.”

Another said, “Thankfully, they’re finished in [my village]. I think. During their time here, I am aware of FIVE instances that they cut into gas lines.”

Yet another lamented, “…most of us are tired of having our yards torn up and our utilities being taken out of service by the irresponsible and incompetent contractors… I’ve seen or heard of gas lines being cut, water pipes breaking, irrigation systems being torn up and the internet that is already in place having lines cut.”

Another: “…if you have to dig and you can’t see, that’s one thing, but when you can SEE it, that’s just stupid. The stories I’ve heard are very costly and numerous.”

Another: “They left a giant hole in my yard and destroyed everyone’s fences. They are literally falling over. … They broke my neighbor’s plumbing. A real **** show. Not a pun.”

Another: “They hit my sewer line. And they hit a gas line a few streets down from me. They also cut my Tachus line TWICE!”

Another: “They … cut thru my TV line.”

Attempted Intimidation, Broken Promises

Aspen Utilities, Comcast’s main contractor, has tried to use the police to coerce terrified residents into cooperating with them. But in at least one case it backfired.

One resident wrote: “They called the police on me because I refused to let them in my backyard. [I wanted to talk to a supervisor first] so I could let them know all the damage they did. A red-haired punk called the police. When the officer got there, he was told (by Vincent with Aspen) to scare and intimidate me.”

“Well, guess what the officer did?” the resident continued. “He let me know that he was definitely not there to scare or intimidate me and that he has received many calls about homeowners being frustrated with the damage Aspen has done.”

“I took the officer to my back and side yard. He saw the unsecured green box with protruding wires; a clearly marked grave where they dug up our pet; and damage to our fences, trees and lawn.”

Then Aspen backtracked. “Miraculously, an Aspen supervisor arrived quickly and was in disbelief about what had been done,” said the resident. “[The supervisor] promised to have a crew come out and repair the damage. Weeks passed, no one called or came. Then a man showed up with no ID and wanted in my back yard. I refused. A lady with him got out of the truck and interpreted for him. I asked for the name of his supervisor and about a week later Fransisco came out.”

“Of course, he denied most of the damage, stated that their boring machine only parks on the street, and he had no idea why it was parked in my side yard for days. Fransisco promised that the damage would be repaired. That was about a month and a half ago. And we haven’t heard back since,” said the resident.

Another resident said, “I have damage to my yard, fences, and trees from Aspen. I can’t tell you how many phone calls made, emails sent, photos taken, visits from Aspen management/supervisors, posts on social media, etc. Aspen busted a water line while digging in my yard. There has been so much damage in our subdivisions.”

He continued, “Aspen will not correct damage they have done. I was told by a supervisor that they have the blessing from COH and all HOAs. It appears that they aren’t held accountable for their ongoing destruction and damage.” Editor’s note: Aspen most assuredly does NOT have the blessing of all HOAs.

Unreported Problems, Unlicensed Repairs Infuriate Inspector

One resident reported that, “In late September, we returned from being out of town and upon the very first flush of a toilet, the sewer line backed up into our house, flooding the master toilet area etc. … They said that yes, they had cut the sewer line while doing whatever it is they were attempting to do. … We only prayed that they actually knew what they were doing and this was a permanent fix. I guess time will tell.”

Another said, “They busted our water line and I’m not sure who repaired it. We weren’t home at the time so I don’t know. Our water bill has gone up significantly since this happened (with no difference in usage.) I surely hope it was repaired properly. When I brought this up to Francisco, he just said it happens a lot and it’s not a big deal.”

Based on a third report, those hopes may be unfounded. A third resident complained, “Two weeks ago, they began on our street. By that night, sewage was backing up in our home and several others’ homes. They said they would repair damages and we would be compensated. Fast forward. They did a horrible, shoddy, patch job that we refused and requested a licensed plumber. Today, the City came to inspect. The inspector asked me what happened, and I made him aware.”

“I showed him pictures of their repairs all over town,” said the resident, “and he was very upset. He asked for me to collect names, pictures, and addresses. He said they will be fined for every picture and address we can report. He said if a licensed plumber doesn’t make the correct repair, Kingwood will have a horrible sewage and plumbing issue that will make our property values plummet.”

The resident continued. “The City had no idea [Comcast contractors] had been hitting any water or sewer lines. He was very upset because they are, by law, supposed to report the damages, and a licensed plumber must make the repairs. When the repairs are complete, he said, the City comes and inspects them. He said what they are doing is against the law and cutting corners.”

Lengthy Delays, No Warnings as Promised

Comcast and its contractors are supposed to warn people when they will start work in neighborhoods. Even though Aspen says they distribute door hangers telling people when they will start, many residents claim they have received no warning.

In my case the start time was off by a month. The warnings also don’t explain that there may be lengthy pauses in construction, effectively creating two or more phases, months apart. Aspen has been in my neighborhood for TEN months.

