Today I tried to get a straight answer from Comcast about the digital cable transmissions in my area and whether they are (or will be) scrambled. They have an "Ask Comcast" feature which allows one to submit an email question to be answered by a Comcast representative.
In response to my first question, Comcast chose to reply only to my question about future programming, in February of 2009, and simply replied, "I do not know what packages will be offered at that time. We will have more information the closer to February 2009."
I replied to their email, asking what the situation is NOW regarding whether or not they scramble digital cable transmissions AT THIS TIME, Comcast replied, "I am sorry for the inconvenience, but the reason we cannot give details about specific packages until closer to that time is because they are subject to change. If you visit the following website, you can see the packages that we have currently for our digital tier in your area and what channels come with each package: [followed by Comcast's website address}." Again, they totally disregarded my specific question about what the situation is NOW regarding whether or not they scramble their transmissions. I made no reference to future plans in my reply to their initial email.
So I tried again, emphasizing my desire to know whether digital transmissions are scrambled AT THIS TIME. Their response: "Once the change occurs, you will need either a set top box or cable card for all cable packages. There will be no more analog cable signal.
There are no packages created at this time for this change." Once again, they ignored my actual question, i.e., whether or not their current digital transmissions are scrambled.
Finally, on my FOURTH attempt to obtain the answer to one simple question, they actually answered my question, as follows: "You will need either a set-top box or a cable card to receive our digital programming. Thank you for choosing Comcast."
So I learned two things:
(1) Comcast is very evasive when trying to get information and is horrible when it comes to answering direct customer questions. (This is the second time I've asked a simple question and had to repeat it many times just to get a straight answer.)
(2) Comcast is, apparently, scrambling all digital cable, not just premium programming. I have no reason to think they won't continue to do so in 2009. Therefore, I will be canceling my tentative plan to purchasae a digital cable ready TV at this time or in the forseeable future.
It really shouldn't be this hard to get a simple answer, should it?