One resident said, “They came out in July and put flags in my yard. Here it is in October and they are just now returning to do the work.”

Another complained “On my street, I am next in line on Monday. The work was started in July!” (Four months ago.)

A third said, “My biggest complaint is that we had zero information prior to the project getting underway about what exactly was being done, which contractors were responsible for doing what aspects of the project, and more important, what they were not allowed to do, such as parking in driveways and leaving unfilled holes. It would have been nice to get a heads up a day ahead that they would be working in our yards especially if you have dogs.”

Another said he felt as if he was a captive of Aspen’s unpredictable schedule. They came in his yard without notice and left gates open, allowing his dog to wander away.

Unfilled Holes Left Open for Months, Some Cause Injuries

Aspen contractors excavate holes to identify the location of other utilities so that Aspen can avoid them when installing Comcast lines. Aspen is supposed to cover them with plywood and surround them with orange construction fencing until they are refilled after the installation. But many residents report that they don’t.

One said, “Our lawn guys fell in a 9-foot hole [Aspen and its Contractors] did not cover. Both had to go to emergency. They contacted the lady from Aspen, who called them once and crickets after that.”

Another also reported a worker falling in an open hole: “…it was like a cartoon with the guy walking over an open manhole cover. He went in and was holding himself up by his arms and feet weren’t touching.”

Lengthy delays between the excavation and installation increase the safety risk. One lady reported two holes in her backyard for 2.5 months that her dog was beginning to enlarge. “To be on my little 5-house cul de sac on and off for 2-1/2 months was absurd. They needed to finish one area and move on to the next. They hit so many different lines along the way: sewer, gas, cable and probably others. I definitely think they are a threat to public safety.”

Another: “None of the holes in our backyard were ever covered or netted, and they left it like that for weeks.”

Another: “Too much damage is occurring with digging in the backyards. How many more cable internet companies will the city allow to dig in our backyards?”

Another: “There is no excuse for them not filling in holes. That crew sounded like The Three Stooges plumbing company, not very effective…and highly destructive.”

Another: “We still have holes at both sides of our backyard.”

The City of Houston’s Department of Neighborhoods levies fines up to $2,000 each for unfilled excavations. So report unfilled, unmarked holes!

Reader-supplied photo shows Comcast hole only partially covered.

Not Observing Best Practices, Lack of Supervision

One man who worked in communication construction wrote: “Where are the Comcast Field Engineers (inspectors)? I rarely see a Comcast representative in Kingwood and I’ve never seen one outside of his truck actually inspecting.”

Traffic control is non-existent,” continued the resident. “Traffic can get dicey when construction equipment is parked at the curb of a curved street. This requires driving into oncoming traffic and passing blindly with my fingers crossed. Where are their flaggers?”

But he didn’t stop there. “Construction spoils/dirt accumulates on the roadway in some areas and sure gets slick when it rains. This should be swept with a power broom by Aspen but there aren’t any inspectors to enforce it. Shouldn’t the C/O/H have an inspector watching roadway safety?”

He also pointed out other best practices being ignored.

  • Digging/Dirt work – “I’ve witnessed many pits that are six to eight feet deep. I’ve seen a few that are deeper. I haven’t seen any attention to safety. Trenches or pits or any excavation requires shoring or a step-back cut on anything deeper than five feet. Cave-ins are quick and deadly.”
  • Open pits/excavation – “If a child or anyone falls in a hole, the presence of plywood and construction netting will not hold up in court. The holes should be filled in or covered with steel plates. But that costs money.”
  • Restoration – “You’ve seen it. It’s almost nonexistent and usually substandard.”

The resident is now retired, but formerly managed construction of large communication projects from coast to coast. He added:

“I would have been fired for ever allowing this type of work.”

Communications Construction Manager

Believes Problems Rooted in Corporate Culture

One reader, whose husband worked for a Comcast competitor reported that he had seen such problems before. “My husband worked for 26 years on the construction side of Verizon and sometimes had to work alongside Comcast and the contracting companies they hired. We’re very familiar with how they work. If at a point, the contracting company realizes that something hasn’t been prepped (i.e., lines located), they should be standing up to Comcast and saying they won’t dig until that something has happened, but [in Comcast’s case] they don’t.”

Another said, “They did the cheapest job possible and cut as many corners as possible to save a dime. Now they are just feeding us all BS and giving us all the run around.”

One of my neighbors, who flooded badly during Harvey, has kept smiling throughout the disastrous Comcast installation. He said, “Cue the Benny Hill soundtrack when Comcast trucks show up.”

For More Information on How, Where to Report Damage

Comcast and the City claim they aren’t hearing about damage from Kingwood residents. How can you make sure the right people hear about what Comcast and its contractors did to you? See this post or click on the picture below.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/29/2023

2252 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.